Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Improv Wrap Up

 and Summer Break! 

So, this is my last post until after Labour Day (September 5). After my summer blogging vacation last year, I came back full of inspiration and enthusiasm, and I am looking forward to the same effect again this year. Some quality, unplugged time now will be the best way for me to keep things fresh long term.

Last year I made a bunch of plans for what I was going to do over the summer, and I did hardly any of them! So I'm not going to try that again. I also had a bunch of plans for what I was going to do in September (mainly quilting), and in less than 24 hours after my return that all went out the window when I read about Ann and Kaja's new Ad Hoc Improv Quilters link up. So it's appropriate that my last post of the school year should be about improv -- my second Modern Utility Quilt, "Sunshine," for AHIQ, and my Gwennie Medallion.

I'm ending where I started, with improv letters and words:

I have to say, they do look better than my first efforts! I had cut that yellow fabric into random strips for a string quilt, and regretted it soon after. So this is a much happier plan. I was just able to eke out both words from the strips I had. I made the smaller letters first, and then the more complicated letters got larger. They have finished at about 4" (10 cm) high.

I hoped to finish all the churn dash blocks by now...

...but my wrist had other ideas. There is a lot of trimming with the rotary cutter on these improv blocks and especially on the improv letters, so I am now on enforced rest again.

Have you noticed anything unusual about these blocks yet?

The solid white backgrounds are deliberately misleading.


Because they are different sizes:

So far I've made them in 15", 12", and 9" sizes, and the 6" ones were in progress when my wrist packed it in. So close! Hopefully it will all be together by the fall. (And maybe quilted, too, although I am trying not to make plans!)

Although I am now the proud owner of two books on Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston...

...my Gwennie Medallion is another casualty of my sore wrist, so I will punt on that too until the fall. Right at the beginning of the month I made a bunch of blocks for the first border of the medallion quilt along...

...but they don't match my "olive" theme. (You can see I am still on this "blocks in different sizes" kick.) Since I started out with olives, I think I want to keep them going. The theme for the first border is supposed to be "childhood," which is a challenging theme to align with "olives." These mama and baby bear blocks are just headed in the wrong direction.

My best thought right now is to do something with hourglass blocks, in mostly the same fabrics as above, because childhood was a long time ago! You see my problem. Over the summer I will check what the themes for the next rounds will be, and I expect that it will all come together by the end.

AHIQ has opened up a whole new world of improv quilting, which has empowered me to take on this Gwen Marston-inspired project as well. At a minimum, it's made me a lot more relaxed about perfect lines and corners, even on traditional projects. So that has speeded things up a little! But most of all, I find myself thinking that a project feels too rigid when everything is exactly perfect. I've noticed that the less perfect projects seem to make a better emotional connection with the viewer, and for me, that is the highest goal of any art or craft. I'm interested to see where things go next!

In the meantime, check out all the other quilters at AHIQ here, and the brave Gwennie Medallion makers on July 1 here, have a great couple of months, and I'll see you in September!


  1. I really like the border blocks that may not make it to the "olive" quilt. Not having seen the start, I can't comment with certainty, but can wonder if relating by contrast would work.
    Tricky with the photography layout to mask the size difference.That is something fun to work with. First time I tried I didn't get a size divisible by the same number--made for complications. Claire aka Knitnkwilt

  2. Have a good summer off! I hope your wrist gets a rest so you can get back to the rotary cutter in September.

  3. You are a glutton for punishment! There's a great idea in the different sizes, hope the Summer and your wrist enable you to follow it through. I really like the border border blocks - but get the colour issue. When we lived in Gawler, just north of Adelaide, there was an grove of wild olives along the river that had been a magic play area for generations of children and was much loved by locals. I don't know if that notion could provide you with a connecting idea. (It has, I think, been since removed or at least controlled as the olive trees did not do the river much good!). Enjoy the Summer. I'll miss your posts.

    1. Well, that is probably why I need a long break! I'm sure a little perspective will help with the medallion, and probably a lot of other projects too. Thanks for all your support this year, Jillian. Stay warm, and good luck with your new knee!

  4. I do like quilts with assorted sized blocks so I know without doubt I will love those churn dash blocks when assembled.
    Have a good break and hope the wrist is soon fully functioning. Have Gwen`s liberated quiltmaking 11 must take time out and read my quilting books more, no excuse really as having sleep problems and have been up since 4am the last few days!
    Look forward to seeing you back blogging in september

  5. I like where your mind is going with all the different sized blocks, churn dash and bear paw, and your improv words made me smile. I have very much enjoyed getting to know you via AHIQ and find it interesting that you perceive a general change in your mindset for quilting. I will miss you over the summer but hope that you get lots done, wrist permitting, and come back in the autumn reinvigorated.

  6. Your summer is going to be filled with sewing fun especially if your wrist can hurry up and get back to normal. Not sure if your childhood border has to relate to your olive basket, but all I could think of was my kids sticking olives on all their fingers and eating them off. But actually, your different sized bear paws could relate to how a child sees things, big and small, not just in one way. ( don't know if that makes sense). Enjoy your summer

  7. I'm so sorry to hear that your wrist is giving you problems. I have the same issue since I sprained my wrist 2 years ago. I have to pace myself and not do too much of the same thing for too long. Have you thought about forgoing the rotary cutter and picking up the scissors? I've found that for improv, the scissors give me a less-precise line, which is what I'm going for anyway. It can be hard to switch to scissors, but it might help you. I hope the rest will help too!

    I love your "sunshine" quilt! And I like the idea of different sized blocks. I've been doing more of that lately too. Your letters/words are wonderful!

    As far as your improv quilt, you might want to think about repeating some of the same elements as in your center block, like the olives, the greens or more of that plaid. It would help to tie it together some also. Just a suggestion, of course....

    Yes, working in a liberated or improv way can really change your mindset! In a good way!

    I'll miss your blog this summer, but I hope you have a good time, the wrist heals, and you can come back energized for quilting again. Have a great summer!

  8. I hope your wrist gets better and your mind is allowed to conjure up lots of quilt possibilities. Have a lovely summer and I look forward to fall when you come back to the blogosphere!

  9. Enjoy your time off! I so enjoyed what you had to say about improv. Your statement, 'I've noticed that the less perfect projects seem to make a better emotional connection with the viewer'. You absolutely could be talking about me as I've continually noticed the same thing in my own work. The relaxed style seems to speak to something deep within.:)

  10. Maybe "less perfect" = "more accessible". Enjoy your summer and your blogging vacation. It's not at all a bad idea. Read your new books through a couple of times each, knowing you do not have to rush into a new project! Also hope your wrist improves quickly...I have one that goes south on me if I overdo things, but it's much worse when it is rainy.

    1. Yes, I'm sure that's part of it. It is a good thing I am taking a break, otherwise I might write a treatise on the subject! Hopefully by September the urge will have passed. :D

      Thanks, Sue! My challenge is always finishing, not starting, and hopefully I'll do some of that this summer too. :D

  11. Gwen's books are so full of inspiration, color, design and she's got a sense of humor. Great work, love the yellows.

    1. Thanks, Janie! You are motivating me to look deeper than the photos!

  12. Bummer about the wrist. I hope it will heal soon and not cause you additional issues! I'm liking your different sized blocks and chuckled about "being on a kick with different sized blocks." Isn't it interesting what grabs and holds us for a time? Have a wonderful summer. I look forward to catching up with you when you return.--Terry

    1. Thanks, Terry! I really have to give it a proper rest, difficult as that may be! I hope you have a great summer as well. Happy quilting!

  13. Have a great summer. Rest that wrist. Love all your blocks, too!


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Happy stitching!

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