Thursday, February 12, 2015

Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters

Last January, I was lucky enough to be asked to try out
a score for Sherri Lynn Wood's new book,

I had been reading her blog for a while,
and threw my hat in the ring when she asked if people 
wanted to try out her scores for her book.

When I got the email that said I had been chosen to be a tester, 
I was excited,
and I must admit a bit intimidated.

I am very familiar with improv quilting, 
but this challenge took it to a new level.

The challenge of my score was to to fit together 
blocks and sashing to create a rhythmic grid.

My first task was to pick out some fabrics.

Then I started to cut everything up.
No rulers!

With the directions given,
I started playing around with my pieces.
This was a great process for me.
I'm not great at reading directions and figuring it out,
so I had no idea if I was "doing it right."
Which of course is silly, because improv quilting
is all about just "doing it."
Good lesson there, for just about everything in life.

I was surprised when I began my quilt that 
I really didn't like what was going on.
I couldn't see how it would work, but I pressed on and let go. 

As I laid it out and put my rows together, I started to really like it.
I could see my rows coming together in a way 
I had not anticipated.

I learned that even if you aren't thrilled with 
what you see before you, keep going.  
Try different things and put together enough 
to really get a feel for where you are going.  
You can always change it, but don't make any snap decisions 
on what you have, let it brew awhile.

So I kept cutting.
I loved not using a ruler.  I have done this before to some degree, but not for a whole quilt top.  
It was very freeing to just hack away at the fabric.  
And I realized that I could cut a pretty straight line 
without a ruler if I wanted to.

More rows.
I fiddled with the placement of things,
looking for a certain flow.
This kind of design work is
 out of my comfort zone,
but it felt great to jump in and go with it.

I struggled with the spacing between my blocks.
I know it was to be improv, 
and maybe I just needed to let go more,
lose control.

Can you see the flow here?

I added a top & bottom row in contrasting fabrics,
but trying to continue the flow I had established in the center.

I used all the little scraps to make a pieced back.
I really love this too. 

I decided to do straight line quilting on an angle,
about a half inch apart. 

Here is a closer look at the quilting.

I decided not to square up the quilt.
My sides were jagged and I loved the look of that.
Those jagged edges gave me the biggest surprise of this challenge.
Not everything needs to be perfect and square!
I LOVE those edges.

Binding it wasn't so easy, but I honored the challenge
of figuring out all those corners and indents.

This is the pic I submitted to Sherri 
for consideration to be in her book.
These colors are more representative of the actual quilt.

I'm not sure how well I adapted the score.
I'm horrible at reading directions and visualizing what it "should" be.
I just jumped in and let it take me away.  
I feel like anything I create is my version of something else,
so honestly this was perfect for me to own it.

And the finished back. 

I do love that back.

I loved the whole idea of just freely cutting and sewing 
and seeing what happens.  
I think my next improv quilt will be a little bit looser,
 with no grid to the blocks and see what happens.

Sherri had so many people testing her scores,
and in the end she could only pick a few quilts
to add to her book.  
Mine wasn't chosen, but I really loved being involved with her project.
It pushed me out and made me look at things differently.
I cut fabric without a ruler.
I sewed things that weren't perfectly straight.
I made a quilt that "wasn't me," but clearly is me!
Thanks Sherri for the gift of improv exploration.

You can order your copy of 
Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters


  1. WOW, Lisa!
    Please bring this to the next MetroMod meeting. So exciting to see you take a leap of faith!

  2. It's a map of Modern Quilting. What a journey. Love it!

  3. So enjoyed seeing this! I followed the same "score" with very different results. Such fun seeing another (very successful, IMO) version.