Improv Sewing is a fabulously relaxing way to spend a Sunday! During today’s workshop, Improvising from a Score with Sherry Lynn Wood, we start the process with a centering meditation breathing deeply in and back out. My thoughts drift away as words are spoken and when I open my eyes again, my fabric choices are shiny and bright. Although I brought just a few options, my first three fabrics call clearly to me. Once again, I’m reminded to trust my initial instincts.
When starting improvisational sewing projects, knowing where to start can be a hurdle for my creativity. For this session, we are using the first Score: Floating Squares. I’ve made my fabric choices and began to cut various sized squares from two fabrics, leaving the third as filler.
My process is simple: choose two squares, sew together, then choose the next square and add the filler so that it fits the first two squares (if needed) and sew together. Turn clockwise and continue the process. Yes, I started with a ‘log cabin’ mindset and while it seems like a static idea, it actually freed me from over-thinking what fabric to add next. It also doesn’t look particularly like a ‘log cabin,’ so I’m pleased with my first block.
Over the past couple months, my Quilty Improv Group has really delved into Ms Sherry Lynn Wood‘s second Score: Strings. Yes, we liked it so much that we decided an ‘encore’ was in order! Our quilt studies include strips of strings, negative space strings, gem-shaped string petals and yes, string triangles. 😉
With Score for Strings, I started with the solids from a baby quilt I made last year and curated fabrics in analogous color schemes: purple/orange, sky blue/yellow and green/brown/navy.
This is a milestone… I’ve folded 500 cranes!
I’m halfway to folding 1K Cranes before the end of 2015. Yay!
After a recent trip to the emergency room for labored breathing, Shiitake was diagnosed with restrictive heart disease and kidney issues. I’m somewhat dismayed that my cat actually has a cardiologist and takes more meds than Orion did this spring. But it really has been nice to work on smaller Quilty projects with him happily curled up in my lap.
We have these really interesting discussions, too.
🐱 So what’s all this ‘slow stitching’ about?
😊 Well, I guess in a world that’s so fast-paced and distracting, it’s about remembering to slow down, be fully engaged in the creative process, sharpen skills at every level, and truly honor your own journey.
🐱 K, but don’t u already do that? I mean, u started ur ‘Labor of Love’ quilt when I was just a kitteh, with the last few spent hand quilting. Are u part of the movement?
🐱 Huh. Why not?
😊 Ah, mostly because my creative journey has always been inherently contemplative, yet spontaneous whether I’m quilting or painting, gardening or cooking. For instance, when my client asks for 40 hand-made cards with silk flowers, I pull out all my goodies and consider colors based on the seasons and shapes of the petals, as well as if would I give this card to my own friends. Then, I kreate!
🐱 So it’s not just hand-piecing/hand-quilting?
😊 Not really. The movement is open to any of the fiber arts and it’s more about focus and mindfulness.
🐱 What happens when ur mind gets full?
😊 Um… I guess I take a nap.
🐱 Ah, then I’m gonna join the slow stitching movement myself now!💤
And then this gem from just the other day:
🐱 Doesn’t everyone have too big a heart and too little time to waste?
😊 No, little one. But yes.
There’s a re-occurring theme this year that has me looking back to techniques I first learned during my undergrad years.
During another fun Quilty workshop today, Sandra Bruce teaches her technique, “Material Matrix,” which involves interpreting gridded photo into pieced quilts, like this fun little cup and saucer.
Last month, I pieced four blocks during the quilty retreat and thought I’d just whip together a quick Carpenters Wheel for the other side. I really like my reversible quilts and thought to ‘pillow-top’ and finish it up within the week.
What happened instead…
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been honing my ‘Modern Improv’ techniques on some exciting quilt projects. You may recall, several Cheryl Arkison workshops, which were crazy fast-paced fun. Then, the more relaxed session with Tina Michalik, who taught an easily scalable Improv block and quilt design. Now with my mindset primed, I recently began another ‘Improv Journey’ that will undoubtedly keep me busy well into the next year and beyond!
Improvisational Quilting isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination. Quilts have been sewn without patterns from clothing scraps and remnants for many years. However, Ms Sherri Lynn Wood recently published a book directing modern quilters to consider sewing quilts using ‘scores’ and parameters instead of patterns and rulers.Working without a set pattern makes me particularly giddy after focusing on my traditional Shaded 4-Patch and Carpenters Wheel projects in previous years. My life has been a blur of HSTs (half square triangles) for SO long!
Has life become a mad rush of family constraints, work commitments, house construction and social engagements?
Time to rejuvenate yourself with a creative get-away!
There’s a certain freedom that comes to mind when I think of 3-4 days of simply creating art in the midst of like-minded individuals. My only focus is on fabric, sketchbook ideas and a design wall, with someone else providing tasty meals, bonus points for contemplative surroundings and a puzzle-solving hike or two. Such was a recent Quilty retreat experience.Although I brought several ‘projects in progress’ (PIPs) so I wouldn’t get stuck, I spent a bit of time on ‘philly’ sewing (for charity/philanthropy) and the 4 planned Improv exercises. Sometimes that happens when you ‘take a chance on Improv.’ 😉
With much excitement, I signed up for Tina’s Fabulous Improv Workshop two months ago.Now, after my sweet kitty lost his battle with intestinal lymphoma just a few short days ago, I feel lost myself. I’m certainly in no shape to face the world, even full of dear Quilty friends.
But as Miss Molly would say, “I paid my money and I’m gonna finish this race!”
Found crawling across the sidewalk of a Denny’s in King City when he was days old, this little ‘bitey-scratchy-bouncy-off-walls kitty’ so endeared himself to us over the years while driving us crazy!
Grateful for the time he spent as part of our family eating blueberries & peas, spinning on chairs & opening sliding glass doors, grooming & keeping Shiitake company, being my shoulder cat & quilt weight…