Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Round Robin Improvisational Quilt

The Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association hosted Sherri Lynn Wood for a lecture and workshop last month and I was fortunate enough to take her class. She taught at previous QuiltCons and will again in 2015. What a wonderful teacher! We all learned so much from her unique perspective of quiltmaking. Her idea that improvisation is a score to be riffed rather than a pattern to be followed is particularly enlightening. Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, her first book, will be available from STC Crafts early next year.

Here's my top at the end of the Improv Round Robin workshop. It started with the dark blue, dark red and grey at the bottom right. I pieced that section to open a conversation before passing it randomly to eight different quilters. Each of them combined a bit of their fabric with mine to expand the discussion. Time was very limited; Sherri repeatedly reminded us to re-center ourselves. We needed it. I've rarely been so wound up in a class. (Engrossed or involved, yes; but not wound tighter and tighter. Perhaps it was lack of sleep.)

Dark blue, dark red, grey and green fabrics were used to make this improvisational quilt.
Improv Round Robin quilt top at the end of the day

We each brought a box of "well-curated" fabrics. I just grabbed leftovers from Steam Punk along with a few pieces from the scrap bag.  Here's where I planned to start. It's probably eight yards - way too much for this project. I may be wrong but I improvise from scarcity rather than abundance.

Fabrics originally pulled to make the Improv Round Robin quilt

During our opening discussion, Sherri suggested winnowing our fabrics further and gave a range of two to one hundred fabrics. Then she said, "But no one's ever used just two." That was all the prodding necessary. I selected the dark blue and grey because each was more than 1.5 yards. The dark red was my signature fabric which I kept and added to each quilt I worked on. Sherri may have been a bit concerned about this extreme position when she suggested I add a few more fabrics with similar values. So I put the three on the right into my box also. I expected limited choices would be easier for everyone but found out it was harder. By the way, the photo above was taken before the workshop but the one below was taken after. That's all the fabric I had left.

Final fabric selection for Improv Round Robin quilt 

This quilt actually contains a fabric from eight other quilters. Oddly enough, one had a dark red while another had a dark blue that were both similar to the ones I'd used. The fabric with the large dots was a lovely addition which expanded the conversation into green and pink as well as repeating circular patterns. I really admire the way someone brought bits of blue and red into a very quiet grey section at the top. At the end of the day it looked a bit like an A-line skirt. How delightful!

When I got home I wanted to square it up but maintain the skirt view. I thought about framing it with one piece of fabric but that didn't seem true to the improvisational spirit. Instead I made a rule to use only scraps still in the box or from my scrap bag. No hunting around for more. 

Scraps of medium blue, red, white, grey and green added to the sides of an improvisational quilt.
Improv Round Robin quilt top after squaring up

Except for one, the inner border pieces on both sides were found like that and chosen because they filled the space very well. That "one" was a paper pieced section of red, green and black that didn't work in my watermelon quilt and had foundered in the scrap bag about ten years. When I put it behind the final hole it found a home. I marked it with chalk and cut it at that odd angle. I pieced the two strips that were cut from each side into the bottom. Do you see them? Don't they look wonderful?

I pinned the blue on the right side first and planned to use it on all sides. But then the red floral caught my eye. It had been used to make Steam Punk centers so it was full of holes. The dark section made it long enough. It opens and brightens the quilt as well as bringing the scale up. Now that yellow circle on the blue has friends.

The leftover circles are the final touch. I think they reinforce all the beautiful dots. And they won't languish in the scrap bag. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

1 comment:

Sherri ~ daintytime said...

I really liked how you finished the quilt or closed the conversation, by making the rule of only using the materials left in your scrap box from the workshop. It is such a beautiful and interesting quilt. And a real treasure I suspect when you remember all of your quilting buddies who helped create it.