Friday, September 25, 2015

direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

I was tickled to hear that many of you already own or were keen to buy Sherri Lynn Wood's The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters!  Yes, we will have a loose score-along with some link parties, and who knows what else.  Let's just allow this to unfold organically... which, come to think of it, is rather fitting!

Maybe you've received your books about now.  Have you started into that first score?  What about it is hard for you?  Limiting your fabrics?  Cutting without a plan, without rulers?  Do you feel like you're sewing blind?

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

Here's were I started (and sometimes getting started is the hardest step).  That first yellow and jade segment was so enjoyable that I launched right into a second segment using a toasty brown and white with my feature fabric, Zephyr Puff in Mustard.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

On the second segment, I intentionally cut larger squares and tried to need less "filler" fabric.  The resulting piece is more like the look of this score in the book, but not particularly more pleasing to my eye.  In fact, I prefer the yellow segment with its tiny, floatier squares. And did you notice that in the yellow piece I incorporated a few variations of the yellow?  Those were pulled from scraps.  Using a bit of variation for depth is just "me", particularly when the fabrics come from my scrap drawers.  I'm going to give myself that freedom in future segments.

After that second segment I began floundering.  While familiar with the open nature of improv, I like to have a sense of direction.  That direction may be a feeling I'm channeling, a color scheme or a vague sense of line.  Since this work is emerging from a book, rather than from a specific bolt of inspiration, "direction" is harder to pinpoint.  At first I thought I would use a limited, but sunny color scheme, like this:

 Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

But I'm finding that hard to maintain.  Perhaps it's because Sherri Lynn's example quilt in the book is so colorful. 

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

So...  I started pulling other solid colors, just grabbing ones that felt good at the time.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

And then Direction came into clear focus when I next found myself hovering over this crib, reaching for babe.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

The colors I'd pulled were all there in Anna Maria Horner's Folk Song floral.  I had only to add the coral red to completely replicate her color scheme.  Probably I had been subconsciously following this fabric all along, as I do so enjoy its colors and have been looking at it a lot lately.  Funny!

Now I'm confident to pursue this happy gathering of colors for Score #1 and even considering putting snippets of the floral in my quilt top for fun.  If not there, then at least it'll make an appearance on the back!  Feels good to have a sense of direction.  Onwards we go.

What about you?

p.s.  Kona Cotton colors selected:  White, Curry, Kale, Caramel, Coral, Gumdrop, Delft.

p.p.s. I have not been as good as I'd like to be about responding to your kind comments lately.  Although I know you understand my preoccupation during these stressful times, I still yearn to say "thank you" for your well wishes for Eleni and your encouragement for me.  I appreciate each one!  Thanks for your friendship and grace.


  1. I am confused about Sherri Lynn Wood's recommendation to limit yourself to 2 or three colors. Does she mean two or three colors per block (as opposed to per quilt)? Because as you mentioned, her final product is very colorful.

    1. I'm not sure, but I think she means you could go either way. Some of the examples in the book are a whole quilt limited to 3 colors, but others are made up in "blocks" or segments made up of 3 fabrics. I am going the 2nd route, as you see. I think do what makes you happy!

    2. AuntieCrafty you are free to choose to limit the entire quilt to three colors or until you are bored ;) The beauty of improv is that it's all up to you!

  2. I bought the book when I saw it here. I am looking forward to the scores. I read about #1 last night. Will mull it over a bit -

  3. I think while she used several colors. She intended readers to try it first with just three. But that is just her setting a limit as she describes earlier in the book that you can choose to ignore or maintain

  4. Love it.
    I do not have this book, and I am not at a point right now to do something like this. I really enjoy watching you move through this though. I want to do something like this, but then
    perhaps it is something I have done all my life, I never follow directions. It is a cross I must bear, and sometimes it is a blessing and other times....
    I love the colors you have.
    I am working on that hillside houses project (Cristine of Pretty little Quilts) and I have taken it to a whole new level..... suffice to say, it is never ending, always adding. Now that I am a gramma....
    Anyway, I like to make you smile.
    Most of us know you are crazy busy. Life is always about meshing -- haha.
    It takes a while to learn how to do that, especially if you want that.
    So I never expect replies from you. That is going over and beyond, and you are always doing that
    with what is most important.
    I hoped you liked my house cozy idea.
    I hope this week-end is bright and fun. It is very cloudy here but we are inland in Loudoun County Va so we will just get drizzle and drab. We can make our own sunshine, right.
    I will check on my peeps this afternoon for a few hours, my dad needs the encouragement and my mom is just dealing with her brain injury, grieving about that, and she needs lots of laughing and encouragement too.
    Okay, the end. Love, Rosemary

    1. Yes - Rosemary - life is improv. It's a process that is intrinsic to all relationships we make. Improv quilting is making relationships and exploring patterns in the quilt according to what interests us the most and in conversation with our materials and patchwork as it unfolds. Jump in!

  5. Perhaps with three color she love it more than with many colors.Happy sewing ,those blocks are yummiest!

  6. My copy came in yesterday! I'm loving the freedom of the score concept. But I too need a bit of direction so I'm brainstorming today :)
    Have a great weekend!

  7. I'm enjoying the improv posts so much! It has inspired me to try an all-improv quilt for my cousin, who is quite ill. Beyond the joy of quilty-goodness, I wanted to say this:

    Sometimes, walking in grace is like walking in an old fashioned thunderstorm downpour. You walk out of your house in the sunshine, go down the steps, the clouds appear, and as you step onto the sidewalk, the sky opens up and pours down, thunder crashing, lightning like a fist of anger, shaking fury against the sky.

    None of us can know, when we start a new day, when we step out our own door, whether that storm will happen or whether the sky will shine blue and bright. There is no way for us to control the sky--only divinity and gravity can do that.

    What I see in your posts is an old fashioned grace--stubbornness. The rain may have smashed down, but you lean over your children, protecting them from the downpour. The water may have soaked your shoes, but you step forward, carefully carefully, and keep going, keep living, as best you can, and in all things with a loving stubbornness that you will MAKE the world better for your daughter--no matter what.

    I believe that you will, that you are. I have faced my own trials, and I can see a fellow traveler, walking through that storm. Like all of us, I know you've looked up, at the storm, and yelled, "How dare you hurt my child?" I believe there's nothing wrong with a little healthy shouting at the sky. But I also know that like my mother, like my grandmother, while you've hurled your anger up at the clouds, you then straightened your spine and trudged forward, determined to help your baby, your husband, your children.

    That is walking in grace.

    I believe that the divinity can and does respond to that, aiding, in every small and large way, whenever it can. Your love for your children shines through, and I know it will prevail against darkness. There is pain, I know, and fear, but I also think there is joy and grace. I know we're all praying for you and your lovely family.

    1. What a beautiful picture and a beautiful compliment. Thank you!


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