Welcome to the Improve Handbook Blog Hop! Sherri Lynn Wood’s new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters; A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously, has just started shipping. I had the pleasure of meeting Sherri this past weekend when she visited my guild to teach her Bias Strip Curves class. You can read about that experience in my earlier post.
The book is full of beautiful photographs by Sara Remington–including the cover shot and the picture of Sherri (both above). The staging is sparse, putting the quilts on center stage.
I really like the way Sherri speaks about improvisation. I appreciate technique and skill and respect those who exhibit both in their work. She suggests that improv has it’s own set of techniques and skills. I think those who have never tried improv might be quick to disagree with that statement but if you have given it a go, you will know that there is much technique and skill involved in putting away that ruler. She speaks to that and provides hints and tips for fixing problem areas in your work such as puckers and pulls and how to avoid them or work with them. I also like that Sherri states that the maker is the most important part of improvisation. You have to know yourself and your likes and dislikes, feel your emotions, etc. I think working on a improv piece is just that for me. I love to work intuitively and make decisions as I go. I also feel like my decisions are more visible in improv than they are in other types of sewing. You kind of bare your soul.
Sherri’s book contains 10 scores. She uses scores as a vehicle for teaching improvisation. I see her scores as guidelines, broad rules to follow that start you on your way to improv. The rules can be interpreted differently by different individuals, as you will see if you look at the many test quilts that were made for this book. I think these scores make improv much less intimidating to beginners. Most people who sew are used to patterns and following directions. Sherri has provided you with direction enough to make you feel comfortable, with room enough for you add yourself into the equation, in fact, you are forced to. You have to make decisions because the answers are not all there.
More than a year ago now, I received an email from Sherri asking me to consider making a quilt using one of her scores for her upcoming book. She asked me to work with the Layered Curve score which, broadly speaking, had me collect fabric, handcut curves, and reassemble, all without a ruler. I was really pleased when she chose my quilt for the book. I thought I would walk you through my process today.
The blocks above were my first attempt in following the score.
Then I layered them and cut more curves. I quickly decided that I didn’t like the direction that I was heading in. The quilt was way too busy for my taste and the curves were not elegant enough or balanced.
I decided to start again with a set of solids in a very limited range and, in addition to the score, set another rule for myself. I would cut an inner 1/4 circle type curve in the corner of each section.
I realized that I didn’t have any photographs of my finished quilt this winter and Sherri’s book was due out in February. In an attempt to get ready for the blog hop, I actually had to borrow snow shoes to walk over the several feet of snow in our Massachusetts yard to get pictures. Who knew that the publishing would be delayed? I could have taken them without storm interference but you had better believe that I am sharing the snowy pictures after that monumental effort! Plus, it’s more amusing.
This is my final quilt. I named it Scrambled. Sherri refers to the 1/4 circle shape I employed as a yolk like shape. It definitely is that though it wasn’t my intent and the name of the quilt came later. The curves in this quilt feel much more elegant and calmer. It’s more “me” if you will than my first attempt. I allowed the quilt to remain in it’s wavy, non squared up shape which I like as well.
The quilt top posted here did not follow a score in Sherri’s book but I think it was informed by the skills I learned when working with the Layered Curve score. It gave me the confidence to attempt such a large improv piece. I also stuck to what I knew I liked best from this experience-mostly solids (though I included one print) and again I made rules, or scores, for myself which I explained in that post.
This book is a great springboard to improv piecing. I hope you will visit the other blogs on the hop to see some of the other beautiful quilts that were included in the book and all the test quilts as well.
May 1: STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery
May 1: Sew Mama Sew – Score for Floating Squares Gallery
May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery
May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend
May 11: Studio Notes – Test Quilter Penny Gold
May 13: Quiltville – Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery
May 15: Peppermint Pinwheels – Test Quilter Stacey Sharman
May 18: Quirky Quilts – Test Quilter Kim McPeake
May 20: PoppyPrintCreates – Score for Patchwork Doodle Gallery
May 22: The Last Piece – Test Quilter Sara Fielke
May 25: Cauchy Complete – Score for Layered Curves Gallery
May 26: Diary of a Quilter – Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery
May 28: Getting Stitched on the Farm –Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery
May 29: Spoonflower – Score for Showing Up Gallery
May 30: Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson
The publisher, STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, is offering one copy of this book to a resident of the US or Canada. Please enter below for your chance to win.