Tuesday, 15 December 2015

AHIQ - do more, do less

Today I've got some musings sparked off by Stephie.   When I issued a challenge to people to cut up their most precious yardage, (and that sparks a whole other debate on what constitutes a big piece of fabric), she responded that she only has small pieces so her challenge ought to be using a precious piece without cutting it. (See what she did here)

This has got me thinking about my own quilting journey and some of the stages it has been through.  When it first occurred to me that I could just do my own thing, without all that tiresome following of patterns and matching of points (well, more like failing to match points), I made several quilts which were pretty much just big pieces of fabric, arranged in a way that was pleasing to my eye.  I don't have photos of all of them, but these two will suffice to make the point:





Then I read a few books, including Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking II, and started thinking I could put traditional elements back into what I was doing, which made me happy, and I have pootled along doing this making it up as you go along thing for a fair old while.

I still like doing it too, (and just this morning found myself making a couple of wonky stars, which is something I haven't even contemplated since Little Elephant) but at the same time I started to wonder if there was a way to make things simpler.  The last couple of projects demonstrate where this has taken me: working with what feels like quite limited palettes and deliberately sticking to just a few basic shapes/blocks.    




So what? I hear you wonder.  I guess what I'm saying is that whilst it's no fun constantly taking ourselves outside our comfort zones, maybe sometimes we can stretch by just making one small change, or a couple and this might be an easier way to grow as quilters than trying to make huge, dramatic changes and feeling uncomfortable with them.  Cut it if you usually work big, leave it alone if you tend to go small; add something if the last few things you've done have been simple, take something out if, like me, you have had lots of fun throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.  Do more, do less.

12 comments:

  1. I so agree, with our fabric work we need to keep stretching our skills and not get in a rut.

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  2. I so agree, with our fabric work we need to keep stretching our skills and not get in a rut.

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  3. Art, in its many forms, has always been a reason to celebrate for me, so if a 'rut' sneaks up I quickly turn my back and go the other way.

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  4. I love your quilt in the first photo - just love it! Earlier this morning I saw cushions made with blocks of fabric rather like your quilt and was immediately grabbing fabrics to try and make two for Christmas gifts.

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  5. I think there are a lot of ways to challenge ourselves out of the same ho-hum. I'd also say a quilter who is more comfortable with working from patterns might choose the next one based on a change they want to make. As someone not choosing to sew from patterns often, perhaps it would help to be more conscious of what design elelments we've worked from in the past, choosing to vary the palette, another design feature, etc. If we 'get in a rut' doing the same thing over and over, we could be (tongue in cheek) working in a series. : )

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  6. Okay... I'm still chuckling about "pootled along" :) That's a phrase I now love!
    Great advice Kaja! Little steps and fewer changes eventually add up to a lot of learning.

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  7. Well obviously I am on a different page here, because if I have a comfort zone, I don't know where it is! More focus would probably be beneficial, but I don't think I'll ever settle into just one style. There're benefits to both approaches, I think. :D

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  8. Some interesting ideas fhere. I usually follow a block as most of my quilts are presents and it speeds up the proceedings . But ... I do love improv sewing for myself

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  9. Good conversation happening, and yes, as a teacher, I totally get what you're saying. Small changes, small challenges, small pushes out of the box are always good for growth. Of course big changes do a LOT too...voice of experience. I mainly follow patterns but in doing so, I have learned a plethora of techniques, shapes, methods, shortcuts, approaches, and so on. However, I have made my own patterns from a picture I've seen, or something that has inspired me. Improv, the little I've done, is fun and freeing, but scary to some degree too.

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  10. Great post Kaja - and thank you for the mention, I'm honoured! One thing I like to do if it's something out of my comfort zone is to make something small first, a cushion or table runner for example. That way I don't feel like I'm wasting fabric on something that may not work out the way I'd hoped. And...you say your circles and squares tops are simpler?!?!? You may have pared down the shapes and palette, but they still look 'complicated' (in a really good way) - I reckon someone new to improv wouldn't have a clue how you did it! I really love that centre detail, the colours and quilting are so soft and understated. Hmm, another thing I think about with large, possibly uncut fabric are some of the Welsh or Amish quilts, they make such a graphic statement, but alas I really don't have any fabric large enough...yet!

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  11. I agree with you on this - and I am trying to do both more and less. I am trying to keep quilts simple, like modern quilts - beautiful without being overly complicated. I am also trying to stretch to use techniques that I haven't used to make more elaborate quilts - like La Passaglia and Dear Jane, which involve more care and attention. I am also letting myself play by making the liberated quilts and I've already selected pieces of fabric that will be used in my Little Elephant quilt.

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