Time to cut up some fabric!
I have decided to work improvisationally on this quilt. This means working without a pattern or plan, making up the quilt as you go along. Improv quilts grow in an organic way, one creative decision at a time.
You can work improvisationally from many different starting points. On occasion I have started with a blank piece of paper and worked out a graphic design first. Then I search for fabric to enhance the shapes and fill the spaces I have created. Sometimes, I am inspired by an occasion or a person or an image or an object or a challenge but, because I love fabric, that is where I usually start.
This quilt starts with my Siren from Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms collection. The structure of this piece is spectacular! The heady blossoms with their arched crowns are underlined by fanciful pink flower garlands. The floaty, moon-shaped dandelions add a touch of otherworldly whimsy. (I am not a gardener so I am free to love dandelions. Every lawn should have an artful scattering!) The movement is horizontal with the crowns and flower garlands drawing your eye across the piece, but the stems and leaves provide an underlying vertical framework.
One of the hardest challenges, working improvisationally, is deciding where to start. I wanted to highlight the horizontal movement of the fabric and I debated about starting with a wide horizontal strip of my Siren above and below a pieced center. But that layout would bring attention to the piecework rather than my Siren. I wanted all eyes to go immediately to the fabric that led me into this improvisational working.
I cut my first block to feature a single, soulful blossom. It's vivid stem draws the eye along the vertical plane. This cut brings the flower garland down to a V, drawing your eye to the stem and underscoring the vertical orientation. And, I was able to get two groupings of those fantastical, floaty moons! The "on point" orientation also empasizes the verticallity and adds a touch of elegance to the block.
The process of making an improv quilt is a series of artistic decisions. It requires you to stay in the moment, listen to the fabric and see with your soul. But craft must interlock with art every step of the way. With each creative decision you must summon the skill and ingenuity to make your vision work. You will need to draw upon all of your skills and techniques and when your vision extends beyond your skill, you will be driven to learn some new ones.
In this instance a construction consideration nipped my artistic vision. I would have cut the piece of my Siren a bit larger, but the border stripe was printed only along the selveges of the fun pink floral fabric. I would have had to buy more to go around a larger piece. Working with what you have is sometimes part of the challenge and always part of the artistic process.
Adding the narrow border of lime crossweave was an easy decision. It added a bit of punch to my somewhat subdued Siren and drew even more attention to that commanding vertical stem.
A note about cutting stripes: Often stripes are not printed perfectly on the straight grain of the fabric, or even straight at all. This border was not printed as precisely as I would have liked. I had to make a decision between cutting accurately and maintaining the integrity of the design. I opted to keep the design intact but the cost was a less than perfectly cut strip. In construction, it has created a slight ripple in my beautiful block. That ripple was not in my creative vision. Do you think it will quilt out?
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