The theme of repetition reminded me of a neat quilt. With variations in color and block sizes that help give liveliness to a static pattern. What can happen in the improv patchwork since there are no precise measurements or perfect cuts to use?

Deformation, similitude takes over, but not equality (which is unlikely to be done freehand). Color repetition can help, but if color is not used systematically in the various blocks what will be the result? These are the first considerations and questions I asked myself before starting the Blue Improv repetition game. I decided that I would try to make an “improv” quilt without intention, helping me with an additional parameter ( in addition to those given by color and shape) namely: time limit, trying to work quickly, acting on instinct without a predefined initial idea. This is something unusual for me as I usually make decisions step by step and take a lot of time especially when defining the composition on the design wall. But since it’s a game, let’s play and experiment.

 

I then chose the palette and the basic shape, the rectangle. In short succession I cut some strips, sewn, assembled, cut out and in a short time I finished my top. Only there I stopped to look at it, to see the result in its entirety. The final step was to choose a title.  (Paola told us her adventures with titles in an article  in this blog.)

Why give a title? To identify him? To give meaning? Both I would say. So when you have a clear idea to convey, it’s usually a pretty easy job. But in this specific case, when you start without initial ideas, how can you choose a title? When you look at an image, instinctively, the brain tries to recognize a “something”, a known form, or that in some way can be associated with a definable thing. The first thing that came to mind was a nice Scottish tartan fabric so “Improv tartan” seemed to be a fitting title. But I was not satisfied with the first impression and I also wanted to ask my husband and my children. The question was: what is it? What does it bring to your mind? I felt a bit like the Little Prince’s aviator when as a child he showed the drawing of the boa that had eaten the elephant and adults mistake it for a hat. The answers were: a hashtag, a video game, a cage. Interesting I would say! Everyone has elaborated the image in his own way, based on knowledge, experience, preferences. Perception, psychology, neurology blend together and transmit a different result for each of us, prompted by something that was born by chance and does not actually have a precise meaning. I find it fascinating! Who knows what answers I would have by asking more people? So, in addition to the fact that I stumbled upon a topic to investigate, neuroscience, I found the title for my quilt: “Perceptions”

I could have used the famous: “Untitled”, but I don’t like it, it leaves a void and creates a kind of detachment between the author and the viewer even if it can always be a way of saying: “you choose, it’s what you think!” Happy sewing to you!

As you probably know, one of our goals is to have fun together while improving some skills, technique or ability, to create a personal style and to reunite improv quilters that want to participate in these initiatives.  During one of our recent virtual meetings we started to talk about “shapes” and “repetition” (Paola loves to use repetition in her quilts, Carla wrote a lively article about the magic of the kaleidoscope that changes shapes every moment). Hence the idea for the second Quilt Improv Studio game. What about playing with a shape? Rotating, enlarging and reducing it? Or any other idea you can think of, with your selected shape. Repetition is an element of design, a recurring feature in many forms of art, in photography and in both traditional and modern patchwork. It is used to give a rhythm, and it is a way to create unity. How will we use it in improv quilting? There are many possibilities to express our creativity and we hope you will play with us also this time!

Now that you know that the focus of our new game will be: “Improv repetition” you can start to think about it; in the next few days we will propose to you some polls on our Instagram stories in order to decide together other aspects of the game (yes, we like to do things in a collaborative mode).
Thus… look at @quiltimprovstudio IG “stories”: polls will be published there starting from October 1st.  

The game shall not have many rules: you will find them on our site once the polls are finished. You know that what we like (and has also been appreciated by the previous participants) is the fact that we share our pictures and thoughts while working. Remember that you can do your mini quilt following your own rhythm and feeling free to make posts when you want.

Curiosity, study and research are the base of the knowledge development, so we collected some articles on the subject that we are happy to share with you. You can also look at your books, magazines or other sources and let us know!

Be ready, fun is starting soon!

link: visual communicaton design-principle-of-repetition-pattern

link: the quilt show-design-to-quilt-principles-of-design-pattern-repetition week 35

link: the quilt show-design-to-quilt-principles-of-design-pattern-repetition-week-36  

link: Sherri Lynn Wood blog-Repetition, Improv, and Trance Quilt Making 

Our first challenge is going to finish in a few days. This is the right time to stop and to think about it, before we start another one. 

In April we decided to launch a game about color and to post all the works on Instagram, hence the idea of involving anyone who wanted to join us: quilters from every part of the world accepted our invitation to play with us. It was a big pleasant surprise!  

Many of them expressed their enthusiasm for this initiative, experienced in a moment of closure. We believe that people appreciated the “social” aspect and the chance to focus their mind on a personal project to carry on. We are really happy about this!

Looking more at the practical side, we decided to propose some questions to quilters who have already finished their work within September 15th  to pursue our community sharing intent. Questions were about what they liked about this game, what they think to have learnt and how they have overcome the difficulties while working. We have collected the replies, you can read them below.

This occasion prompted some of the participants to make their first try with improv.

Adriana Pereira @drikartesatelie from Brazil told us how it was her start: “I went in search of my orange hand dyed fabrics and other commercial fabrics, to construct the improvisation palette. After that, I spent about 15 days just looking at those beautiful fabrics and thinking: I’ll spoil fabrics because nothing will come out!!! But I thought, if I don’t start, I won’t know I can ever do it: I was really scared! I confess that the first cut and seams are there in my patchwork box, but then I found myself full of so many ideas and small blocks done, that it was difficult to choose what to use in the challenge. When I started to put blocks on the wall, choosing the position and taking pictures, there were many photos: for mathematicians, an almost infinite progression!!!! In August 2020 I finished my orange summer challenge. Wonderful and enriching experience with modern and improv quilting.”
Marta Vázquez Urbez @vazquezurbez, Spanish from Oman, said: “this has been an incredible opportunity to try something new. I’m completely sure that I’m going to use this technique in future works.”
Bagarus Magdi @bagarusmag from Hungary replied: “It felt good to play together, I enjoyed the unrestricted freedom of improv quilting, learning from the group. I painted materials, I planned what theme I would choose for the colors, I watched the work of the quilters of different nations and I made my first improv quilt.”

We created on-line improv games as a positive reaction to the mandatory distancing period, and we’re glad to hear that this approach resonated also with the participants’ minds!

María Paz Avalos @sakura.quilting from Chile said: “In my case, most of the time, patchwork and quilting are very lonely activities. But in occasions like this challenge, I felt part of a group. I needed this feeling because of the world situation; the quarantine and other restrictions have imposed a severe distance, but our art has made us stay close. I think that the quilters that participated in the challenge were all motivated and felt very welcome. The community was warm and positive.”
According to Brigitte Rossetti @patchbri from Switzerland, “it was a beautiful experience to do something together with people you don’t know. I like challenges. It was also a good way to spend time during this pandemic!”

The international and social aspect of the experience popped out from the comments of many quilters.

Melanie Rudy @melanie_rudy_art from Canada said: “It was amazing to connect with all the wonderful participants from all over the world. I joined the group thinking it was a local organization from Canada and it originated from Italy. Such a surprise! This experience had to do with making lovely friendships. The participants were so talented and interested in each other’s work.”

For Carolyn McKibbin @quiltygardener from the USA, “it just seemed like a fun, casual group of quilters with open minds. Willing to be vulnerable, to accept feedback and to offer constructive feedback. All the quilters had a passion for improv and such different personal styles. I liked the step-by-step progress photos starting at the fabric pull. This way I could really see how each quilter honed an idea and made adjustments. It was like taking an improv quilting class! The small quilt size meant it was something I could complete in a week or two without a major long-term commitment. I also love the color orange, as well as Italian people in general.”

Chiara Cingano @therollingcat from Italy said: “I usually don’t take part in Challenges or Quilt Alongs or that kind of thing, mostly because of time constraints and also because I like to make my own choices. This time it was different: the rules were few and clear and this meant that we had in fact A LOT of freedom!”

Everybody used the same colors, and still, @vazquezurbez  noted that “even if the palette was only orange, the final works were so different!!! The best part has been seeing how other people work and create their quilts. This experience has been very useful to meet other quilters, and in particular to share it with my mother Maribel  @mariurbezg, who prepared these comments with me, since she joined the challenge too, from Spain, despite the distance between the two of us!”

The replies of the participants concerning their efforts, provide tips that can be useful for all of us:

@melanie_rudy_art suggested, in case of difficulties, to “just keep trying. Use a good iron. Use the starch called Flatter when things seem off. Take a break for a day or two and on second look it isn’t usually a problem. Remember that there will be another layer of quilting to add to the canvas. Enjoy the process!”

Andrea @morphea80 from Germany made a notice on constraints: “I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work at my own pace. I also liked the fact that there were only a few specifications such as color theme and size. There were no difficulties during improvisation, because I understand improvisation to be a playground without any rules besides those I make up myself. This way I’m free to go wherever even the difficulties will carry me.”

@patchbri feels that “it’s not difficult, when you add one piece after the other. If the result seems too odd, you can still correct it!”

Enza Pizzolotto @pizzolottoenza from Italy uses the following strategy to find adjustments: “When I encounter some difficulties, or when I feel that I don’t like the work done, I stop and I take a break doing something different. Sometimes I wake up in the night, and I return to my work: then, I look for something to add or to subtract from it”. 

Why not asking for a different point of view? @sakura.quilting wrote: “My husband is an engineer but has a modern artistic vision that I share. Sometimes I ask for his point of view regarding a project. Often his suggestions are part of the solution I needed.”

@marialuisama takes a break from her work when she doesn’t know how to continue: she takes a picture of the quilt and looks at it while having a coffee. Then, she comes back to work, now equipped with the “coffee suggestions!”

When @barthelregina finds some difficulties she “tries to find another way to deal with it. The good thing about improvisation is: nobody knows what I wanted to do and what I decided to change”.

Finally they shared with us what they’ve learnt:

@vazquezurbez told us: “I’m not sure if I can share a lesson from this challenge, but as a beginner in the process of improvising, sometimes I overthink about what I’m doing… next time I will try to think less and to cut more. Be free!”

@therollingcat described the following experience: “I had to be very disciplined: I learnt that it was vital to iron each and every seam, especially the very narrow ones. I quite like the result. It’s different from anything I have done so far.  It’s right there on the wall in front of my computer. So, when I look up, I see it and I go back to a strange Summer when I took up a challenge… and I survived to tell the tale!”

@pizzolottoenza underlined that “you always learn something new, when you look at the work of others, either if you like them or not.”

Last words, from @quiltygardener: “It’s okay to be vulnerable. To not be really sure if you like your work, but share it publicly anyway. Have faith, stick to your vision, and carry through with it, but be open to making improvised adjustments along the way.”

Thanks to the feedback from participants, we got confirmation that a common passion (in our case, improv quilting) facilitates development of ideas, and connects even with language differences and distanced conditions. 

The pictures of this page represent a small preview of all works done. We invite you to appreciate the gallery of all Orange Summer Challenge quilts at the following link: @quiltimprovstudio, where you will find complete info and other comments from the authors. 

Additional Orange quilts from participants that still need to complete their work, will continue to be published in @quiltimprovstudio gallery, until the start of a new game (in preparation for the next month). Because, as @therollingcat told us: “Ladies, I’m ready for the next challenge!!!” 

Thank you for joining us, adventurous quilters for adventurous projects!

 

One of the characteristics of patchwork is to spend time together, to sew together while talking of our lives or just chatting to have fun, to learn something new, to meet with other quilters having great moments.

These were our habits, things that have been thrown away in a few days. Suddenly, international sanitary emergency has interrupted physical connections and has inhibited travels. Now we can’t move even if we would like to do it! After a first moment when everything has stopped (national fairs and international festivals cancelled in Europe, in USA and in the rest of the world, up to part of the next year), something starts to move. After a few moments of loss, someone begins to do the only possible thing: trying to react.

It is since decades that technology is playing an essential role in our lives and helps the diffusion of modern patchwork: we can stay in touch with our old friends and have the chance to meet new people from the other side of the world.

Since a couple of months, international patchwork community (with prompt actions in USA and UK) launched live digital meetings and workshops, that gave the chance to more people to access to content previously reserved to single and local groups. Quilters in remote countries, now getting new accessible opportunities, are thriving!

We have a lot of announcements of on-line workshop, exhibitions, international festivals etc. Many artists organize on-line courses, we will see on line challenge’s galleries and we will participate to inauguration ceremonies staying at home. I think this is a great and quick reaction!

What will happen once this emergency will finally end? For sure it is better to travel, to be free to see and to meet people, but I hope that something will remain, keeping both approaches. A real life on one side, and the chance to have access to events organized from everywhere in the world on the other side. That’s a game changer. I’m a teacher and I believe that learning is always something to be pursued.

We noted that live courses go quickly sold-out. Thus, we started to follow multiple channels to discover events and open opportunities, just in time to enroll. Sources of information range from authors web sites and newsletters; guild calendars (some guilds started opening live courses to non-guild members); pictures on the socials showing work in progress by course attendees (such course may have future sessions available: Paola asked to be inserted in a waiting-list after following the experience of an on-line contact); e-learning platform news; quilt-shop initiatives; and obviously international patchwork events going live with virtual workshops and challenges.

Here below we list some on line events or artist classes dedicated to improv, to which Carla, Paola and myself have enrolled.

https://www.quiltcon.com/ (workshops almost fully booked)

https://www.thefestivalofquilts.co.uk/ (on-line gallery contest and workshops)

https://sherrilynnwood.com/livestream-quilting

http://www.joecunninghamquilts.com/online-classes

https://www.cindygrisdela.com/page1-2/

https://carolelylesshaw.com/

https://www.ireneroderick.com/workshops

http://suebleiweiss.com/globalquiltconnection.html

p.s. if you want, you can also participate to our Instagram game:

https://quiltimprov.art/orange-summer-challenge/

image courtesy of @anniehudnut, all rights reserved

During our meeting in Trieste, we discovered that we both have entered a quilt at the same challenge at the Prague Patchwork Meeting and we were waiting for a confirmation e-mail.  Some days later we were on the exhibitors list! Such a great news. We started to plan a week end in Prague together.  Meanwhile Paola sent her quilt.

Unfortunately in a few weeks everything has changed. We received an e-mail warning us that the Prague Meeting was cancelled due to the world health situation. Quilts already sent will be returned  and no need to send others.

The end of our first project was that our baggage was not even prepared and the only thing that went to Prague was Paola’s quilt.

By the way, if our suitcases are empty, our minds are full of ideas, and we can do a lot of things staying at home. Technology can help us and sometime crises create new opportunities. In April we met again, this time virtually. We both attended a Sherri Lynn Wood’s online workshop. Same workshop two different resulting works, this is why I love improv patchwork.

Our flow of discussions run on zoom meetings and phone calls: ideas started to take shape. Even if objectives were well defined, the route to them continuously changed, as a work in progress… as if we were adopting the approach of improv not only to fabric, but also to activities! While the construction of quiltimprov web site was ongoing, at the same time we tightened the connection with another Italian improv quilter.

Follow us, and you will get to know her!