Blue Improv Repetition challenge is completed, and it’s time to wrap up!
As we did for the previous game, we decided to ask some questions to quilters who have finished their work within January 10th.
When we proposed a game based on repetitions, we wondered if this was way too obvious a topic, since repetitions are a classical design element. Maybe some other constraint should be added, to make the challenge more original? Or rather we should leave the rest open, giving room for free choice?
According to @vazquezurbez, there was a good balance: “It’s a great opportunity to make a small work following a few rules, but at the same time that allows to play with enormous freedom.”
We were surprised by the replies of participants: the few elements indicated (blue, improv, repeat), contained at least something new for many players.
For @anje_loskut “this was the first time to participate in such a game with repetitions.”
@auroraa1714 also said: “This was my first time… ok, you do a quilt with triangles or squares… but it is not the same”.
@victorianelson2263 added: “I have made improv quilts before, but never before with strictly a single shape repetition. I liked the limitations of color and shape, as a way to explore other elements of the quilt improv experience.”
@margaret_stamford introduced something new in the following way: “I’ve already made some quilts using repetition techniques. This was the first time I’ve combined piecing and raw edged appliqué to achieve what I could not with just piecing: notice how some of the repeats float into adjoining blocks.”
@therollingcat_ wrote: “When this challenge was launched, I had already worked with both curves and repetitions, but not together. So curves it was, and such fun! I also took the opportunity to add hand quilting made in contrasting woolen thread. This was a new experiment too.”
@hbeecook explained: “I have repeated shapes before, but never so mindfully. I found the prompt an excellent way to bring a focus to my improv!”
@Pieladyquilts is an expert of one-shape repetitions in her quilts. Still, she said: “I joined this time because I find it helpful for me creatively to have some limitations. Having the prompt of blue, with repetition, gave me lots of ideas.”
@buttermilk_hill summarised things well: when adding improv, “those two design elements are a great combination. The repetition provides structure for the idea, and improv sets up creative flow.”
@vazquezurbez also noticed that “repetitions give a sense of balance in the quilt.”
Sometimes we wonder if the three months timespan is appropriate for participants’ involvement in such games.
@sakura.quilting was an early starter, and, after a while, she decided to wait: “It’s better to leave the unfinished project in the design wall for weeks, when not resolving doubts, and going back to it when you feel more certain about the way to continue.”
@margaret_stamford worked with a much more tight schedule: “This quilt was made over four days prior to the deadline, so there was no time to refine my idea. One thing I learned from this exercise was to trust my initial responses from conception to completion when time was an issue.”
Whenever we share our improvisation results, this is always appreciated. @hbeecook wrote: “the group gives me so much inspiration and has helped me grow as a quilter. I love that it is an international project and connects us from so far away.”
Also for @therollingcat_ “it’s so refreshing to see how different quilters from around the world respond, and the resulting gallery is a real treat!”
The things we learn while doing an exercise are so personal and different for each of us.
@alsterdeeluxe wrote: “I learnt so many things! Mish mashing everything together doesn’t just work, you need to be much more selective and considered. And more is not always better. I took away maybe half of what I made before piecing the final version.”
@theeightchild explained: “Every time I quilt, I learn more about what makes a good composition and further develop my own eye for what speaks to me. I also learned some of the nuances of my walking foot.”
@victorianelson2263 said: “I have only done a few challenges previously. I feel like I learn something new with each quilt that I make, and a challenge helps me to try an exploration that I would otherwise not do. Blue is not my usual color but I enjoyed using blue, so that was a lesson I will repeat again.”
@quiltergardener found that “improvising a shape several times is a good way to see how you can make that shape irregular and more interesting. When many of the irregular shapes are together, the effect is very pleasing to the eye. Triangles, squares, rectangles, drunkard’s path — every traditional block, when improvised and repeated, is more exciting.”
@karinkory added: “I learnt during the experience that the repetitions are a great way to bring calm to the quilt and also make it more interesting.”
We are happy to facilitate diffusion of improv:
@alsterdeeluxe revealed: “This is the first improv quilt I have ever tried; I’ve never used repetition before as a means of generating pieces. I think this is what drew me to the challenge, as I was interested in interpreting repetition as iteration.”
Also @astudillorosales said: “It is the first time that I venture myself into this: in this game I learnt to loose patterns away. That’s the fun of it, because you don’t know what will be the final result. It made me very happy to realise that the fun is there waiting for me. If it doesn’t fit, you can improv. I will definitely keep getting fun.”
@auroraa1714 added: “Everytime that you improvise you learn that you should improvise more… let yourselves create!”
@buttermilk_hill underlined: “I learned -again- that improv is my favourite way of making”.
But… what is improv for us?
@sakura.quilting shared her views: “First, improv doesn’t mean wonky. Accuracy is always a must in my way of liberated quiltmaking. Second, changing the originally chosen fabrics is welcome, to use more scraps and to adjust to better results.”
@alsterdeeluxe mentioned something on this topic, too: “I originally chose fabrics thinking that improv meant the same as scrappy, so I was just trying to use up random fabrics that I have that were donated, or ones I didn’t think I could use in other projects. But in the end I used this as a constraint and did what I could, including using the back of the prints I chose.”
We asked participants what they would have changed inside their work, if given an opportunity to do it again:
“I would do the quilting differently. I might also add some additional larger squares in the composition to make it calmer (@victorianelson2263).”
“If I had the possibility to make this quilt again, probably I would use just one colour for the quilting thread. A simpler work for a better result (@sakura.quilting).”
“I would choose a finer color gradation and, for the squares I wanted as the repeating element, I would choose a stronger contrast (@karinkory).”
“If I made this quilt again I would select my blues more carefully. I just used what was in my scraps and I don’t think some of the pairings were as successful as they could have been. That being said, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in using scraps! (@hbeecook)”
“That dark blue square in the centre… It didn’t look that way prior to piecing. Luckily, the quilting helps to draw the eye away just a bit (@theeightchild).”
All the works have a meaning of their own, as they are right now. Desire to change may appear only inside the mind of the owner: we didn’t notice those elements mentioned as worth to be adjusted!
May these reflections just become a suggestion for future things to try?
@Pieladyquilts sees it this way: “I made this quilt with hand dyed fabric. I’d love to try it again with solids to see how it would change the effect.”
Also @quiltergardener gathered ideas: “I played with quilting the negative space to complement my repeating shape, the snowball. I would like to do more of that in the future.”
@maria_dlugosch wrote: “I have tried new rulers and will certainly use them again, they have been a success. This quilt will be added to my quilt pattern collection.”
@hbeecook confirmed: “I would definitely try repetition again — I’m exploring other shapes to use for a future quilt.”
More comments from quilters who joined us, and finished early, have been told in a previous article at this link.
There are also other stories, from quilters who initially started the game and then found a different route. @gigi.v13 completed the top and decided to postpone the quilting phase to another moment; after the deadline more works continued to arrive, such as those of @beckymcneillartanddesign and @patchwerrk; @mari.quilt kept the blue plus repetition concept and, instead of using improv, turned to a quilt based on a pattern (a drawing made for the diary cover of the quilter’s daughter found its place into the fabric scheme!).
We invite you to appreciate the beauty of their works in the #blueimprovrepetition page and in the authors’ Instagram pages.
We’re happy and grateful that the elements of the game prompt are used by participants, even if the process takes a different destination!
Thanks to everybody who joined the Blue Improv Repetition game.
You can review all improv quilts completed by the participants in the @quiltimprovstudio gallery.
See you soon with a new challenge!