Improv quilting rekindles the joy in creative process

boston terrier puppy handmade doll

I’ve always turned away from quilting, something I associate with retired ladies at the sewing supplies shop. Formulaic cutting and joining, repeat 100 times does not sound at all like what I might do in this lifetime.

A book in the library changed my mind.

The Improve Handbook for Modern Quilters – A guide to creating, quilting and living courageously – by Sherri Lynn Wood

improv handbook for modern quilter by sherri lynn wood

It has been 10 months since I borrowed this book, and has been many months too since returning it to the library. Therefore, can’t be considered a book review.

Vaguely, I remember the book was divided into chapters Wood called ‘scores’, as in music, not in revenge. She calls the guided exercises scores because they are opened to improvisation as one would interpret the same song differently.

Many common practices ( stated in the book, which i won’t know as I have not quilted before this point) were revised. Wood urges you to cut free hand, and not think too hard about the outcome.

The maths, and the inevitable rigidity that comes with traditional quilting, in my opinion is what keeps the common hobby store quilts from becoming better art despite the hundreds of hours of labour poured in.

(This account of my experience with brush with improv quilting as I recently acquainted myself with acrylic painting, while majority of my time is spent making art dolls from fabric.)

Cutting a pile of scraps into geometrical shapes with no pattern (unlike my usual practice with cloth dollmaking) is liberating.

Then, I combined one fabric strip to another, with no plan in mind. And no fear in my heart. Instead, I enter a state of flow, where I respond to what emerges before me, intuitively.

Incessant perfectionist’s chatter vanishes as one small fabric scrap joins with another, and grow into a bigger piece of scrap.

Then, two such scraps grow into yet a bigger piece. Slowly, a pattern begin to form.

I feel like a lucky person who have all the work done for me. All I have to do is turn up, listen and watch.


  • Darlene Rutledge
    Nice work!
    • Marn
      Thank you Darlene :)

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