I was thrilled when Maria Shell asked me to be part of the blog hop for the release of her new book, Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line and Shape, published by C&T Publishing.
I first met Maria when I sat down next to her at a Studio Art Quilts Association (SAQA) conference several years ago, and I was struck by her open and friendly manner. Even though she lives in Alaska and I live in Virginia, we’ve stayed in touch through SAQA and our common love of improv quilts. She participated in the blog hop when my book, Artful Improv, came out last year, and I’m happy to review her book today.
It’s exciting to me how many different ways there are to make dynamic improv quilts. Maria’s way is very accessible and fun. Her book shows you how to dive in and get started if you’ve never tried improv, and if you’re more experienced with going your own way, she has some new ideas to spark your creativity. There are several things I want to try after reading her book.
Here are the ten things I liked most about Maria’s Improv Patchwork book, in no particular order:
- In the very beginning of the book, on page 9, Maria gives you tips on being a “fearless quiltmaker.” I love that term. It’s important in improv, and in art in general, to keep trying, keep practicing, keep making mistakes. Not every quilt will be a masterpiece and that’s OK. That’s how you grow as an artist.
- The chapter on Color, Pattern, and Repetition is chock full of great information. One idea that really resonated with me is becoming aware of your own “personal color identity.” What colors and color combinations thrill you the most? Bold brights? (yes) Muted neutrals? (occasionally) Somber dulls? (not so much) It’s a great exercise to help you know your color strengths and weaknesses.
- There’s an entire section on pressing and how to choose the right iron–one of my ongoing struggles.
- Maria loves stripes, and she gives you step by step instructions for how to create stripes, with and without using a ruler.
- One of my favorite quilts in the whole book is Lite Brite, on page 54. The colors are bold and graphic, set off so perfectly by the black lines. And the lines are gracefully wavy, not all straight.
- She gives clear instructions on how to make each element, and the photos illustrate them beautifully. I want to try the triangles made from shapes technique.
- At the end of each chapter–on stripes, on polka dots, on triangles, on checks–Maria shows examples of quilts she’s made using those techniques. I loved seeing the closeups especially and the way she quilts the shapes.
- Of course, one of my favorite chapters is the last one–Putting it All Together. I really enjoy seeing how other improv quilters go about the process of putting the individual units and elements together to create a unique and wonderfully personal quilt. Maria uses several different methods to do this, from sketching out a plan to making mini quilts to what she calls “bit making.”
- I think I could be categorized as a “bit maker” too, so that discussion really resonates with me. I really liked these lines from the book–“Sometimes I make dozens of bits before I put anything on the design wall. If I like a bit, it tends to travel around, appearing in an assortment of quilts.” Isn’t that a fabulous word image?
- There are really helpful ideas about designing with separate elements–taking photos of the work in process to see what’s working, and how to compensate for elements that aren’t all the same size, for example. The one I liked the best was what Maria calls “locking in.” If you have a section that you really like, even if it’s a small one, go ahead and sew that section together to lock it in. Now that’s a great idea!
You can win your very own copy of Maria’s wonderful book by leaving me a comment about your favorite improv technique. I’ll randomly choose a winner from the comments. You have until midnight Alaska time on October 26 to leave your comment and get a chance to win.
US winners will receive a hard copy of the book and international winners will get the ebook. I’ve seen them both and they are equally wonderful! If you can’t wait to get your hands on this book, it’s available now from Amazon and C&T Publishing.
Be sure and visit the other blogs on the blog hop, listed below. You can comment on each blog and increase your chances of winning!
BLOG HOP CALENDAR
October 16—C&T Publishing
October 18—Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting JetGirl
October 19—Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side
October 20—Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal
October 21—Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession
October 21— Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine
October 22— Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog—Fun Quilts Stuff & More
October 23—Cindy Grisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts
October 24—Heather Pregger at Heather Heather’s Blog
October 25—Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher