Do you improv?

Maynard Plaza 2013

I’ve been listening to some podcasts featuring improv quilters.  I LOVE most of their work, but it isn’t the way I work. It makes me wonder: should I be working this way?  Does my work need to be free-er?  Less planned?  Is improv for everyone?

I have done some improv – I took a class with Jacquie Gering at the first QuiltCon.  It wasn’t strictly an improv class (we were working from pictures of architecture), but it definitely wasn’t a “plan it out in advance” process either.  I also took a “class” from the Gee’s Bend quilters at QuiltCon earlier this year and really enjoyed my class with Luke Haynes (also at QuiltCon this year).

Jacquie’s class 2013

I guess what I learned from these classes is that, while I appreciate the serendipity that can happen when you work in an improv style, I prefer to work out my ideas on paper or screen before I start sewing, rather than working them out in fabric.  I wonder if it is just because I quilt for my job, so I’m more goal oriented than I would be otherwise, or if it is just that I’m not cut out for improv?

Luke’s class 2015

Maybe the crux of the matter is this:  if you are doing planned out work because you fear making a mistake and don’t trust your own judgement, then maybe improv is freeing as you learn to set aside the fear, trust yourself and enjoy the process.  But, if it just isn’t your thing, it just isn’t your thing and that is OK too.

What do you think?

[I apologize to those of you expecting a Charity Challenge post.  Somehow my brain was sure that the first post of the month was on Tuesday of next week, not today.  By the time I realized I was wrong, there just wasn’t enough time to get my quilt finished.  Please come back on Tuesday for the next Charity Challenge post!]

  • Debbie
    Posted at 13:53h, 13 October Reply

    I really do enjoy improv, but often have an idea or plan I'm thinking of. Though I'm in no way ready to call anything 'better'….It's totally a personal thing. Though I would encourage folks to try a variety of styles. I think that's good for all of us. Thanks for your post…food for thought.

  • MariQuilts
    Posted at 16:00h, 02 October Reply

    Fabulous post Debbie. I'm in love with improv but I also am a strong believer that eveyone needs to find their own process. Over the last few years I have started paying closeer attention to what works and what doeesn't work for me.

    I find my thrill working directly with the fabric. The best approach is the one that works for you. Playing around with different approaches and then taking note of what makes you happy and what doesn't is great way of finding your own unique process.

  • Anne / Springleaf Studios
    Posted at 15:23h, 02 October Reply

    I spent some time thinking about this very thing Debbie. I've been around a lot of people lately who do improv and can come away with the impression that their approach is deemed better . . . more modern. I have done some improv but like you realize it isn't my style. My strength lies in designing first. That's what I love. Both approaches are ok. One is not better than the other.

  • ChristaQuilts
    Posted at 14:13h, 02 October Reply

    I can do improv, but I have to plan it out a little first, LOL!!

  • Lucinda Miller
    Posted at 13:43h, 02 October Reply

    that should say listen to your own voice!

  • Lucinda Miller
    Posted at 13:43h, 02 October Reply

    It's hard sometimes to listen to our own visit – I compare myself way too much and then I get stuck or stalled and get nothing done! So I'm trying to do what I like – what appeals to me right now. I just finished a very precise Carolyn Friedlander outhouses wall hanging but at the same time I've got some improv blocks going. I love the Esch House look – your colors, dimensions, balance…. that seems to me to be your style and it works!

  • Marty Mason
    Posted at 13:41h, 02 October Reply

    I seldom follow a quilt pattern these days. I love the serendipity quilt that improv piecing gives me. Your quilts are great. Keep with your style.

  • Brenda
    Posted at 12:50h, 02 October Reply

    I do both. What's most important to me is that I make my own quilt, instead of someone elses. It doesn't matter to me how I get there.

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