Monday, March 8, 2010

Making it up as you go (aka, A pattern is a suggestion)

Here are my bee blocks for Carla (aka Lollyquiltz), who requested 12.5 inch wonky log cabins made from the Nicey Jane strips she prepared and sent to us:

I always have fun making wonky log cabin blocks!  Carla prepared the strips for the block party, but whenever I'm cutting fabric, I always cut extra strips (or strings) to set aside for string blocks.  I love having them ready and then grabbing them and designing as I go.

I also recently received two wonderful books of beautiful colors, quilts, and inspiration:

I love Gwen Marston's no rules approach to quilt making, but even more, I love her acknowledgement that free-form, improvisational, and make-it-up/change-it-up as you go quilt making is not just a new phenomenon, but is something we share with our sister quilters from many years past. I love looking at antique quilts from different eras and different parts of the country and world.  What a legacy of inspiration!   

When I recently took my "Celebrating Julia" cooking class, many of us questioned the chef/instructor carefully about how much of a particular ingredient should be used or exactly when and how an ingredient should be added.  She always smiled patiently and responded, "A recipe is a suggestion" and encouraged us to feel free to deviate from recipes or use whatever methods work best for us.  That is how I think of quilt patterns -- as suggestions.  AND -- it is oh, so important to enjoy the process.

LOL -- my son is playing a video game in the same room, and the music playing in the background is this: Rules Don't Stop Me.  Perfect.

I recently signed on to participate in the Lazy Gal Liberated Amish 2010 Get Together.  For this "challenge" we are making quilts meeting these 4 criteria:  (1) choosing a quilt from the Faith and Stephen Brown Collection (see above book), (2) using solid fabrics, (3) making the quilt "liberated" (see Gwen Marton's book), and (4) using some liberated letters or numbers on the front of the quilt.  

The Faith and Stephen Brown Collection is currently on exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and there is a pretty good chance that I may fly down for an overnight in April to see the exhibition in person! More later if this -- hopefully -- works out.

If you want to see some gorgeous Amish quilt eye candy, but don't want to buy the book and can't get to San Francisco, you can see them at the website here.  

This is my year to explore and experiment with solids in a variety of projects.  Sound good?  Then hop on over the Sew Fantastic for a chance to win a giant fat quarter pack of the 25 most popular Kona Cotton colors!  Good luck!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan


  1. I love love love both of those books! I should drive up to S.F. and meet you at the exhibition!

  2. Beautiful blocks, beautiful books! I may have to look into that quiltalong, if I can join so late in the party.

  3. Your log cabins are just beautiful! I especially like the one with the flower fussy cut in the middle! You've done a great job!

    The book looks fabulous. Our library has a good size quilting book section, so I will have to look for this when we go today!

    Thanks Joan for the thoughts on quilting. I always wonder why people are se excited about modern quilting, when just about everything's already been done in one country or another, by one culture or another at sometime! LOL

    Hope you have a great day!

  4. Love the liberated log cabins. I love the look of liberated quilts but have a hard time doing it myself. I'm a girl who likes rules but I really should loosen up. :-) hee hee And I'm going to pretend that those quilts weren't on exhibit in SF when I was there. La la la, I can't hear them taunting me that I missed them. It sounds like a fabulous Lazy Gal project!!

  5. Love your bee blocks! Those fabrics are so fabulous and springy. I have only made one wonky log cabin so I might need to make some more, just because. That Liberated Quiltmaking book looks fabulous too. Love seeing all those bright colors sewn together.

  6. those blocks look great! nicey jane has such great, bright, pretty colors to work with!

    happy sewing!

  7. Wonky log cabins are the best! I checked out Gwen Marston's book at the local quilt show this weekend; now I think I should've bought it. Have you seen Jean Wells' 'Intuitive Color & Design?' That one looks inspiring too! I can't wait to see your Amish-style, liberated masterpiece!

  8. Love what you're doing here Joan. The wonky log cabins are great. Can't wait to see which Amish quilt you choose to do.

  9. those square up top are brilliant Joan!!!

  10. I love that first block!

  11. your log cabin blocks are beautiful - your bee partner will be so pleased. thanks for sharing the books - I love the simplicity of Amish quilts - they always looks so modern to me.

  12. LOVE your wonky blocks and your attitude!!!

    Amish quilts and Gee's Bend quilts are some of my MOST favorite!!!

    Hmmm, will we be seeing any Oakshotts...?! ; )

    Enjoy your journey! I'll be interested in your process, progress and evolution. Thanks for sharing with us!