Modern Quilt Trend: Improvisation

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We've been noticing a new trend simmering in the modern quilting movement, and we think it's about to reach a boil. Maybe you've been noticing it too; improvisation certainly seems to be everywhere these days.

Improvisation has always been a part of quilting, so it's no surprise that modern quilters searching for inspiration would turn to this age-old technique. But, as always, they're putting their own spin on it, and the results are dynamic, delightful, and oh-so-modern.

In Artful Improv, Cindy Grisdela shares her process for creating improvisationally, from beginning to end: organizing fabric, deciding on a color recipe, using elements of design, auditioning the piece, and finally piecing and quilting it! She focuses on color theory and the uses of negative space, such as in the dynamic design below.

She gives you plenty of ways to take your skills to the next level too, with in-depth tutorials on piecing angled stripes, improv circles, improv blocks, curved strips, and inset strips. 

In the updated second edition of Intuitive Color & Design, Jean Wells shows you how to take inspiration from anything—light, the natural landscape, vegetables at the grocery store—and how to document it through photos and journals. Then she walks you through a veritable bootcamp on the nuts and bolts of quilt design, the quilt design process, and everything you could want to know about tools and techniques. After all, throwing away the ruler doesn't mean sloppy quilts!

Jean's years of experience show through in quilts like the one below, with a strong mood and use of color, daring fabric combinations, and an asymmetrical finish.

Then there's Maria Shell and her upcoming book, Improv Patchwork. Maria focuses on piecing solid fabrics to your own "prints": stripes, polka dots, chevrons, and plaids. 

Maria works with color, pattern, repetition to create quilts that are busy and beautiful without using any patterned fabric!

Rayna Gillman takes another approach entirely in Create Your Own Improv Quilts. In her latest book, Rayna starts with strips and geometric shapes, then leads you through asking "what if?" questions to guide your improv design. 

Play with scale, color, value, and placement to create quilts that draw the eye and keep a viewer's attention.

Of course, the best part of improv quilting is that every quilter brings their unique style to their quilts! What will your improv quilts look like?

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  • Artful Improv
  • Intuitive Color & Design
  • Create Your Own Improv Quilt
  • Improv Patchwork
  • Cindy Grisdela
  • Jean Wells
  • Maria Shell
  • Rayna Gillman
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