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Improv Quilt Blocks

Improv class block 1 rail fence
Improv Block, month 1

In my early quilting days, I don't think I could appreciate improvisational piecing.  Maybe three or four years ago, I could admire others' work but was not interested in doing it myself.  And now, here I am giving it a whirl.

Improv Geese

I am taking an improv block of the month class at my local quilt shop, Stitch Your Art Out.  In class, we have talked a lot about how we feel when we are doing this type of piecing, what inspires us, what processes we use to get our block together, etc.  The "gremlin" has come up often in discuss, the voice in your head that criticizes what you are doing and tries to keep you safe from making mistakes by stopping you from doing anything at all!  I am sure everyone has this gremlin voice to some degree.  I really did consciously think about what the negative and scared thoughts than ran through my head were saying to me until I took this class.  Our fearless leader, Kim, says that the gremlin often comes from a sort of childish/childlike and my gremlin does seem to bring up fears that, when I try to tell someone else about them, begin to sound silly to me, though they were perfectly legitimate in my own head. :)

Improv block April--insets

Here are some common things my gremlin worries about:
wasting fabric
making mistakes
making something ugly
why I am doing something creative--what is the point
what I am doing is not original enough
what I make is not as good as the work of someone else

I have learned that if I actually try to respond to the gremlin concerns, I can begin to move through the fear of creating.  For example, when I made the block below for March, my gremlin said, "This looks like a box of crayons."  I asked my gremlin, "What's wrong with that?"  He did not have an answer.  I decided to walk away from it and see if it still bothered me after a couple of days.  It didn't.

Improv block of the month #3, nine patch

I am also working out of a book, 15 Minutes of Play and am making more efforts to play with improv blocks.  The thing I like a lot about this book is that you are creating "made fabric" but it is then cut up into regular shapes and sashing, etc., is added, or the made fabric takes a familiar shape, like a star.  The made fabric adds depth to the piece but it is not so completely out of control that your eye doesn't know where to look.

Improv taking shape  #15minplay

I am hoping to do a low contrast background in the center with flowers and a bright border. You can see it starting to come together a bit here.

Do you have a gremlin?  What does yours say to you about quilting?  Have you developed a way to respond to your gremlin?


Michael5000 said…
My gremlin either says "you should be quilting" or "you should be [doing something else other than quilting]." How I got the word "should" attached to my hobbies I don't know, but it does pull me every which way sometimes.

The first block looks like nautical flags to me...


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