Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Weekend of Improv

No, not the theater or stand-up kind of improv. I'm talking about improvisational quilt piecing.  Otherwise known as how to feel like a fish out of water.

Seriously, I have questioned my motivation multiple times over the course of the past couple days, as I limited myself to the scraps of corduroy and a couple other fabrics that I insisted on working with.  One was a thrifted plaid shirt fabric that I loved the turquoise-y color of.  The other was a wild card fabric, just to make it an extra special challenge.  It was some of what's left of the only piece of clothing from my late mom that I kept, which used to be a '90s style, poufy-shoulder-padded, slightly over-sized blazer that both she and I wore at various times back in the day.  I think I wore it first, actually, and handed in up to her.  Anyhoo.

Gads, I'm tired.  My brain hurts in a good way, like my usually left-brain dominant side has been in an arm wrestling match with my right-brain.  I think they finally called a truce, but it wasn't without some hair pulling and name calling.

And then—then!—I just had to make a video.  Mostly because I don't know how to put together a simple slide show and upload it.  It probably takes all of five minutes, but no.  Why do that?  I have to make a simple thing difficult (see above).  I had to make a video, including music, including having to download a program to edit said music, and then reading just enough help files to be dangerous and to figure out the least I had to know to do what I wanted to do.  That takes, like, all dang day, y'all.  If you're me.  Just sayin'.

I know a few friends who have less than optimal internet connections so probably can't watch the video (that I slaved over, ahem), so here is the quick and dirty print explanation.

A)  I played with some fabric on the design wall.  

B) I sewed some strips together.  

C) I pushed and shoved and willed the two parts to play nicely together.  I had a lot of self-doubt I kept having to shush.  I pushed and shoved myself onward.  I got things to a certain point and was, like, meh.

C and a half)  I thought about a lot of pleasant and interesting things during the process too.  It wasn't all the Darth Vader Imperial March.  I may do another post about the musings I had while trying to work things out and sew.  My mom and dad...my family...the masculine and feminine...Jungian psychology... And because I am a person who thinks about what I think about, I  pondered how we tend to ascribe meaning to things we create, or at least I do. 

D)  Then I had a nice visit Sunday from my lovely daughter who drove home to celebrate her birthday with us.  After we visited and had lunch, she came downstairs to play on the design wall with me.

Oh, you guys, it was so good to have another engaged and interested person to collaborate with!  Especially someone with a eye for things artsy.  She doesn't quilt but she draws for her own enjoyment and commission work and, well, she just knows things.  It was fun to hear her think out loud as we played.  Together we worked at it until we both were happy, and I finished sewing it up this morning! 

Would I change a few things in hindsight?  Probably.  (The old inner critic works overtime, I tell ya.)  But really, the end result is a little beside the point.  This challenge was about the journey, not the destination, as I reminded myself often.  A chance to try something different with a limited palette, use a lesser developed skill set, ponder, learn, collaborate, add, subtract, adjust, and carry on while muzzling that inner critic.  In those ways, it was a success. 

The video shows more of the process sequence, and I hope you'll give it a watch!


  1. I love that your improv piece turned out with nearly perfect - what would it be called, rotational symmetry? If you took the bottom half and rotated it halfway the shapes are the same as the top. I like improv that balances. Too improvy and my brain isn't happy.

  2. Congrats on all levels - the piecing, the collaboration, the video creating/editing . . . and the coping with the inner critic!

  3. I love what you have done. I work that way almost all the time. My end result is Never what I thought it was going to be when I start. You did great and the help from your daughter proved invaluable. I love the end result. Good job. I too am about the process and so little about the end result.

  4. I think this kind of playing is the most fun there is! I love to do exactly what you've done....minus the pushing, shoving and "shushing" myself. I figure it'll either turn out or not so I'm just going to have fun in the process. Great job, BTW, with the video.

  5. Love the video P . You nailed it. Improv is a lot of fun and its amazing where it can take you when you just turn your brain off a little bit and let pure creativity take over.

    Happy Belated Birthday M!

  6. Your description of your hair tearing and self doubting was very funny, and then the description of your daughter staying in your design room and giving you feedback was wonderful! Good results.

  7. It's hard to let go, but, when you do......LOOK WHAT CAN HAPPEN! I love your improvisational quilt, and I LOVE the video! Look at you go!

  8. Love the result! What a completely different look from what you started with. It's a great improv :)

  9. Collaborating with your daughter sound like a great way to work and you produced a really successful piece. It's a different way of working, but like anything else, the more you do it, the more those instincts develop.


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