Thursday, March 2, 2023

QuiltCon Improv and/or Small Quilts

Except for a few years in the late 1990s, when I worked full time and attended college, I have been making quilts since 1976.

Having begun with the traditional quiltmaking, it was about 2010 when I met modern quilts. I found them appealing because: 

1) the look was fresh, with bright colors
2) most modern makers were designing their own quilts; and
3) the combination of numbers 1 and 2 were a push for me - something to challenge myself with that was different.

So for me, the most difficult-to-achieve style of modern quilt-making has been improv. I've taken workshops with Sherri Lynn Wood @sherrilynnwood, Maria Shell @mariashellart, and watched improv idols like Debbie Jeske @aquilterstable, Cindy Grisdela @cindygrisdelaquilts, Irene Hixson @hixsonir, Sheila Frampton Cooper @sheilaframptoncooper, and Paola Machetta @thecultofquilt seem to knock-out improv quilts with ease.

I know improvisation isn't easy!

How 'bout looking at some QuiltCon improv quilts? Below are not only quilts in the Improvisation category, but also improv quilts I came across in the Small Quilts category.

This certainly isn't all the improv quilts I saw, but the ones that captured my attention.

Since seeing Paola Machete's @cultofquilt quilts at QuiltCon Phoenix in 2022, I've been following her on Instagram. She lives in Italy. As you can see, Landing is a small quilt. 

Her detailed piecing takes my breath away. No wonder this little quilt sold for $800 at QuiltCon!

Another of Paola's designs is The Space Between Clouds.

It was domestic machine quilted with a faced edge. Such teeny insertion strips!

River Gone Green is also Paola's. Are you catching on to her style?

Amazing piecing details. 

The Red Thread was made by Maureen Garner @mgarnerrd of Georgia, and is about a Chinese proverb and the invisible red thread that connects those who are destined to meet. 

She domestic machine quilted, added hand quilting, and embroidery stitches- all those French knots!

A small quilt, Textile Intarsia #2 was made by Lorraine Woodruff-Long of California. The quilt has approximately 140 improv, machine-pieced blocks that are 1", 2" and 3". She says, " immersive polychromatic experience is my passion." Ha. Ya think?!

This was quilted on a domestic, though none of her quilting showed on the quilt's surface!

Influencing by Laura Klementz-Hartes @creativelifesampler of California, actually appeared in the Appliqué category. But its improv style attracted my attention. 

The quilt was hand-quilted. Laura explains, "The dotted lines were created with machine pieced strips which were dropped into the composition with reverse appliqué."

I love this quilt's name: Back in Therapy. It was made during the pandemic by Laura Hartrich @laurahartrich of Illinois. 

Her domestic machine quilting is bold and dense, with long threads left on the surface that have been quilted over. Lots to look at here. 

This one, in the Small Quilts category, captivated me. Criminal Quilting was made by Carmen Walker @carmen.8494 of Mississippi. The technique she used was raw edge fusible appliqué. After fusing fabric, she cut pieces with pinking shears, then fused them to a background. 

Straightline quilting keeps the little pieces in place. Isn't that neat?!

I'm intrigued by the idea of making an only-two-color improv quilt. By limiting the palette, the maker is forced to use elements of shape to make an effective design. Debbie Kidd @dkidd67 of Oregon did just that with this one - Oopsy Daisy.

It's domestic machine quilted, and Debbie says, "is thread painted." 

Two Color-Two Step is another two-color quilt made by Cathy Calloway @calund47 of Montana who started this piece in a workshop with Irene Roderick. 

Cathy longarm quilted it. 

It fascinates me what my Canon point-and-shoot camera does to color when I take a close-up photo. The above photo of the full quilt reflects the truest colors.

Along Came a Rabbit was made by Patti Coppock @patticoppock of Oklahoma. 

Her quilt is pieced and hand appliquéd, and domestic machine quilted. 

Hash Tags and Top Hats was made by Irene Roderick @hixonir of Texas. 

It was longarm quilted by Dawn Golstab. 

The Nanny was also made by Irene Roderick @hixonir who favors working with large, sometimes people-sized pieces of fabric. The Nanny won third place in Improvisation.

It was heavily longarm quilted. 

On Instagram, I got to watch Beaches as it was being made by Canadian Leanne Chahley @shecanquilt. The cream-colored drape behind the quilt doesn't show off the colors, but they are perfect beach colors, and the design is engaging. You can't help but look for the water, fish, and shells, and then almost feel the sand.

Leanne heavily matchstick quilted it on a longarm. If I could have had a third vote for People's Choice, it would have been this quilt. 

For the first time, I entered an improv quilt into QuiltCon 2023. It was accepted, and made me begin to think I'm finally catching on - though improvisation is still a struggle. 

Here is Harborage, once again, as seen at QuiltCon. I made it during last August's #30daysofimprov. It's domestic machine quilted, with big stitch hand quilting. It tickled me to no end to see it hanging with other sewlebritiy quilt-makers' improv quilts. Harborage sold at QuiltCon.

For those of you who have been following my saga of looking for spice drops (since last December), you'll be interested to know that Atlanta doesn't have them either. At least a downtown Atlanta convenience store, and a CVS didn't have them in stock.

I understand they're back in stock at our local Publix grocery store. However, Publix isn't my favorite brand. It seems I've become a "spice drops snob."



  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your post - thank you for sharing - both photos of the quilts AND the close ups. I'd been following the making of "Beach" as well so appreciated seeing it in a little more detail. And congrats on your own improv quilt being shown and for the sale!

  2. Your pictures are beautiful! I always look forward to your blog posts! Your quilt is beautiful! You have made me want to try a modern quilt. I can't believe the issue of shortage on spice drops!! It is crazy!! Until your next post!

    1. Thank you so much, Heidi! If I knew your email address, I'd reply to you personally. However, I appreciate your comments. Making modern is certainly a different way to make a quilt, and comes easier to some people than it has to me. I've been at it for more than ten years now, and am finally feeling a bit more comfortable with it. As for spice drops... it's quite a story, isn't it? I wish I KNEW why there are challenges to finding them.

  3. Loving the bright modern quilts! Didn’t you just get a 10 pound bag of spice drops delivered? 🤣 There’s also spiced jelly beans out now….

    1. Hellp Pamela! If I knew your email address, I'd reply to you personally. But yes, I did just get a 2.5 pound bag (I WISH it had been 10 pounds!) of spice drops. They're gone now. I've said several times, "I have a sweet tooth!" I'm out of spice drops at the moment, but expect to get some today from a friend whose sister's friend brought some from Wisconsin! I'll take what I can get!

  4. Your quilt was gorgeous - how did you ever part with it?

    1. Thank you, Mary! It was very difficult to part with "Harborage," and I'll admit to having seller's remorse. But that's the way it went. I only wish I knew who bought it, and where it's living now. I sold another quilt at QuiltCon too, and have the same feelings about that one.

  5. Interesting how Laura had long threads on the surface and quilted over them for a halo effect!!! Your quilt is just as amazing as all the others! Love how you dress to match for a last photo. Those spice drops!?! What a funny story line!

  6. So many interesting adventures in piecing! I agree, the two-color quilts are pretty compelling. You might have to go down that path at some point. Your photos also point up the great variety in solid fabrics- from dusty look to vibrant, clear brights. I know even blacks and navy blues come in a great variety, so buy all you need for a project.

  7. WaHoo!!!! Congrats on the sale of your quilt. I know you have been wanting to part with more quilts and selling one is just the best. Love how you matched the colors in the quilt for the photo too. Thanks for the close up photos. It really makes me appreciate the quilts more.

  8. Ha! Now I found the comment form. Who knows what's up with that? Anyway, thanks for the tour of QuiltCon improv, and congratulations on the sale of your quilt!

  9. Wow, so much to see! Congratulations on the sale! Can’t post as Cloth Stitched for some reason.

    1. Hi Charmaine! I'm sorry I can't reply to you by email. But it's likely that Blogger isn't seeing your email address because you're using a platform that isn't Google Chrome. Google Chrome works best for comments. Darned Google has made it SO much more difficult for us bloggers who love to receive comments. And, if you happen to have a Yahoo email address, I can't reply to you either! (Grr.) Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the quilts I shared, and thank you for your congratulations on my quilt sale. Actually, I sold two of them!


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