Sunday, February 28, 2016

Inspirational Sunday (1) - via QuiltConWest 2016

Welcome!  If you are new here, Inspirational Sundays is where I post pictures from whichever quilt show I have been to recently so that we can all see the quilty goodness and be inspired.  For the next few Sundays, I will be sharing some pictures from QuiltConWest.

This week, I chose to share some of my favorites in the Improvisation category.

"Tranquility" by Kristin Shields of Bend, Oregon

The quilt above is called "Tranquility" by Kristin Shields of Bend, Oregon.   I like the central block with all the half square triangles, and I particularly enjoy the neutral tones with small pops of color.

It is machine pieced and machine quilted without a frame.

Next up is "One Earth" by Kathy York of Austin, Texas.

"One Earth" by Kathy York of Austin, Texas

I am drawn to circular and spiral shapes, so this one caught my eye right away.  I like the improve curves creating the center circle, but I also really like the "stems" all around the circle.

It is machine pieced and machine appliqued (fusible applique), and also machine quilted without a frame.

"Lunar Orbit" by Victoria Mansfield of Alexandra Hills, Queensland, Australia

The quilt above is called "Lunar Orbit" by Victoria Mansfield of Alexandra Hills, Queensland, Australia.  It is machine pieced, machine appliqued, and machine quilted without a frame.

As I said, I am drawn to circular shapes.  What I thought was interesting about this one is that it looked like she improv pieced all the blue fabrics together, then cut out the circular shapes and appliqued them together and onto the background.  I also like how the outer edges of the circles are much darker in value which really makes the transitions between shapes stand out and gives you the feeling that they are three dimensional instead of flat.

I also found it interesting to read in her description that she quilted the background first, added the bigger circle with an extra layer of batting, quilted that, then added the smaller circle with another extra layer of batting, and finished the quilting.  So the small circle has 5 layers of batting under it, while the white background only has 2.  This was to help the circles appear more 3D, but I just find putting the quilt together backwards fascinating.  I have considered doing some of my landscape type quilts like this, but haven't tried it.

Next up is "Night Flight no. 1" by Heidi Parkes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"Night Flight no. 1" by Heidi Parkes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

It was machine pieced and hand quilted.  It depicts how the earth looks at night from flight above.  Heidi won 2nd place in the Improvisation category.

Tidbit: 1st prize in this category went to "The One for Eric" by Chawne Kimber of Easton, Pennsylvania.  I already shared a pic of it on Wednesday, HERE.

Finally, there is "Kill it with Fire" by Libs Elliott of Los Angeles, CA.  This quilt was quilted by Rachael Dorr.  It is machine pieced and quilted on a frame.

"Kill it with Fire" by Libs Elliott of Los Angeles, CA.  Quilted by Rachael Dorr.

Honestly, this is not one of my favorite quilts.  I guess it was created in tandem with a quilt by Luke Haynes who started with the same fabric.  I completely missed his quilt if it was at the show.

While I find some of the fabrics, jarring, I do like sections of this quilt very much.  The section near the center with all the solids, I find the combination of lines there appealing.  And the quilting, I really enjoyed looking at the quilting.  Here is a close up of some of it.

close up of "Kill it with Fire" by Libs Elliott of Los Angeles, CA.  Quilted by Rachael Dorr.

I think it is really cool how the feathers in the red section carry through the yellow polka dots in the blue section.  The quilt was filled with fun little surprises like that.

Tidbit: this quilt was for sale for $8000.  It had not sold when I walked by it on Saturday.

I must admit that I have had a rocky relationship with improv piecing, myself.  I used the technique whenever I made a Tinker Tote and have made a few improv log cabin blocks that went well.  However, when I took Sherri Lynn Wood's improv curve class at last year's QuiltCon.  It did NOT go well.  I don't think it was just the "curve" part either!

Have you tried improvisational piecing?  Did you just jump right in and try it out, or did you get direction from a particular book or class?  I would love to hear more about your experience with improvisational piecing.

Thanks for reading today,



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on these. I love the look of improvised quilt designs (I really love that 1st one in your post), but I find it really hard and painful to do. :-)

  2. these are certainly different a great selection and lots to ponder about

  3. Pretty pieces! Like you, I'm drawn to the circles. I have dabbled with some improv piecing, but haven't made anything to completion, yet. I sought instruction from a friend to get me started. I love your header picture, esp. the quilt in the lower left.

  4. I can see something in all of these quilts that I like, although my favourites would be the 1st, 3rd and 4th quilts, something about them calls to me. I have tried improv piecing and I quite enjoy it, I have several books which I have read for inspiration and general how-to instructions but I usually just wing it and go with my gut feeling as to how something should look.


I LOVE comments, they make my day! Most of the time I am too distracted to respond right away, but I DO read them...always.

When I respond, I usually do it via email. Sometimes Google makes this easy and sometimes it doesn't. I usually only reply when it is easy. Just sayin.

Obviously, I can't reply to you at all if you are a no reply blogger. Also, sorry to Anonymous commentors, too much spam lately. You will have to leave a comment another way.

Have a Super Sparkly Day!