You Can Go Your Own Way

Improv work is arguably the most original and personal type of modern quilting. It requires the maker to chart their own path. Sometimes improvisation exudes impulsivity while at other times it is restrained and intentional. 

The Improvisation category is usually one of the most popular for submissions into QuiltCon. As a result, this usually yields some incredible and innovative works of art. This year was no exception. Here is a sampling of the quilts that were exhibited in the Improvisation category at QuiltCon 2020. 

Good Vibrations by Kristin Shields @kristinshields

Good Vibrations by Kristin Shields @kristinshields

Despite all the ‘vibrations’ running throughout this quilt, the way Shields uses black and white grounds it.

 Nothing┃Desire by Patti Coppock @patticoppock

Nothing┃Desire by Patti Coppock @patticoppock

Nothing ┃Desire began when Coppock pulled discarded fabric scraps from the trash and mixed them with some of her own scrap fabrics. This quilt is a great example of one person’s garbage becoming another’s treasure. 

 Smith County Courthouse by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Smith County Courthouse by Leslie Tucker Jenison, machine quilted by Kustom Kwilts @leslietuckerjenison

Smith County Courthouse is an eclectic mix of the traditional Courthouse Steps and Log Cabin patterns. This quilt reminded Jenison of the courthouse in her parents home town in Kansas.

El Greco’s Alphabet by Leslie Tucker Jenison

El Greco’s Alphabet by Leslie Tucker Jenison, machine quilted by Kustom Kwilts

The elongated shapes of El Greco’s Alphabet reminded Jenison of letterforms. She named the quilt after the Greek artist El Greco (1541-1614).

Lesson Learned by Jen Broemel @highfivesandsilverlines

Lesson Learned by Jen Broemel @highfivesandsilverlines

Lesson Learned by Jen Broemel @highfivesandsilverlines

To the creator this quilt represents freedom: the freedom to be herself, to accept what is and to be in the moment. From a distance, Broemel’s amazing hand-quilted Xs create a sheen over the quilt and add dimension and texture to it. 

 Zenith by Cassandra Beaver @cassandra.beaver

Zenith by Cassandra Beaver @cassandra.beaver

Zenith combines the 2018 Pantone color of the year, Ultra Violet, with the Kona color of the year Tiger Lily. With these colors as a starting point, Beaver expanded the palette to incorporate the hues found in a vibrant sunset. 

 The Bold Curve #1 by Tamara K. Serrao @tamarakatedesign

The Bold Curve #1 by Tamara K. Serrao @tamarakatedesign

Serrao says that sunshine and warmth are always on her mind and direct her creativity. The Bold Curve #1 definitely has us longing for the sunshine and warmth of summer days. 

 Triangle Colour Study III by Nicholas R. Ball @quiltsfromtheattic

Triangle Colour Study III by Nicholas R. Ball @quiltsfromtheattic

Ball has created an amazing tent city of sorts in Triangle Colour Study III. The converging and dispersion of color is mesmerizing. 

Let’s Get Loud by Kathryn Upitis @kupitis

Let’s Get Loud by Kathryn Upitis @kupitis

Upitis says that Let’s Get Loud is all about coming out of the shadows, finding your voice, and standing tall. She encourages all to find their individual voice and sing it from the rooftops. Live it loud. 

The Spaces In Between by Tara Faughnan @tarafaughnan

The Spaces In Between by Tara Faughnan @tarafaughnan

The point of focus for Faughnan when creating this quilt was not the snowball shape, but rather the bits in between. Faughnan was inspired by Diana Vandeyar’s quilt Grandmother’s Life on Mars (pictured below) and how the small pieces in between created discord in the overall structure of the quilt. 

Grandmother’s Life on Mars by Diana Vandeyar @dianavandeyar

Grandmother’s Life on Mars by Diana Vandeyar @dianavandeyar

 First Dance by Annie H. Hudnut @anniehudnut

First Dance by Annie H. Hudnut @anniehudnut

The little bit of color dispersed throughout First Dance keeps the eye moving across it and accentuates the quilt’s abstractness. What could have been simply a black and white quilt becomes much more. 

 Intertwined #5 by Serena Brooks

Intertwined #5 by Serena Brooks

Artist Statement: “Relationships are challenging--sometimes a difficult balance between having your own space and feeling connected. This piece depicts attempting the balance of space and connectedness between family members, and how it starts to get complicated as we intertwine with each other.”

Yeu by Isabel Buchanan @woolandmissbuc

Yeu by Isabel Buchanan @woolandmissbuc

This quilt was made while Buchanan was on a vacation on a remote island. She had to make do with the few fabric resources she had on hand and used a combination of dyeing fabrics and old clothes to craft it. 

 Frolic by Erin Suliak @sulicat_north

Frolic by Erin Suliak @sulicat_north

Frolic was made from thrifted fabrics. The combination of prints, solids, and textured fabrics emits a feeling of warmth from this quilt. The thoughtful placement of color creates a sense of solidarity in the midst of movement. 


Don’t be afraid to go your own way! Explore the endless possibilities available to you through the means of improvisational sewing. You can see more improvisational quilts in our Improv Issue --  digital and printed copies are available now!


By Brittany Bowen Burton 


1 comment

  • These quilts are fantastic, every one!

    Ruth Beers

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