A New Floral Quilt

floral quilt
During our April spring break trip to Florida, I read 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. This quilt book intrigued me because it isn’t so much about the process and precise technique of making a quilt, or recipes for specific projects. Really it’s more about the concept of quiltmaking and relating it back to the idea of play to spark creativity. Not about practicing a skill, but composing as you sew, raiding your scraps, and creatively letting go- the perfect book to read on vacation, right?
Last week I finally started toying around with the idea of “playing for 15 minutes” in the studio, just to see where it would take me. You see, I had found myself smack dab in the middle of a creative rut. Hence my blog absence.
Nothing was happening.
Not a thing.
The idea is quite simple. Create “made fabric” by essentially crazy-piecing together scraps of fabric until the quilt block is the desired size, then squaring it up in block size. Now to state the obvious, this is not a new concept. Crazy piecing has been done as long as quiltmaking has been around, there are many books and classes out there that cover this idea from different angles (Denyse’s improvisational piecing workshop I took a few years ago is a great example). But the spontaneous angle, the 15 minutes of play idea that got me thinking. Not feeling very inspired creatively at that point, I thought this concept might get me going. In the midst of our busy schedule, I figured I could find 15 minutes somewhere.
floral quilt
So I snuck in some playing… in the afternoon, evening after dinner, or morning before school drop off, I made a quick block. Not much thinking… just grabbed, sewed, trimmed (if needed)…grabbed, sewed, trim… I keep my scraps in clear plastic bins divided by color (a chore nicely maintained by my son for a small fee), so I did one scrappy block per bin/color, plus some whatever goes blocks.
For some reason, the more I got into this, I found myself loving the pinks and yellows most, so I made more of those. I kept playing, then I decided it needed some negative space, and worked a star into the design. If I didn’t like it, I could change it. This was all play, right?
Once I was ready to quilt, I spontaneously started doodling with the thread inside the star, in colors that coordinated with the scrappy blocks. This is really the only part of this process when I had to feel brave and just go for it, I knew this to totally screw up what I’d already done.
More to come, I’m feeling like the creativity is flowing again!

  • emily

    June 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

    wonderful!!! you know how i love the concept of play (and how i wish i were playing with my paints right now instead of turning my studio over to two ten year old girls working on a final project for school) and how all of this evolved. and, of course, breaking through the block! you are my inspiration! xo.

  • Lori

    June 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

    “Comments and conversation seem to happen more on instagram, facebook and twitter rather than blogs, and it’s easier for me to respond. What’s your opinion on this?”
    i do think more chit-chatty conversation happens elsewhere these days, but i think it’s a different kind of conversation. your friends and the people you know well who may in the past have left a brief blog comment just to say “i was here — i still love you” are in fairly constant contact on fb/ig/twitter so they may not bother. but although the bulk of comments has thinned out, i think the ones that are left are from a different group, usually: the people who are new, who just discovered you, who have questions, who are trying to make contact. and i don’t know if it’s a good idea to cut off that possibility.
    there are stats about how many blogs a normal person can follow and how many online friendships they can sustain; these tend to keep most blogs from growing beyond a certain point. but if you want to keep a channel open for new contacts, new friends, people who want to ask you a question or learn from you, i think you need to keep blog comments open. people can’t just jump to the “chatting on twitter” level — they need an entry point, and i think that’s what blog comments offer.
    blog comments are like the front door — old friends go around back, but you still need a place for more formal company to knock!

  • Erin | house on hill road

    June 3, 2013 at 7:38 am

    ok. i love this quilt. the scrappiness with order and that free motion doodling – stunning!
    also, the idea of play? i did that recently for the quilt i made emily and it was a wonderful, freeing exercise. i need more of that.
    as for comments, i like them. i do click over and i do comment much of the time. i’m not on instagram enough to make that work as a conversation place for me. i feel that i can go a couple of days without checking and then i am often missing what people are posting and the conversations that follow. also, to see someone’s photos, you have to follow them and, in my mind, following a lot of people makes it hard to connect. i don’t know if that makes sense. same with facebook, you know? and really twitter, too, as i clicked over here from there and from following snippets of your convo with martha, rachel and melissa. it is hard to follow the whole thing unless you are sitting there, replying in real time. i think blogs give you the option to join the conversation when you can. just my opinion.
    again, i love this!

  • Mama Urchin

    June 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for blogging this, as you know I love it. As for the comments, I’m with Erin. I am never on instagram and rarely on twitter. I also feel like I can’t really follow the conversation on twitter, I always feel like I’m missing something.

  • Sarah

    June 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I love the quilt! Somehow the unified color scheme really makes improv piecing speak to me in a way that it usually doesn’t, so thank you for that.
    On commenting, I do not use Instagram or Twitter, and I use Facebook purely as a place for connecting with people whom I actually know “in real life” as it were. I only follow blogs, not the Facebook pages of blogs, because, sheesh, at a certain point there is a limit to how much information I can keep up with! And somehow it works for me to divide up my Internetting into different spheres of influence, if you will.
    But, beyond my personal Internet habits, I think it is a shame to see content, and comments/interactions, migrating away from blogs and to things like Twitter or Instagram instead. The nice thing about blogs is that they are flexible–you can make a blog post of a picture and a single sentence, or a thousand-word essay; you can make a blog comment that is a quick hello-and-wave, or one that is an in-depth response to questions raised in the post. But platforms like Instagram and Twitter enforce brevity and, I think, result in an overall level of conversation that is much more superficial.
    That is a general idea about Internet conversations, though, and the question of what an individual blogger should do in order to get what she wants/needs from her Internet presence, and in order to balance Internet life and Real life is quite separate.

  • MandyMandalei

    June 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Longtime lurker, here, and just getting back into the online social media stuff and blogging. I have a hard time, myself, with being on instagram and twitter because–just like blogging–that time to post builds up to be a pretty good chunk of active sewing and creating time, and it’s harder to completely immerse myself in a project because my attention is being pulled in multiple directions. The siren songs of short tweets and just a photo here and there compound into minutes and hours when I could be doing something else, like designing a new quilt or sewing what I have. I like to be connected with other people, but I think sometimes my other work suffers as a result.
    I think blog comments allow for lengthier thought processes, when and as necessary. For example, I love Erin’s analogy above, but would it be as powerful for a reader (or you, even) in snippets? I feel like I understand better and give more head space to comments such as these, when I invest enough time attention to click through from my reader. But then, I also like expository writing, so maybe don’t listen to me on this!

  • Ali

    June 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    The thing about Twitter is, I always feel as if people are having a private conversation and I am eavesdropping. I never feel that way with blog comments. There aren’t as many commenters on blogs now (I’m sure the awkwardness of commenting using a phone or tablet has a big part to play in this) and sometimes I find myself feeling a bit billy-no-mates, but I wouldn’t ever turn them off. Because for me, comments are one of the very best things about my archives. And when people have turned them off, it has felt like a bit of a slap in the face to me as a reader.
    I like the results of your playing – sometimes the very best things arrive when we aren’t trying so hard to be in control.

  • peanut

    June 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I like your quilt. Those pinks and yellows are so bright and juicy. It makes me think of lemonade.
    I also like blog comments. I don’t have either twitter or instagram accounts (can you leave comments without an account?) and rarely use facebook. I also don’t feel I know you anywhere near close enough to start talking to you on facebook. As Ali and Erin said above, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feel a bit more suited to “private” conversations (quotation marks because they are often taking place in public) and it feels weird to just join in. A blog is (usually) put up publicly and feels more like an invitation to share thoughts and questions. Sort of like the difference between a conversation over heard in the food court at a mall and one going on in front a public exhibition of paintings by a local artist.

  • Jill

    June 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Stunning quilt!

  • Colleen

    June 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Love the thought process on your creating! Sweet quilt and love the thread painted flowers! Dont turn of comments! COnversation happens in different ways. I dont follow everyone in every social media format. Twitter is for some quilting friends but mostly my weekly #talknt chat. Instagram is for certain quilters, designers, guild mates, and a few of my younger kid friends.

  • SKdigis

    June 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Very nice quilt…. love the colors and admire your talent… 🙂

  • Éireann

    June 4, 2013 at 5:56 am

    I love those extra blocks, Blair.
    And I like comments, too, for reasons stated above—feels less like I’m intruding if I join in late; am not usually on Twitter when people are talking (because of time zones).

  • Molly

    June 4, 2013 at 6:34 am

    you know, i’m hopelessly old fashioned, and have been labelled a luddite, more than once. but like erin, i do love comments, for all the reasons she states.
    also? the quilt is magnificent.

  • Lisa

    June 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Lordy, I love the quilt! I have never made a quilt (partially because you said how ugly your first one was) but this looks like something I might want it try.
    I like the comments. I’m on FB but not twitter or instagram, it just feels like so… Much. Perhaps you have readers over there saying, ” blog comments? that is so, like, 2012.”

  • Cruz

    June 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Gorgeous and welcome back!

  • CathyT

    June 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Glad you turned on comments for all the already stated reasons. And I loved your quilt so much i interlibrary loaned it from the library just now..

  • lisa s

    June 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    hi you. late to the party.
    the quilt is GREAT.
    play is GREAT.
    yay to creative mojo back.
    and comments. i hear you. and feel you. and [still] miss how blogs used to be. but don’t turn them off. b/c of this. it just feels different right?? even if they are fewer and far between – it’s a DIFFERENT conversation happening on instagram and twitter. XO

  • Cheryl Arkison

    June 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Comments are dwindling on the blogs. Is it really that time consuming? Or are we that lazy that we need something more immediate. I still like to read comments on my blog (and appreciate them all). And I like to comment where I feel I can contribute to the conversation.
    It’s your blog though, your space in the world. How do you want to interact with others?
    Oh, and love the blocks and thrilled this kind of piecing got you going! This is my world and I am always so happy there.

  • Misty

    June 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    This is so wonderful that it reminded me why I bought the book and that I needed to start using it! Thanks for the inspiration, your quilt is really lovely! I even sat down for 25 minutes of play after I read your post. 🙂

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