Intentional Improv

The title of this quilt may seem contradictory, but both approaches—improv and intention—are part of my design process.

It was pure improv at the start. I made a stack of fabrics—more than a dozen lavenders, lilacs and purples and a half-dozen greys. Then I began sewing patchwork … without a sketch … without a plan … but with one upfront rule: I would piece all the parts with precise right angles. Just because!

As my two-piece units grew to three or four or more pieces, I shifted to a more considered approach. Now, at every seam, there were purposeful choices—about colors … shapes … sizes—until a composition began to emerge from the component parts.

While I liked my quiet, muted palette, it needed a touch of drama. My stash yielded a grey-to-black ombré cotton, darker than anything else in the quilt. Still keeping to crisp corners, I inserted bold, repeating L-shapes across the quilt. Then I echoed them with skinny purple strips. Those final, distinctive additions tied the patchwork into a composition that was both lively and serene.

Intentional Improv has been juried into The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show, September 10–12, 2020. It is a virtual show, with an inventive twist: the quilts are actually on display! And 3D videography will give viewers an immersive, interactive walk-through of the show. The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show is a joint venture of PBS Wisconsin and Nancy Zieman Productions, and I’m honored to be a participant.

54″ wide x 65″ high

Photography by Douglas Sandberg