Portfolio of older work

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recent Ponderings about Quilt Construction

After getting our first assignment from Nancy Crow, I had a moment of insanity when I asked Nancy how we were supposed to construct our 2 ft by 3 ft quilt.  The answer was "Piece.  We piece in all my classes."  Obviously I should have known that.  So I pieced all week and cut without a straight-edge and recut things that didn't fit because I didn't measure or use a pattern but I did wonder, is this the one and only true way of art quilt construction?

All that week and still now, I compare Nancy's piecing with Elizabeth Barton's raw edge applique technique.  Elizabeth cuts without patterns and states that f*** is a 4-letter word, like Nancy. But Elizabeth uses a small zig-zag machine stitch using matching thread to raw edge applique her pieces.  That is so not Nancy. 
Add to the mix the technique of Laura Wasilowski  of Artfabrik who advocates tons of fusing and using your sketches as patterns for cutting, even to the extent of projecting your sketch so you can trace it for a perfect pattern piece. Boy, what I would give to have those three ladies in the same room!

I started out wondering which is right and which is wrong.  What is art and what is craft.  What is old-fashioned and possibly out-dated and what is new and fresh and extends possibilities.  What is proper and what is just lazy. 

I think I have ended those musings with a different concept of the difference--which is my voice?  Maybe it is not a question of which is better or best or right or wrong or whatever.  Maybe it is just a question of what is MY voice.  I am still not sure of that answer but I think I am making progress to have at least finally recognized the correct question.

How about you?  Which technique do you use and why?


  1. I can relate to your thoughts. I have faced the same dilemma on matters of surface design and came to pretty much the same conclusion. There are so many ways to approach our work. There is no right or wrong - everyone has to do what is "right" for them.

    Good luck finding the approach that is right for you!

  2. I improv my quilts using a rotary cutter and piecing. I just finished a quilt with a heavy metal/hard rock theme (check out my posts showing the process and the finished quilt)and the only time I used a ruler was when I squared the top up after it was done. I use the piecing method all the time because the quilts I make are to be used. I think you have to think about the end use of the piece you are making and use the appropriate method.

  3. I say out the window with any and all "rules"! It is your art and that says it all. I have pieced, raw edged, needle turned, fused and sometimes all on the same work! Isn't the goal to be the best work you can do no matter the process? Sorry, but my eyes do a roll any time I hear someone say that this is right and that is wrong and discounts a work because of some silly idea of a rule. Art should be an ever expanding learning process. To grow and not stagnate. Experimenting with various processes is a valuable and needed growth tool!!

  4. I have to agree with Karen.

    I'll relay another experience I had with Nancy in the 90s. I brought a rotary cutter and ruler to her class & asked her when we were going to use them for the strip piecing parts. She looked at me like I had cursed Mother Teresa; then, muttered something like, "I'll never use those tools!" She was still drawing templates on plastic at that point (& we did too for the workshop). How surprised I was a few years later to find Nancy Crow rotary rulers in the notions department.

    I think, in many ways, she is slow to change.

    I also think it is dangerous to say "always", "never" and "I won't". They could come back to bite you.

  5. Use whatever technique is best for what you're trying to do. I use them all, and mix them together in the same piece. Which is best is a non-issue, really.

  6. I echo all of the above. I read once, to find your voice stop taking classes, reading books, and going to quilt shows for a year. During that time just do what you want to do how you want to do it. Perhaps there is some truth to that. Figure out how to get the effect you want yourself with no rules to defeat you.


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