Liberated Quilting : Finding What You Like

Years ago I bought a book called “Liberated Quiltmaking II” by a lady called Gwen Marsden. I found the whole technique that she used for improvisational piecing very refreshing. I like rules, but I also like to know how far I can bend them and this book showed me a new way to piece patchwork without so many rules or worries. Early on, I made a number of small items using this technique and gifted them away. I wish I had taken more photos of my very early work. Not because it was uber memorable, but so I could have better recorded my journey through quilting and more importantly my journey to find the things I like most in the wide array of techniques and genres that make up the patchwork and quilting world. After a lot of small pieces, I did make a quilt, very loosely based on ideas gleaned from Gwen’s book.

Around the same time as this, I found a blog by Kate Pedersen called Sew Katie Did . Kate’s improvisation technique was more controlled but created the most amazing edgy modern pieces. I remember on our first family holiday in the Lake District, taking my sewing machine and working my way through a number of the pieces in her book Quilting Modern (which funnily enough she wrote with Jacquie Gerring, who also wrote WALK, the book I reviewed for #fridayreads this month). This is a piece I made on that holiday whilst Brian fell walked with the girls.

These two pieces are strikingly different but are linked by the more free approach they take in piecing. I think with quilt making my heart probably rests somewhere between the work of Gwen and Kate. I would be more certain if I felt more confident in working around a blank canvas, the complete opposite of creating a quilt strictly from a pattern. However, I can say with certainty that this is the direction my own personal quilting is most likely to go in the coming years.

I currently teach a class once or twice a year on my own GillyMac version of Liberated Quilting. Last week there were ladies here at the studio, eating cake and challenging themselves with colour and a more relaxed approach to piecing. I am not sure if they were complete converts to throwing away patterns, but I know they all enjoyed the day, as did I in hosting it.                 

Liberate Me …

Earlier on this year the GillyMac Thursday evening patchwork and quilting group started on a project of Liberated Quilting, inspired by book of that title by Gwen Marsden. Our quilts started along the same lines as Gwen’s, but soon, as with all our Thursday evening projects, everyone made their own adaptations and the quilts all ended up in different places.

GillyMac's Liberated Quilt

GillyMac’s Liberated Quilt

Liberated quilting has few rules. You don’t need to quilt a 1\4” seam, you don’t have the iron your seams one way or the other, you don’t need to measure your pieces (in fact I would say you shouldn’t measure, but that would sound like a rule) and you don’t need to restricted yourself to any design and there are no patterns. The one thing that I did suggest to the group was that after 4 or 5 pieces they should iron their growing artwork. With pieces, and small ones, at that being joined every which way it would be easy to get rucks and ripples caught up in the piece. Regular ironing allow you to check for this and adjust any mistakes, it smooths out your piece so you are unlikely to make such a mistake with the subsequent pieces and it is a natural pause and review point for you to consider where to go next with your piecing.

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Pink Wonky Log Cabin

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Green Geese Block

The use of colour was vital for me in constructing my own piece. I chose fabrics with small to medium modern prints in vibrant colours. I grouped colours together and started off by creating wonky log cabin blocks in blue, or greens or yellows or reds or oranges. Whilst making the log cabins I alternated between strong colours and weaker colours in the colourway I was using. A great tip to check on how you are doing on this front it to take pictures of your cabin and turn them into black and white, In this way you will get a much better picture of the difference in strength of adjoining pieces. Having made a number of log cabins, I stacked them and cut them, rotating the pieces to make new blocks with a variety of colours, adding yet another dimension to my work.

 

Another three techniques we investigated were “Free Range Geese”, “Liberated Stripping” and “One-of-A-Kind Stars” … I made up these names! The geese were made by stitching and flipping pieces diagonally across a (goose) rectangle.

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Wonky Star

The stars were a development of this. The points of the stars were made in the same way, except the diagonal pieces are over-lapped, and background square are added to the corners and for the centre of the star. The Wonky Stars would make great centres for a Medallion styled Liberated Quilt. Finally, Liberated Stripping is really simple and very effective. Strips of fabric are sewn together ( foundation piece style) one onto the other onto the other and then shapes are cut from the resulting pieces and sewn together.

After constructing the centre of the quilt we needed to make the borders. I made a number of sample borders for the class to work on and follow. For my own quilt I was inspired by Karen Lewis’s Blueberry Park fabric to use her black and white (ish) fabrics to create a striking frame for my quilt. I’m still working on this. If I am truthful, I have slowed not only because of my own workload at the moment, but also because I had no idea how I was going to quilt this piece.

Often I find if I get ‘stuck’ with a piece, the solution comes eventually. In this case, my thoughts are forming around a very simple quilting format. Using irregular shapes and straight lines to build up a liberated quilting framework to complement the piecing! … I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

For now I’ll end with the work of the Thursday evening group. Everyone of this group is a star and their work shines just as much as they do !

Liberated Quilting

Sue’s Liberated Quilt

 

Liberated Quilting

Jean’s Liberated Quilt