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Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape Paperback – November 1, 2017
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From the Publisher
Fiber Optics by Maria Shell, 2010, 48˝ × 48˝, Photo by Chris Arend
● Piece new prints and patterns out of solid fabrics and use them to create original, dynamic quilt designs
● Empower your creativity! Work freely without preconceived ideas
● Join author Maria Shell in a step-by-step journey of artistic discovery with this fascinating visual guide
Maria Shell's Studio
Work Space, Tools, And Thoughts
Your work as a quiltmaker is simple—you cut, stitch, and press. Very few tools are required to do these jobs. Clearly, you want to do your very best, and proper tool selection makes that possible. If your scissors hurt your hands, get a new pair! If your rotary blade is dull, change it. If your step stool wobbles, find a new one. Life is too short to work with inadequate tools and materials.
Empower yourself to do the best work you can by using only quality tools, supplies, and materials.
Over the years, I have collected what I find to be the ultimate collection of tools for my sew¬ing space. I have found tools at Home Depot and at restaurant supply stores. Just because the tool was not made for quiltmaking does not mean you can’t use it for that! Other favor¬ite sources are my local quilt store and online specialty stores; support these businesses when you can. Do your research and buy the very best tools you can afford. Check out the tools of fellow quiltmakers. Ask questions and be curious. Workshops, books, and blogs are excellent places to find out what tools your favorite makers use.
Big Rad Plaid by Maria Shell, 2017, 48˝ × 54˝
(Quilt made with Designer Essentials solids by FreeSpirit Fabric)
Color From A Quilter’S Perspective
It is useful to know that when you mix blue and yellow, you will get green, but as a quiltmaker you don’t nec¬essarily need to have that information. Unlike a painter or fabric dyer, who actually mixes colors, a quiltmaker uses already-colored fabric.
But it’s imperative for successful quiltmaking to understand and pay atten¬tion to...
how colors work in relationship to each other.
It’s also useful to know that when you mix black with a color you get a shade, and when you mix gray with a color you get a tone. While these shades and tones may be just what you are looking for in a color palette, they can also look muted and dead, sucking the life out of other colors or making a color palette murky or dull. On the other hand, pure colors (with no black or gray in them) will be more lively. Keep these characteristics in mind when you are pulling together a color palette.
Most quilters come to quilting with a natural inclination toward a particular palette. You may
be very fond of earth tones or you may love the primary colors. It is helpful to identify where your comfort zone is and then grow. We all have colors we don’t like. Challenge yourself to use them. I find maroon disturbingly ugly and for years wouldn’t touch a shade of brown. After I welcomed brown into my palette, my work immediately gained a level of sophistication that it had been missing.
Dance Party at Tamara’s House, by Maria Shell, 2012, 37˝ × 37˝
Photo by Chris Arend
Working with Bits:
Another pathway to creating original quilts is through what I call bit making—making a lot of smaller units that can then be placed on the design wall and arranged. Each chapter in this book, from Ruler-Made Stripes to Checks, Tracks, and Plaids, provides instructions on how to make bits. Sometimes I make dozens of bits before I put anything on the design wall. If I like bit, it tends to travel around, appearing in an assortment of quilts.
Contemporary quiltmaker Shell specializes in prints made from combining solid fabrics into stripes, polka dots, plaids, and other common patterns. Her first book walks quilters through the various techniques used for creating these prints, many of which involve freehand fabric cutting and improv-style assembly. Each chapter explores the creation and use of a different print type, beginning with simple ruler-made and mat-made (freehand) stripes, and proceeding through polka dots (small, repetitive prints), triangles and other triangle-based prints such as chevrons and herringbones, and linear prints such as checks, tracks, and plaids. Samples from Shell's work are included throughout, demonstrating the vibrant designs that can be made from each of the component prints. VERDICT Shell's work echoes traditional American improvisational folk quilting and will appeal to quilters interested in exploring color and pattern via one-of-a-kind patchwork. (Library Journal, 11/15/2017)
We've been waiting for this gorgeous book. Maria Shell lets the reader into her process and creative mind in the confines of a colorful read. She writes, 'With your heart, you bring the essence of yourself into your work.' Maria definitely embodies this in her artwork. Her method comes alive as she reveals first her journey, her favorite tools, and how she arranges her studio. She explains how she chooses color for her quilts―and offers tips to get the contrast and complements just right. Lessons for making prints out of solids follow with well-illustrated, step-by-step instructions, This book allows the reader to dive into the vibrant world of Maria's improvisationally pieced artwork, see art quilts through her eyes, and provides encouragement to adapt her techniques to your own vision. (Quilting Arts, December 2017/January 2018)
Maria demonstrates an exceptionally well thought out approach to improvisational piecing and use of color. Through study and practice she developed a system for creating what she calls 'prints made from solid fabrics.' Even a beginning quilter could follow her lead and successfully create uniquely personal pieced designs. Quilters wishing to create or improve their own improvisational designs will be well served by Maria's clear instructions and uplifting approach. (Machine Quilting Unlimited, January/February 2018)
There's a lot of talk about improv quilting but not all of us are confident enough to achieve the improv look. This book shows you how to cut and combine solid-colour fabrics to create your own 'prints', including stripes, polka dots, chevrons, checks, and more. Maria Shell encourages us to forget the rules (and even your ruler) as you piece colourful solids into compelling quilt designs. (Today's Quilter, 31)
About the Author
While Maria Shell's work is firmly grounded in the craft of quiltmaking, she uses her years of experience to create surprising combinations of pattern, repetition, and color. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Maria lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Top customer reviews
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These components excel in line, color and repetition and Maria will walk you though important elements for choosing color and incorporating value. This is not a book of patterns. It is a book of inspirational ideas for making prints from solids in bold and exciting compositions that allow for endless possibilities using a few simple techniques.
Maria’s tone is inviting and informed. She dives right in with her story and her quilts and within a few pages you will be setting up shop with your rotary cutter and sewing machine, ready to get to work. She uses a simple logical progression that starts with line sewing and ends in beautiful stripes, plaids, zig zags and more.
I recommend this book. Just the actual feel of the book is pleasing, the pictures are crisp and clear (quilts are often highlighted on a whole page for excellent viewing) and the text is precise, encouraging and at times humorous. It will make you happy, build your confidence (regardless of your current skill level) and become a staple in your quilt book library. This timeless material is destined to become a quilt book classic.
It is loaded with clear, large photos of Shell’s gorgeous, unique quilts. Inspiring.
The simple, straightforward text is easy to read. Thanks to colorful, large sized numbering of the paragraphs and short bullet points on the sidebar notes you never lose your place.
The contents cover Shell’s technique from selection of colors through execution. She clearly spells out what it takes to make her type of quilt, and those quilts are a joy to behold!
The book is clearly divided by topic and projects, so it’s easy to select what you want to tackle first. Although her quilts appear complex, Shell’s instructions are easy to follow thanks to the clear writing and layout.
The inspiring work displayed here, plus the generous sharing of techniques, make the book outstanding to me.