Create your own free-form quilts – a book review

Create your own free-form quilts book coverHi there crafter! Time for some sewing I think.

As a quilter you know that the ruler is your best friend when quilting, right? But in this book quilter Rayna Gillman presents a few easy ways to cut strips without using a ruler! Amazing, right? What free spirited creative person wouldn’t want to try that? At least I felt that I had to give it a try!

I happened upon this book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, when browsing books on amazon last year. I read the preview pages online, like I sometimes do. And I just knew right there and then this method of playing was a must-try-soon thing for me. And boy, the images of crazy cut quilts makes my jaw drop. I simply love this!

Her approach to quilting is: “there are no mistakes”. You can always remove, cut away and change things up. I guess you will have to throw out the idea that fabric is precious first. It’s your material, and you should use it without hesitation.

She also stresses that you should listen to your intuition when you mix and match your fabrics. I love that approach, and that’s what I’ve always done though I hadn’t tried rotary cutting without first carefully aligning the fabric on the lines of the mat board under the lines of the quilt ruler! How would I dare do that? What would my quilting mom say?

But as soon as I finished the first chapter I jumped up, found a few pink strips and cut into them using my rotary cutter for paper because I couldn’t find the one for fabric fast enough. Sewed two strips together and was happily supriced that the fabric flatterned so nicely. Might have been beginners luck because later some of the strips was puckering, and there is no “problem solving” in the book. But you learn as you go, and the whole thing evokes the lust to experiment and try combining fabrics in new ways. A book that gives you that feeling is always a keeper to me.

Spread from Gillman's book Free-form quilting

In the book you’ll learn how to sort fabrics (you’ll need quite a few solids) and use colour fearlessly. You’ll combine, add, subtract, multiply and divide your quilt blocks or rows of strips. But most of all, you’ll be challenged to let go of planning your work and just playing with it. The whole book could be considered an exercise in being playful and “letting go”. It’s something I think many traditional quilters could really need! ;-)

Spread from Gillman's book Free-form quilting

Asking “what if?” and then trying it out will defiantly invigorate your creativity! The last two chapters are called “reinventing UFO’s with strips and bits” (cutting up log cabin blocks etc from your box of didn’t-ever-become-something) and “Designing on the wall”. A design wall is something I would love to have some day, but in a small apartment and with the one big wall filled with books it’s not happening right now. But to me the floor as a work surface is fine!
Spread from Gillman's book Free-form quilting

I have been waiting for this book with the most eagerness from the minute I placed my last book order (a batch of new creative books from the US). Curious and intrigued buy the idea of making quilting blocks in this way, I kind of knew it would be a book for me. And it is! I know I will use it as inspiration many times, even if I consider myself mostly “a paper person”. Now I think I might have to admit that I really am a fabric/quilt person too. I can get extremely excited about fabric, and piecing small bits of pretty fabric together is simply one of the things I enjoy time and time again. I knit and cook too, and enjoy doing it at times, but I don’t feel the same passion about those things as I do about quilting!

How about you, have you tried making a free-form quilts yet? Or do you ever feel like just sewing bits of fabric together?

Further information

* Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts the book on amazon!
* Studio 78 Notes – Rayna’s blog!
* My weekly inspiration: free form quilting – more quilting links!
* Previous book reviews by me

6 Responses

  1. Looks like a very cool book! Yes, I have piles and piles of scraps, sometimes the ‘scrap’ look in a quilt, I think, looks better than the ‘perfect geometric shape’ look ~ guess that it just depends on what you’re going for. I love the idea that there are no mistakes!

  2. for those of us that aren’t good about precise measuring i think this form of quilting would be fun. a great way to use fabric scraps. i might have to check out the book.

  3. I have this book. It’s a favorite of mine and I credit a lot of my free form quilting to this book and a few others that I really have gleaned from. Congratulations on opening the door for more freedom and fluidity throughout all your mediums!

  4. This book is my next purchase on amazon! No matter what I do, I can’t cut straight, even when I buy striped fabrics. I’ve never quilted for that reason. This looks like my kind of book for my kind of quilting.

  5. Hi Hanna…I’m getting the quilting bug again….thinking of getting out my embroideried quilt. I want to check out this book, it looks like a good one!!! I admire you for committing to do a collage a day, or, at least 7 per week….sounds like a great idea.

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