Categories: p&q; slow stitch; hand quilting; improv; wip; wall quilt; inspiration


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Slow Sunday Stitching – It’s On The List!

Making New Year Quilting Goals

Have you made any quilting goals for 2017? I read Kaja and Ann’s hopes and plans recently and I was inspired. Since then I’ve sat down and filled reams of notebook pages with goals, ideas and hopes for quilting, blogging and personal stuff (like exercise and reading). Making lists is pretty scary, I tend to over do it then berate myself for not completing anything.

Making plans for 2017 - list of quilting projects. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

List making begins. I was surprised (and relieved) that my ‘tops in progress’ list is relatively small (There are 8 in total).

I can do without giving myself an ear-bashing so I’m sticking to ‘SMART’ goals this year, I’m sure you’ve heard of them? (I think I’ve gabbled on about them before.) Try this method if you didn’t tick everything off your 2016 list (ahem, no comment!).  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.  It’s basically a checklist to help you get things done.

SMART Stitching

Take a very simple example: one of my blogging goals is to link up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching every week. I’ve linked up as often as I could in 2016, but I want to make a bigger commitment because it’s a really inspiring marker in my week.

So I asked myself:

  1. Is this goal specific? Yes: tick.
  2. Is it measurable? i.e. can I track my progress? Yes, I just need to check my publishing dates. Another tick!
  3. Is it achievable? Probably… I worry that I’ll be posting the same old thing every week and bore the pants off you (as I’ve mentioned before). So I made myself a promise that even if I feel I don’t have anything interesting to share I’ll pop over to Kathy’s and see what you’ve been up to (I know that’s something I overlook). A tentative tick then?
  4. Is it realistic? This is the one I have endless problems with! My goals are realistic in and of themselves, but I have a tendency to try and achieve about a million of them in a week! So I’m going to qualify this question from now on: is it realistic and compatible with everything else I want to achieve? (I guess that’s asking myself to prioritise). This goal is high up on the priorities, so yes, it’s realistic…tick!
  5. Is it time-bound? i.e. how long am I going to give myself before acknowledging success or defeat? I reckon if I look back over a 6 month period I’ll get a reasonable picture of how regular my posts are, so yes, it’s time-bound. Woohoo! I’ll give myself the go-ahead then.

I often do the checklist in my head, but this time I’m writing it out next to my goals so that I get a really clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve. It’s working so far – I’ve already noticed I’ve tried to cram waaaay too much into January and had to make rather a lot of adjustments to my expectations!

Making plans for 2017 - pile of notebooks. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

A very long to do list for January – it got a bit of a culling!

Follow up your goal setting with some goal tracking! My follow up post includes a tracking sheet for you to download and use.

Navel Gazing

Life’s thrown a lot of crap this way over the past couple of years and I feel like I’ve just been drifting along. I don’t really have anything concrete to look back on and say “well, despite all that you still achieved x, y and z”. I focus on the things I haven’t done instead, get worried and anxious that life’s racing by. So I’m curious to find out whether putting my thoughts in black and white will actually free up space in my head, so that when I sit quietly and stitch I know everything else is taken care of.

I always think there are so many high achievers out there (I mean people that get lots done) and I wonder how they do it, then I compare myself and question why I’m not one of them. I ask what is it that productive people do that I don’t. I ponder why I want to achieve more and question whether I’m really that unproductive, or just don’t acknowledge what I have done. This tick list is designed to give me the evidence. As long as I don’t lose it…

This time of year is all about the questions isn’t it?  So much navel gazing and not really any answers.  Do you indulge, or is it just me?

On The Edge in December

On that note I’m going to turn my attention to the last thing I actually achieved in December 2016!

On The Edge (Floating Squares) is on today’s to-do list. I’ve claimed the comfy chair in a cosy corner of the house and I’m going to tackle the knife edge binding and plan a hanging tube. Some quiet stitching to start the new year off the way I mean to go on: relaxed, calm and in control! (hahahaha!!!)

A cosy armchair for hand sewing. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

My cosy corner set up for some Slow Sunday Stitching.

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, but check out Kathy’s 2016 quilt review and her UFO list for 2017 too. What are your plans for this year – and how did you get on in 2016?

Happy New Year – and happy goal setting! (Don’t forget to download your goal tracker here.)

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015



It’s Black And White – An Improv Bag

Hello! I hope you’re ‘having a wonderful Christmastime’! Things are good here, peaceful and very quiet. I realise that’s what I need more than anything else. Time to quieten the thoughts, find some serenity and lose myself in stitches. It’s been good for the soul. Time well spent.

On The Edge (Floating Squares) is all but finished. I’m quilting close to the edge now, fittingly, steadily filling in some gaps where the edge will meet the wall. I’m confident it’ll be ready to hang (hanging sleeve tutorial) by the start of the new year. And there it will be, in the centre of the wall like a beacon, a reminder of new beginnings.

Moving into a new home. Trying out a red and blue patchwork wall hanging on the wall above the farmhouse table. © Stephanie Boon, 2016

Trying out On The Edge on the wall just after we moved home (hence all the detritus hanging around)

A Random Anecdote

Bear with me on this one… I had a blood test a week or so before Christmas due to a few minor infections in quick succession – my GP wants to make sure there’s no underlying cause. I’m still waiting for the results. Dr Bolton asked if I’d been feeling run down lately, I said no, but then remembered how stressed and anxious I’d been for the last four or five months and proceeded to give him the full unabridged details.

Eventually we discussed anaemia and I mentioned that my mother has a rare form of anaemia which has led to lots of blood transfusions and an intravenous drug called Rituximab. I tried to recall what the condition’s called and all I could think of was AHIQ! “Er, no, that’s not it, that’s a quilting thing”. He must have thought I was a complete idiot: she has a condition called AIHA (autoimmune haemolytic anaemia)!

Ahem, AHIQ!

It’s the last AHIQ link up of 2016 over at Ann and Kaja‘s this week, so maybe that’s why it was so prevalent in my mind. Or maybe it’s because I actually have some improv quilting to show you! I’ll save On The Edge for another day, today I thought I’d share a little improv Christmas gift I made.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

Ad hoc improv tote bag. The black and white and strong shapes reminded me of early 20c Russian art, and constructivism in particular – have a look at Liubov Popova’s fabric designs and drool!

I don’t think I’ve made anything in just black and white before so it was a good challenge. It was an unexpected way to focus on shape and rhythm and I highly recommend it as an improv exercise. I say unexpected, but of course it’s not when you think about it. You’re paring right back down to the essentials; it’s like drawing in a way.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

A simpler reverse side. It’s like a loose version of piano keys.

Check out my tutorial on monochrome colour schemes if you’re interested in experimenting with a limited colour palette too. The exercises show you how to experiment with one colour plus black, white and neutral grey. Maybe you could make your samples into a tote bag?

And One For Me!

I was really pleased with the way the bag turned out and plan to make one for myself next. I seem to do a small fresh-food shop every other day or so, now that I’m living in town, and it’ll be more than useful.

A proper shopping bag feels like shopping ‘back in the day’. I remember my mum used to struggle with bags and bags of shopping and one of those trollies on wheels that you pull behind you (they seem to be making a comeback lately, and not just with the oap’s!). I reckon the struggle was her own fault for having to cater for a family of 6, but she’d rope us in as packhorses anyway. It’s memories like this that make me feel my age – even the little things have changed significantly since my childhood. And it all happened so imperceptibly. I quite like the idea of going back in time a bit (not too far though), carrying my homemade tote bag, French loaf sticking out, fresh fruit and veg nestled inside.

What were your shopping days like ‘back in the day’, was it very different in the US I wonder? We could create a shopping revolution with our handmade improv tote bags – are you going to give it a go?

I’m linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ and Lorna for Let’s Bee Social, pop over and say hi.

Happy stitching

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015



Hand Quilting – How Dense is Dense Enough?

Morning all. Doesn’t it feel good when you have something to share? After all the disruption at home I’m pleased to be working on more than just one project that I can share with you. It must get dull seeing slow progress on the same quilt week after week? I admit it bothers me, I don’t want to bore the pants off you! But that’s enough of my insecurities, let’s have a look at On The Edge instead.

I’m On The Edge Again

There’s a finish in sight on this quilt and I’m getting excited – I’ve got an empty place to hang it after all! I’ve been hand quilting overlapping squares to compliment the ‘floating squares’ score that inspired it and I’m pleased with the decision: it’s looking good!

Hand quilting detail of 'On The Edge' a quilt in progress by © Stephanie Boon, 2016. All Rights Reserved

Hand quilting overlapping squares. I’m using two colours of Gutterman hand quilting thread, a blue and a red, picking up one or the other in a random fashion, a bit like sewing the squares themselves.

But I’m Not Too Dense!

I like my quilts to be fairly densely quilted compared to some modern quilts. It keeps the layers together better and holds up to more use and washing that way. On the other hand too much quilting makes the cloth stiff. It’s more of an issue with machine quilting, for me anyway. How densely quilted do you prefer your quilts? Do you find it’s a delicate balance getting it right?

I’m getting to a happy saturation point with this one now – you can see it better from the back in black and white. To some extent density of quilting is personal preference, but practicalities have to be considered too don’t you think?

The back of a hand quilted wall quilt, quilted in a series of overlapping squares. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 All Rights Reserved.

The back of On The Edge showing the hand quilting design. Random size overlapping squares are in keeping with the patchwork.

I have less than about 1/5 of the quilting to finish then I’ll figure out the best way to make the knife edge binding and hanging sleeve – I predict disasters galore and plenty of swearing in my future!

Morning Rounds

Have you seen Maureen’s latest quilt in Tula Pink fabrics? I popped over this morning and was bowled over by the burst of colour on yet another grey, mizzly day here in Cornwall. It must be more than miserable for the people of New Zealand though, Maureen’s part of the world. Another Kiwi visit took me to Linda at Koka Quilts this morning. She’s talking about quilting designs too and her beautiful strip-pieced Trip Around The World looks really soft and inviting. There’s solace in sewing even in the most difficult of times. I hope Maureen and Linda find some today.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015





Linked up with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social this week.  Find the link to Lorna’s lovely site here:

Link Party page: Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015

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Finding A New Sewing Space

Stitching has Resumed!

I managed a few hours hand quilting during the evenings this week, which has been bliss. And I’ve found the perfect place to sit and sew in our new home.

We have a larger kitchen/dining room than we previously had. There’s more wall space for sure and much more storage. There are alcoves fitted with shelves either side of what was once a fireplace. It’s not taken me long to fill them up with quilting books and baskets of fabric!

Moving into a new home. The dining area is covered in boxes still to be sorted. © Stephanie Boon, 2016

So much sorting out to do in the kitchen/dining room/sewing room! It’s still a complete mess.

Best of all is the space I have for a large farmhouse table to sit and quilt at – it was languishing in the shed for years back at the old place. I had to make do with a much smaller one, which was always covered in detritus for lack of storage. And now, oddly enough, I can’t get the smaller one into the house! The large table has detachable legs, the small one doesn’t and the front door is very narrow (it’s a Victorian terraced house). The door opens onto a long hallway and there’s no turning space. There’s no rear entrance either so the small table’s gone to a new home: Kim’s dad’s shed! It’s the big old table for me. Serendipity.

Good Company

I found my quilt On The Edge (Floating Squares) shoved into a carrier bag the other day, along with some reels of thread and a needle or two. I cleared the table of boxes and sat down to take a few stitches. It was dark outside and I felt so at home, cosy, warm, content. Then something surprising happened: Kim pulled up a chair and kept me company for the entire evening. I have no idea when this last happened. He usually holes himself up in his room and I only see him when he comes out to raid the fridge. It really was special; the kind of thing everyone hopes for with their children, time to sit and chat, time to sit in peace and quiet, just be. Together. And I got lots of stitching done.

Quantity not Quality

I’m a bit concerned I’ve got this the wrong way round on this quilt. I know I said I was going to forgive myself, but I caught sight of the big stitch quilting on my Norfolk Bricks lap quilt, when I was finding a new home for it, and couldn’t help compare the two. The stitching on Norfolk bricks looks pretty even and regular (I was impressed!), On The Edge doesn’t. At all! But it’s getting done and I think I have the perfect place to hang it: above the farmhouse table.

Moving into a new home. Trying out a red and blue patchwork wall hanging on the wall above the farmhouse table. © Stephanie Boon, 2016

Trying out On The Edge on the wall. (And wondering when I’ll have the time to refinish the table, fit more shelves in the alcove, change the paintwork from an insipid pale pink to white, glue another chair back together that Kim broke some time ago, and oh I don’t know…find homes for the rest of the stuff lying about!)

Knife Edge

The blue border won’t feature on the finished quilt, it’s there for a knife edge binding. This quilt was designed as a wall hanging and I want it to have the borderless quality of a painting. It’s the first time I’ve made a knife edge binding on a quilt this size so it’ll be a good learning experience. It’s also the first time I’ve made a quilt this size exclusively for hanging, so I’ve got to consider the best way to do this too. I was thinking about a tube for a rod at the top and possibly one at the bottom to give it some weight. Before I decide on anything though, I thought I’d ask which method you’d use and which methods you’ve tried and had the most success with. Let me know in the comments, I’d love your advice.

I’m getting ahead of myself though: first off I’ve got to finish the quilting! It’s on the agenda for today’s Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy over at Kathy’s Quilts. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in, and I’m hopeful for some more company along the way.

Enjoy your slow stitching today.

I’m looking forward to popping over to your place to say hello and see what you’ve been up to, but there’s still no broadband here so my online time will be a bit ad hoc for another week or so. Will definitely see you soon!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015


Looking For Peace With Every Stitch

This Quilting Life

My quilting life has almost come to a standstill over the last couple of months. There’s no floor space to work on my piecing and my sewing machine is buried under mountains of stuff to be sorted. But over the last few weeks I’ve managed to carve out a little space for hand quilting, something to calm me between all the packing and panicking. I sit at a small white bureau, laptop in front of me playing a film or some random tv program, thread and scissors to the side. I try and stitch away my worries and low mood.

Moving home and quilting : cardboard boxes piled high against the wall, bookcases and desks stacked out of use and a small bureau used as a place to quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016

I’m getting a bit sick of this view now! But I’ve almost finished painting all the furniture you see white (with the exception of the grandad chair which is staying as it is!)


I haven’t got a lot done, but I’ve promised myself to try and quilt at least one square a day on this quilt On The Edge (inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s score Floating Squares), even if it’s just a 1.5″ square. It’s quite a small quilt, intended as a wall hanging, so even a tiny amount of hand quilting makes a visible difference. The squares I’m quilting don’t follow the squares and rectangles of the patchwork, but are overlaid on top. They criss-cross each other, linking one square to the next, creating another layer of floating squares. I reckon I’ve quilted just over half the area of the top so far.

You get a better idea of how the quilting design works by looking at the back:

The back of a hand quilted quilt, showing the stitch design of overplayed squares on a plain blue background. © Stephanie Boon, 2016.

Floating squares on the back – and some wobbly lines.

My stitches are all over the place. A consistent size one day, a different size the next. I’m forgiving myself: I’m mentally and physically exhausted. This has become therapy. I think all us hand quilters find the process therapeutic, but I’m switching off and not striving for anything other than peace. It works, even for a few minutes a day.

Handmade quilt hanging over the back of a chair at a writing bureau. © Stephanie Boon, 2016

A calm space to quilt amongst the chaos

I’m on tenterhooks waiting for news of a possible place to call home. References have to be got, money has to be found for fees, deposit and rent. And we’re meant to be out of this house by Sunday 9th October. That’s this weekend. It’s not going to happen and all the uncertainty is unbearable. I’m grateful that every small stitch I make is a move forward, helping to build a new picture. It’s a picture I look forward to hanging on a wall. Pride of place. A reminder that quilting can carry us through even the roughest of times.

I’d love to hear how quilting has helped you through a difficult time, share your story in the comments below.

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social today – and look forward to being social!

Keep on stitching


Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015


I’m really pleased to say we’ve finally secured a new home…at the 11th hour! We found out yesterday, the 5th, and are meant to be out of our current home on the 9th – a close call indeed. I’m not sure exactly when we’ll be moving (we can’t pick up the keys to the new home until the 10th), but I’d really like to thank everyone for all the best wishes you’ve sent and for reading about my concerns, doubts and anxieties over the last couple of months. Friends indeed – and it could just be all your finger crossing that helped! Thank you once again, I really don’t think I could have got through this period without the support of you all. Love Stephie x

Quiet Sunday Quilting

I’m not a morning person. Woe betide you if you speak to me in the first hour after I’ve woken up – you’ll be lucky to get a grunt in reply. I’m a night owl, virtually nocturnal at times and I don’t often go to bed before 2am. It was a bit of a surprise to find myself wide awake and wanting to do some quilting at 7.30 this morning, after 4 hours sleep. The thing is, although I don’t like to go to bed until the early hours, it does annoy me that I miss the dawn or what feels like half the daylight hours in the midst of winter.

When I woke up early this morning, for no apparent reason, I was so restless I virtually jumped out of bed. I wasn’t in the best of moods, it has to be said. But 15 minutes later with a cup of fruit tea in front of me and a needle in my hand, all that restlessness just seemed to melt away. Hand quilting has a magical effect.

Hand quilting 'Floating Squares' quilt (in progress), Feb 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016

A few more floating ‘squares’ quilted this morning

My quilt of choice this morning (and last night) was my ‘floating squares‘. I took some quiet time to stitch a few more interlinking squares, gradually waking up as an hour or so passed by. I needed to see something different in my hoop for a while.  Summer Blues (link to how I made the quilt sandwich) has been a permanent fixture for months and as much as I’ve enjoyed quilting the 9 patches it still doesn’t feel like I’m making much progress. That’s just the price of quilting a full size quilt I think.  I have made progress, I’ve only got 12 9 patches to quilt now and there are 70 in total. Even I can’t deny that that’s progress!

Hand quilted 9 patch Quilt, Feb 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016

Summer Blues: 9 patch texture

So I made a bargain with myself: stitch 2 9 patches a day (and get them finished in a week), stitch a Quilty365 circle each day (link to this month’s new gallery) and then with any time left I’ll allow myself to quilt some floating squares. I just want to feel that everything is moving forward – because there are still things backing up and I want to make MORE!

Hand quilted 9 patch Quilt, Feb 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016

Summer Blues: the unquilted 9 patches are towards the back left.

Next week you can hold me to account.  Short of some sort of domestic disaster there’s no reason I can’t get this done…and if I know that you’re waiting to tell me off if I don’t, well, maybe that’s just the stick I need!

I’m linking up with Kathy for this week’s Slow Sunday Stitching, then I think I’d better be off to sew today’s quota of 9 patches, or I’ll be in trouble next week!  Who’s holding you to account this week?  Or are you better off with a carrot?!


The Latest DCS Newsletter is Out!

Just a heads up that my third newsletter of the year is out now: take a look at what’s inside. If you like what you find why not subscribe and enjoy some free  inspiration in your inbox every fortnight? (Did I mention it’s free!) In every newsletter you’ll receive links to some great articles or inspiring people, plus other tidbits that catch my eye that I think you’ll love too. There’s also an extra ‘blog post’ (or two) from me and of course news from the studio. You can unsubscribe at any time (though let’s be frank, why would you?!), so there’s nothing to lose, but lots to gain. Have fun reading!

Back tomorrow with some ocean waves. Have a great start to the week.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Floating Squares: A Confession!

Improv Squares quilt top: 'On The Edge' 2015, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

‘On the Edge’ (floating squares) – finished quilt top

I have a confession to make: I’ve been working on my floating squares quilt. This is not what I ought to be showing you today my lovely friends! This quilt ought to be tucked away in a cupboard until I’ve finished quilting Summer Blues. You remember: it’s that big project I told myself I could finish before Christmas, if I applied myself.  The one I wrote a quilt plan for.  The one that’s limply hanging on the back of my chair making me feel guilty. That one.

I (all too easily) convinced myself that basting the floating squares would be a productive use of my time. It’s good preparation, I said to myself. When I finally finish Summer Blues I can just get straight on with this one. I could invent a new rule for myself: one quilt being quilted, one sandwiched and basted ready to go, one completed flimsy and as many as I like being pieced.  Sounds alright doesn’t it? Hmm, except that I’ve already got two other flimsies finished. I ignored that point and carried on.


Floating squares - basting detail © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Basting under way on the kitchen floor

Of course, once you’ve sandwiched and basted an exciting new quilt project you need to try a few quilting lines. Just to see; just to make sure it’s going to go the way you hope. And it won’t take long.

Floating squares - basting detail © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Detail of thread and pin basting

Especially when you realise that it’s SO. MUCH. SMALLER. than Summer Blues and will probably only take a couple of weeks to finish up. No. No. No!  Someone tie my hands up, please!

Floating squares - basting detail © Stephanie Boon, 2015

First 3 overlapping squares quilted (front and back)

I can see that the idea I had of overlapping floating squares for the quilting would work out just fine. I’ve decided to randomly use both a blue and a red thread. It’s a Gutermann hand quilting thread though, not a perle cotton. I don’t want the texture of the thread to stand out too much: I’m going to try to see if I can get the quilted squares to ‘float’ on top of the floating squares patchwork. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

One thing I did discover though is that the tailor chalk lines rub off, just as I thought they would. As soon as I look at them it seems. I resorted to using 2″ masking tape (painter’s tape) instead. Well, it’s just what I had on hand! Have you tried the 1/8″ tape for hand quilting in a hoop?  Is it worth the extra expense?  I imagine it will be easier to use, so let me know what you think.

Floating Squares Needs a New Name

‘Floating Squares’ is pretty generic, but it’s just my working title.  More permanent names kept floating around my head as I was basting… My favourite, so far, is ‘On the Edge’, because once the blue ‘border’ is folded and stitched to the back that lovely big pink square on the left will be right on the edge. A bit like me at times! How do you get your names?

Getting on Track

Audrey’s Friday post was an interesting read earlier today.  As you probably know, her computer is out of action and she’s not been able to get on-line too easily.  What caught my eye though was her comment that she’s been getting so much more quilting done. Not surprising really is it?!  We all know how much time the computer can suck out of your day without you even realising it. Aha! I thought to myself. Maybe that’s how I could be more productive, more like Audrey in fact and just about all you other slow stitchers that seem to get so much more done than me! (And I don’t even have a tv to blame!!!). So I thought I’d go on an internet diet: 30 minutes after I’m up and dressed and not online again until after 4pm. That should give me 6 clear hours to get on with things.

I decided I might as well start today.  So far all I’ve done is clean and tidy my bedroom, clean the hall, half clean the bathroom and make a couple of online grocery orders. Oh and go for a very short run. I guess I’d been neglecting the house for a while! I reckon I’ve got just about an hour or so’s Slow Sunday Stitching left before bed. Just about enough time to make today’s Quilty 365 circle. If I can keep my eyes open after all that scrubbing!

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and catching up with you all over the next few days.

Before I sign off though, did you see my last post?  If you didn’t you might find it interesting, there’s some really good discussion on there, hop over and join in!

For more link party details click the image below.

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Happy slow stitching!

Signature: Stephie
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Floating the Squares Quilt

Al la Sherri Lynn Wood

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood, as I’ve mentioned before, is full of inspiration, but when I saw Ann’s exciting interpretation of the Floating Squares quilt over at Fret Not Yourself (pictured below) I decided I had to dive in there and then!  Ann’s enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and share her knowledge is infectious, so in the spirit of sharing I thought I’d explore my process here too.

Flying Squares by Ann Brooks © Ann Brooks, 2015.

Flying Squares © Ann Brooks, 2015. Click on the image to read about Ann’s process making this quilt.

The Score

If you haven’t got a copy of Sherri Lynn’s book, first off you should know that there are no quilt patterns to follow (which is great for me because I don’t like patterns!).  Instead Sherri Lynn provides ‘scores’: a set of basic guidelines and methods that you might choose to follow to make your own interpretation of her quilts featured in the book.

Floating Squares

Her first score is for an interpretation of her quilt ‘Floating Squares’.  To begin with she suggests you choose 3 fabrics, one of which is a ‘filler’.  You cut 2 of the fabrics into squares of varying sizes, then join them together adding in filler fabric where needed in order to make a regular shaped unit (square or rectangular). This can then be joined to other units with easy straight seams.  Of course, no rulers are allowed (something else I loath!).  Sherri suggests that as you run out of fabrics you improvise with what you have.


Improv Squares, patchwork quilt in blues and reds, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Stage 1


One of the guiding principles throughout the scores in the book is that you set yourself limits.  A limit might be that you decide you will only use 3 colours and/or a particular shape, for example. This is difficult for me: I don’t like rules! At all!  It just isn’t the way I work, but as I began to work through the Floating Squares score I could see why Sherri Lynn sets limits in this way, because

there are no other factors influencing the design other than the design itself.

This may sound strange, but coming from a fine art background (rather than design) as I do, the drive to make something is to express an idea, feeling, opinion, question, etc – and the guiding principle is to use whatever it takes to best express that idea (i.e. there are no rules in the drive to achieve the desired outcome).

My Quilt Rules

So, to get in the spirit of things I wrote myself some guidelines (well, kept them in my head rather than on paper!):

  1. You will not buy any fabric for this quilt (I decided this would be more like an edict – unbreakable!)
  2. Follow the score as best you can: use 3 fabrics, cut two of them into squares of varying sizes (different sizes for each particular fabric) and use one as a filler.  Add in other groups of three fabrics as you run out (I knew I would run out pretty quickly because of the limited nature of my stash)
  3. Cut the squares out quickly without thinking about exact sizes, using scissors
  4. Break the rules (except no. 1!) to achieve a good composition if you need to – you’re the one that has to live with the result!
Improv Squares, patchwork quilt in blues and reds, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Stage 2

Looking at my progress you might think I broke the 3 fabric rule right from the start!  Not quite, but I did have to interpret it because of my limited fabrics.  Last year Kim gave me a charm pack of 5″ red/pink Kaffe Fassett Collective prints for my birthday, along with a couple of quarter metres in other designs.  I decided that this would be the perfect quilt to use them on (I’ve been almost a year cogitating!) – and what a great way to remember a milestone birthday (we won’t go there though).  My first 3 fabrics were the stack of 5″ squares (some of which I also cut into smaller squares), a selection of plain and textured reds (some marbled, some ‘salted’) and a teal filler.

Improv Squares, patchwork quilt in blues and reds, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Stage 3a – Floating the Squares, a working title!

As predicted I ran out pretty quickly, which was frustrating at first because I just love the teal against the reds, so next I added the orange filler (I only had a quarter of metre, but knew the colour would be perfect), the spiral Brandon Mabley design and the pink/orange floral.  As the composition began to build I used the filler fabrics to create ‘lines’  that would draw the eye around the surface and noticed that I was able to make some of the squares really float. These became my design guides: what can I do to make some of the squares float as much as possible, and are the fillers creating movement across the surface?

As I started to add in the second set of fabrics I felt the composition was becoming ‘bitty’ and very pink (the bottom section in the picture above – note that I’m now working on it ‘upside down’ if you refer it to the first two pictures).  I know that I couldn’t live with this: it would drive me nuts, haha! It would constantly jar and my eye would be drawn to that section rather than flow naturally across the whole composition. Time to break the rules:

Improv Squares, patchwork quilt in blues and reds, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Stage 3b – swapping in a red square

I’m considering breaking up the pink by introducing another larger red square (which floats very nicely too) and already I’m much happier with the flow.  I’ve run out of the orange and teal filler, so I’ll be adding in the green/black print that you can see at top left, which will bring the quilt top to about 45″ square.  This is quite small, but I don’t want to bring in squares in other colours as the composition works well in this restricted palette.  So what to do?!  Shall I make it into a hanging as it is, or, another possibility, add other sections or borders (using a different score) to enlarge it?  In one of the latter chapters of the book, Sherri Lynn discusses this concept too.  My instinct is to get this section completed and ‘sit on it’ for a while, until I discover the right solution.  But I’m curious, what you would you do?

More Info

Today I’m linking up for Let’s Bee Social and Work in Progress Wednesday, until next time…

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Happy improvising!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015

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