On the Generosity of Quilters

It’s been a glorious week. Last Friday I did a workshop on the Improv Wedding Ring method. The class was given by the South African artist and award winning quilter Joy Clark in Port Elizabeth. Joy had in turn taken the class with the artist and designer Diana Vandeyar at the 2019 South African National Quilt Festival. Diana gave Joy permission to repeat her class, generously even sharing her notes. Six of us had a very happy, laughter filled and stimulating day with Joy.

This is the quilt that Joy Clark made at Diana Vandeyar’s Improv Wedding Ring class

Joy calmly and clearly walked us through the method and once we had marked our blocks, stacked and slashed them according to Diana’s very clever method, the sewing machines started humming and we (almost) forgot that it was a blazing hot and humid day. The method resulted in nine blocks that could then be arranged in different ways to arrive at the perfect pattern. It took a bit of shuffling until the design clicked into place and there were sounds of “ah yes, that’s it”. Well, mostly. I was not entirely happy with the arrangement of my blocks and so decided not to sew them together and finish the quilt top at the workshop. At home I made another set of blocks and added them to the mix to make a larger quilt. This also means that the piece is about 120 cm (48 inches) square and can be used as a throw.

It didn’t end here for me. I found myself looking at photographs of modern quilts and becoming more inspired. I have previously read up on modern quilting but found the written descriptions confusing (perhaps a reaction to trying to wrap my head around postmodernism in literature). But the QuiltCon and other photographs on the web got me going and so I stitched another 16 block Improv Wedding Ring quilt top. I also got out my copy of the book Cut Loose Quilts by Jan Mullen and am planning to have some fun with improv circles, using her stack and slash method.

My second Improv Wedding Ring quilt, using only two colours to see what the effect would be. My fingers are itching to start hand quilting it.

Diana Vandeyar won two awards at QuiltCon 2018 for her quilts Grandmother’s life on Mars and 713 Lollipop. There is an interview with her on the web that makes for stimulating and fascinating reading.

17 thoughts on “On the Generosity of Quilters

    1. Yes, it is an interesting and clever version of the wedding ring. There is a more complicated method in Jan Mullen’s book where the ring is pieced. I have been surprised to find how easy it is to sew curves using the improv method

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  1. Looking at yours reminded me of looking through a kaleidoscope – do you remember those?!! I like the detailed smaller patterned cloth inside the larger solid areas of colour, waiting to burst out as it were. Exciting possibilities.


  2. Oh my goodness – I have that book Cut Loose Quilts – I feel liked I need to go revisit it! I loved seeing the different interpretations on the pattern/technique with the different palettes! It sounds like you had a glorious week and retirement is going very well (with much creativity!)


  3. My copy of Jan Mullen’s book is well used. I tried quite a few of her patterns when I first started quilting and always had fun and good results. I see that it was published in 2001. Her method seems to me to be what is now called Improv. (But I am surmising). Enjoy revisiting your copy. Chela says she has ordered the book. Thanks for reading and commenting, Tierney. Yes, I am having the time of my life!


  4. Thank you so much for the shout out! Joy sent me the link to your blog post and I really enjoyed reading all about your class, so happy you enjoyed it. Yes, this process is so addictive and there are so many possibilities for personal creativity. I love your two color quilt! Best regards, Diana


    1. Dear Diana. And thank you for taking the time to comment on this blog post. I must confess to a surge of delight when I saw your name in my WordPress notifications. Joy’s class of your improv wedding ring has got me on a roll and I am grateful to you for sharing your idea so generously. Thank you for liking my two colour quilt


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