The spirit of discovery

There are a number of quilt discussion lists to which I subscribe, although usually skim and ping over most issues, since the same ones come up again and again over time, naturally as people come and go or become less new. And to read them in full each day would leave little time for anything else.

However over the past couple of days there have been calls for recommendations of books on quilting by people on one art quilters’ list, presumably either wanting to develop their art quilt skills or already finding ways to put their own ideas into unique quilted textile form. I found this a rather sad question. It may be my own attitude, but whatever happened to the spirit of experimentation, of discovering and exploring and incorporating the findings into one’s own work?

However having said that, there is an excellent recent self published book which does encourage experimentation for the faint hearted wanting to enrich their work anyway. Australian quiltmaker, teacher, writer and lecturer Dijanne Cevaal has produced “Seventy Two Ways Not to Stipple or Meander (Ideas for Free Machine Quilting)” The book contains the basic points on starting free machine quilting and embroidery (being the same essential thing) advice on needles and threads and so on, suggestions on setting up, importance of basting and batting types, all of which are probably in most other books on free machine quilting.

The real inspiration comes however from the illustrations, which consist of 72 different patterns, one b/w photo to a page, many of them with a personal comment ( to quote Dijanne ” – it adds interest to contour lines if you throw in some other shapes as the lines go outwards.” ) This technical and photographic information aside, it is the exerimental attitude implicit in all her personal comment that shines through, IMHO – as Dijanne says, she is quilting for texture and effect, not for perfection. The implication is that of course, practice until you are perfect if that’s what you want. But to Dijanne ( and myself, can’t you tell?) the FMQ is an intergral and interesting part of the overall artistic integrity of the quilted piece. The goal of Dijanne’s book is if possible to wean many of the current art-quilters and wannabe’s off ‘Stippling”. Stippling in itself can be interesting and often appropriate; but it is so totally overused and has become even boring as a texture in modern quiltmaking. Information on ordering this terrific book can be obtained from Dijanne herself, I bought my copy for Aus $20 in Australia, overseas buyers will find Dijanne is experienced and prepared to ship anywhere, taking current exchange rates into account.

My own recommendation was: check out some recent catalogues both in book form and on line – visit some websites maybe to see what people are doing, start observing what other crafts people are using in their surface designs, through visits to galleries and museums,…. then shut all of that down, sketch and or photograph patterns around us, and draw and draw and draw with them until they bcome your own to use in well, say, free machine quilting. They can just as easily turn up as applique cut outs or print stencils of various kinds. The thing is to make pattern or texture part of your own vocabulary which can only be done by quite a bit of work….. I’m a paper and pencil kind of gal, the results on the computer don’t really express ME and I don’t relate to them. Mind you, I could do with a really comprehensive workshop on the use of a computer program and may do sometime, in english.

3 Responses to “The spirit of discovery”

  1. Anonymous says:


    Totally agree with you on Dijanne Cevaal’s book, and the paper and pencil approach. I too highly recommend 72 Ways not to Stipple and Meander.

  2. PaMdora says:

    Great post – thanks for saying this!

  3. dijanne cevaal says:

    Wow Alison

    I am blushing- thank you for speaking so highly of the book!

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