For example, Susan Carlson, one of my quilt idols, wrote two fantastic books called Freestyle Quilts and Serendipity Quilts. But her projects start with a beautiful, intricate sketch (she has a degree in illustration). Here's a part of one of her drawings:
Sarah Nephew, another longtime inspiration, has a couple of quilt books with "serendipity" in the title. Her gorgeous quilts require a ton of careful planning and cutting before you get from the serene to the dipity. (No Y seams, though, which is great!)
|You can see and buy Sara Nephew's terrific books here. I totally love this book and am going to make something from it.|
Here's how it works: A pile of unrelated fabrics accretes like stalagmites in a conspicuous area of my sewing room, for whatever reason (I auditioned them for different projects; my overstuffed cabinets exploded; I bought them seven weeks ago and am too lazy to put them away; I am a hoarder in denial; etc.)
After a while, I start to see connections. The universe appears to be sending a complex message - like Tarot cards, runes, or tea leaves - important dispatches that I must not ignore.
For example on a recent Hawaiian vacation, (blog entry), I bought a half-dozen new, mostly unrelated fabrics, including dupioni silks, cotton batiks, and a half-yard of this elegant, high-quality gold-flecked Asian print;
So I went for it!
Want to experience authentic serendipity for yourself? Here are five highly-disciplined exercises to force you to be lazy (or crazy) enough to make a very serendipitous quilt:
- The Random Number Method: Use a family member or online random number generator (like this one) to generate three numbers between 1 and 25. Go to your fabric stash, pick a pile, count down from the top, and pull out three fabrics that correspond to those numbers. Make it work. (If your stash is small, you can do this at the fabric store. See #4).
- The Project Runway Method. Set the timer for 10 minutes, race to your fabric stash and randomly pull five fabrics. Splay them on the kitchen table and leave them there until a concept comes to you. When your spouse asks why you can't clear the table, explain that you are channeling messages from the universe.
- The Pet Method: Similar to #2, but lay six fabrics on the floor, and then use ONLY the two that your dog, cat, rodent, etc. first lie upon. Same thing works with small children. (The pet can also help with decorative stitch selection...(although there is a danger it will gnaw on the spool pin.)
- The Method for People Who are Mediocre at Darts: Acquire darts. Print out a color wheel from the Internet. Thumb tack it to a bathroom door. Knock on the door to make sure no one is inside. Stand far back and yell loudly to make sure none of your family members or pets are approaching. Throw 3 darts toward the wheel. (If the darts land on the door or the floor, those count as colors, too.)
- The Blindfold Shopping Method. Put a blindfold in your purse. On your next visit to a quilt shop, approach a sales clerk, introduce yourself, blindfold yourself, and ask politely if she can steer you towards the fat quarters section. There, use your hands to feel out 3 fabrics. No peeking! Warning: The salespeople will whisper that you are kinky/bonkers.
- The Relationship Buster. This next approach works best if your spouse or #1 best friend is NOT a quilter or visual artist. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Ask him or her to pick 3 fabrics. Refrain from making suggestions or faces. Find a way to make it work. You may be stunned by how beautifully it all goes together; or, just plain stunned. Vengeance will be yours! Give it to them when you're done!
|Ginny was very particular about stitch selection.|