Sunday, December 27, 2020

Working Small

For some time I've been of the mind that 'making a quilt' doesn't necessarily mean it has to be big. My friend Jill/@pieladyquilts said basically the same thing in her talk last weekend, and I appreciated her unknowing affirmation. Then Paola/@thecultofquilt shared a post with her latest 'experiment' and expressing the same sentiment. Alot of us have grabbed on to the respite that working small provides. 

I think of Gwen Marston often when I get a twinge of guilt over working small. But I figure if small "sketches" were ok for Gwen, they must be for the rest of us, right? Fact is, I find that working small is a great motivator. I can try a new idea, a new technique, just take a breather - whatever, making small takes alot of the pressure off at least for me.

With Crosscut (24" x 24"), I tried a method of piecing blocks together just to cut them into blocks to piece them together again. At the time, it felt excessive, but it led not only to a well-loved tutorial, but a sewalong and an avenue for folks to dabble with improv, even now.

StringSong (24" x 24") was another exploration into 'create it to cut it up,' which over the years has become a favorite 'technique' for me when I just want to play.

Playing with scale was one of the impetuses behind Nine of Ten (14 1/2" x 20 1/2"), something I don't consider often enough, but need to.

Relatively Subtle (17" x 17") was a palate cleanser, clear and simple, and though I created in fabric a doodle from my sketch book, it was in the quilting that I really got in the groove.

With So Wrong It's Gotta Be Right (17" x 17"), it was in response to a given challenge on the use of 'one wrong color,' and though I remember my viewers didn't think anything was wrong at all, it still was definitely exploring a concept, and the small size was all that was needed.

Scrap Leather (17" x 17") was a foray into minimalism in piecing and maximalism in quilting and it remains a favorite to this day.

Finally, Loosely Connected (11" x 11") was totally one of those where I didn't know where I was going at the outset, but just started cutting and sewing. It evolved, let's say, even into the quilting and the micro-binding. This one still screams of the best kind of creating for me, and hangs in my studio as a reminder.

So I know some of you aren't really into miniature quilts, that big and 'functional' is where it's at, and that's totally ok, obviously! But I really do love the space working small opens up for me, and I fully intend to keep on going there.


  1. I love seeing your small projects and I sometimes "envy" you for them, because you get to play a lot more. Finishing the big quilts takes so much longer (of course). But somehow my mind wouldn't know what to do with all those small creations. Maybe I need to find more babies to test ideas on that scale ;) xo

  2. I do love your mini quilts and I get so inspired by them. I participated in your Crosscut sew-along and to this day, the mini I made is still one of my favourites. It still hangs in my dining room. I usually go for functional when I make but small can be functional too - placemats, mug rugs, table runners... I also like to make small quilts that allow me to practice techniques and then use the block design in a much larger quilt.

  3. Love all your small experiments. I didn't realize just how small some of them are. Seems like an especially effective way to play with improv ideas. I usually make smallish lap sized quilts. This size allows for my love of mixing lots of different fabrics and using large scale prints. Haven't found a way to do that in anything smaller. Wishing you a wonderful 2021 Debbie.

  4. i love working small, especially to try out new ideas

  5. Thank you for the inspiration! The Crosscut tutorial is definitely on my "do it soon" list.

  6. All your smalls are beautiful! I'm especially fond of Crosscut, which, as you know, I made. Happily, it was given to a cousin "just because," and she likes it. You are always inspirational.