Book Review: Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman

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Cover of the book, "Create Your Own Free-Form Quilt" by Rayna Gillman

I picked up Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman from the library. (I love that they will text me when a book I have placed on hold arrives at my local branch!) Unfortunately, I couldn’t read it until late that night. Although I was yawning and my eyes were tearing up, I couldn’t put the book down. Finally, I went to bed, but I was too excited to sleep!

Such is the thrilling life of a quilter!

I see the light!

Cathy holding up fabric for a Kafe Fasset quilt

Getting on my hands and knees for fabric...I find it easiest to use my mat and rotary cutter on the floor.

I’ve dabbled with a couple of versions of free-form quilting, but nothing like this! To me, Rayna Gillman’s methods are a revelation. Rayna makes quilting sound like a mixture of cooking, math and mixed martial arts. In Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, she explains how she slices, dices, multiplies, divides, rotates and flips!

Once you know her techniques you can find what works for you. As she says, there are no mistakes in free-form quilting.

One step at a time

Rayna gives step-by-step examples of her techniques, each with its own color photo. She auditions many possibilities. Later in the book you see how some of her examples fit into new quilts.

She’s flexible about her methods. If you want to fuse bits and pieces, go for it! (Although she generally sews.) Her rallying cry is, “What if?”

Rayna’s Method: Part A

Rayna encourages you to dive in and sew strips together. She calls this therapy sewing. It helps you see unexpected combinations and gets you moving. If you are really stuck, she says, “Don’t look, just sew.” As you sew you’ll see things you like, then follow your instincts.

Rayna’s Method: Part B

Once you have “strip sets” and modules you like, it’s time to move to the design wall. This begins the “slow design” phase. It is the time to rearrange and reflect. If it works, great! If not, go back to the first phase and more play!

Rayna to the rescue

Rayna Gillman shows how to rescue “the dogs.” By “dogs” she means quilt blocks and tops that you’ve abandoned. You probably are tempted to toss them. Instead, give them therapy! This is my favorite section of the book. She takes some really horrible blocks she made in the 1970s and 1980s and turns them into something current and interesting. Some of her blog readers also accepted the challenge to transform the dogs. I love to see how different people solve the “problem” blocks in different ways.

Quilting color

Rayna includes a terrific chapter about fearless color. She learned from her grandmother, “Nanny,” who embroidered unexpected colors. Her Nanny told her, “Darling, there’s no such thing ‘as doesn’t go’. You can use any colors together as long as you repeat them somewhere.”

Like all the C&T Publishing books I’ve read, the quality is top-notch. (When I write a book, they are one of the publishers I will contact.)

Initial blocks that I created following, "Create Your Own Free Form Quilts".

Blocks on the Quilting Room Floor: Here are first modules that I created following, "Create Your Own Free Form Quilts".

What’s my vote?

I love this book. I’ve already started sewing and slicing a new quilt based on it. Beginning quilters might find this book too free-form. Don’t expect any projects in this book. All the same, you’ve got to check it out. Or, buy it!

You learn more about Rayna and see lots of her work at her website:  www.studio78.net

Enjoy!

P.S. In an up-coming post, I ‘ll show you step-by-step, how I followed Rayna’s methods to create my own free-form quilt!

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5 responses »

  1. Pingback: Create Your Own Free Form Quilts – Rayna Gillman – Book Review « Diannajessie

    • Thanks, Lilrongal! I just bought a bunch of new fabrics to help keep me moving! I decided my quilt theme is Lincoln Park along Lake Michigan. (For those outside the Chicago-area, it is a beautiful park w/ statues, a wonderful zoo and lots of paths for bike riding, running, etc.)

      Thanks again. I just subscribed to one of your blogs! Cheers!

  2. Cathy – I have just started to experiment with Rayna’s process too! Although, I have this habit of always changing the insructions I am given. I will post some of my progress next week on my blog. Right now, the weekend here in Portland is promising a bit of sunshine, so I’m hoping to spend most of my time in the yard and gardens.

    • Diane, thanks for commenting. I hope you enjoyed the spring weather in Portland. Here it was beautiful. Today I went on a yarn store field trip with my knitting group. So, not much quilting for me either.

      I will definitely look at your blog. I think Rayna’s instructions are like a “choose your own ending” book. There are infinite possibilities!

Interact! Let me know what you think about this post! Thanks! -Cathy

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