Improvise a Quilt the Jane LaFazio Way

Many people–me among them–admire Jane LaFazio's approach to quilt making. She has a way of combining hand stitching, machine stitching, surface design, mixed-media, and even machine needle felting to create beautiful and unusual pieces of fiber art.

Jane is diligent about keeping a sketchbook to record everything she sees on her travels, capturing everything from seed pods to pottery to shoes in pencil, ink, and watercolor–or on her digital camera.

an example of Jane lafazio's quilt making
With an overall theme but no particular plan, Jane
LaFazio designs and stitches small pieces of fabric
and batting, then puts them together like a puzzle.

At home, these visual notes inform her choices as she pulls out her fabrics, fibers, and surface design materials and jumps into her design, usually improvising everything as she goes along. There's not a real plan–but there is a process.

In the February/March 2015 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, Jane offers her full design and quilting instructions from start to finish. Here is a little sneak peek of how she improvises.

How to Quilt – Jane's Improv Process 

  • I first create individual pieces, each a different size, with a cloth top and batting beneath–but without a backing, so it's not a traditional quilt sandwich.
  • I machine sew and hand stitch these sections before I put them together–sometimes sewing from the front, sometimes from the back. I don't finish the edges or have a seam allowance.
  • Once I've created a number of pieces in the same color scheme and motif, I put them together like a puzzle. I move them around and compose a pleasing arrangement.
  • Once I'm happy with the arrangement, I pin them to a backing (usually white wool felt) and hand or machine stitch them together.

Jane's ability to pull from different sources and mix a variety of techniques-while keeping with a common theme makes her work distinctive.

Next time you're considering how to make a quilt, consider taking an improvisational approach and incorporate some materials or techniques that are new to you or that you haven't used in a while. 

We have many resources for you to learn new techniques in areas besides quilting. Be sure to check them out and learn something new in the New Year!

P.S. Have you decided to learn something new this year? Leave a comment about it below.

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2 thoughts on “Improvise a Quilt the Jane LaFazio Way

  1. I love Jane LaFazios’ work & I am really excited to see the new Quilting Arts magazine. The blog posting has already answered a question I was grappling with to stitch different pieces to a felt backing. So much easier when someone else figures it out. Why is it that we get so bogged down in tradition. It has it’s place but when I was younger I attended Art school (best 3 years of my life) & close to finishing I asked the teacher I admired most what would be the main piece of advice she could offer me. Know the rules then break them all. Thanks to you & to Jane.Peta