Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah

It is a great honor to be asked by Sujata Shah, a fellow patchwork improvisor, to review her new book Cultural Fusion Quilts, from C&T Publishing. Sujata and I discovered each other first on Flickr. I soon realized that Sujata was part of the improv tribe and have been and continue to be delighted to follow her work at The Root Connection.

One of the things I love about improvisation is that even the very way people improvise is unique. There are no hard and fast rules about the process. There are multiple, infinite paths to improvisation. The signature style of an improvised quilt actually reflects the signature process of the maker. And Sujata shares her unique process with inspiration, clarity and grace through her book.

What I love most about the book is her insistence on the expressive quality of line.

I wanted more than just straight lines in my quilts. –Sujata Shah

One of the things that continues to surprise me when I teach improv quilting is how dependent people can be on their rulers, and how fearful and reluctant they are to cut and sew without them. As quilt makers we love to express our vision through the choice of favorite shapes and patterns, and through favorite colors and prints. Yet we overlook the expressive potential of line by always choosing to use rulers or templates. Precision can be beautiful but limiting when perfection is the only option for expression.

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The great contribution Sujata’s book makes to the evolving conversation of improvisational patchwork is that it gently opens up an exciting path for first-time and beginning level improvisors to explore the expressive qualities of the freely cut line. Her project instructions, and technique illustrations are direct, efficient and fullproof. Sujata’s book is a great introduction to improv for traditional quilters who have never gone without their rulers. Her beautiful quilts reassure with an invitation to jump right in and enjoy — the water is fine and the swimming easy!

Another thing I really appreciate about Cultural Fusion Quilts, is Sujata’s emphasis on the variations of patterns. To pass along the variations of a pattern, all the ways it can be done differently, is an essential characteristic of improvisational patchwork. Sujata provides possible pattern variations at the end of each project chapter, kindly inviting us into deeper water to explore new territory.

The emphasis on pattern variation is also reinforced by the beautiful inspiration photos included in the book of native textile traditions from all over the world. So often we search for pattern inspiration by pinning other quilts. Sujata reminds us to turn towards the patterns of culture and life that surround us for our source material.

Cultural Fusion Quilts is an awesome book and I predict it will be a delightful game changer for many of the traditional and modern traditional quilt makers among us.


Well I suppose you may want to get your hands on this gem so here is your opportunity to win a copy of Cultural Fusion Quilts! Leave a comment letting me your thoughts pro or con about rulers. Do you love them, hate them, use them or not in your patchwork? How are they a help or a hindrance?

The giveaway will remain open through midnight, December 16. In the meantime follow along and enjoy the rest of the Cultural Fusion Quilts blog tour:

This entry was posted in Current Giveaways, Reviews, The Modern Quilt and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

135 Responses to Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah

  1. Colleen says:

    135-I’m a modern quilter at heart, which means I’m a traditionalist in practice. I would love to attend a class or lecture by you or Sujata or Marianne from The Quilting Edge to learn how not to depend on my ruler and rotary cutter. How “freeing” it would be :)

  2. DebV says:

    I totally depend on my rulers – although I still have a problem being straight. This is just what I need to break from my habits and just cut the fabric up. I love how the colors make me smile.

  3. Ellee says:

    While I love my rulers and use them all the time, I’m not married to them and welcome the opportunity to learn how to create in a free-form manner.

  4. Karen says:

    I always use rulers to measure and cut my fabric to the size of square or rectangle I plan to use in my quilts. But I have admired this type of quilt making when I first found the Gee’s Bend quilts. Sujata’s quilts are beautiful and I know I would enjoy her book. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!

  5. Pat Hanna says:

    I use rulers most of the time in my patchwork. They are necessary tools to produce traditional quilts. But I am very intrigued with working more spontaneously. This book sounds like a wonderful guide to that method.

  6. Jane says:

    130-I always use my ruler as I am an absolute stickler for precision !

  7. Karen says:

    I really like my rulers, but I’m not afraid to leave them hanging on the wall. I could try to leave them alone more of the time though. It’s easier to default to ruler work for me.

  8. I do like rulers and the rotary cutter- there are so many different kinds of rulers these days that you are not stuck with just straight lines but I find that rulers help my pieces come together without having too many waves. Perhaps I will change my mind if I get a good look at this book.
    Thanks for the chance to win such a cool book.
    Regards from Alberta, Canada,

  9. Darla says:

    I love rulers and have LOTS of them; many that I’ve never even used. AND, I love to do improv piecing without using any ruler at all. I love being able to just cut and let things happen; not needing to match up seams etc. I volunteer teaching quilting to ladies who were recently homeless or in some kind of unhealthy and/ or abusive relationship. One is making her first simple Irish Chain quilt and HATES having to match up her seams. Once she’s finished this little quilt, I can’t wait to teach her improv piecing as I think she is going to love the freedom it will give her. This looks like a fun book to add to my collection. I hope I win! Enjoy your day!!

  10. Becki morrison says:

    I consider myself liberated to some degree but it is amazing to me how difficult it is to lay down my ruler(s). Old teachings die hard!!

  11. Jane says:

    I love rulers! BUT I don’t always use them. Depends on the project. Thanks for the chance to win one of Sujata’s lovely books!

  12. Stephanie says:

    Following my minimalist streak, I have tried to limit the number of rulers I purchase and use. I only have 2, one is a 10″ square and the other is I think 3×16″. I am intrigued when I read projects using specialty rulers, but so far, I have stuck with the basics. I do use them not only to cut, but also to square up and trim down blocks.
    At the same time, I haven’t gotten into improv, but I love the colors and personalities of the quilts featured in this book.
    Thanks for the blog tour and giveaway opportunity.

  13. PT in SC says:

    I have to admit, when I tester for a score in your book, that was the first time I did not use a ruler…and I missed it badly! But I can see how it is freeing for others.

  14. Rita says:

    I have a collection of rulers and use them a lot! Guess I’m more of a neat freak than some and I like my corners to come out nicely. Thanks for sharing your review!

  15. Karen Thurn says:

    I’ve used rulers and just templates (plexiglass and paper) for cutting out pieces. Works for me either way.

  16. Carol says:

    120-I loved and used my rulers a lot enjoying the “perfection” they enable but now I going to try this method. Feels liberating!

  17. Laurie Reissler says:

    There is such freedom that comes with not using a ruler. These quilts are awesome.

  18. Jill says:

    I must admit I use rulers a great deal, but that doesn’t mean I love them. There are times I would like to pitch them out the window.

  19. Alis says:

    I use my rulers religiously…. it’s just a shame that I can never cut a straight line!
    That’s why Sujata’s approach to quilting might be just what I need!!!

  20. DeborahGun says:

    I love using my ruler to get straight lines but I hate measuring accurately!

  21. usairdoll says:

    Amazing book and amazing quilts! I never thought of not using my ruler to cut and sew. Sounds like I need help, hehe. Would love to be more spontaneous.

    Thank you for a super giveaway and a chance to win.


  22. Erin says:

    I use rulers but really want to try free-form curves. And I’d love to be more open about combining patterns like some of the quilts in this book!

  23. Betsy says:

    Rulers are just that! They can rule your mind and while I need a little rule to make things happen I try to hold the art and soul of the project. It is all perfect in it’s own way. Thanks for the inspiration. Betsy

  24. karen keeler says:

    Rulers are necessary for some patterns especially if you want accuracy. However, I do make many improvisational blocks and then only need a ruler SOMETIMES to square up blocks. I have many and use them all.

  25. Elaine says:

    Just have to have rulers sometimes. Thanks for the giveaway.

  26. Barb C says:

    110-Would love to win the book. Looking for ideas to do a quilt different than my normal traditional quilts. Yes I love using ruler. Have traditional needed everything to line up and be square but might be nice to get out of my comfort zone.

  27. jenny says:

    definitely a time and place for rulers…i pick and choose them.

  28. Karen says:

    I always use rulers but wish I wasn’t so OCD. Love the quilts in this book. Perfect for all those solids in the stash.

  29. Jane B says:

    I am a ruler user, but I also sew with crumbs and scraps to make fabric and sew it into traditional blocks. Those are often my favorite quilts. Thanks for the chance to win this book!

  30. Great book thanks for give away

  31. Karen says:

    i do use rulers a lot. I like to try new ones but always seem to go back to my favorites.

  32. Anita says:

    I think special rulers are a blessing when it comes to using them in a specific project. But, I don’t have an unlimited number of them, so most often I am just just cutting using my basic ruler.

  33. Jackie says:

    Rulers rock. Its not in my personality to just let things go together without structure, but I definitely admire the work of those who can quilt with abandon.

  34. Deb says:

    I’d never thought of a question like this before….yes, I use rulers and couldn’t work without them.

  35. Lisa Littlefield says:

    I enjoy using my rulers. Thanks for the chance to win. I am excited to check out all the new quilting sites I am seeing for the first time.

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