Since I have been sworn to secrecy about the quilts I have made to test Sherri Lynn Wood's improv "scores" for her forthcoming book, but I'm dying to talk about the experience, I'll take another path. I picked up a couple of books from the library that also use an improvisational approach, just to compare. The first one is Quilt Improv by British designer Lucie Summers.
I had a somewhat less lukewarm reaction to Yoko Saito's Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece, also from Interweave Press. She doesn't claim to use an improvisational approach, but indeed states that her quilting became much more free and fun once she stopped following patterns and worrying about cutting things perfectly. She too has a line of fabrics in her distinctive earthy palette of taupes, browns and greys. I have long admired her work and have a couple of her books in the original Japanese, but the text isn't really essential as the diagrams are so well drawn and the method clear. Most of the projects are bags - not simple ones either. Many require intermediate to advanced sewing skills in spite of their organic look. As much as I like Saiko's style, I probably wouldn't make anything from this book, but would enjoy it just for the beautiful images and inspiring techniques.
The main problem I have with both these books is that there is no real foundation for HOW to improvise - which for me means trusting your instincts, being responsive to the materials at hand, working from your core, creating space for spontaneity, testing your boundaries, being in the moment. This isn't easy if you haven't had much practise, but certainly can be developed with the right encouragement. I am very hopeful that Sherri Lynn's book will offer just such a nurturing and inspiring voice.