Showing posts with label improv. Show all posts
Showing posts with label improv. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Another Sneak Peek from Improvising Tradition

I'm excited to share another project from my new book Improvising Tradition. The Ribbons Placemats are found in the Slice and Insert section of the book.  This pattern shows you both how to cut and sew curves improvisationally.  These are great skills to add to your toolbox of quilting techniques.
photo by Joe Hancock, copyright 2014
 
The ribbon-like flow of the curved pieces is emphasized by the quilting on the Essex linen as well as the use of ombré fabrics.  All the elements combine to make a very simple design into one that is so dynamic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumnal Improv Remix

The minute I wrapped up the Improv Table Runner for my friend, I started thinking about making another one.  While I didn't have enough Oakshott scraps leftover to make another runner, I did have just enough to make a quilted pillow.
 
The pillows is made with the same techniques and materials as the runner.  I even quilted it the same way.   I just made each piece a bit smaller, of course, and I backed it with a self lining envelope closure and added brown binding.
 
The quilted pillow cover is about 15 x 27, and I found a down pillow form at a home furnishings store that makes it super squishy and cozy.  We're really enjoying our autumnal décor this month.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Improvising Tradition

I've been anticipating this post for over two years, as I have been in the process of writing my first book.  I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!  Improvising Tradition: 18 Quilted Projects Using Strips, Slices and Strata will be available November 27th.


The book teaches several improvisational techniques, step by step, pairing them with traditional skills and methods. It is my hope that this book will give you the tools you need to create your own improvisational quilts, embracing an element of spontaneity while building on the traditional techniques you already know.
I'm also thrilled to be able to give you some sneak peeks of projects in the book, over the coming weeks.  The first is another shot of the cover quilt.  This is the Waterfall Quilt, along with its coordinating quilted sham.  This project set is from the Strata section of the book.
photo by Joe Hancock, copyright 2014

I've created a Facebook page for the book, if you'd like to stay up to speed on sneak peeks that way.  You can count on updates across all social media platforms, and the links to all of mine are now in the right sidebar.
 
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumnal Table Runner

I made this improv table runner as a wedding gift for a good friend.  I wanted to use some gorgeous Oakshott scraps in fall colors, and that inspired me to divide the runner with a strip of brown, evoking a tree branch.
 

The improv technique I used is a variation on slice and insert, and it creates some wonderful abstract shapes.  My younger son informs me that "Abstract is when you get to make whatever you want - kind of like scribbles, but it is artwork." That's not too far off, and I'm a fan.
The blocks of color made it fun to quilt. I emphasized the divide between the colors by quilting the cream in swirls and the tan in elongated meandering ripples.  I did a simple rectangular spiral in each of the colored inserts.
I made a pieced binding to continue the background colors in the runner. It makes the binding sort of disappear, leaving the focus on the fall colors.
I was very tempted to keep the runner for myself, which I'm told is the sign of a good gift.  I hope it will see many happy years in my friend's home.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Improv Wonky Cross Quilt

This 40 x 50 baby quilt is the product of my blocks from guild friends in the Whatever Bee.  I made a practice wonky cross version (a maquette, if you will) a few months ago which helped me to identify the features I liked in this sort of a slice and insert block.  Like the practice quilt, I kept the blocks the same height but varied the widths.  I also added a few half blocks and stacked them in pairs, just for fun (hint: this is a great fix for a block that may end up being slightly too small).  Improv quilting is awesome like that. Here a fun tutorial by a guild member Carla on how to make this type of block, two at a time.
This type of improv block is perfect for a bee.  It gives the quilters specific instructions while allowing them some flexibility to experiment.  My friends were all kind enough to make me two blocks, so I had some extra to use on the back of the quilt.
I am donating this quilt to one of our guild's community service projects, Birthday Blessings, a local charity.  I am also submitting it to 100 Quilts For Kids.  This annual quilt drive is great because it allows you to donate locally to a children's charity of your choosing.  Just add a link to an online photo of your quilt, and you can participate.  There are prizes!  The link is open through the end of the month, so you still have time.  The post even includes ideas for simple quilts to make.
Thanks so all my friends who contributed blocks!  I know this is going to be well used by some little guy in our community.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scrappy Improv Strip Quilt

If you've been reading my blog for a while, or know me at all as a quilter, you know I love scraps.  I also love improv quilting.  Put them together, and I am in my favorite sewing place.  This scrappy, improv strip quilt was sewn up just for fun.  I had the idea to play with value and strips again, but in a different way from Partly Cloudy.  Instead of short strips used in strip sets, I sewed the strips end to end to create long, narrow columns.  And instead of concentrating the darkest values in the center, I put them at the top and the bottom of the quilt.  The lighter strips in the middle become the focus of the quilt. The varying lengths of the lighter strips makes the design dynamic.

I like how the quilt moves from pink to orange to yellow as well.  These bright, warm colors just scream summer to me. 
 
While I was playing with my scrappy strips, I sewed up a few improv log cabin blocks.  They never get old!  I used three of my favorite on the back of the quilt.
 
The quilt finishes at 58" x 71" and it just the right size for napping or picnicking or napping at a picnic.  I think it would be sweet in a girl's room at the end of a bed too.  The quilt is listed in my etsy shop. SOLD

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Purple and Gray Strata Quilt

This quilt began as a pile of monochromatic strata.  I often sit down and create strata (improv, crazy pieced units) out of scraps when I need a bit of mindless sewing.  I added dark pink units around the lighter pink center rectangle, log cabin fashion.  The unit grew to include a final round of purple.
I decided to make a quilt, as the unit was too large for a pillow.  A large amount of negative space, using peppered shot cotton in charcoal, provided a nice space for some interesting quilting. I used matching aurifil thread and my walking foot to create a spiral from the center of the strata unit, outward.


I absolutely love the hand of the peppered shot cotton.  You can see a bit from the photos, how the warp and weft vary slightly from one another, since I cut the side and top borders the same way.  The warp and weft show slightly differently.  If this bothers you, pay attention to keeping the warp and weft oriented consistently in your border strips.

Shot cottons have a looser weave, in most cases, than quilting cottons, and in my experience can shift more when quilting.  As you may know, spiral quilting using a small home sewing machine requires a great deal of pushing and pulling through the machine throat and can result in a bit of distortion in a loosely woven fabric, especially if the quilt back is a quilting cotton which does not shift quite as much.

Even with some re-basting and unpicking, I ended up with some small tucks on the back of the quilt.  I have done spiral quilting on largish quilts, like the Tiny Log Cabin quilt, with no problem, so I surmise it the shot cotton made the difference.  I think straight-line in a single direction or free motion quilting would have gone over much better, but the manipulation required by spiral quilting a large quilt (60 x70) was not the best choice for the peppered shot cotton fabric.

Lesson learned, and hopefully someone will benefit from my experience.  The upside is that I get to keep this quilt!  I hope to use is as a sample for future classes on monochromatic strata piecing.

I'm linking to the Blogger's Quilt Festival for the first time.  Check out the link for so much inspiration.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quilted Strata Pillow

This project was inspired by my overflowing blue scrap bin.  I divided the scraps into three groups, by value.  I love monochromatic strata (aka crazy piecing or slabs), and a color progression of strata is even better!
I quilted the 22 inch  improv panel with an elongated serpentine stitch on my sewing machine.

I created an envelope closure, but this time I quilted the back of the pillow as well.  I bound the edges with single fold binding, machine stitched.  This construction makes for a really sturdy pillow.  I was able to overstuff the pillow as a result. Who knew 22 inches isn't a common size for pillows? Lucky for me, a squishy 24 inch pillow form works perfectly.  I think a simple lined back would gape open under the pressure, but this fully quilted pillow holds the form beautifully.
 
You can find this quilted pillow cover in my etsy shop. sold.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Improv Quilted Pillow

Quilted pillows are such a nice way to explore new designs.  They are quick to make, a great use for scraps, and easy to quilt on your home machine.  The small size means you can try out a new idea, especially an improv one, without much commitment in the way of time or materials.  It is a maquette you can use on your couch!

 
I used shot cotton scraps in warm colors with black Essex linen for this oversize pillow cover.  It is 24 inches squares.  The back is a self lining envelope closure based on Amanda Jean's tutorial.
I created the wavy quilting with my walking foot and Aurifil 50 wt thread.
This quilted pillow cover is in my etsy shop now.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wonky Cross Quilt

At its most basic, a wonky cross block (aka liberated cross or wonky plus sign) is a slice and insert technique.  A square or rectangle is cut across and a strip inserted.  Then the block is cut a second time, roughly perpendicular to the first cut, and a second strip sewn in.
For all my love of improv quilting, I have never made a wonky cross quilt, or even a block.  I'm not sure why, since this quilt by Rossie and this version by Carla are among my favorite modern quilts.  So when my month of the Whatever Bee came around, I decided to remedy all that.  I pointed my bee mates to Carla's tutorial, which makes two at a time. 
 
I decided to make a maquette (a technique I explained here), to get a feel for the blocks and their arrangement. I used pink scraps from my Waves quilt and the grey and white scraps they happened to be sitting next to (I love serendipity in improv sewing) on my sewing table.  As simple as these blocks are, I learned a lot about my own preferences making this mini quilt.
  • I like some variation in the thickness of the inserted strips: some chunky and some thin.
  • Some cross blocks need to be relatively straight in order for the wonky blocks to stand out.
  • The more fabrics you use, the easier assembling the top will be, if you like to avoid like fabrics touching.
  • Keeping the blocks the same height but various widths make for an interesting look that is still easy to put together.
I hope my bee mates will agree this is a good block for a quilting bee: a specific assignment with some flexibility for individual expression.

I decided to finish the maquette, since it seemed to me it would make a really cute doll quilt.  I put a text print from Verona Road on the back.  It's a bedtime story - perfect.  I bound the quilt in grey crosshatch, leftover from the Wave quilt too.  You can find this 23" x 25" mini quilt in my etsy shop. SOLD.