Innovation is something that happens when there is no instruction manual readily available. Improv Handbook giveaway on OkanArts.com.
Today I taught an improv curve piecing workshop to another awesome group of quilt makers.
I considered the space between warp and weft when piecing these curves with bias cut strips to create this modern improvisational quilt.
Free-cut continuous bias strips were machine pieced through an improvisational process to create the curved patchowork in this modern quilt.
In a split second my split sections were on their way to becoming TWO modern quilts instead of one!
Position and momentum can not be known simultaneously when you are dealing with modern improv curved piecing!
In Part 1 of the Mini Keepsake Quilt-Along, I cut my clothing into sections according to the architectural features I wanted to highlight. Now it is time to improvise a pattern based on those features to create blocks or sections.
Tips on Improvisation
- Improvisation is simply creating without a pre-determined pattern.
- Take the piecing process one step at a time. (Don't over plan.)
- Allow yourself to be surprised by the outcome. There are no mistakes.
- Follow your heart. Find your rhythm of attention.
- Start with any feature that resonates strongly with you.
- Square off your feature by filling in curves or odd angles.
- Continue to build and add to your section until you reach a sense of completion.
- Once you complete one section set it aside and start on the next section.
- Your finished sections should roughly have straight edges, but they can be any size or shape.
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Curve Piecing Technique
- Fill in the curve of a arm hole with a contrasting fabric.
- Layer fabrics right sides up to cut the line of the curve.
- Leave a 1/4 inch over hang on filler piece.
- With right sides up chalk along the curve line.
- Turn right sides together, match chalk marks and pin perpendicular to edge.
- Ease fabric between pins and sew along pinned edge with a 1/4" seam allowance.
- Remove pins and iron seam in one direction.
Hand Piecing a Neckline
- Arrange neckline on background fabric with right sides up. Pin in place.
- Hand stitch with matching thread using a hidden applique stitch.
- On backside carefully cut away as much bulk as possible from the collar.
- Trim background material to within a 1/4" of the appliqued seam.
Next Monday, in Part 3 of the Mini Keepsake Quilt-Along, we will arrange and build sections like a puzzle into finished mini quilt. On Wednesday I'll announce the winner of the Whip Up Mini Quilt Book giveaway along with a review of the book.
Did you learn anything about the way you see patterns by following your rhythm of attention? Any surprises? Please share!
There are several people who have taken the Mod-Mood Quilt challenge and have hopefully, happily discovered that it really is a challenge. Through a series of FAQ updates I want to highlight a few of the blog posts out there by people who are working their way through the process and respond to some of the technical and perhaps creative-psychic challenges they are facing.
First up, Ginger at The Simplest Complications and her post titled Devil's spawn...
Good for you Ginger for taking on the challenge with a sense of humor. It looks like you started out so calmly with tranquil turquoise, but the next round of colors might be raging reds and frustrating fuchsias!
Notice that Ginger's curves are more extreme than mine. My quilt has the illusion of having extreme curves, but in reality many of the curved sections gently stack together.
Here are some supplementary tips to my curve piecing tutorial for controlling the extremity of your curves:
- Begin to control the gentleness or sharpness of your curves when you are piecing the wedges. To flatten out a curve just throw in some upside down wedges here and there.
- When arranging and layering your curve pieces, let them overlap and cut away excess for a gentler curve. Add filler fabric on the end of a curved section if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to use darts to draw in slack material when necessary.
- There are a couple of extreme curves in my quilt. In that case I hand appliqued them in place.
- Try clipping sharp curves to allow the seams to lie flat. Convex curves ( can be simply snipped. The concave counterpart ) can be snipped in a V to remove excess fabric.
If you are working on your own Modern Mood Quilt, keep me posted on your progress and send me your questions! If you have some tips of your own on piecing curves please share!
In step 7 of the Mod-Mood Quilt craft-along, quilt-along with me and learn how to use bias-cut strips to machine piece the curvy corners of your moody modern quilt.
In step 6 of the Modern Mood Quilt craft-along, quilt-along with me and learn how to machine and hand piece curves without a template.
View my archive of quilt pattern sketches and the images that inspired them. What's inspiring you these days? And why? If you've blogged about it recently, include links to your post.
In 1992 I took my first quilt making workshop with Nancy Crow. It was on improvisational process and one of the first things Nancy said to the class was, "You don't need a ruler to cut and sew fabric together." This seems so obvious now but at the time it was a light bulb popping on in my head.
Step 4: Get your line on
A. Cut wedge shaped strips across the width of the rectangles you created in step 3. All your strips should be approximately the same length (equal to the width of your rectangles). Your wedges can vary in thickness according to the parameters you set earlier.
B. Don't use a ruler and cut with intention. The cut is your signature. Be present and imagine that you are drawing. The result is your distinctive, hand-drawn line.
C. Mix all of your strips in a pile or a paper bag. Begin piecing them together with your sewing machine. Choose them quickly, intuitively and without much thought. After doing this for awhile, try choosing them blindly and randomly out of the paper bag. Compare and contrast your experience of the intuitive vs random process. Compare and contrast the results of these two approaches. Do you have a preference?
D. Don't worry about seam edges that don't seem to match. Pretend like they do. Line them up, right sides together and sew your 1/4" seam anyway.
E. After sewing several wedges together to make a section, use a lot of steam and iron the hell out of it. Iron from the center out.
F. Special tip: You can control the intensity of your curves by alternating the fat and thin sides of your wedges. Create gentler curves or even straight edged sections in this way.
G. Continue to create sections from your strips according to your moods. A section is like a block but it can be any size or shape. They do not need to be consistent. Work on a section until it feels intuitively done to you. You don't have to think about how they will all work together. In step 5, we will put all of the moody sections into place like a puzzle to create an overall composition.
Rowing the Boat:
Please post any questions you have about the process or techniques and I will respond. Share images of your process on the Mod Mood Quilt Flickr pool. Any surprises? Discoveries? Satisfactions? Dissatisfactions? If you are working on your mood quilt, give me an update!
Step 3: Get Your Pattern On
Once you have identified your moods and chosen corresponding colors in step 2 what are you to do? It's time to choose a pattern.
A. For your Modern Mood Quilt you can choose any pattern to work with. You can stick with a traditional block pattern but I encourage you to plunge into the wide and free world of improvisation. Don't be intimidated by the word improvisation. All it means is to create without a predetermined pattern, but not without limits or parameters.
B. Decide on your parameters. The parameters for my Modern Mood Quilt are to work with wedge shaped increments to create curved flowing sections. I have also decided to change the length and thickness of my wedge shaped increments according to the depth and intensity of my moods. On certain days I may use 4" strips that are only 1" to 2" wide to create my wedged curve sections and on another day if my mood is really strong I might decide to work with 8" strips that have a range of width between 2" to 5".
From here on out I will give instructions for working with wedges and curves but feel free to improvise within your own parameters. For example you could decide to work with squares and even thickness strips to create improvised sections base on a log cabin construction.
C. Prepare rectangles to cut your wedges, out of the fabrics you chose according to your mood in Step 2. For instance, if you have decided to work with wedges that are 6" long and 1" to 3" thick then cut or build rectangles of fabric are 6" in width. If you have a piece of fabric that is only 4" wide and 10" long, then add a 2" strip to make a rectangle 6" wide x 10" long or cut it down to 6" wide x 4" long. Prepare several rectangles of fabric in this way.
D. You don't have to use a ruler to make these cuts. Instead cut them freehand. Your measurements do not have to be precise only approximate. In Step 4 we will review cutting and piecing without a ruler as we begin cutting our rectangles into wedges.
Rowing the Boat:
Please post any questions you have about the process or technique and I will respond. Share images of your process on the Mod Mood Quilt Flickr pool. Any surprises? Discoveries? Satisfactions? Dissatisfactions?