Archive for the ‘2016 Improv Quilts’ Category


Sunglasses required!

I was at a wonderful quilt retreat this past weekend.  From Friday afternoon until Saturday evening, I pretty much focused 100% on putting together the blocks for this quilt.  It’s made using (nearly) all my batik orphan blocks (i.e. blocks left over from previous projects, reject blocks, practice blocks), several improv filler blocks and the Ravelry 2BOM blocks.


It is always fun for me putting quilts like this together.  I view it as a puzzle.  First I lay out the blocks and try to distribute/balance the colors/sizes into a pleasing arrangement (trust me, I don’t spend MUCH time doing this – I mean really…..with a quilt like this, I don’t think it matters much WHICH block you put WHERE).  Then I randomly figure out 3-5 ‘sections’ and start working on those sections.  The sections are then made to fit and joined together.  I did a blog post early in the year about how I do this – I think it was for the Gypsy Wife 2 quilt.


I’m also PRETTY DARN SURE that this is the last BAQ (Big Ass Quilt) that I will be doing.  I know, I know…..I’ve said that before but I mean it this time.  It will have to be a mighty big deal for me to piece another BAQ.


Now back to FMQing Magnolia.  I started the last border this morning.  Feathers.  I need my head examined.  I’m also putting together a little ‘class’ for a local quilt group on improv/freeform/wonky/liberated techniques.  AND, I’m working on an idea to combine wool dyeing, Shibori tying and Wagga quilts.

Plus, I want to start on my Hundertwasser urinal-inspired quilt.  I know you can’t wait to hear more about THAT one.

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Here’s what I’ve been working on:

Bro’s and Sista’s (Brother’s and Sister’s from the book Kindred Spirits (Yellow Creek Quilt Designs) – It’s ready to hand quilt.  It’s sitting in the tv room waiting for me.  It’s ALMOST cool enough in the evenings to sit with this BAQ on my lap.  I’ll be using Big Stitch technique with size 12 Finca perle cotton thread.  Circles.  Freeform circles.  Last night while catching up on my blogs, I ran across the idea from Tim Latimer Quilts.  Time to start forming a callous on my naughty finger again.  This is a King Size so I’m guessing it will take me all winter.


Mr. W’s favorite reading chair has sprung a leak so I’m thinking to make a slipcover for it from an extra quilt.


Below are the blocks I have so far for The Splendid Sampler quilt by Jane Davidson & Pat Sloan.  They are 6.5 inch blocks.  Two per week for a year.  Did I mention **free**?  I’m using batiks from my scrap bag.


Below is my version of The Circle Games by Jen Kingwell.  Two borders finished (appliqué circles) two to go.  I’m really enjoying the appliqué work.  Think I need to find another appliqué project once this one is finished.  I’m tempted to start on the Quilty 365 project – or perhaps my version of it.


Next we have my next 2 projects from Sherri Lynn Wood‘s book on Improv quilting.  The first one is called Rhythmic Grid and the second one Patchwork Doodle.  They are both in the preliminary stages on the design wall.

And finally, we have my version of Sue Spargo‘s Magnolia.  Again, two borders finished, two to go.  This quilt is such a RIOT of color but I’m really liking it.  I am enjoying learning new embroidery stitches from Sue’s book Creative Stitching.  I’ve also been drooling while looking at her book Stitches to Savor – an amazing coffee table book of her work.


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Strings – 30×36

At the risk of repeating myself, one of the most inspiring quilt books I’ve bought in a long time is Sherri Lynn Wood’s book called Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  It resides on the arm of the couch in front of the TV and I thumb through it several times a week.


I have been doing freeform quilt work for years – but this book brings together a lot of ideas I haven’t explored before.  I am motivated to work through all the ‘scores’ in this book in 2016 and have just finished Score 2 – Strings.

I started with a bag of Reece Scannell shot cottons that I bought at a quilt show several years ago.  This bag contained 2-4 inch off-cut pieces the width of the fabric.

First job was to separate these fabrics into colors.  Next, per instructions for score 2, I decided on 3 combinations of colors.  I went with 1) high contrast, which ended up being primarily purples and yellows 2)neutrals and 3) low contrast/analagous, primarily oranges, golds and reds.  I discarded the beige/white fabrics.


Cutting (without a ruler) I sliced the strips to 18″ lengths and 1-3″ widths.  Off to the sewing machine, I made 3 separate strip sets.  I LOVE the way the curves developed.  And, I loved the WHIRL and HUM of my sewing machine as I mindlessly sewed the strips together!


Hanging the 3 strip sets onto my design mattress, my initial thought was that I didn’t think the neutral set went with the other two sets.  I posted this picture to Sherri’s Facebook group – and although I wasn’t exactly looking for opinions, I had several people suggest I give it a whirl with all 3 strip sets.  So, I did.

The cutting and design process was the MOST fun.  After I had a fairly appealing layout, I auditioned the beige/white strips and some dark brown strips thinking that might add to the design.  I ended up liking it WITHOUT the additional strips.  I probably spent about 5-6 days cutting and thinking and rearranging until I arrived at what I thought was a good arrangement.

While working on the final arrangement, the thought kept coming to mind “how do I know when it’s finished?”.  Funnily enough – that’s the same thought I have when I paint.  And I think that’s a thought that many artistic people sit with.  How DO you know when a piece is done?  I guess it’s done when you say it’s done, right?  Students of an art class I once attended joked(?) occasionally that their art wasn’t done until the teacher SAID it was done.  That never really sat comfortably with me.  Yes – the teacher had more experience – but did that necessarily mean that she knew best about someone else’s work?


Once I had the top finished, I found some butt-ugly fabric in my bin and quickly pin basted the quilt.  My quilting plan was to once again try free-motion quilted concentric circles.  I thought briefly about doing the concentric circles with the walking foot but thought the free form might continue the improv/wonky style.  BAD MOVE.  I HATE my concentric circles.  I have tried several times before to do concentric circles using free-motion technique and I’m just not good at it.  My circles are NOT circular.  Note to self:  next time you decide to do free form concentric circles….DON’T!


I added some spirals to the outside and then called it good enough.  I used my favourite facing tutorial from Terry Aske to finished the edges.  The only part of this wallhanging where I used a ruler was for the upper edge of the quilt as I wanted that dead-on straight.  The sides and the bottom I cut with the rotary cutter without a ruler so there is a slight curve.


All in all, I really like this quilt!   That surprises me.   It isn’t a color palette that I would instantly gravitate toward but you know what?  It feels like art to me.  And, whether it lines a dog kennel, is rolled up on a shelf or hangs on a wall – it really doesn’t matter to me because I had so much fun making it.  It seriously had me smiling every time I worked on it.  There was an excitement factor to making it that I am struggling to communicate.

I’ve already started on my next score.  Well….truth be told, I have 3 going right now.  Yes…..I said three!  K3’s quilt includes multiple scores, plus I have started a Patchwork Doodle using Japanese taupes and the third one is called Rhythmic Grid using my retro crumb blocks.  Stay tuned for more WHACK-JOB quilting…..I’m on a roll.

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