Modern Sampler: Painter’s Tape Block

For the next block in my modern sampler, I used an improvisational technique that first occurred to me several years ago: I outline the size I want my final piece to be with painter’s tape and then fill it with whatever shape I’ve decided to use.

My first exploration of this technique was a T shirt quilt.  The motifs from the shirts were many different sizes but could all be cut as rectangles or squares.  I outlined a rectangle about 55″ x 68″ on one of my carpets and stated filling it with shirt pieces.  I selected a modern fabric to fill in the holes, and here it is:

Improvised T Shirt Quilt

Improvised T shirt quilt

The shirts were all cut into rectangles and squares, and the fill-ins therefore were rectangles and squares as well.  I’m not saying this is easy, but it sure was more fun than just making a bunch of blocks the same size and lining them up.

So for the next Modern Sampler Block, I outlined an 8-1/2″ square on my cutting mat and started filling it with triangles.

Improvised quilt block

Starting a square that will finish 8″

I added 1/4″ strips between the triangles to give the whole thing definition.  Then I just kept addiing triangles (that I cut randomly) until it was done.

Improvisational quilting

Improvised triangles block

No chance of a pattern for this one.  To make it, just cut a triangle you want to start with and then keep adding on.  I have a couple of deliberate exceptions to my “rules” so that the eye doesn’t just keep saying “yes”, it has to stop occasionally and say, “hey, wait!” The only trick is to keep finishing with a straight edge so you can easily add on the next section.

Try this technique! I hope you enjoy it!

Here are the previous posts in my Modern Sampler series:

Humbug Star

Improv Block I

Pretty Blocks–better look at this one!

My Own Modern Sampler–It May Take a Year!


Slabs in 4 Colors

One of my quilt groups is swapping slabs, those blocks made up of scraps all in a single color range.  (The name was given to this block style by Cheryl Arkison, who blogs at Dining Room Empire, if you want to check her out.)  We all have MORE than enough scraps in all possible colors, so each of us requested slabs of a specific color.

It turns out these are addictive!  Usually we make only 2 blocks for each recipient, but I got a little carried away….and this is only half the blocks I’ve made so far.

Improvised quilt blocks

Just a few of the slabs 

Aren’t they pretty?  And such fun!  So fair warning to my quilt group friends:  I HAVE the scraps and I know what to do with them!  You will be getting lots of blocks this time!  Which should give the option of taking a break to those of you who have weddings to plan, etc.

If you think I’m kidding about making extra, just look at the scrap bin. Something must be done!Scrap-Basket

What are you doing with your scraps these days?

3 Little Soapboxes

Here are 3 topics on which I just couldn’t hold back:

1. Competitive quilter?!?! I don’t think so!  I took a great class with a noted quilter about two years ago and was stunned when she referred to herself as a “competitive quilter”.  I’ve always thought of quilting as the ultimate cooperative endeavor, with women working together in quilting bees and quilt guilds, sharing both their work and their lives. It was discouraging to hear that many quilters find out who the judge will be at a major show and then make a quilt specifically to please that judge.  I do understand that many people make all or part of their income from quilting, and that big wins can bring in both fame and fortune.  I’m still shocked that some people quilt for other people rather than for their own artistic expression.  Just call me grumpy.

free motion quilting

Some practice quilting–love that shiny thread!

2. I don’t want to become a machine. I’ve written before about what works and doesn’t work for me in terms of learning to quilt on my domestic sewing machine.  It finally occurred to me when I was working to get all my loops exactly the same that a pantograph (all-over) design on a longarm machine could do exactly the same thing with a fraction of the effort. HUH.

So, from now on I’m going to limit my efforts on the domestic machine to small items that are easier to do than to send out, and to quilts that really require custom quilting for some reason.  And I’m going to quit trying to “perfect” my loops, stitches, etc.

I figure I could have every quilt I’ll make for the rest of my life quilted for what it would cost me in time and money to buy, house, and learn to use a longarm machine.

I recently met a woman who says she will have her longarm paid for after 40 quilts. But she was accounting for only the cost of the machine, not her time in learning to use it, her time doing the quilting, or the cost of finding a place to set it up.  Seems to work for her and for many others, but I think it’s not for me.  I’ll hire one of them to do my longarm work!

free motion quilting

More practice quilting, more shiny thread

3. Chutzpah and modern quilting.  I’m not big on a definition of modern quilting. “I know it when I see it” works for me.  But in looking at many blogs and websites, it appears to me that it’s modern quilting if you say it is.  I’ve seen very traditional designs done in modern fabric and called “modern”. So I  if I use traditional fabric but with asymmetric design or lots of negative space or one of those other “hallmarks” of modern quilting, that would be a modern quilt, too!  Looks to me like modern quilting is a lot like all other art: 80% chutzpah.  Fine by me. Don’t tell me my design isn’t modern and I won’t tell you that yours isn’t either.  We get to define ourselves.  Enough said.

Have a good week!

One final sample...

One final sample…not perfect and not meant to be since I’m not a machine

One Big Improvement

Here’s the donation quilt that resulted from following one of Sherri Lynn Wood’s “scores” as it originally turned out. I didn’t much like it. As several friends pointed out, there wasn’t anywhere for the eye to rest!

improvised quilt

This came from following one of Sherri Lynn Wood’s “scores”

I got some great suggestions from readers and other friends.  I considered them all and finally used EQ7 (the Electric Quilt design program) to draft a layout.  I removed the borders and cut the center into 9 equal blocks, each 10″ square.  I loved Wanda’s idea to make the blocks different sizes with frames, but I was afraid the design already suffered from too much “creativity” so I didn’t do it.

improvised quilt blocks

10″ x 10″ blocks cut from the quilt center

Checking my stash, I came up with these options for sashing. I guess if I’d wanted a “really” modern quilt I’d have chosen the gray 😉

improvisational quilt block

Sashing options for the revised quilt

I chose the marine blue because it calmed things down without making them dull. I’m pleased with the result.

improvised quilt

The “New! Improved!” quilt top

Thanks to everyone who provided input about what to do with this!