I’m doing a trunk show focused on improvisation for the Heart of the Triad Quilt Guild tomorrow–please come if you’re in the North Carolina Triad area. To help me update my talk, this post is focused on some of my favorite ways to improvise in quilting. .
The first time I recall improvising was about 20 years ago when I had scraps left from this quilt (made while we lived near Pennsylvania Amish country):
I combined the scraps with yellow and just sewed them together in strips, then blocks, to make a quilt for the friend who helped me choose colors for the Amish quilt.
Improv quilt blocks I made about 10 years ago
Combining scraps from a single project, sometimes with the addition of another fabric for “spark”, remains one of my favorite ways to improvise. I no longer cut the scraps into strips; I just start sewing.
Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt, finished 20″ x 20″
The quilt above won a judge’s choice award, possibly because some of the pieces in it finish as small as 1/4″.
Another favorite way to improvise a design is by modifying a traditional block. Sometimes I cut off part of it, sometimes I stretch or distort it, sometimes I scatter the pieces around. Here are a few examples.
Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013, finished 20″ x 20″
Zippy Star I
I have done a number of things with those pesky orphan blocks (blocks left over from previous projects). I swear they multiply when I’m not looking 😉 One option I like is to cut them into circles and applique them onto a different background:
This also works for quilt tops I don’t like once they are made: This top
Became this:As a final example, I had a quilt that was quilted, and bound, and I STILL didn’t like it.
This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!
I cut it up into place mats, where it worked out just fine:
Of course, there are many more ways to improvise in quilting. My plan is to try them ALL!
What are your favorite ways to improvise?