Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inspired by Improvising Tradition

I'm so pleased to be able to share with you today some of the many beautiful projects from Improvising Traditionthat are popping on social media. I was privileged to get to watch the creation of Nicole Ivey's Shattered Chevrons quilt each step of the way via Instagram (check out @purlverde for more of her gorgeous work), from fabric choice to quilting. I think her colors and fabrics are lovely; they are feminine with enough edge to suit the design. The herringbone quilting reinforces the design perfectly. I've already told her that I like her version better than my own!  It is such a lovely quilt.
Laurelle made this lovely table runner, based on the the Falling Leaves pattern. She even tackled the challenge of making her own template, which made me very proud. The technique explained in the book enables you to draft your own leaf template, a skill that can be adapted to a variety of curved piecing applications. Check out Laurelle's instagram account to see the fabric she was working to match, which makes the runner even more impressive.
Nurdan Kulluk-Rennert of Hug a Bit Quilts made the prettiest Scattered Colors runner, and she cleverly created matching place mats. The gray solid really makes her bold colors stand out.

 
Frequent commenter, constant encourager, and all around talented quilter, Debbie Jeske of A Quilter's Table took the inspiration of the En Pointe quilt and made her own version with the Pantone color of the year, Marsala. There was some amusement on Instagram over the bacon-like effect of the blocks, and she cleverly named the quilt Sizzling. My favorite elements of the quilt are all Debbie's: the asymmetrical layout, how one block engages the edge of the quilt including the binding, and the ghost block she created with quilting. It's just so good!
Lisa from Garden Gate Quilting also made a striking En Pointe wall hanging, and she shared one made by her friend Susie too. I love use of a print background for this design. It be really tricky to use larger scale prints as backgrounds because they tend to make seams really obvious, but this print is perfect.

I found Sara Kidd's gorgeous Nesting Square quilt on flickr, and she kindly agreed to let me share it here. She varied the values in her strata a bit more than I did in mine, and I like how it makes the piecing more noticeable.
I've linked to this on facebook before, but if you haven't read Kristi McDonough's review of Improvising Tradition, on her blog Schnitzel and Boo, you really should. It's honest and funny, and I love her mini quilt based on the XOXO baby quilt. Red and black are not colors I would have chosen, and aren't they cute? The fabrics fit the "love" theme so well.
Pam Lincoln of MamaSpark  blogged about her collaborative version of the Waterfall quilt. She and two friends, Judith and Robin, each made a strata strip in a different color and joined them to make this improv beauty. Making a large quilt with friends is such a good idea, and a quilt like this is the perfect way to do that.
Thank you so much to these talented quilters for allowing me to share their work here on the blog! As a designer and writer, there is nothing more fulfilling and flattering than begin able to see what someone has made, based on what I created. The solitary activity of making and writing creates a social connection and a shared endeavor in some small way. It's the best! I'd love to see what you make, and I will save your photos and links for another post. Contact me via any of the social media platforms (links on the right sidebar), or send me an email.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

En Pointe


En Pointe is a wall hanging from the Slice and Insert section of Improvising Tradition. The technique is quite simple. Slice a rectangle of a desired color and insert strips of your background fabric. In the book, I teach you how to insert the strips at angles, creating a really unique block that appears to float when set asymmetrically into the background.
photo by Joe Hancock
The color scheme of the quilt was inspired by the dusty pastels of Degas' ballerina paintings, which in turn inspired the name. The pink block makes me think of an abstract laced point shoe. You may recognize the design from a similar quilt I made a few years ago called Flashdance. Color makes such a difference in design. The quilt would look completely different with a dark background and monochromatic, neutral slices.
As always, I'd love to see what you make! You can reach me on just about every social media platform (links on the right side of the blog) or send me an email with a photo. I'm working on a post featuring projects made from the book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scrappy Improv Strip Quilt 2.0

I made a similar strips quilt from scraps about a year ago. In the previous version, I concentrated on value and color progression. This time around, I opted for a random arrangement of the same width strips in a limited color palette. You can see the effect is very different, even while the construction is exactly the same.
I was inspired by the colors in this collage. I used teal, aqua, gray, white, and chartreuse fabrics from my 2 1/2 inch strips bin of scraps. Storing my scraps in this way makes this type of quilt quick and easy to put together. Even the binding is made from leftover scraps of binding.
I quilted it simply with the serpentine stitch on my Bernina. The backing is a gray solid I had in my stash, divided with two leftover strips from the top.
I am donating this quilt to Project Linus, which gives quilts and blankets to children in hospitals or similar situations. It has been on my heart to make a quilt suitable for an older boy or teen, as I hear this is the type of quilt most seldom donated. At 56 x 75 this quilt should be just right.
I also want to encourage other quilters to make quilts to donate. As I hope this quilt proves, the design doesn't need to be complicated, the quilting ornate, or the fabrics a recent purchase for the quilt to be beautiful. The only thing I think is important is that the quilt be something you would be delighted to receive yourself. I hope this quilt makes someone feel loved.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Aerial Grove Quilt, Modern Improv Applique

I've been smitten with the Aerial Grove Quilt from Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander since I first saw it in person when she spoke to my guild. The quilt is just beautiful. So, when Pat Sloan asked me what quilt I most wanted to make in 2015, I had an easy answer. There's nothing like committing on live radio for motivation.
I knew I loved the quilt, but I didn't expect to love making the quilt as much as I have. I don't make quilts from a pattern very often because I don't enjoy prescriptive sewing as much as improv. This project is the perfect marriage of the two.

Each "squircle" is cut freehand, from a folded piece of fabric, making each shape unique. I love that the applique shapes are improvised rather than cut from a template.  Because the shapes are irregular, there is no need to stress about making them identical as you sew them to the background strips using a needle turn applique method. The shapes are organic, coming from the inspiration of a grove of trees, as seen from above in an airplane.
Creating columns of shapes encourages color and value play. You can create color gradations or rhythms with the value of the fabrics you choose. The more fabrics, the more play; scraps welcome. There's a lot of room for adding your own voice to the quilt. Search the hashtag #aerialgrovequilt to see lots of version on Instagram (Not on Instagram? Get on! There is a treasure trove of quilting inspiration to be found.).
The project is also great because it is very portable. I worked on the applique panels during my sons' practices, and it was finished inside of a month! I was surprised how quickly it came together.
I'm working on the improv background this week. I chose to make the quilt throw size, but the book has options for several sizes, from table runner to queen size.
I'm a huge fan of Carolyn Friedlander's patterns and aesthetic. I think it takes a unique mind and sense of style to create applique that modern, fresh, and compatible with an improv approach. Frankly, she's a genius. I've loved the process of this quilt every step of the way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Color Gradient Runner


For the longest time, I kept these gorgeous, glowing, hand dyed fabrics, made in a workshop with Kim Eichler-Messmer who wrote Modern Color, folded neatly in a pretty stack. I couldn't pick one design that I thought was special enough for them. I finally decided to try it all. I chopped my fat quarters into a variety of shapes and sizes, and I've tried a bit of everything with them. I'm planning a random sampler of sorts. More on that later, but no promises it will be soon.
These chevrons didn't fit with the rest of the blocks, so I combined them into a minimalist runner. I seem to be on a bit of a table runner kick recently.


In any case, the poor fabrics sat for the longest time again, as I tried to decide how to quilt the runner. I wanted to play off the directional arrow-like design of the chevrons by creating a rope pattern, moving as it weaves under itself. If I had to do again, I would stick with simple straight line quilting. I like the rope motif, but I think it takes away from the simplicity of the chevron design. I'm glad I tried it though.

At 16" x 57" this a big table runner. Between the original design and the hand dyed, color gradation fabrics, it really is one of a kind. I'm listing it in my esty shop.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Rainbow of Leftovers

When I trimmed the strip sets in my improv scrappy rainbow table runner, I created some leftover half square triangle blocks. Scraps from a scrap project are the sweetest kind!  I started playing with them on my design wall and came up with a symmetrical layout. It is probably a traditional block (although I don't know the name of the block, do you?).
I love the way the colors flow across the block, and the little pieced sections in the triangles add such quirky details. Each square finished at 1 3/4 inches. I added a scrappy border and binding. Even the backing and batting are scraps.
I played around with some point to point free motion quilting. It is very rough, but I'm always amazed how the uneven curves and wonky lines form into something beautiful when taken as a whole.
This 19 inch square mini quilt will be a nice addition to my sewing space. I am enjoying spring, but wishing for the pollen to die down.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Improv Scrappy Table Runner

Ah, what can scrappy, improv strip sets not accomplish?  Many things, I'm sure, but at the moment they are just what I want for making this rainbow table runner.
I was able to use some of my smallest scraps to create monochromatic strip sets. I added neutral strips sets to each end, trimming and sewing at a 45 degree angle. I staggered the strip sets to make a serpentine like arrangement.

Within each strip set, I tried to work from darkest to lightest value. I really like how this complicates the design slightly, by softening the points at the lightest end of each strip set. I flipped the strips sets around at random, so the values flow erratically across the runner. I think this kind of subtlety adds so much interest to a design.  If the strip sets were made of fabrics, all equal in value, the pointy design would be too stark in my opinion.
I had so much fun making this. I seem to make a lot of rainbow things from my scraps, but that is really part of the joy for me: getting to play with every color and all my favorite bits of fabrics from projects past.
While I love to sew rainbows, I don't actually decorate with them often. So this 16" x 47" table runner is available in my etsy shop.