Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Improv II All the parts pieced!

I have finished piecing all the parts. Only two of the units are pieced and they are the two dark ones in the first row on the left. The next step will be to sew the vertical units together. After that I will lay them next to each other and again cut them so they are just a bit wavy like the inset pieces. I do not think I am going to make the sides or the bottom straight, only the top as that is where the hanging sleeve will go. Right now uncut and unsewn this is about 37 X 42. It will shrink up a bit with the seams. It will be a nice size for wall art.

I will spend some time now putting away all the mess this little quilt has generated. Most of the little inset pieces came from the overflowing scrap bin............and no I did not make a dent in it at all. Likey it is more as the scraps from the cutting of the yardage will end up in the scrap bin.

I have already come up with the plan and inspiration along with a nice selection of blue, green, and purple fabrics for Improv III.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Components for Improv II pieced

I have been busy piecing dark units for Improv II. They are going together much faster than the first few, as I now have the technique mastered. The hardest part is digging thru the scrap bin finding the little inset pieces in the blues, greens, and purples. This is where  improv really becomes a technique that has no real pattern. I am going to make more units in light neutrals and then I will look at all the parts again and come up with the next step. I am still mulling over what colors the insets for those will be. I do like the jagged top and bottom that these pieces make. I think it is much more interesting than it would be if they were all lined up. The background of the photo is similar to how the finished composition will look in color. I do think that I am going to make this piece longer than wide though, but that will take more study.

At this point I am moving away from my inspiration pieces and will not look at them again as I want the piece to take on its own design. I have no real idea of what the finished piece is going to look like. For quilts like this it is the journey that makes it fun, one step at a time.

I think what I enjoy most about this piece is the surprise of how the units look from the first selection of little pieces and then the finished strip. Since there is really no measuring or precision it is a very freeing way to work. It is also fun to select each new fabric to go with what is already there and see how each new unit changes the feel of the whole.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Piecing component of Improv II tutorial

Here is a play by play of how the parts of Improv II are pieced. There is no exact piecing here. Cut, sew, cut, sew. It is important that the pieces not be square. Wonkey is the best word to describe how this is going to look. For the tutorial I used squares and cut them up a bit but you can just pull stuff out of the scrap bin with non parallel edges as well.

Below is the base piece which is a nice rust to go with the brown theme I chose for the quilt. I auditioned squares of fabric and finally selected the following four. They are positioned they way I would like them in the finished block.
 Beginning with the base fabric (it is important to ensure that you have a piece the size you will need. Cut off a strip of fabric which will be subcut into the pieces that will go between the pieces of fabrics selected above. Think of these pieces as spacers between the squares above.
Below are the spacers subcut and placed between the pieces of fabric. This gives a rough idea of the look of the pieces.

Now comes the fun part of cutting and sewing the above parts together. Remember the look for this is "Wonkey" so the pieces need to be cut so they are irregular. Be careful with this as you do not want to cut too much of an angle of the finished strip will be way to "Wonkey"
Below left you can see one unit sewn together and the parts above and below it have been subcut. Notice that the parts that will fit together have wedges that go at alternate angles. The green piece halfway down angles down to the right. The top of the piece below it also angles down to the right. 
Below right the strip is all pieced and placed on top of the base fabric. With the amount of fabric sticking out on the left where it should be after the cut is made in mind.

At the right you can see the cutting line. With a rotary cutter the line is cut so that it has a nice smooth curve that trims off just enough of the strip so that there are no angles.
At the left is the seam being sewn. Because of the way this is cut it needs a very narrow seam so that it will lie flat once sewn. A 1/8 inch seam is used. The top piece is moved to line up with the bottom piece as the seam is slowly sewn. Once the seam is sewn the seam is pressed away from the center strip. This piece is then laid down on the base fabric again and a cut is made on the right side of the center strip like the photo above.
And.................here is the finished unit! I will sew another part that will be attached to this to make the strip longer. The base fabric will be different but it will use the same kind of piecing. I will make about 5 of these long pieces as each is about 6-8 inches wide. I will make another tutorial to show the next steps once all these 5 pieces are sewn together. I hope that the photos and instructions are clear. This is a variation of piecing methods that I figured out by looking at other similar types of piecing. It is fun and fast. There is not precision.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Begin Improv II

Wow this is a quick pace to keep up! I wish I had more time to work on these improv pieces. I will be teaching a class on improv piecing at a retreat at the end of February and want to have a good body of work to show. I am hoping for about 6 or 7 little pieces with quick demos to get the students familiar with how to work with improv and get them going on their own designs.

I finished the top for Improv I. I do not think that any additional lines will add to what is there so the top is finished. I will quilt this at a later time and there are many directions the quilting can take. But for now here is the finished top:

I decided to forge ahead and begin the next Improv II. There are so many things to choose from that chosing just the right one was hard. I finally decided on a few pieces to be the inspiration, or at least the style of piecing. The first piece is "Risky Balance" by Janet Steadman www2.whidbey.net/jandon The second piece is by Cinda Langjahr and and it is called "A Clearing in the Woods". It can be seen on: http://beadlust.blogspot.com/2009/11/bead-embroidery-quilt-show-bead.html just scroll down the page. There are some close ups of the work as well.

Here is a little project I pieced a few years ago that has a similar piecing style. I am not sure if this will be incorporated into this piece or not.

I began with a palate of browns from dark to lights and then a few other colors (blue, green and purple slipped in as accent colors). This is just a starting point and will be the background fabrics.
 Here is the first component of the quilt. The colorful pieces were gleaned from the scrap bin.......nope not enough to even call it microscopic dent. It is a good starting point to work from. The next steps will be to make more similar pieces and then plan how they will go together. At this stage I am thinking more long lines the first piece "Risky Balance and they will be vertical instead of horizontal. But.................and this is a big part of improv.........that might all change. With an improv piece I never know what direction the piece will take me, I just have to keep up with it and follow where it leads.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Improv I

I have never been one to work in a series but I think I might give it a try. Sometimes an absence of something give you a new prospective on it. I have been away from quilting and art in general for about two years ago now. I have been drawn to all the new "modern" trend all over the web. This is not a new thing for sure but it has gained in popularity. I actually did my first improv quilt some years ago when I was just messing with fabric. What I like so much is that there is no such thing as careful planning. For me the most important thing is color.

Here is my first Improv for the series. It does not have a name for now so it will just be Improv I for now. I got the inspiration from a piece by Kathleen Loomis on the blog: andthenwesetitonfire.blogspot.com/2012/06/piecing-very-fine-lines.html She has a very good tutorial of the technique she uses and has a gallery of her work useing this great technique. I am also very inspired by the work of Uta Lenk at justquilts.de She has some really great eye candy in her gallery.

For my first piece I decided I need to have a good contrast and what better color palate to begin with than cool colors offset by fushia! I did not have to dig too deep into the stash to come up with some chunks of fabric that seemed to play nicely together. This year by motto is if you like the fabric: cut, cut, cut! No more saving fabric for that special project as the fabric store always has more.

Not to worry about the mess as this is only about color choices and how the fabrics look together. The fushia will be the thin lines so only a little of it will show.

 The next decision is really about the base. I opted not to have lines of the fushia separating these pieces. This is really just about putting together the pieces in a nice arrangement. They will be altered once the lines begin to appear.

 Then a choice has to be made. Where to make that first cut and insert the strip.
 Then the next line is cut. At this point I decided to sub cut just the top part and insert some strips there.
So far so good. I continue to cut and sew until the piece has enough lines. There is no right or wrong. One thing to keep in mind is that there will be some quilting and who knows maybe embellishments added so it needs to be enough but not too much with all that in mind.
Well that is enough for one day. Next time I will show the top with all the lines on it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2014! I just know that this year will bring lots of good things. I have been busy working on a few creative things and am ready to really get moving on some new ideas. Each new year I set some goals. I never do resolutions as those always seem to fail so goals are better. 

Here is my list:
First is the fitness and I will be starting an new blog for that.
I want to finish one UFO per month.
I will begin a new series of work and will work start to finish on those.
I want to enter at least one major show this year.
I need to organize my work area as it has been packed away for a couple of years.
Mostly I need to get a list of every thing I have started and catalog what is there.

Below is the final round robin project that has been nesting at my house. I actually finished this some time ago but have not posted the results. The prior post has a photo of how this looked when it arrived. I will be mailing this back to Kim this week and in a way it is a finished UFO for me as I have finished my part in it.
 The most fun part of working on this was the squirrels. I think they look like they are up to something and are very playful. I really hope that Kim likes what I have added to her work and will enjoy finishing it off.