Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Improv, Baby!

When we came up with the idea to do an all-day improv quilting event in my local guild, I'll admit that I had some mixed feelings about it.  People were pretty excited about the idea, and a day of sewing sounded fun.  Buuuut... improvising means working spontaneously and/or without preparation.  I have the impression that with true improv you kind of go about willy-nilly sewing things, and there is a very real chance of creating something that doesn't appeal to you in the slightest.   Kind of like what happened with this improv quilt.  I'm trying to clear out old UFOs that got derailed along the way, so the thought of creating another quilt top that would just be a problem child was no bueno. 

Besides that... I really love planning!  If I head into sewing without a plan or goal, I'm just pushing fabric through my machine.  Good for therapy, maybe, but who needs therapy when you're spending the whole day hanging out with your quilty buddies? 

In the end I came up with a plan, which was to have a plan.  At least, a loose plan.  I love the design of this rug, so I decided to make a few square-in-square blocks and few stripey blocks and then add some solid pieces to create a similar look.  I was pretty confident that if I kept it simple and used a color palette that really grabbed me, I would be happy with the end result. While I don't feel like I went "aggressively improv," I assembled my blocks with no pre-determined pattern, block size, or quantity, and then worked through arranging them and putting together the top. 

I love how it turned out.  I did re-discover something that irks me a little about improv piecing.  It really is more work to get everything fitting together when you don't plan it from the beginning.  Curvy, wonky improv takes doubly long because you have to custom cut every piece to match what's already been added.  Ah well. 

I free motion quilted the top with Leah Day's pipe maze pattern.  She has it marked for beginners, and it's true that it was really easy - plus it has amazing texture.  Free motion hasn't been my favorite in the past, but I think as I improve my skill I will also like it more.  It's a little easier on your body than straight line since you don't have to haul the quilt around as much.  So, I'm working on it.

This was *ahem* supposed to be a donation quilt for charity, but I fell in love with it and ended up making a different quilt to donate in its place.  This guy is going to hang on the wall in my sewing room - I've just finished painting in there and am waiting for the fumes to clear.  I'll keep you posted!


  1. Loved it in person and am glad to see it again on your blog. I do think you did a great job on it and can see why you're keeping it.

  2. improv-ish! lol

    I do love this quilt. Can't wait to take a tour of your new sewing room!!

  3. I look at "improv quilts" and often see something where the designer had a clear end-goal, or started out with some strict limitations, or both. Plus, I think about my friend who used to perform in ComedySportz, and remember how frequently they rehearsed, in day-long sessions.

    Lovely job on this one, and I think it fits completely in the improv category.

  4. Yummie! I can see why you decided to keep it.

  5. Love these colors and the great feel of this quilt - it has such an earthy, settled feel, and yet is so contemporary. Lovely!