"quilts"

Improv Quilts Can Be Precisely Pieced

Stars BOM Quilt

Sometimes I just get in the mood for some precision piecing. Actually, it was more that I needed the distraction that comes with the need to focus when precision piecing.

The first of these blocks was probably made a decade or so ago. It was part of a BOM I found online called Constellations. I think I did the first 3 months and then never looked at or saw it again. Years back I tried to find the pattern to finish it because it was quite good, but never located it. Now and then - about once every year or two - I would pick a star block pattern I could find and make another block. I didn’t have to recreate the original quilt, after all! No plan, no rush though.

This is actually improvisational quilting. Yes, even though I am doing precision piecing. I define it as improv because I have no idea where I will end up. Improv = starting without knowing where you will end.

But this past week of dealing with stress and needing a different kind of break with my quilting brought out these blocks, and a path forward.

  • 36 blocks needed

  • 3 blocks of each star pattern

  • Add more variation in the shapes of the stars for remaining blocks.

So I am digging through the scrap bins and raiding the stash for more combinations of fabrics, playing with the original colour scheme I started. I cut a block or two at night, to be ready for my Morning Make. And I’ve picked out patterns for the two new sets of three blocks I need to make to get up to 36 stars in total.

It’s exactly what I need right now.

Star Quilt

Solid Triangle Play Quilt Top

solid triangle improv 1.jpg

In a way, it makes perfect sense to finish this quilt as summer ends. Although I started it a few years back, only as a class sample, it symbolizes the play of this past summer. And the stress relief that comes from play.

A bit of a loose plan - the rules of the game:

  1. Each block to be made from only two fabrics.

  2. Fabrics must be high contrast.

  3. Piecing is improvisational.

  4. Use the triangle and the many ways to make it, manipulate it, shape it to piece together the blocks.

That’s it. The rest of it evolved as it went, like kids making up new rules as they play the game. Square up to similar sizes once I’d made a few blocks. Oh look, I like it in rows so it goes in rows now. And then it was big enough and the game was over. Actually, the game was over and I just made it big enough.

(It finishes at about a lap size but I don’t know the actual measurements.)

As I shared the blocks over on Instagram I had some people mention different shapes they saw. How cool, like watching clouds! That completely changed my plan for quilting. For now, though, it gets added to the pile of quilt tops and moves places on the list of quilts under construction. Soon enough.

Solid fabric Improv Piecing

Now, as our brief moment of fall starts to pull back the curtain and as I ready myself and the family for our active schedule I will hang on to this spirit of play for it did me a load of good!

Time for PLAY

Triangle Play Improv Quilting

My big Bernina is acting up. It is making me more than a bit frustrated. 1. That is an expensive machine that, for me, has not lived up to the hype. 2. I want to finish quilts and that is my machine for quilting! In an effort to chill out and still be hanging out in the sewing room I pulled out my old machine (which is perfect for piecing), consulted my great big list of quilts under construction, and picked this improv piece to play with.

I checked and it turns out this project was my summer play 2 years ago. And I haven’t done much on it since!

Improv Piecing Solid quilts

As I said in my last post, this summer is low key when it comes to quilting and my business in it. I am encouraging my kids to be free range and PLAY as much as they can. We are swamped in the school year between classes and their chosen activities, life is Capital B Busy. Just like them maybe I need to be putting aside the ‘supposed to’ things and need to play a bit more. Yes, I am swimming and frisbee tossing and bike riding with them, but I mean play for myself.

Yeah, this time is for me to play so that is exactly what I am going to do with these blocks. Unexpected or weird colour combinations. More angles and less angles. Experimenting. Making mistakes and getting creative trying to fix them. Moving my body and brain in ways it isn’t necessarily used to doing but is exactly what it needs. Venturing into the unknown with a sense of adventure and only a little bit of direction.

Play.

Neutral Values Quilt Top

Values Quilt Cheryl Arkison

Woah! Major back pain/sciatic flare up here. I spent last weekend either laying on the floor or rocking on my feet - in between ballet recitals and year end parties. I needed a creative boost. And, frankly, something to do that was distracting. Since I needed to stand a lot I spent some time on the design wall.

You see, this is the nice thing about so many quilts under construction. I needed a set of blocks for some design wall play and was able to pick from a few stacks. I chose a bunch of half square triangles. They started life as sample blocks in my Values class. Always make samples that coordinate and eventually you have enough for a quilt!

neutral values 2.jpg

It was just a stack of random blocks. I asked my sick, bored kid to count the blocks, then I played around with an idea until I could make it work with the blocks I had. In my time on the floor I lay below the design wall to contemplate options. While standing I could move things around and eventually sew here and there. I’m really happy with the way it worked out. It isn’t that big - only 55” square - but for now I’m adding it to the list of quilt tops. But if I teach that class again this coming year I might have more blocks to add to it!