Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Week

I couldn't sew for an entire week because my hips said "Screw you!" and then took my good mood with them. But I've been inching along anyways and I have something to show you.

This was my collection of improv blocks before I stopped for an 8 day pain break:

Not showing strip sets.
It was not gonna be enough for a decent sized baby quilt. I wanted an easy fix so I slapped a ruler on some weird shapes and made little squares; then I created my first-ever granny square. The nice thing about my method of improv design is that I can create a block or two from whatever pattern is popular and I know it will fit into my quilt because the colours "go."

Before I put my quilt top together, I laid the blocks into roughly the size and arrangement I wanted. You can see a lot of carpet through the blocks. That's okay. My "Puzzle Piecing" method (non-patented) involves nothing more than adding fabric where needed and trimming off any excess where it's not needed. It's not precise and I don't measure. If you compare before and after photos you can see where I added, where I trimmed.

It's not a precise way of putting a quilt top together, but I do like the results.

If anyone is interested in seeing the Puzzle Piecing process in a more detailed way I could probably stand to make another quilt....

Until then, basting time! I'm crossing my fingers for better lighting on pictures of the finished quilt, but today is Winter's Last Hurrah! and it's been snowing like a maniac all day. And -17.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Strange Pieces

As I was looking through my scraps today I found some strange shapes.

I believe the point of using scraps is to use up as much as possible of available fabric. I'm going to try to use these with minimal cutting, shape altering, and waste.

My first thought was to take these two pieces and sew the straight edges together.

Then for a challenge I picked up these pieces.

Here is how I improv curved lines: Lay edges to be sewn on top of each other and trim both at the same time. Start with very gentle curves and work your way up to tighter circles.

This very strange piece suggested the use of most of it's space....

As a triangle. See how little I had to trim off once I matched it with another triangle?

These pieces can become any number of shapes.

Once you match the straight edges, you can sew either side.

Or you can cut here and there and produce one triangle and one odd football shape that I happily used in it's own block.

These pieces needed almost no trimming to become a Y-seam. I have *no* experience with Y-seams, so this is an experiment for me, too.

 This is how those last few matches turned out. The y-seam had a tiny bias wave in the corner, but no actual pleats - win for me.

These shapes were probably miscut pockets, and I could sew them together to make a heart for a bit of improv applique.

Instead I made HST's.

Then I used them as a frame to change the axis of the white piece.

I also did a spot of "slash and reattach" just because I could. I'll proceed further with this idea tomorrow.

Here is where I'm ending today.

The weird football shape was given a gentle curve treatment and became the star of its own block.

I sometimes like to use frames to finish blocks. This will be helpful to keep them individual when I piece the flimsy together.

I have a small collection of HST's, some weird shapes (not all shown), and some partially finished blocks.

I have a piece of very crazy paychwork....almost insane, really.

And lastly is this unit that has inspired further experimentation.

The point is just to grab pieces and make the match. Set up a dozen or so next to your machine; sew and press them; and then make more matches. It does not take long to get the hang of my crazy method of scrap piecing.

Tomorrow I'll so some improv pop blocks. I might even use a ruler.

But not likely.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Straight and Square

I went through my pile of scraps, searching for a starting point. I roughly sorted into sizes. What emerged was this collection of pieces with straight cut sides and square corners. This is an excellent place to start improvisation lessons.

Grab two pieces and put them right sides together; place them next to your machine to be sewn together. I match by length or width. You can see that none of these are perfect matches, and that is not a problem because your seam will provide the match.

Some of the long pieces were matched with much shorter pieces.

I took my rotary cutter and slashed off the excess so that it could be used in another match.

After sewing and pressing my pairs I had a table full of two piece units.

Take that blue and green unit from the middle. I place one straight edge along a straight line on my cutting mat and then eyeball where the perpendicular line is. I'm not using a ruler to cut. If I cut this one into three...

And then turn one set around.....I have a perfectly matched four-patch! That goes back into the pile to await a seam. The leftover third bit goes back into the mix.

I took this unit and trimmed the little end off. I cut this deep because I had a selvedge to remove.

I could put on another unit, like this:

Or I could do something like this:

Or even work a larger "block" type of unit like this:

The point is that you've already chosen scraps that are colour coordinated, so you need to (more-or-less) match sizes and just sew.

These units are matched to accommodate the selvedge that needs to be cut off after sewing.

I think these units are a nice fit and they'd look good together.

I pulled out my rotary cutter and slashed the excess bit off. It's not actually a straight cut, but it is now a match.

I've lined up this unit with a straight line to show you the curved bottom edge.

I've decided to keep this as a long "string unit" so I will use a ruler to straighten the edge. Then I'll add a strip I cut from coordinating yardage.

To cut the yardage I am using a ruler not to measure, but to keep the fabric flat through pressure. Flannelette is quite fuzzy and has a high loft that could prevent my blade from going through all layers (4 shown). If you were sewing with quilting cotton, you could easily eyeball these straight cuts. Be brave, dear Reader....I cut fabric without a ruler all the time and you still love my results.

Here is where I'm stopping for the day: I have put a frame around my four-patch unit.

I have a large "block,"

And a few small block of these received frames on only two sides.

I have a strip pieced unit that has huge amounts of potential: I could cut it perpendicular to the seams and make one long strip to use as sashing, borders, unit within other blocks; I could slash it - anywhere - and insert more strips; I could use it as "filler" when I put my blocks all together into a whole top.

So go sew! I've got many, many more ideas for us to work through....

Tomorrow I'll show you how to work with weirdly shaped pieces.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moving Right Along

This is a stack of 36 completed blocks for my Green Monstrosity quilt. I second guessed my redesign (or was that third guess?) and now I need another 13 blocks. I know the end product will make me happy, but I am a quilter who loathes accurate cutting.

The reason I'm telling you about despising accurate cutting is because I need a break from regimental quilting. Big green is going to be set aside because March has some actual deadlines! By the end of the month I need to have produced two spring dresses for my girls and a commissioned baby quilt.

That, and a quilt of this size intimidates me....I don't have the cash to send it out for long arm quilting quite yet. It's not an urgent finish. But stick around - I'm going to share my un-patented method of sashing-as-you-go.

Bye bye Monster....until later.
Baby quilt. I pulled these scraps from a previously sorted bin. They're all flannelette.

Inspiration at the top of the photo - my Pixie at two weeks.
Here's a better shot of the colour mix.

I'm going to do my best to show you my strange improv process. It's a little more than grab-and sew. Here is an example of my results:

Made in 2011 for my BFF's daughter.
I welcome you to join in my sewing frenzy. I have two weeks to make a finished quilt if I'm to have any hope of getting Easter dresses done on time. It won't be a quilt along, but it should make sense to follow. I can't wait to see what my brain churns out this year!

Joining my scrap grab are these stash pulls to round out the colour choices (we don't know boy or girl).

So collect some scraps; pull some coordinates if needed; clear your desk and open your mind.

Let's sew.