June 06, 2014

Improv Disaster

Pardon my wordiness ... but here goes!


My improv experience started with a bucket of cool colored scraps about a year ago.  I sewed and cut, sewed and cut until I have a stack of random sized triangles all of random sizes and shapes.  That was the easy part.  For some triangles I put a pale pink border around the triangle, others got one side or no sides in pink.  Then I thought to myself, how am I going to piece all these random sizes?!   No right angles!  Clearly, I didn't think long.  All these triangles went into a project bucket and were long forgotten.  (Sorry no photos, that was B.B.  Before Blog).


Over my February vacation (phew it's already been a few months!), amidst a cleaning and organizing spree of my sewing space I found these triangles.  They quickly got placed in the quilt queue.  A couple weeks ago, I finally laid them all out again and became immediately overwhelmed.  The whole experience of them gave me a headache.  I found a pale blue, lavender, a white print, and some solid cream fabric to start making the background.  One would think with all the soothing colors, this would relax me a bit, oh no it didn't!  As the sewing continued the pieces got bigger and bigger.  At this point I still have no idea how all these random pieces are going to come together!    Once again I looked at all the blocks laid out, then freaked out!  Finally, I was desperate.  I got out my 6.5 inch square and created 48 perfect little squares out of the mess of random angles and crazy.  Ahhh, sanity.  





The whole thing was a great learning experience.  I have a huge appreciation to those beautiful improv quilts people post.  I also learned to let go of some of the control, and go with the flow when quilting.  My brain fought me the WHOLE time and eventually won (this time)!

Any professional improvers have any advice on how to piece a quilt that is laid out a certain way?  The whole idea of creative negative space, didn't work for me.  I need a simple technique that won't cause me to stress out or cut perfect squares?!?!


Sew Strong, 
PATCH & CHELS

23 comments:

  1. I have never sewn improv, because I don't think I could let go of the control. I really enjoyed reading your experience. Your quilt looks great! I like that you cut the odd shapes into squares. I am sure that is what I would have done, :)

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  2. Well, despite the struggle, it turned out beautifully!! Also, I love the backing fabric that you picked. Great job.

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  3. It isn't a disaster! The end result looks lovely!
    I would need to corral the craziness too. My neat-freak side never lets me go with the flow as those clever improv experts do.

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  4. No matter how difficult the process was, the quilt turned out beautifully!

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  5. Snap! My experience with improv was the same. I found it a lot harder than I thought and I really struggled with it. I recently bought a book by Lucie Summers (http://www.amazon.com/Quilt-Improv-Incredible-Everyday-Inspirations/dp/1446302946) and 've found it really inspiration...would love to make improv like her. So will hopefully give it another crack soon.

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  6. I've made one improv block, just to try it for a quilt idea I had. I hated it! I think I really like simple regular piecing because it's easier to keep up with! All the fabric waste from all the trimming really got to me too lol.

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  7. Your finished quilt is gorgeous and a great use of your orphans, Chelsea. Improv is hard to accomplish on many levels. And people who can do it - they don't get enough credit. It looks easy..... But it does require a lot of effort, math, and the ability to fight that urge to make blocks into neat little rows.

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  8. It may heve been a heache maker while you were sewing it but the end results looks beautiful.

    I've only really done improv on a mini scale, as I make a lot of mini quilts. The technique I usually use is to take my improv pieces and sash them in wide strips of the background fabric. I then trim each of these sashed pieces down to a square or rectangular shape (yes can be a lot of waste). I try to "plan" the quilt so that it is either made up of strips of such blocks or of larger blocks made up of a few or several of these smaller blocks. This way my central imroov piece does not need to start of square, and it can be pretty much any size and it can easily end up placed at any angle within the finished block/quilt

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  9. My only advice with improv is alcohol. :D My brain fights me the whole way too. For what it's worth, this turned out gorgeous!

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  10. I have no idea how to fit random pieces together, but I really like how you did this! Breaking up the larger awkward pieced into manageable squares seems like a great solution, and a less intimidating way to add some improv piecing to your quilts. I love how this turned out!

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  12. You WON! Congrats for even trying...I don't see improv in my future...gives me a headache to even think about. My daughter (also a quilter) loves giraffes as well :)

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  13. Improv completely intimidates me; I understand how you felt. I love that backing fabric!! And the binding is such a cute pop of color

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  14. I think the quilt came out great! Even if it wasn't what you intended. As for improv, I'm no professional, but I would suggest starting small and taking your time. If all the scraps overwhelm you, just try playing around with half of them. I also think design wall/floor space where you can leave it for a while is helpful.

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  15. I really think what you did is perfect. I really like how it mixes crazy with organized. You've inspired me to do something similar!

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  16. There are so many ways to use improv, and I think you made a beautiful quilt with a perfect solution! Sometimes the juxtaposition of having ordered blocks with improv pieced blocks can help focus your attention back onto the improv nature and start seeing more detail. So, I love how this turned out! I don't know if I have great tips for you other than, yup, sometimes it is a struggle and I am glad you went with your instincts a bit, too!

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  17. I'm not a great improver; however I think no matter what, this came out beautiful and you showed your creative mind and space in it already by the matching colors, backing, sashing, etc. you placed with it! I'm hoping all of the WIP's I have going end up being completed and come out as nice as yours do!

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  18. I feel your pain as well. I have a really hard time with improve. The closest thing I did was one block for a bee for someone and I took a Jacquie Gering class and that was helpful. Still don't think I can put random pieces together and have it come together. However your quilt does look great and the colors are very calming. So great job!

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  19. Not a disaster AT ALL! Love it! I do love the idea of improving and I have to admit it does make me a little nervous with my need to feel like I have a little more control over the process :)

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  20. Fabulous quilt! Just lovely. The colours are gorgeous and mix so well together. I especially adore the backing fabric.

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  21. Actually, Chels...I want to do one of these now! And maybe you should do something similar again because I think you are def onto something here (:

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  22. I love it, I don't even want to try improv because it would drive me insane. I might could do something like this where there is some boundaries, but total improve is not my thing. You did great and ended up with a great piece.

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  23. I tried some improv on cushions and it is not as easy as it looks. I was rearranging a lot. Not sure if I would be able to do whole quilt ;-)

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