Thursday, May 9, 2013

improv piecing challenge

Last Sunday the newly formed Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild held our first workshop - Introduction to Improvisational Piecing. We had a turnout of about 20 ladies eager to get some hands-on practice with modern quilting techniques!

Paige (our President) led the workshop, and her goal was to help everyone feel more comfortable with forgetting the "rules" and just placing colors and shapes together by instinct. We focused on a simple "log cabin" type of block. Some of the ladies were very uncomfortable without a set of directions, but they all stuck with it and each made at least one block.

I'll be the first to admit it - this kind of quilting is not something I love. I struggle with chopping up fabric into random sizes, sewing it back together in random ways, and then lopping off bits of the block as I go. It's the randomness of the whole process, but it's good for me so I soldiered on and actually had a great time. It helped that for this workshop I used a bunch of scraps that were already chopped up. In fact, I brought along my entire basket of strip scraps (except for those favorites that are tucked away and destined for a scrappy-trip-along quilt) and let everyone have at it!

Here's a look at the three blocks I completed...

As a follow-up to the workshop, the guild is challenging all the participants to finish their blocks into some type of completed project. I'm thinking baby quilt for mine with lots of negative space.

I was going to "square up" each block but then on Monday I decided to emphasize the odd angles with a uniform 1" strip of Kona White around each one followed by a 1/2" border of the black and white stripe. My first block from the workshop... As you can see I still managed to end up with two right angles. Darn - I tried so hard to avoid that!

Block 2 - I think it looks like a house. Getting better at avoiding the dreaded right angle...

Block 3 - and we're back to the right angles!

I quite like this view of them all stacked together, and I think this is how I will place them in the baby quilt with lots of negative white space on the left side. It will be the perfect chance to practice some new free-motion quilting designs. Which will also be "good for me".

Paige was an excellent advisor and "cheerleader" when people began to get frustrated with the process. She has wonderful color sense and endless patience - a great combination when dealing with a room full of ladies trying something new. It turns out that stretching yourself in an unfamiliar direction is great creative fuel. And bonus - I didn't have to bring home any scraps!! Thanks Paige!

Our challenge projects aren't due until July, so I'm putting these blocks away for a bit in order to finish a different quilt for our nephew's first baby - a boy! Maybe I'll show you a peek at that quilt next time.

Until then, thanks for stopping by and reading :)


  1. They're wonderful! I love what you've done and the white and black/white frames are perfect!

  2. I agree with Terri - these blocks are, it's always good to do something different.super

  3. The stripe really sets these off against the it! I feel the same way about improv piecing, especially after making TWO twin sized quilts using this method for my grand sons earlier this year. I am taking a break from that for awhile, I thihk!


Thanks so much for stopping by and reading a little bit about me and taking the time to comment! Have a wonderful day!


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