Week 20/2020: What’s on my design wall?

A completed quilt top!

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Are we out of the woods yet?

Super happy with how it turned out! I think I managed to keep the distribution of the trees pretty random. How did I do this?

  • I tried to place larger and smaller trees next to eachother so that their differences in height and width create variation.
  • I sometimes added a bit of filler fabric so that the tops, bottoms or sides of two or more trees that are placed in a row or column don’t align exactly.
  • I first created sections and within these sections tried to alternate horizontal and vertical seams when combining subsections of multiple trees.
  • I used 3 Y-seams or inset seams to avoid one seam running from top to bottom or left to right.
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The order in which the different sections were pieced.

I kept changing the layout of the part of the quilt that was not yet pieced so I could fit it to the part that was already pieced as best as possible. I also kept creating more trees as needed to fill up gaps. I definitely spent more time thinking about how I was going to piece the next part than actually piecing.

For the filler fabrics I chose 1 black and 2 white fabrics. The black fabric contains lines that come from hubs that connect to other hubs. I thought this was a great representation of a rapidly spreading virus. I deliberately used this fabric mostly in one of the corners and only a couple of smaller pieces in other spots. After all, we’re trying to get out of this situation and I am hopeful that we will, at least at some point.

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Don’t be scared of Y-seams, once you know how to do them they’re really not that hard.

One of the white fabrics has silver dots forming star constellations. These represent cured people and places without virus. The last fabric contains little lightbulbs with golden hearts. Which is kind of corny, but my little girl does like some sparkle and I thought they could represent all the innovations that take place in science and medicine right now.

Now I have to think about a back, which I’ll probably keep quite simple since the back of a wall hanging is very rarely on display. And how to quilt it… That part will take some time to figure out as well. Which is just as well since I also appear to have run out of batting.

Week 17/2020: What’s on my design wall?

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So, we have made more trees. The novelty of picking fabrics has worn off a bit so I’ve also added some of my own combinations. To a couple of pieces I’ve added a bit of white and silver fabric so they became large enough to turn them into rectangles. When I’m happy with the composition, I’ll have to find a way to piece all these differently sized pieces together. The gaps will be filled with white and black fabrics. I’m having fun so far.

The forrest is growing

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Are we out of the woods yet?

During the past two days my daughter and I have added more trees to our forrest and I think we’re getting close to the number that is needed. Some fabric combinations definitely work better than others, but overall I still really like where this is going. I even have a title! I am notoriously bad at coming up with good titles and in different times I would probably just have called it “The quilt with improv trees” or something equally boring. Now it’s called “Are we out of the woods yet?” which seems an apt description for the pandemic we’re currently in.

Week 16/2020: What’s on my design wall

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With my kids at home all the time I am finding it difficult to find time for creativity. Well, apart from drawing and glueing with my daughter that is, but somehow that’s just not the same as using thread to put colourful pieces of fabric together.

Today, however, I found the solution. My husband and I both have a room on the top floor of our house. His is mostly used for working from home. Mine is filled with sewing related stuff, but I also use it for work. Our kids don’t really spend a lot of time on this floor. Now, however, we are spending so much more time at home and it’s a bit weird that mom and dad go upstairs to work instead of somewhere else. As a result our 3 year old daughter is spending a bit more time in those rooms now. She loves my husband’s whiteboard and finds my mowing machines fascinating (in Dutch the work for sewing machine (naaimachine) is even closer to mowing machine (maaimachine).

Today she noticed some improv trees I had up on my design wall and she really liked them. They are not for her though, which she found a bit disappointing. I suggested that we could make her some trees and she found that a very good idea. I let her pick fabrics from my scrap bag and only guided her in a different direction when she picked scraps that were too small. I just love what she put together. It’s bright, it’s happy and we are going to make more tomorrow. I intend to turn them into a wall hanging for her room.

Week 18/2018: What’s on my design wall?

I finished piecing and there is no denying that the top is now lopsided. If this was a traditional sampler quilt this would be quite an issue. The beauty of improv, however, is that this is absolutely fine. Just add something to the sides to square it up and you’re good. So, what to add to the sides? I am now leaning towards ordering some Cherrywood yardage in a dark blue like indigo, but also still wondering whether a lighter colour would work better.

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Curious what this project looked like in week 17 and week 16?

Week 17/2018: What’s on my design wall

Last week’s 2-coloured units were stacked in layers of 4 and I made another angled cut. The two sides were mixed and matched to make 4 new units with different colour combinations. I put them on my design wall and started shuffling. I did want the colours to be somewhat evenly distributed across the quilt, but I also wanted some bleeding to occur so that from a distance you can’t immediately tell that the quilt is made from rectangular units. I have started assembly of the top by sewing 4 of the units together to make larger rectangles.

I didn’t use a ruler this time. Quite liberating.

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I am already thinking about the back. Somehow I am pulled towards recycled denim, but deterred because of the weight it will add to the quilt sandwich which may prove quilting a bit more challenging than I prefer.

If you want to have a look at how this project evolved from last week click here.

Week 16/2018: What’s on my design wall?

Last weekend I wanted to do some improvisational piecing and just started cutting. I used a selection of blue and orange/brownish fabric pieces from Cherrywood fabrics grab bags which were stacked in piles of 4, sliced once at an angle and pieced together to make 4 units with different colour combinations.

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I think I’ll do another round of stacking, slicing and piecing.

I am going to see how I like doing a short post like this with a single picture of something I’m working on right now as a (semi) regular feature. I am usually more of a completed project blogger so we’ll see if I can keep it up.

F2F: June blocks

Earlier this year, I joined the Foot2Freestyle block swap organized by Kate and Sue. 12 quilters have picked one or more colours and each month we’re making three 12.5’’ blocks in the colours chosen by that month’s quilter. Each person ends up with 36 blocks that she can then turn into a quilt or something else. Apart from the colours, the design of the blocks is completely free. I thought it would be fun to join since I enjoy doing patchwork but don’t really do it all that often.

In June we sent out our first blocks to Esther who had chosen mustard, jadeite and coral with a white or cream background. This is a colour scheme that does not come natural to me and I found it difficult to judge whether the fabrics that I put together really worked. In the end I decided to add a dark blue fabric to all the blocks to make it work for me. To give some cohesion to my blocks I repeated a couple fabrics in all three blocks and some in two blocks since a colour is less likely to look out of place when it is repeated.
The first block that I finished is the Garfunkel foundation paper piecing block from 627Handworks. My love for asymmetry already seeps through in this block as I couldn’t resist making one of the hexagons a different colour. I feel this adds some interest.

Garfunkel block

Garfunkel block

create your own free-form quilts

This is one of my favourite quilting books.

The second block that I made was actually the first one that I started. I intended to make the Marley foundation paper piecing block from 627Handworks but after I had sewn the first quarter I realized the printer had not printed the pieces correctly and I would not end up with a nice 12.5’’ square block. I quite liked what I had made so far though, so I put it aside for a bit and made the Garfunkel block instead. Looking through Esther’s blog I decided that she could probably deal with some non-traditional improvisational piecing and I started to use the “what if” method. This is something I picked up from Rayna Gillman’s book “create your own free-form quilts”. I find this a very inspirational book and it contains pictures of some really amazing quilts. Basically, as you are making a quilt you should continually ask yourself the question “What if I did ….?”.

In this case I started with the Marley block piece I already had (the triangles) and wondered what it would look like if I pieced a strip using the same fabrics. After piecing I tried it in different positions and decided it looked best on the right side with some white negative space in between the triangles and the strip. I decided to add white fabric all around the triangles, but the block still needed something in the upper left corner. I looked through my fabrics and after auditioning several options I picked the one that’s in the block and also decided it would look best with some white fabric separating it from the pieced strip on the right and the top of the block. I just love that little fox that’s almost in the centre of this fabric! This is my favourite out of the three blocks I made this month.

Marley block with improvisational piecing.

Marley block with improvisational piecing. I think this blocks represents my style best.

To make sure the second block wasn’t the only improvisationally pieced one that Esther received I continued the “What if?” strategy for my third block. I started out by piecing some small pieces of cat fabric left over from the Garfunkel block into a strip. Then I thought “What if I add an orange border?”. Followed by “What if I make another strip set using different fabrics and add a border to that strip set as well?”. After trying several different positions for the two pieces I decided they looked best floating apart in the background with one higher than the other.

Completely improvisationally pieced.

Completely improvisationally pieced.

If you are curious to see what the other ladies have made so far, you can have a look here, where the blocks for each month are shown.

Fabrics for these blocks came from Cotton+Steel Tokyo Train ride by Sarah Watts and Mochi by Rashida Coleman-Hale, Moda Sunny side by Kate Spain, RJR fabrics Basically Patrick by Patrick Lose and Kona cotton.

Oh, and I have finished garment to show you too! I just need to take some pictures and write a post.

Completed: Improvisationally pieced t-shirt

Improvisationally pieced t-shirt

To make a long story (not even that) short, this t-shirt is an excellent example of what happens when I:

  • Decide to use a 65cm long, 1.5m wide piece of fabric to make a ¾ or long sleeved t-shirt. People, this doesn’t fit unless you are a child or possibly when you wore a size XS pre vanity sizing. Why I didn’t simply make a short sleeved t-shirt with this fabric? I’m not sure.
  • Leave the left-over fabric of my previous t-shirt in the vicinity of my cutting mat after completing said t-shirt.
  • Decide to make ¾ length sleeves because that length could be cut out of the striped fabric.
  • Don’t want a sleeve that is just stripes because that might look weird.
  • Think it would be cool to have a strip of stripes down the length of one of the sleeves, preferably the left (guess where it ended up…)
  • Piece a strip of striped fabric in between 2 pieces of purple fabric to create a new piece of fabric to cut out the second sleeve.
  • Pieced sleeveRealise I must have made a calculation mistake because the new piece of fabric that I created is too narrow after a certain point to cut out the sleeve (the purple fabric was slightly weirdly shaped at the sides due to other pattern pieces having been cut around it).
  • Decide to make short sleeves instead.
  • After cutting the sleeve realise I still have some purple fabric left that is wide enough to be added at the bottom of the sleeve!
  • Realise it is too short to convert the short sleeve to a ¾ length sleeve.
  • Wish I hadn’t already cut the short sleeve.
  • Attach the piece of purple fabric anyway.
  • Attach more stripes at the bottom of the sleeve to make it ¾ length.
  • Start construction of the t-shirt.
  • Use the striped fabric for the neckband so the stripes on the sleeve won’t feel lonely.
  • Put it on and feel relieved it’s wearable.

What do you think? Is improvisational piecing going to be the next big thing or should I instead make sure to buy enough fabric for future projects?

t-shirt front