Tuesday, September 29, 2020

More Improv :: Black & Red

I've said for months and months how I wanted to get back into some massive improv projects.  It's appropriate to say 'be careful what you wish for'!  When it rains, it pours!  I had no idea I would take it quite as far as I have, most of which I haven't even shared yet.  To kick off my improv extravaganza I'll start with this simple table runner!

15 1/4" x 42"

I've always been drawn the the classic red and black color combination.  I think it can be super dynamic and visually pleasing.  It was a nice change working with these colors after my last couple improv quilts.  Changing it up with color, yet still having the improv bug!

After raiding my red stash I came up with 5 different red fabrics.  The difference in the reds is minimal but noticeable.  As always I like to add a slight twist, so for visual effect I grabbed some coordinating woven stripes.  

The pieces of stripes that I added are small.  I didn't want those to be the standout in this table runner.  I'm not sure they could be considering that red and black is pretty much an 'in your face' mixture.

Once I decided basically how I wanted the shape of the center to be I set about making my blocks.  As with most of my improv there is no rhyme or reason.  I just start and continue adding pieces of fabric until I think it'll work.  And when it isn't quite the right size...I'll add another piece to it.  Eventually I find the sweet spot and can move on to the final piece of the puzzle...black.  

One thing about making table runners is that there doesn't have to be a set size they need to be.  I like that I can make something 15" wide give or take an inch or two.  If during the squaring up process I need to take off another 1/2" to make it straight, it usually doesn't affect the finished design.

Another plus to table runners is how much easier it is to quilt them!  Granted I don't usually get creative or detailed in most of my quilting adventures, but it makes the process fast and fun whatever the final quilting design is.

In this case I started quilting straight lines 2, 3 or 4 inches apart with black thread.  That let me add more lines in red thread.  I didn't want a lot of red lines from side to side, just enough to please myself.  The plan was to have more red thread detail focusing on the center section, which did happen.  Once the red was finished I continued with black lines from side to side to fill in.

The quilting ended up being semi dense, not over the top dense.  The main attraction is the design and it didn't need more to make it standout.  Red and black is a combination that often doesn't need to be enhanced.  It's pretty bold all on it's own! 

It's been a fun adventure with all the improv I've done this past month, but with all good things it has come to an end.  At least for now!  All that freedom with cutting, piecing and assembly can get to a girl!  Which means I had to move on to something that was more structured!  

Isn't that one of the great things about quilting?!  You don't have to stay in one lane.  One day it's improv, the next day it's paper piecing!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Replicating Improv

This was a lesson I needed to learn!  Replicating improv is no easy feat no matter how small or seemingly simple it appears!

I have been itching to do more improv for the past year.  With several larger projects finally finished and quilted (I'll share soon!), and a couple smaller ones for good measure what was one more to fit into the mix?!

When I was contacted through my Etsy Shop and asked if I could make a smaller version of a wall hanging I have listed, I decided it was a challenge I had to try.  Keep in mind the wall hanging was already pretty small at 10 1/4" square, but the request was for a smaller size measuring 6" square.  

6" x 6"

What I learned was you should never try to replicate an improv quilt!  For me, half the fun of improv is seeing where it takes me.  It's a feeling, a mood, a mindset that takes me on a journey.  I don't always know where it'll end up, but it's an adventure and I always love seeing the grand finale!

Inspiration plays a big role in improv.  Whether from your own idea or when you see someone else's.  It motivates me.  

All that being said, I finished that little mini quilt and I have to say it ended up being pretty close to the original.  As close as you can get with improv.  My customer wanted all the elements included and she got just that.  In the end, she was very happy and loved how it turned out!  Mission accomplished!

10 ¼" x 10 ¼"

This photo is the original quilt 'Don't Stop Me Now'.  I made it for the Black & White Mini Quilt Challenge by Curated Quilts last year.  It had all the elements I love...curves, triangles and I do love black and white!     

Like the original, I quilted this one with a lot of matchstick quilting.  I mean...a lot!  Hard to believe you can fit so much into a small mini!

The back always represents!  You can see the white thread detail much easier.  The black thread is a bit more difficult to see but I promise it's there!

It was a fun diversion, even though I ended up reaffirming my suspicion that I really am a bit crazy mad!  

Remember Jayne...Inspiration from Improv is the best approach!  Dare I say lesson learned?!  One never knows!

Friday, September 11, 2020

1, 2, 3 :: Making it Work

A couple years ago I designed a paper pieced block in EQ8 that I used to make a quilt.  Somewhere in that time span I had redesigned the block but it never made it as a quilt let alone a single block.  Once I saw it again I became inspired and decided it was worth exploring one more time.


I found a stack of beautiful hand dyed fabrics that I knew worked well together and began the journey of paper piecing.  I love the perfection of paper piecing, but as you can see the center of this one is not perfect!  My idea didn't pan out as expected because when the pieces meet in the center it's super thick!  I have way too many points meeting...it was a terrible mess!     

Having 16 points meeting in the center is not a good idea anyway you slice it!  Back to the drawing board for me!  I wasn't about to let this block go down without a fight.

5 1/4" x 5 1/4"
Try number two was a little better as far as the center thickness goes.  I modified one of the sections by basically cutting of the points.  The center was better, but...  

...I didn't like how the points are cut off.  And if matching up the center wasn't hard enough, matching the center points and the 'octagon' center was more of a challenge than I wanted.  Back to the drawing board again.  

6 1/4" x 6 1/4"
The third block version was much better and it's possible it might be the last one.  The jury is out on that decision!  I've got some fine tuning to do before I'm satisfied.  

Even though the center isn't perfect, I ended up finishing all three blocks into mini's just because I could!  Back to the drawing board...


Friday, September 4, 2020

Blue Geo Baby Quilt

It was bound to happen sooner or later!  Finished!  It's easy to put off finishing a quilt when you are given months advance notice.  I would think to myself that I have plenty of time, I'll do it next week, it won't take too long...but I also knew that time flies and that deadline would be here before I knew it.

34" X 45" 
I finished piecing the top at the end of July (Baby Blue Geo), at which time I set it aside waiting for the quilting bug to strike.  It finally did and now it is off my list and out the door!

With so many quilts I often have no idea how I'll quilt them.  I try to go a different route, but always end up with the same quilting design...especially with this pattern.  

While each 'Geo Pop' quilting design is different, I use the same ideas.  Straight lines and grids.  It's effective and I always enjoy the final results.

The back always is the best place to see the detail!  I used Kona Navy on the back and choose a dark blue thread for the square and rectangle and a light blue for the rest of the quilt.

Between the front and the back, this quilt doesn't lack in geometric department!  I kind of like the lighter thread on the dark backing.

I hope my sister, who asked if I'd make a quilt for her friend, will love it.  But mostly I hope the expecting parents and eventual baby boy will love it even more!  

I just love this design...can you tell?!  I'm a Half Square Triangle cult member...willingly and happily!



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sweet Dreams :: Woven Stripes

How can it always be that I have a stack of quilts that need quilting?!  They stack up so fast!  I guess when you are on a stash busting mission there are bound to be a backlog every once in a while.  

My woven stripes stash was bound to get the 'busting' treatment...it was only a matter of time.  'Stash Busting Woven Stripes' I shared my design idea and how I tackled the blocks as well as how I prep the thin woven fabric to maintain its shape.  At that time I had all the blocks, sashing and setting blocks pieced together.  But I wasn't quite done yet!

47" X 62"
At the time I was hesitant to say I wanted to add a border to finish it off.  It doesn't matter how much prep work you do to wovens, they are still going to distort!  Starch is great, but wovens have a mind of their own.  I added a 3 1/2" border using Kona Chocolate and by the time I finished I could see how wonky and wavy it was going to be.  But I stuck to my guns and decided to pin it anyway.  If after quilting it was still awful, I was fully prepared to cut it off and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

Somewhere along the way the quilting gods shined upon me and the border ended up being a non issue.  Don't ask me how or why...I was just thankful it happened!  


I always have a moment of panic when it's time to quilt woven fabric.  The stretch is real and I never want puckers!  It didn't happen!  Whew!  All that worry for nothing!

The backing is Kona Pickle which I love so much!  A few extra blocks placed and pieced and it was ready for quilting!  But how should I quilt it?! 

I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and sashing to start with.  Then decided it would be best to quilt each block with straight lines.  Although you can't tell from the photos, I used 
8 -10 different thread colors throughout the blocks.  The lines are all random which seems to fit with the fabric and design.  The saving grace was the border quilting.  I quilted 1/2" lines that seemed to anchor the border and take care of any wonkiness much to my surprise.  

I had planned on using the same brown for the binding, but after the 3 1/2" border I didn't have enough.  The next best thing I could come up with was using more woven stripes, and I just happened to have a big piece that would work perfectly! 

Washed and dried!  And DONE!  There's something about these stripes and chocolate brown together that scream comfy, cozy warmth!  It's a good combination!  I could see myself in front of a blazing hot fire wrapped in this quilt! 


Friday, August 21, 2020

A Slow Start :: Improv Madness

I was itching to do some improv on a large scale, but it was slow going and I wasn't sure if I had it in me!  

I've spoken about improv and how you need to 'let go' and 'let loose' when doing it.  Don't give up as it changes with each added piece.  You may not like it one minute and the next minute it becomes magic!  

When I started this project I felt like a fish out of water!  Had I lost my ability to think outside of the box?  It felt like I was trying too hard and things were not coming together as I had hoped.  I even mentioned to my daughter that I don't think I can remember how to do this!  

Eventually I took my own advice and kept at it.  While it was slow going in the beginning I eventually found my groove, confidence and was inspired to keep going.  So much so that I couldn't stop!

It seems my favorite color combination these days is pink, orange and yellow.  After pulling every possible shade in those colors, I made half a dozen stacks of colors that I wanted for each block.  The idea was in my head...I just needed to execute it!

Piece by piece, stitch by stitch, add this, cut that...one step at a time.  There were some 'Edward Scissorhand' moments throughout!  Fabric carnage everywhere!

The pieces and blocks came together in all shapes, color and sizes.  I was getting a glimpse of my idea forming and that fueled the fire to keep going. 

It looks like a hot mess!  There is always a method to my madness even though it doesn't look like it!

I'm using Kona Natural as the anchor for the entire quilt.  Adding bit's of it mixed in with the colors as well as the frame around each block.

The flow of the colors is going to be key in this quilt.  This block shows how the orange and pink are mixed in order to get the gradation of color I'm aiming for.

Once each row of blocks were made I added the frame around each block.  On some sides I added a wider piece in order to enlarge the blocks that may have been a bit too small.  This was all going to change with the next step.  I just needed enough to work with.

That next step was yet another border!  This was going to tie the blocks together and further the gradation vision of mine.  

Once I got over the feeling of 'I can't do this', it was pure joy!  All the worry and doubt faded away.  I just had to stick with it and trust myself.

There has been a lot of changes since this photo was taken.  It may still looks like a hot mess to some, but to me I see potential and progress!  I'm hopeful!


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Baby HRT :: Leftovers

After making a large Half Rectangle Triangle quilt (HRT :: Finished & Happy) using my Alison Glass Handcrafted stash, I was inspired to continue the stash busting progress and make one more.  Except this time the blocks were smaller which resulted in a baby version of the quilt.

30 1/2" x 42 1/2"

For those who know me and how I operate, I tend to make as many quilts, wall hangings, baby quilts or minis as I can until every scrap is gone.  Usually each project is a different design from the original, but this time it worked better to keep cutting and making HRTs.  

While cutting the large HRTs for the first quilt from fat quarters, I proceeded to cut the smaller ones at the same time from pieces that weren't going to be large enough for the lap quilt.  It was an efficient method and I soon had a stack of for this future baby quilt. 

The leftover HRTs from the lap quilt were trimmed down and used in this quilt as well.  There weren't many left and I wasn't about to have them sit for long!  The only difference with this quilt from the first one besides the size of blocks,  I added the bright yellow fabric.  I had that one fat quarter left and knew I wanted to use it but was hesitant because it was so electric bright!  In the end it was fine and with careful placement it doesn't hit you in the face!

I ended up quilting 1/2" vertical straight lines with an added bit of flair!  One curved scallop like line in each vertical row.  


I always seem to gravitate towards straight line quilting.  It's never failed me and the effect always makes me happy!

I used a variegated grey thread, Aurifil 50wt Silver Fox (#4670) for all the quilting.  It blends nicely on the front and has a subtle effect on the back.  

As usual I added the extra blocks to the back.  I can safely say there won't be another Handcrafted quilt in any form (maybe a mini mini?!) after this baby quilt.  Stash busted and I couldn't be happier about that!


That doesn't mean I don't want to make another HRT quilt though!  I'm honestly frothing at the bit to jump into another one with different fabric.  I was pretty impressed with the Creative Grids Perfect Rectangle Ruler and would love to give it another try!   

However that will have to wait!  It's time to get wild and crazy and make something that isn't so precise and tedious!