Orange Improv Donation Top Progresses

Orange Improv - Late August 2019
Orange Improv – Late August 2019

I mentioned the Orange Improv donation top yesterday and realized it had been awhile since I showed it. I just finished adding a major piece, so it was time to post it again.

It is progressing. The orange scraps in my drawer are significantly fewer than before. I have some large-ish pieces and am wondering if I should add them as is or cut them up. I like the look of the piece now, which is mainly small pieces.

More Orange Improv

Orange Improv Donation top in process
Orange Improv Donation top in process

Over the weekend, I worked on Flying Around and on the Orange Improv donation top. I am pleased with how the Orange Improv top is looking.

I am trying not to insert big strips in as I didnt’ like the effect with the Purple Improv Donation top. I am inserting bits of strips in. I don’t think the ones I have added take the focus away from any other part.

It’s All About Orange Right Now

Orange Improv Journal Cover
Orange Improv Journal Cover

Because you have seen the Orange Strip Donation Top and the Orange Improv Donation Top in progress, you know that it is all about orange around my house right now.

As I rummaged through my orange scrap bin, I found a shard that was really great. It was made from some of the same fabric as my Fresh Fruit quilt. I decided that it would make a perfect journal cover for my AQ business notebook.

Orange Improv Journal Cover -inside front cover
Orange Improv Journal Cover -inside front cover

Since I had a big shard already, it didn’t take long to make as I use a really basic version of the tutorial. I used interfacing and no flannel for the inside, so it came out very slim. I am trying different things to find the best way to make the edges of the journal cover easy to sew through. Without anything (like batting) in between, the maker is already sewing through at least 8 layers and that doesn’t even take the seams from the piecing that might hit the edge. I don’t know about your machine, but that is a lot of layers through which to sew.

Orange Improv Journal Cover -inside back cover
Orange Improv Journal Cover -inside back cover

I still haven’t quite figured out how to center exactly what I want on the front. I did a pretty good job on this one, but would have preferred to have more of the front inside cover on the front.

 

Orange Improv Journal Cover -whole cover
Orange Improv Journal Cover -whole cover

Orange Improv Donation Top Start

Orange Improv Donation Top start - mid July 2019
Orange Improv Donation Top start – mid July 2019

While I was vacillating about the sashing color, size and fabric for the Orange Strip Donation Top, I still needed some leaders and enders. I started in on the Orange Improv Donation Top.

This part of the project is also coming out quite well. I am starting to think that I pick my oranges carefully and they go together well.

I really like the orange dot at the bottom of the left hand photo. However, it really stands out in real life. I might have to use smaller bits of it, so it doesn’t dominate.

Orange Improv Donation Top start 2 - mid July 2019
Orange Improv Donation Top start 2 – mid July 2019

The top piece (in this post) is about 8 in x 10 in right now. I have some sewing to do to get it to a larger size.

The smaller piece will be added on to the larger piece when it gets to the right length or width to fit. I am at the point now where I make smaller pieces fit together to attach to the larger ones.

Purple Improv Donation Quilt

Tim and I had lunch, then worked together on the BAM website this past week. After we were done, we looked at his projects and considered quilts.

Purple Improv Donation Quilt
Purple Improv Donation Quilt

One thing he did since the last time I saw him was quilt the purple improv donation top. Now it is a donation quilt!

His skills are improving tremendously and I think this quilt looks really good. I love the designs he chose.

This will be part of the exhibit we are planning, so we won’t give it in just yet. We need someone to bind it and Tim was going to see if Mary could do it.

Finished: Red Improv Top

Finished: Red Improv top
Finished: Red Improv top

The Red Improv top is finished. No back yet, but I will do that soon.

I am pretty pleased with the way it came out. It doesn’t have those bold graphic lines that the purple improv top did. I like that better, though it might look a little chaotic as well.

This is the last of the red scrap quilts for now. My red scrap drawer isn’t completely empty, but it is much less full than it was. Essentially 3 quilt tops came out of the drawer. Amazing.

Maybe orange next. Stay tuned for your break from red.

Red Strip Donation Blocks

Yes! It’s all about red lately!

Red Strip Donation Blocks
Red Strip Donation Blocks

I finally finished all of the blocks for the second Red Strip Donation Top. As mentioned before, not all of these scraps were strips, like in the Green Strip Donation Top. There are a lot of chunks. Perhaps I should call it the Red Chunk Donation top? That would differentiate it from the first one.

One of the things I like about working on a design wall is that I see different things after I put the blocks (or pieces) up. In this case, I saw that the quilt looked pretty good with thin white strips in between the blocks. I may cut strips and try that as a layout. I’d use cornerstones as well. More scraps to use up.

The quilt won’t end up as large as the Green Strip, the Purple Strip or the first Red Strip Donation quilts, but it will still be big enough for something. The layout will be a little different than the first red version.

New Red Improv Donation Top

Start of Red Improv Donation Top
Start of Red Improv Donation Top

I am still working on the second Red Strip Donation Top, but I needed a leaders and enders project, so I started on the red improv version of my series. Yes, I have a lot of red scraps.

This doesn’t look like much. I hope it will look like the center of the green improv donation top when I am finished. I haven’t taken out any yardage yet. I have some large strips in the drawer and am using those before I dig into yardage.

I want to use as many of the scraps as I can. Strangely, I am fascinated by how much I can make from a drawer full of scraps. I haven’t yet made anything with  just the scraps. I always add yardage, but I am still making my way through the scraps.

Really Finished: Purple Improv

Purple Improv Donation Back
Purple Improv Donation Back

It took me awhile to get the back for the Purple Improv donation quilt finished. It is now done and I, unexpectedly gave it to Tim at Sew Day yesterday.

Making the back was slightly delayed, because I couldn’t get my purple fabric bins. I don’t use purple that often, so they are slightly buried.

I did it a little differently this time. The top was on the design wall. Instead of pulling it off and using the design floor, I pinned fabrics from my stash to the design wall in the place I wanted to use them. This worked pretty well as I could see where I still needed coverage.

Finished: Improv Donation Top
Finished: Improv Donation Top

I didn’t think he would want to quilt the Purple Improv quilt, but he took both the Purple Strip quilt and this one to quilt. He is such a rock star.

Purple Improv Donation Top Finished

After many hours of sewing and listening to audiobooks on Sunday, I finished the Purple Improv top. I have been enjoying it on my design wall for a few days, because I couldn’t make the back right away.

Finished: Improv Donation Top
Finished: Improv Donation Top

There are a lot of small pieces in this quilt. As much as I could, I pressed the seams open to reduce bulk. This caused some issues with sewing. As I trimmed shards, I gained holes and had to be careful to make sure they were fixed before I moved on. I think I like the medallion style of the Green Thing better. I saw improv-ish quilt blocks by @saija_elina and thought, perhaps I would use that idea for another one of these scrap busters. I am not sure I want to make blocks, however.

I am not a huge fan of the T motif that ended up on the quilt, but c’est la vie. That is improv and that is what happens. Perhaps someone with a name that starts with a T will become the owner?

More Purple Improv

Purple Improv mid-March
Purple Improv mid-March

I made quite a bit of progress during the last little while using this piece as leaders and enders for the FOTY 2017. I started out with some largish chunks and grew it.

I am not a huge fan of improv piecing, as you have heard a million times. I have to admit, however, it is fairly mindless and a good way to use up random scraps.

When I come across a larger piece, I am cutting it up into some of the shapes I am Hunting and Gathering for other projects. I especially need to beef up my collection of 2″ cool colors after the En Provence quilt.

Purple Improv - late March
Purple Improv – late March

So I am still beavering away to make something large enough for a baby quilt. The pieces are much more square, but I still have work to do.

Purple Improv

Purple Improv donation top in progress
Purple Improv donation top in progress

This is what I am making in order to clear out some more purple scraps after finishing the Purple Strips donation top. I started with some shards that I had made for some forgotten project. I have added to the original pieces quite a bit.

Because of what I started with, this is less like the Green Thing in that it is less of a medallion style. It may end up a little like that, but we will see. I don’t yet know where it is going except that I need to add some larger chunks or strips to the piece to provide some breathing space.

Purple Improv Donation Top in Process

Purple improv shard n.1
Purple improv shard n.1

As I said the other day, I still have a lot of purple scraps. I also found some large purple shards in my purple scrap bin. I immediately pulled these out and have decided to use them for another improv donation top like the Green Thing. I can’t say I’ll make a companion quilt to each strip quilt I make, but I have a lot of scraps and this seems like a good way to use them up.

I know these shards probably started out as potential journal covers. I don’t know why I didn’t finish them, but now they can go to a good home.

Purple improv shard n.2
Purple improv shard n.2

The triangular shard is really strange. I wonder what I was thinking when I made it. Of course, I have to make it into a square or rectangle, so I can use it. I do like it. If I can use lighter purples and lavenders around the triangle, I can preserve the triangle quality of the piece.

I have already added to the smaller piece shown above the triangular shard, using it as a leader as I was getting towards the end of the strip blockmaking.

Purple improv shard n.3
Purple improv shard n.3

The last shard is good sized as well. The three pieces make a nice start to a donation top. They are all purple and that is good, but I hope the shards go together well enough to make something cohesive.

I do know that I am finding all this purple on my design wall to be oppressive and dark. Perhaps that is my issue with the darker purples? I know I felt like this when I was working on the purple bullseye. I do know that I have a good start to the purple donation improv top and that pleases me.

Book Review: Quilt Improv

Quilt Improv: Incredible Quilts from Everyday InspirationsQuilt Improv: Incredible Quilts from Everyday Inspirations by Lucie Summers

I am not enamoured of improv. I feel like the design potential of improv is overshadowed by sloppy choices and bad workmanship. I think improv is a valid way of expressing creativity. You have seen me make quilts in the improv style. It is not a way to avoid knowing how to make a technically sound quilt. Of course, I can’t say this very often because people take it the wrong way.

Lucie Summers agrees with me. She says in her introduction to this book “One of the my biggest bugbears about improv is when others assume ‘just because it’s improv’ workmanship doesn’t matter. Of course, it matters! Badly made quilts, whether traditional or not, are just badly made quilts. By badly made, I’m not talking about whether your seams or patchwork points match, I’m talking about fabrics sloppily stitched together so there are holes” (pg.4). I was really pleased to read this, because I think, and have always thought, workmanship matters. You will often see in my posts about project some lines about identifying a mistake and deciding whether I could live with it. Workmanship matters. I like Lucie Summers.

I am just as surprised as you that I picked up this book. I am wary of books on improv, because it is improv. Why do you need a book? You certainly don’t need patterns. Cheryl had it at Sew Day and something about it drew me in. I leafed through the images and was interested in the colors and shapes. I checked it out of the library so I could peruse it a little more.

I like the way Lucie has written the prose. The style is friendly and approachable and, even for me, she has a reasonable way of explaining improv in a true fashion. Also, she isn’t condescending.

The book starts out with an introduction. In this introduction is my favorite quote (above) and a little bit about how she works, what working with scissors means, piles of scraps and the use of measuring in improv (pg.4). The introduction is followed by a section called “How I Work” (pg.6) which details piecing maps, inspiration and another fabulous quote “…as you embark on making a quilt from the gallery to make it yours. Give it your personality. Don’t search high and low for the exact blue dotty fabric I’ve used in the top right-hand corner of quilt number 6 – use a grey floral, or an orange solid, whatever… Make it yours, relax and have a huge amount of fun. At the end of the day we’re not saving lives here, we’re cutting into fabric and stitching it back together” (pg.6). This is so critical to me. I have made a few exact replicas of quilts in magazines and books. There are definitely benefits. I get to sew. I feel the meditative qualities of putting fabric through the machine, but these quilts do not have souls. They don’t come from my heart. Branch out when you work from this book. Use the fabrics you have with confidence. There is always more fabric!

The next few sections have to do with fabrics (pg.6), thread (pg.8) and equipment (pg.9). Lucie brings her calm style to these sections. They don’t feel rote or the same as other books I have reviewed.

“How to Use this Book” (pg.10-11) is really important. It is a guide to how this book is written, how she uses measurements in more detail than in the introduction. A great idea is the section on “Building Blocks” (pg.12-39). It starts with a visual list of the block designs Ms. Summers considers basics. This is your basic guide and it is followed by instructions on how to make each block. The section includes 13 different blocks. The reader could spend years making quilts from these blocks alone. The possibilities are endless.

Because publishers seem to require patterns these days, the blocks section is followed by “The Quilts” (pg.40-113). Lucie’s quilts are really stunning, vibrant and have a lot of movement. They are designed and do not look messy. You can see this on the double page spread introducing the section (pg.40-41).

One of the things I like about this book is that Lucie Summers discusses her inspiration for each quilt. I can always use more of that. She doesn’t take pages to do it, but it is important to the process and valuable to the book. Each quilt ‘pattern’ in this section includes a brief rundown of the inspiration, a summary of techniques, design idea, design plan, “Make Me Key”, finished plan, and the piecing map. The design idea breaks down the design while the design plan is more involved. Lucie uses this section to dig into the design, talk about resting spots for your eyes, how she balances different areas and the differences in her design and the finished piece. The ‘Make Me Key’ is a sidebar that combines some text with visual cues to the elements of the quilt. The piecing map shows how the various sections are put together generally. YMMV. The sections for each quilt are robust.

It’s hard for me to decide which quilts I like best. I definitely like the the Shoe Boxes Quilt (pg.42-47). There is a section of the Seed Tray Quilt (pg.54-59) that is very appealing. The fabric cohesiveness and simple design of the Feathers Quilt (pg.60-65) is exciting, too. Many of the quilts have circles and I like those, such as the Bricks and Fences Quilt (pg.66-71), too. I think the Plates Quilt (pg.90-95) is appealing because it reminds me of the Eye of God quilt I made some years ago, has dots and a fabulous inspiration photo. There are no bad quilts in this book, but my favorite might be the Building Blocks Quilt (pg.108-113). Many of her quilts remind me of views of cities with domes and this one is no exception. I also like the quilting. With the large variety of quilts, readers will find something that appeals.

These quilts are designed not thrown together. The fabrics are chosen carefully and quilts are designed to make the overall piece look cohesive.

The last section is called General Techniques (pg. 115-124). The first subsection is called ‘Piecing’ (pg.115) and has a good discussion of why use a quarter inch seam in improv piecing as well as how chain piecing works. She discusses pressing (pg.116) including which way to press and why to press to the dark. Lucie also has a little bit of ergonomics thrown in. ‘Assembling Quilts’ (pg.116) includes what to do to get your quilt to hang straight. The section on Finishing Off Quilts includes the envelope method or ‘bagging out’ (pg.119) as Lucie calls it. There is a short section on quilting (pg.120) with some interesting quilt designs and a bit about marking quilt designs. The Binding section (pg.122-123) includes both facing* (called invisible binding here) and a mitered binding. The book wraps up with how to make a hanging sleeve and labeling your quilts (pg.124).

I might buy Quilt Improv. I like the fact that the author isn’t lazy and discusses the attributes of design within the improv context. The photographs are wonderful. The fabric choices are VERY appealing. Well worth taking a look at.

 

 

 

 

*Remember my tutorial on facings.