Modern Improv Round Robin Quilt

Improv is one of my favorite techniques, and it was even more fun when we added a group of quilters and some time limits!

Modern Improv front view

Last Fall, one of my local quilt shops offered a Round Robin Improv class that was loosely based on the book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously, by Sherri Lynn Wood. (I currently have no affiliate links)  For the class, we each brought a bin of scraps along with a larger piece of our signature fabric and two other pieces of fabric.

Yardage to mix with scraps for the upcoming improv class

Yardage to mix with scraps for the upcoming improv class

For my signature fabric, I selected the colorful Alison Glass print shown above.  I loved the print, and I thought it would be fun to have a piece that held lots of opportunities for fussy cutting and had plenty of colors that would coordinate with a variety of fabric types.

The round robin format meant that we each worked on every quilt top in our group of six. Our scrap bins, along with our other fabrics (except our signature material) get passed around the group in half hour increments.  In the first time slot we each worked on our own quilt, using our signature fabric and any of the other materials we brought with us.  To make this even more interesting, for the entire day, we weren’t allowed to use any rulers or rotary cutters- scissors or tearing were our only fabric cutting options!

The section of the improv quilt that came out of the class

The section of the improv quilt that came out of the class

When the first time slot ended, we passed our quilt top and all of our fabrics (except our signature material) to the next person in the group.  The main goal was to incorporate our signature fabric into each quilt and make sure our contribution to the quilt top was attached before the end of the half hour time limit.  This is where my background working in theatre may have given me an advantage:

  1. I am used to working on other people’s designs/projects so I was not afraid that I would “ruin” their work (As a side note- everyone’s quilt tops looked really good, so this fear that a lot of people in the group expressed proved to be unfounded!)
  2. Time limits are a fact of life in theatre- Over the years I have learned to do the best possible work in the time allowed.

As we went through each top, I fell into a rhythm where I looked through the fabric in the first minute or two and determined how to incorporate my signature print.  My signature print went really well with some fabric collections, but not as well with others.  Fortunately, we could use any amount of the signature fabric, and my material had lots of different colors that did help it to tie in with various color schemes.  I found it really helpful to have a print conducive to fussy cutting because it gave me a jumping off point, and then I could design on the fly for the rest.

Churn Dash Improv block with my signature fabric fussy cut in the center

Churn Dash Improv block with my signature fabric fussy cut in the center

My goal was to sew steadily until the final five minutes, then attach what I had done to the main body of the quilt top and press the entire piece before passing it on.  My personal goal was to always hand off a piece that was relatively square.  We weren’t allowed to cut off anything that another group member added, so I tried to be nice and not give anyone a difficult shape to deal with 🙂

I tried to not let the lack of rulers limit the designs I used.  I made half square triangles (HST) by pressing (instead of drawing) a diagonal line across a square and stitching on either side, and made flying geese in a similar manner to how I would normally approach the task.  I tried to not let the fact that it wouldn’t be perfect deter me from trying different designs, and I ended up making variations on lots of traditional blocks including log cabins, pinwheels, flying geese, churn dash and wonky stars.

Modern Improv Wonky Star block

Modern Improv detail A

Modern Improv Flying Geese

I wish I had taken photos of everyone’s project, but in the heat of the moment, I was much more focused on just getting my contributions finished!

By the end of the day we each had a top that was a bigger than a mini, but smaller than a lap quilt, so I went home and added to mine to create a generous lap quilt.  I stuck to the no rulers or rotary cutter rules and tried to work at a similar pace to what I had done during the class.

The backing is constructed using several different fabrics, but these were all larger pieces than those used on the quilt top.

Modern Improv back view

In keeping with the spirit of the class, I did the quilting with no rulers and tried to move quickly while embracing a wide range of designs.

Modern Improv pinwheel and quilted geese

The binding is created exclusively from my collection of binding scraps that I connected randomly and continue the improv feeling all the way to the edge of the quilt.

Modern Improv binding detail

I cannot recommend this type of class enough- it was so much fun!  If you are in the Columbus, Ohio area this class is being offered again in March at Quilt Beginnings.  It was a great opportunity to move out of my comfort zone and work collaboratively with a wonderful group of quilters.

Modern Improve Quilt draped

 

Quilt Stats

Title:  Modern Improv Round Robin

Size: 53″x71″

Techniques:  Improvisational Piecing (no rulers or rotary cutters!)

Quilting:  Hand guided free motion (no rulers!)

Fabric:  Alison Glass print, two prints from the Zen Chic line, lots of scraps

Batting:  Warm and White

Thread:  Pieced with Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with white cotton 50wt Wonderfil

Binding:  Scrappy

This was my One Monthly Goal for February:

Goal #2 is Complete!

Goal #2 is Complete!

Star Crossed Triangles: An EZ Quilting Triangle Challenge Quilt

When the Modern Quilt Guild issued a challenge sponsored by EZ Quilting, I couldn’t wait.  I was in the midst of a “triangle phase” so this was perfect timing.  I decided that if I was going to take on this challenge, I was going to really embrace triangles, and create a design pieced entirely with that shape.

Star Crossed Triangles:  A MQG EZ Quilt Triangle Challenge Quilt

Star Crossed Triangles: A MQG EZ Quilt Triangle Challenge Quilt

The 45 degree mini template arrived in the mail, and I began drafting./Users/cassandra_ireland/Desktop/Quilting/My Quilts/Quilt Drafti

EZ Quilting Template and prepared triangles

EZ Quilting Template and prepared triangles

Triangles are intriguing in their ability to transform fabrics through careful cutting and reassembly.  I selected quite a few brightly colored, distinctively patterned fabrics to form octagons and stars that are the focal points of the quilt.  The overall design includes several blocks that are all low volume fabrics to give some areas for a visual rest.triangle blocks

Given the small scale of the pieces of the quilt, I decided to go with an English Paper Piecing technique to insure that the corners of each triangle would match up perfectly.  The majority of the 866 triangles in the quilt are cut with the provided template, but there are additional triangle shapes to fill in between blocks and around the edges.  When I took a step back to look at the completed top, I decided that the all-triangle approach was a bit too rigid.  I began experimenting with options to break up the field of triangles, and eventually landed on adding brightly colored appliqué circles.  Each circle is about the size of a dime and is hand appliquéd to the finished quilt top.

Quilt top with circles roughly placed

Quilt top with circles roughly placed

Each star and octagon is quilted with coordinating thread using ruler work on a longarm.  The spaces between each of these shapes is filled with wavy, swirling, organic free-motion quilting.Star Crossed Triangles detail D

Star Crossed Triangles detail C

Star Crossed Triangles detail B

Star Crossed Triangles detail A

This quilt was my second entry into the QuiltCon contest, and I also entered this quilt into the Paducah show of the American Quilter’s Society in the category: Small Wall Quilts, Longarm Quilted.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Star Crossed Triangles

Size:  36.75″ x 41″

Techniques:  English Paper Piecing, Hand Appliqué

Quilting:  Ruler work and free motion quilting on an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Scrappy low volume and brightly colored prints

Batting:  Hobbs Heirloom cotton batting

Thread:  Pieced with grey Decobob by Wonderfil, quilted with Aurifil in coordinating colors

Binding:  Scrappy low volume prints cut on the bias in 2″ wide strips, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched to the back

Goal #22 is finished!

Goal #22 is finished!


Moroccan Star: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

This summer, the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) announced this year’s Michael Miller fabric challenge, and I couldn’t resist signing up.  Those metallic prints are so much fun!  I had an idea at that point, but once the fabrics arrived, I decided to change directions based on the exact prints that arrived.Moroccan Star finished quilt

Glittery metallics made me think of shining stars and opulence.  I typically prefer silver, but for this project I was really drawn to the gold printed fabrics.  To supplement the package of fabric sent by Michael Miller, I purchased some of the white and gold confetti dot also from the Glitz collection, and a Michael Miller black solid.MM Challenge

This design started with the fabric printed to imply interlocking circles.  I started experimenting by creating circles highlighting different sections of the print.  Once the circle sizes were determined, I drafted the motif that would create the final star design. I started the construction by hand appliquéing the circles to the white background pieces.  Those pieces were then added to the solid black background.  Moroccan Star process shot

 

Moroccan Star finished quilt top

For the quilting, I wanted to break up the background by using different quilting designs on either side of the appliquéd star motifs.  The quilting thread is a very dark grey which added a bit of extra dimension to the solid color surface.  I used the longarm for this quilt and the circle pattern was entirely free-motion using a dot to dot technique.  It is far from perfect, but it was the first time I had attempted this, so it could have been far worse!  I tend to like a hand drawn quality in free motion quilting, so I ultimately decided to leave it in and embrace the character of the piece.  Moroccan Star finished detail A

The lines around the stars and the tightly spaced vertical lines are also free-motion, but for the horizontal lines on the left side of the quilt I did lock the machine on the track before hand guiding the stitching.Moroccan Star finished detail B

This quilt was one of my entries in to QuiltCon, so now I (like many of you!) are waiting to hear which quilts we will see at the show in February.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Moroccan Stars

Size:  41″ x 40.5″

Techniques:  Needle turn appliqué

Quilting:  Free motion and linear quilting done on an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Michael Miller Glitz collection and Michael Miller solid

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 in black

Thread:  Hand appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in white, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in a a dark grey

Binding:  Michael Miller solid black fabric (to match background) cut in 2″ wide bias strips, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched to the back

Goal #23 is finished!

Goal #23 is finished!

 

The Web We Weave: Mini Quilt #33

Happy Halloween!  I have been eager to try out metallic threads with the longarm, and this Halloween-appropriate mini quilt was a great opportunity to experiment.  Web We Weave front view

The piecing on this quilt top is very simple with only five pieces.  I cut a 12.5″ square out of solid black fabric and then slashed it in two places where I wanted to indicate abstract tree branches.  The fabric for the trees is a batik that is actually printed to look like trees, but I cut it on the cross-grain to create a Birch tree-esque effect on a slightly larger scale.  The resulting quilt top gave me a great space to play with the metallic thread.

Now for the fun part!  I was a bit nervous about trying metallic thread since I hadn’t yet ordered any specialty needles for the longarm.  The metallic thread I chose was a silver WonderFil with a rayon core.  I loaded a medium grey cotton quilting thread in the bobbin, and decided to give it a try.  It was awesome!  One of the nice features of the A-1 machine is a small pad that the top thread feeds through which holds a few drops of liquid thread conditioner.  It really does help decrease thread breakage.  I practiced some ruler work with the main lines of the web, defining the tree branches, and some background work with black cotton thread.  The curved areas of the web are free motion.Web We Weave back view

The backing and binding is made from the same black fabric used in in the quilt top.  The batting is Hobbs 80/20 in black which I pulled from a sample pack I received earlier this year.  It was so nice to not have to worry about white batting working its way through the fabric of the quilt.  My cat adds enough white fluff to my dark quilts without having the batting contribute!

Quilt Stats

Title:  Web We Weave

Size:  12″ x 12″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Ruler work and free motion quilting on an A-1 Elite longarm machine

Fabric:  American Made Brand black cotton and a batik print from my stash

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 Batting in black

Thread:  Pieced with black Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with silver metallic WonderFil thread with a rayon core (with medium grey Signature cotton thread in the bobbin), black cotton quilting thread

Binding:  Matching bias binding, cut in 2″ wide strips, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched on the back

What was new?

Metallic thread on a longarm

Quilt 33 / 50

Quilt 33 / 50

Goal #1 is finished!

Goal #1 is finished!

 

Simply Starred Mini Quilt

A few months ago I signed up for my first Instagram mini quilt swap, and it is currently wrapping up.  Now that my partner has received the mini I made, I thought I would share it here.Simply Starred front view

This quilt is also my entry into the Mini Quilt Category in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival at Amy’s Creative Side./Users/cassandra_ireland/Desktop/Quilting/My Quilts/Quilt Drafti

The pattern for this quilt is an original design that I drafted using AutoCad to create the foundation paper piecing templates.  It is pieced in eight wedge shaped segments and then the corners and borders are added.Simply Starred front detail three

There are 83 different fabrics used in this mini quilt, 80 of which form the star.  Each color is intended to flow into the next which results in a rainbow effect for the central image.Simply Starred front detail two

Simply Starred front detail one

The quilting in the central star is done using a walking foot on my domestic machine with threads which coordinate with the fabric.  Pebble quilting fills the negative space and was done on an A-1 longarm machine.  I love it when I have the opportunity to juxtapose organic elements with straight lines, and I was pleased with how the pebbling creates a delightful textural element.  The multicolored threads transfer a subtle version of the rainbow effect to the back of the quilt.Simply Starred back

Simply Starred back detail

Striped binding cut on the bias frames this piece, and I used the same fabric to frame the handwritten label for the quilt.

Simply Starred back

 

Simply Starred folded and labeled

Quilt Stats

Title:  Simply Starred

Size:  19.5″ x 19.5″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing

Quilting:  The center star is machine quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008, and the negative space is free motion  quilted using a stitch regulated mode on the A-1 Elite Longarm

Fabric:  83 different quilting cottons

Batting:  Warm and White cotton batting

Thread:  Pieced using 100wt InvisaFil by WonderFil, quilted with assorted 50wt cotton quilting threads from WonderFil, Aurifil, Mettler, and Connecting Threads

Binding:  Striped fabric in 2″ wide strips made using continuous bias techniques, machine stitched to the quilt front, hand stitched to the back

What was new?

A new foundation paper pieced pattern

Combining domestic and longarm quilting on a single quilt

Goal #19 is Finished!

Goal #19 is Finished!