Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Improvisation my way - an update

Remember this one from last week?

The difficulty with improvisation is knowing when to stop chopping and changing. However, this piece did not quite "feel" finished to me, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to change it. I did know I wanted it somewhat bigger - it was only 23" - but I did not want to loose the improvisation too much by just adding straight borders. So I took it out the other day and sat there looking at it for a while...

Putting a strip of fabric over it this way and that way, trying to imagine how it would look and would that be how I wanted it to look...

Putting the ruler over it this way and that way... will I cut it apart...won't I??

And then... oops! Too late, it's done!

Now to make it better. Cutting strips, moving the cut piece to the side, moving it to the left and to the right, turning it a little and a lot...

In the end, I decided to sew it together at an angle. Without further hesitation I started sewing it together, I wanted to see straight away whether it would look the way I envisaged! I added the lime strip and then sewed the cut off piece back in place again, but at a tilt.

Of course I had not thought about the total shape it would become, and had to add strips to the piece to make it resemble a square again afterwards! If I had thought about it, I would have added extra strips to the triangle to make it bigger before I sewed it to the main piece. It would have avoided an awkward Y seam... But that is improvisation, too, and I added some strips to make up for it - one strip turned out to be a bit too short, too, so another small improvisation was needed there! 

I also added more lime all around. I felt it was looking rather "caved in", was I happy with it? It still didn't seem finished to me.

I decided to add some weight to the outside edges, at two sides. I had a look; symmetrical, maybe adding a border top and bottom? Or asymmetrical, adding borders side and bottom?

In the end, I decided on this:

At the moment I think this is done. The piece feels a bit lopsided, but to balance that I intend to add the last piece - yes, I'm running out! - of dark blue to the binding on the left and upper area.

Now, however, it has to be decided how to quilt it... It'll sit there for a while for me to look at, until I just decide to start. I'll keep you updated (you've been warned!).

Linking with:

Linky Tuesday
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Show and Tell Tuesday
WIP Wednesday 
Needle and Thread Thursday 
Show off Saturday   


Monday, 2 March 2015

Improvisation my way

As a reward for making good progress with my City & Guilds work, I allowed myself to have a little play in the last few days. There were a few ideas in my head for a while, knocking to be let out. So on Friday and Saturday I gave myself permission to ignore the "must-do" and pay attention to "see-if-I-can-do"...

Many people are a bit afraid to use improvisation in quilt making (or improv for short), but there is no reason to be fearful. Improvisation can look completely random, but it usually isn't as much random as it seems. If you make sure your edges are straight, you can make your seams lie flat. And before you sew pieces together you can often lay out what you're planning to do, so you get an idea if it will work. And what if it doesn't work? Cut it up and play some more!
For me, improvisation is "making it up as I go along". Grabbing some fabrics and a vague starting idea and seeing where I end up. In other words free play with fabric. Nothing better!!

On Friday I played with some very simple blocks, four patches and nine patches. I chose two fabrics (blue and cream) and started cutting.

For the nine patches I cut squares at 8½”(the width of my ruler). Layering two contrasting squares together I made two random cuts across at a slight angle.

The middle fabrics were swapped and the three strips of each block sewn together. Then this was repeated, this time cutting through both joined squares perpendicular to the first cuts.

I ended up with four nine patches and in similar way made 14 four patches - I lost count at one stage, and made more than I intended... Then I laid them out to decide a composition in which I was going to put them together. I decided to have four nine patches in a square layout with four patch corner stones.

Then I played around a bit with backgrounds:

Cream seemed too traditional and a bit boring...

Mauve (if that's the right description of this purple-y colour) did nothing for the blue.

This lime seemed too strong.

Pale blue seemed very classy, but a bit dull...

Then, by happy accident:

The pale blue was only a fat quarter, not quite enough to spread the blocks onto properly, but enough to use if it was chosen to be cut up. So there was a good border of the lime still visible around the pale blue when I was auditioning. Much better!

To bring some of the lime into the centre of the piece, I decided to trim the centre four patch and  border it with a little lime:

 This piece is now 23" square:

I'm not yet sure what this will be used for, it may be left as it is and finished as a mini. On the other hand, I may have another play session to see if I can make it bigger without losing its coherence... After all, there are five four-patches left over...

This piece used improvised nine patches and four patches, however, the blocks were square at the end, and the sashings were cut to fit.

Some people might not call this improvisation at all since it looks rather "normal", but it was "made up as I went along". That is improvisation my way...  a personal way of making, without a preconceived idea of what you're going to end up with. Which is what I think improvisation is all about.

Of course I didn't stop here, once the genie was out of the bottle I couldn't put it back in! Next time a more modern improvisation...


Linking up with:

Fresh Sewing Day
Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle and Thread Thursday