Most quilters know both Linda and me as appliquérs, but we
began as piecers and both still love making pieced quilts. For one thing,
piecing is a lot faster than hand appliqué!
We wrote Piecing the Piece O’ Cake Way especially for beginners, but also for quilters who
may not have had a comprehensive class on how to make a quilt. This book is
full of techniques and tips that readers will use in every quilt they make.
Most of Piecing
the Piece O’ Cake Way
is full of instructions on how to piece with
precision, but the last chapter is about improvisational quilting, and that’s
what I’m writing about today. Working improvisationally is both easy and
difficult. The actual cutting and sewing is easy—you don’t have to worry about
matching points or blocks fitting together. The hard part is that every move
you make requires thought.
My quilt, Brown Improv, began with these wonky Log Cabin
I always place improv blocks on my design wall as I am
sewing because you can see how design elements are coming together up on the
wall. My plan was to add two more logs to each block, but as I looked at them on
the wall, I realized that they were pretty nice as they were. I especially
liked the way the outer logs formed what almost looks like a darker border
around the four small blocks.
I made a total of sixteen small, off-center blocks, turning them
so that they made four larger blocks.
The small blocks were arranged on the wall with space
between them. How often do you do that? Place blocks on the wall, with space
between, allowing the color of your design wall to show through? I rarely do
that, because the white of the design wall has an effect on the way the blocks
look. But this time I could see the white, and when I moved my blocks together
to cover it, I didn’t like the blocks as well. Darn! My plan changed and I added
white fabric to my blocks.
The quilt needed a border. I began by piecing some blocks
with strips and arranged them around the quilt center.
Again, I liked the way the white of my design wall
interacted with the blocks, so I added more white fabric.
You can see the influence of my design wall shining through
in the finished quilt:
The takeaway here is that when you are designing a quilt
with blocks that will be sewn together, let them touch on the design wall. If
you let the design wall show between the blocks, you might end up missing it
later—or adding white to your quilt.
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