Ways to Love Improvisational Quilting
So I thought I would get started today by talking about what exactly is improvisational quilting on dh? To tell you the truth, I'm kind of keen toe learn what you all and with the folks in the chat room, I think it is as well or what they're hoping to get out of it for myself. First of all, there's a lot of different ways to interpret and improvisational quoting some people just see it as, you know, kind of free form, you know, maybe I make some strips and I put them together and and, you know, it could still even be stripped that I cut with a ruler that I've measured out and that's a that's a great way to go my personal way is I really like, you know, we have a wonderful kind of broad quoting tradition, which if you're watching this show, you probably already know all that and it's fun to take those traditional patterns of traditional blocks and kind of play with them, make them your own, design them in in a different way, and improvisational quilting gives you that opportunity becaus...
e one of the things we're not going to do a whole lot of issues, these guys, we're not going to measure out a lot of our strips and it's going to seem a little nerve racking at first, but it's incredibly liberating because it allows you to a recognize how much you actually reckon you can actually measure with your eyes much better than you think and it makes you the designer you figure out what kind of aspect of your block you you want to focus on so personally I think it's a great way for people who have had no sonu no no quilting experience to work because it kind of brings you into it in a different way but it's also a great way for somebody who's made lots of quilts lots of especially traditional quilts to explore something a little bit different so I thought I'd at least ask folks what they we're hoping to get out of this class maybe what they came in thinking that they're going to going to walk away with and and you know just their feedback on I thought I'd ask you jenny, you since you have, you know, family watching, what are you hoping to get out of it? Quoting is something that I never really you know got into it but that's, the reason why I'm here and er I've seen people working on quoting onda the passion that tying and the love that they put into it and now they just brought me altogether there's something in it you know? I'm sure I'll get it yeah, yeah I agree you know? So I have three girls and I've always said every one of them has a quilt on their bed, and, you know, I feel sorry for them with if they have to sleep under a bed that doesn't have a handmade quilt. There's, I mean, that's something that definitely this method of quoting, which is a little bit more true, modern and contemporary, and certainly this has been brought on by kind of swing towards modern quilting and traditional quilts share there's, just something there's, something magical about a quilt. What about you, sarah? Oh, well, I, um I just want to play no love sewing, love fabric. I just want to play around. All right, well, this is this is a class for you. You're in the right place, so I would love to hear what other, if you know, as we go along, if folks in the chat room have, you know, piped in on what they what they're hoping to get out of this class, actually, we'd love to hear, because I tell you what, in preparing for this class, I've learned a lot about what I'm excited about about improvisational quality, and I didn't. I've taught this worked out before, so I was pretty surprised to have learned more stuff, so I'm looking forward to hearing what other people I have to say so I think I'm giving you kind of basically the whole idea about improvisation is that you you're going to change things just like jazz you've got, you know you've got your riff, you've got your kind of motif, but you're going to change things along the way and you're going to respond to those changes and that's really what improvisational quilting is all about, it creates a block and a and a quilt that has a lot of energy. It doesn't have to be something that is explosive with color you're going to see the samples that I show you, they are pretty explosive with color, but if that's not your cup of tea, it can still work for you as well. And since I had this cute little title for ten ways to love improvisational cool thing, I actually wrote this little part of it back when I did my book fresh quilting, which I had several improvisational quilts in there, and I, um I wrote a segment called ten ways to love improvisational, quilting and that's what these ten ways, there really are ten ways. Yeah, and so I wanted to kind of review what they are on dh these air just ten tips more than anything else about what you khun do tio enjoy the play, which is really what this is all about the first step is relax and the reason you want to relax is because there are worse things in your life and you're going to do probably than ruin a piece of fabric so that is the worst thing that you're going to do you're you're doing okay um and it is just fabric we can get more and it's for our enjoyment we shouldn't feel kind of bound to it the second thing is trust your eyes you think that you can't cut for well first of all you don't have to cut in exactly four inch by four inch piece of fabric let's say you want to cut a square but trust that you can use your rotary kind of the way you would use a pencil almost you know and that you will be able teo teo put things together okay um the third one is add or delete fabricas needed you're going tohave throughout this workshop you're going tohave two squares two triangles to whatever shapes you wanted to be and you want to sew them together but they're not exactly the same size that's okay you can cut one down you can add fabric toe one of them you've got some options this is where you come in as the designer and so that's definitely one of the things that you really need to embrace and it will be fun and it gives you a chance to add in color or you'll see of some of the samples we dio it will be focused on blacks and whites it's a place to kind of shoot color in or even take color out at in a graphic black and white print uh embrace walking this which just the word walking this is a great word so let's just all embrace it no matter what but because you're not cutting using measuring tools, you're probably not going to be squaring off uh despite what might be coming up next you you you're going to get curvy edges, you know kirby adjust to your blocks, kirby edges to the edge of your quilt you're cool top so you know you know, just learn to love it it's actually a wonderful design element and it can work on a big quilt as well as it can work on a little piece that say you're going to hang on your wall or is, you know, just going to be on a table and in total contrast to what I just said squaring off is always an option it is, but you can you can say to yourself, I'm going to have this kind of energy inside a block and then I'm going to square it off so it fits exactly next to another relatively energetic block and so that is something that you can do like to make this pillow cover yeah, all the letters for those of you don't realize it spells out the word love all the letters were peace improvisational, but so that the words with the letters would fit and put come together to make a pillow cover. Yes, I had I had to square those off. It's true confession time size disparity is a good thing. So you you're going to have some blocks that are gay big and some blocks their, you know, much bigger than that and that's actually a good thing, it creates an interest sometimes one of the things that happens a lot of times this, if you have a lot of blocks that are exactly the same size, I mean, literally exactly the same size he lose some of the you lose some of that excitement, and you certainly lose that ability to kind of respond to it, because if you've got two blocks that are exactly the same size, you don't need to change anything you don't need to kind of put on your thinking cap and think, what could I do? What opportunity does this present? So I think that having two blocks of different sizes is a good thing, not a bad thing accentuate the edges like I said, you're not necessarily going tohave edges that are going to come out straight um and that's a good thing and you can accentuate that here I chose to accentuated by actually binding or finishing, and we'll talk about binding a quilt, binding it with a instead of a colorful fabric of very kind of what I call low volume fabric, a very white or simple graphic kind of fabric. Andrea lee highlight the fact that those edges are kind of kirby we'll also talk about that if your edges come out super kirby, you can also make beiste finding s o binding that a little stretch here so that it can kind of really kind of stick to those those curvy edges contain the energy with stashing strips. Would even the this energy with testing strips you still so stashing strips air just like some neutral color in between your blocks and in a traditional quilt, you might have a block and then on two sides is going to be framed by some stashing usually the same color, say, white or gray and then two more blocks there's always kind of ah space in between the blocks here, the sash ing the the white in the in the spaces in between is also added improvisational e but it's the same idea you've got this intense color and it's surrounded by more of a neutral and so that kind of tones down the intensity of it ah, and utilize color color is your like your best friend here? Um, I I'm going to show you all some slides, a slide that says you don't have to do it in color, you don't you could make a beautiful improvisational quilt with in in relatively calm tones, low volume kind of fabrics. But one of the beauties of this process is that you really ah, you really have the architecture of the block and so color is your friend. You should really embrace it ah, and to make color your friend focus on solids so that all the fabrics that that you will have in front of you there's a there's, a focus on either solids or fabrics, and primarily reda solids because you you have, you know, because you are kind of concerned with the architectural not going together the way a traditional block does you want it to be you want to eliminate the distraction of big prints? That doesn't mean you can never have a big print, but it does mean that that you can, you know, the that's. The best way to kind of have the quote read is clearly is possible, and but I'm going to tell you, I'm going to show you all on image right now that it's you can do it in aa in, um basically a low volume version so that all this is is it's the same kind of log cabin block that we're going to learn about in just a second but it's ah it's in aa colors that are much more neutral read much more as whites or pale colors so you can you can do it this way and I think it can work really well but we're going to kind of hopefully focus on doing it in terms of high contrast fabrics and and lots of color um so I wanted to talk about what you need uh if you're ready so and you'll have your legal are already so that's good, but if you're at home and you're going to get ready, I'd like to talk about at least what you need up first what you need and I'm gonna bring this out of the basket um when I teach this class, I tell folks to bring and it's actually kind of confusing because my, you know, people asked me. So what are the supplies? And I'll say just lots and lots of fabric, you know, I say usually at least twenty five different kind of prince and solids from primarily focused on salads eso you need lots of lots of color, lots of fabric because you want to have lots of choices when you're because when you're functioning as a designer, you want to be you want to have a palate to work with you definitely want to focus on cotton fabrics you could make this with linens as well, but they since you're since the fabrics aren't fitting together like they wouldn't a traditional block where you've got one that's exactly the same size you really want to probably stick to a single kind of fiber content it just would make it easier to put them together does that mean you could never put ah linen fabric in there? No, I wouldn't put anything to stretching in there I wouldn't put in it fabrics in here not not unless you really want a world of hurt so I would focus on solid fabrics and solid fabrics that are cotton's that's the number one thing you need you need a machine this is all machine peace process I'm sure you could do it hand piece, but but it's a machine process you need a rotary cutter, a road encounter with a really, really good blade and even though we're going to cut to some degree with scissors you you want a rotary cutter um and you do need some measuring tools just if there will be processes along the way we'll use he's measuring tools, but it's not something we're dependent on you need a self healing matt because you're going to be cutting with your rotary cutter on that matt needs some pins um and union iron pressing is actually going to be your best friend in this process it's really, really important so I'm trying to think of this anything else that you would need that I haven't mentioned before? Um no if scissors and sewing machine all the all the kind of standard it's tough um so but most of the cutting we're going to do and most of the cutting that I do in my own home studio is almost exclusively with in fact I only use scissors t trim thread but but I did do some work with with cutting because it aa lot of the traditional kind of african american uh improvisational quilts the gee's bend quilts for instance they were cut with scissors which is kind of a different it gives you a different feel for how you how you make the fabric it's it's kind of interesting process s o I I went back and made a peace with just cutting with scissors and esser like it avoided my hand hurt after that um like, you know, I flew here from from kentucky um so you've got a piece of fabric like this okay um and before we start to use it, I mean, this is very nice, but it's got these wrinkles in it and you'll have a fair amount of fabric that probably has some wrinkle egx if that's a word in it and the number one thing before you cut into a piece of fabric whether it's for you know, because you're going to cut with scissors or cut with rotary cutter is you want to press it flat you know um in the in the all important controversy about whether or not you need toe wash fabric ahead of time um before you use it I'm gonna weigh in on the you don't need to wash fabric ahead of time before you use it ah side of the thing if I was making a garment, I would definitely watch my fabric ahead of time because you don't want to go through all that trouble to try on the garment and then washington that no, it doesn't fit, but for this process you're perfectly fine using it straight from the bold and in fact a sizing that they put it on the bolt really kind helps it tio not move around quite so much so I'm not I don't watch fabric before and the fabric that I may abroad I didn't watch it, so I hope that doesn't disappoint anybody too much so what we're going to do is we're going to kind of play with this idea of rotary cutter versus scissors and make a couple of different blocks um so and that's what I did here um and I'm gonna demo how to do this in just a second um I can just tell by these edges here that that I cut this with scissors because there are a lot roar there are a lot less sharp there's little nicks in them so other than that, I think I might have had a little hard time s o I'm gonna demo how I made this block first with a rotary cutter and then with scissors this is just like a simple log cabin variation we're going to play around with this idea a lot more but I just wanted to kind of give you an idea of the different cutting tools and and how we're going to use them so let's start with with if we're going to cut it with a rotary cutter if I was going to cut first of all if you'll notice I used some kind of cool colors and some warm colors in this block so a cool color is a color that has a fair amount of blue in it a green has a fair amount of blue and even this purple has a fair amount of blew it and a warm color is a color that has a fair amount of red in it if you think about the color wheel then you know a warm color something that has a fair amount of yellows, oranges, reds you know, even warm grounds those they're going to be your warm colors greens, blues uh um you know thiel's those air all cool colors and then their colors and feel a little amorphous in the middle so what I did was try teo teo have half of it half of the strips be warm colors and half of the strips be cool colors that's that's really the on ly trick to this block what I started with is and what I would like you all to do is to collect you know, a fair number of warm and cool fabrics and then and I'm just going to cut a few strips once you feel like you've got how many did I use so I've got one two three four five six you know go ahead and cut yourself some strips and so first of all I'm going toe just put out an apology because all the everything I cut I'm going to cut with my left hand because I am left handed actually no one before I cut these I'm going to back up a little bit and talk about what if you have a really big piece of fabric so we're going to want to cut from relatively small pieces of fabric I don't know that all of you know some of you all might have um bigger pieces of fabric cutting from a strip from piece of fabric like this no problem cutting a strip from you know a big length of fabric like this is a little more cumbersome so just ever so quickly just in case there's somebody who's unclear about how they would do that I would usually just fold it you know? So now I folded it into force therefore layers here nice thing about a road in color rotary cutter is it's a razor and it's going to cut through these four layers and I would make myself a smaller piece and I don't I don't measure it just make myself a smaller piece this is the piece I can work with bigger than that is you know, to cut I don't want him I don't want to sit there out of my fabric and cut like a little tiny square like that it just it just seems I want strips a lot of this stuff I'm gonna want strips I'm gonna want bigger pieces in that so it's better to have, you know, a little length cut for yourself um, so if you have bigger pieces in that, then that that's a plan on those so once we've got some smaller pieces that we can work with, um then I'm just going to cut myself some strips and I'm just going toe, you know, freehand cut these if you're right handed, you couldn't like this, but if I kind of like that, god only knows where that would go um and so I've got some strips here and I'll probably cut you know, four, five, six different colors of warms and four, five, six different colors of cool colors and um once we've got that, then we can I'm going to collect some cool colors then we can move on to what we're going to do with these strips to piecing together in terms of well actually we're going to cut some in ah with our rotary cutter and some with our scissors, which is you know, it is going to feel more awkward it just it doesn't flow is easily, but in some ways it gives you a different kind of control so that's what I would recommend everyone do is cut themselves, you know, five or so strips and see how much more ragged that is then this even though it's got this curve in it but that's ok, but still cutting with scissors is a different kind of experience and so that we can play with putting those together, sewing those together and seeing in this case to seeing the different cutting experience but soon seeing how you so a seam when it's when it's not when the two pieces are not the same size so unusual says is they're not typical dressmaking yeah, they're applications there's s o on their left handed applications there's you know they're they're really odd scissors, so I have a pair of just like standard kind address making cuts, scissors I just like that. I like the shape of these, and I like the, I guess, the torque. You know, they just seem to cut really easily for me.