Skip to main content

Improv Quilting Basics

Lesson 3 of 7

Sewing: Set Up & Basics


Improv Quilting Basics

Lesson 3 of 7

Sewing: Set Up & Basics


Lesson Info

Sewing: Set Up & Basics

So let's get teo setting it up a lot of improv is this success from comet comes from having a good flow while you're doing this and developing your own little rhythm for it. We all have different limitations and opportunities with where we so okay, I sold for a long time on my dining room table and now is have a dedicated room in my basement I'm quite lucky, but you're sowing said it makes a big difference. How I'm set up here is actually quite handy for me. I really believe in sort of an l or you set up for most people, and that means that you're able tio when you're sitting down, being able to sew and cut and press without standing up because if you have to constantly stand up, you're breaking your rhythm it's good for you to be standing up repeatedly but it's breaking your rhythm right and you want to be able to continue going as long as possible before you need to take that break. So in my space in the in the basement that I have now I can so but then I have to get up to cut and pr...

ess, so that means actually use my scissors and I finger press aa lot because that gets me through part of it without breaking up the rhythm. Another thing you can use is there's, a tool called a breyer which if you're ever done printmaking you've seen it but there are ones that air for fabric would you do the same job as finger pressing which as long as you're seeing is relatively short as in like sort of less than six inches it's quite easy to use that there as well so I know here in the studio we have don't quite have that ideal setup but it's always good to have at least either the pressing or the cutting right next to you so that you're only getting up for one thing we're moving to have a question I have lots of questions go ahead would you do you think the backside would work better as a neutral or the front side with the bright gold I intentionally put that bright gold in there to be a little bit of sparkle ok, so so use the front you go ahead and use the back that's a great question sometimes the back of the tabard is precisely what you want right? Because the front is either too harsh one of that this was a tip that I got very early on in my quotes in career is the white on whites in the beige on beige fabrics where it's a white ink on a white fabric khun b glaringly bright but you still like that little bit of texture that you get from the print that's when I learned to flip things over because then you still get the texture of the print but it's not so glaring and you can do that with any fabric maybe it's just not quite the right color and you need it to be a little lighter, right? So this sort of minty green you know, it's quite bright but on this way you know, I guess it doesn't really show up against the cutting that right? You get a very different effect when it's there and there's nothing to say that it's wrong to use that side of the fabric right when you have a really bold print like that, you're still seeing it even when it's that way when we're improv ing if you make a mistake and use it the wrong way, so be it right? It's not no no one's going to say anything? You know when if you someone asked you're like yeah totally meant to do it that way because I liked the way it loves me alone don't judge me so they're so that's your ideal setup is having sort of either an l or you write like in my dream world I'm sewing, pressing, cutting right? It will also depend on if you're right or left handed, which way makes it easier for me? I like having my turn on my right because I am right handed s o I'm less likely to to knock it over and burn myself is I've learned that the hard way as well, but then have that keeps scissors nearby, ok? So even though we have a cutting surface with a rotary cutter and a mat and everything like that, you're going to want scissors nearby because when you're at the sewing machine there's little bits that you're going to need to, so okay, all right, so what I'm going to d'oh is we're going to start sewing so I will take my small, medium and large piles and have them relatively neatly next to me when I start, I guarantee you that in ten minutes they won't look so neat, but the first thing you want to dio whether they're making sure your press her foot is theirs have your machine all set up. You're going to take start with your small pile and you're going to take two pieces of fabric I'm really lucky because they're lining up quite nicely in terms the relatively the same sex, and you're going to sew them together. So what I mean by lining up quite nicely, I'm going to show you guys up here again is I've got them, they're almost identical in length here if I went to sew them right here, they're not identical in, like, not a problem. Right, maybe you want to sew them into end then what I would do is this is why having my scissors next to the machine would be handy as I would just cut that right because I'm not doing this matching up but the cutting table I'm doing it over here I go that's not quite the same and I would cut it okay? But I liked that it was there when I don't have to trim and cut I won't write and if you're going to trim and cut and you'll see this shortly um try to cut it so that story put my poster put down try to cut it so that it's a usable piece right? You don't want to cut off you know either cut off a tiny like a scrap or cut off something at least an inch so that it's a functional piece ok, so here let's take um you know, something in the longer range now I'm going to take this and it looks like, you know, flip it around. So this is what I mean by cutting off a tiny piece here I want to sew these intend this time so I don't have that much here, but I can also see that that's an angle I'm going to sew this together first, right? So I'm gonna have that that's not there and then we'll be trimming it okay, so so together ah a number of your small pieces no there's one down here so again your sewing them either along the long side or the short side it really doesn't matter when we're starting just line up your edge is now the things to remember is we're quilters that means we still even when we're improvising way live and die by a quarter interesting okay, we don't forget that just because we're improvising now we want to still maintain those quarter inch seems and the other rule that we still follow is that we do press everything so I am sowing my paris together chain piecing, which means I so one pair a couple extra stitches so the next and continue on what I will often do to make my life easier is and I'm just going to do it with this even though I'm sewing a whole much the same together is when I get to the end of one I will leave one piece in one of my little pairs in with the needle down and that'll just be the start so I'm not stopping and starting right? I'm leaving a pair in there with improv that's fine because you're always going to need those pears, right? So then I will take all of those and I'm gonna stand up in this case just because I'm here and we're going to press every single one of those pieces when it comes to pressing, the first thing you want to do is set your seem and then you're going toe press it, I am oppressed to the side person that's my preference that's just what I like to dio when it comes to improv it's entirely what your preference is there isn't a matter of pressing to the light or the dark or pressing open do whatever you prefer I just like to presto one side it's part of my inherent we'll call it efficiency in the sewing room it doesn't take his long teo presto one side and I want to get back to my sewing machine and so some more okay, so I have a siri's of pairs here together for the first status right? Then I need tio start going now for those of you here in the studio who have been so in quite nicely and you've already got some parents together when you get to this step. It's very, very common to go ok, well, let's add another piece I'm just going to pull this one here lets out another piece and so you'll so that piece on and without thinking about it, you put one here and you start building a log cabin it's absolutely the instinct that nearly every quilter as when they do this so I want to break that instinct right away and I want you to take some of your pairs and sew them pairs two pairs, as opposed to adding a piece to it. Now, whether you go from your medium pile or your small pile will depend on the size of the pair of that you have in the first place, right? So we can do that. So in this case, I'm pretty close here in terms of selling and get everyone to notice this because this is quite easily, one of the things that often happens is I'm going to sew these two pairs together if I go like this, actually gonna do it this way if I go like this and go oh, yeah, that lines up quite nicely. I'm not wasting any fabric if I sold this seem right here, but I have this little blip right here, not a big deal, but if we start building this and then so on to this side always assuming we have that much fabric, we're going to end up cutting off all that sewing that we did. So you have two ways to do that. You can cut this off now or just really pay attention, and then that will depend a lot of improv comes down to what's the rhythm, everyone it's, kind of like handwriting. Everyone develops their own sort of routine and rhythm for how they do this c I just used a rotary cutter because I'm I'm standing here and showing you but this is the kind of thing that's when I would have pulled up my scissors and just cut off this little bit so now when I go to so this together I know that I can't make that mistake again and I have the choice okay? So doesn't quite line up and my lining it up with the lighter fabric or with the bright red right I actually want to have as much of that red in here is possible so I'm going to line it up with the top it's all making sense so far do you guys here in the studio you guys air sewing away happily okay, so then I have some of these other pieces you know, now I'm not much longer I'm gonna pick and it's I'm not thinking too hard right? I'm slowing it down to show you guys but that that's relatively here here is another thing that changes with everybody's personal rhythm, right? If you look closely at this seam it's not a perfect sort of seem allowance there and because we've cut with a ruler but not necessarily cut straight this is where I'm sort of looking at right here I don't know if you can see that it's not quite perfect there's two ways to approach this you still maintain a quarter inch seam at your machine and just have that contained within it or you give yourself a nice straight line to cut you cut a nice straight line so now no matter what on that edge it will be even this becomes again part of your personal rhythm you know when do you like to cut that when you like to trim it, what works for you when I'm sewing these I am a trim after and then I use my scene line and cut a quarter inch from that that just that's my rhythm right and this will again partly depend on the set up that you have in your space is well ok, so this piece I've got this great gold will it go that way? Okay here's the instance where we wantto if we're going to cut we're cutting off a useful piece, right that's quite of a useful piece so if I was at my machine I would say they're going yeah that's pretty useful and I would eyeball it and just cut and put that back in my small pile to be used there okay and continuing on and this is I'll show you what I mean by trimming it afterwards yes, go ahead are you at all thinking about putting the dark with the lights is you're going to wonder just randomly putting stuff together this is where it's a great question in the particular grouping that you have that sort of in conspired one no, I wasn't thinking about it's all completely random it depends on what your intention was when you started right? So are one group has all of these low volume fabrics with a little bit of red in there you guys have a mix of dark and lights I haven't thought about it it's completely random this blue pile here, right? That would be completely random I'm going to show you what I've got going on with these where there's a lot more control it's still improv but there's some control based on my fabric selection as I go so like so I'm playing the dark more the white one here purposely did that get is I mean, I know you can call your fabric and have it ready to go, but you are you like thinking like, ok, I'm going to put the poke it out with the other thing I'm just just going come together and I'm just waiting right puzzle putting it together and you'll see when we get to puzzling how you can create interesting little designs depending on those decisions you made ages ago okay, right? If you don't want the contrast of the dark and the light, what you would do is not have the contrast even available in your fabric collection right so it's it's how you pick your fabrics at the very beginning that will impact right and same with proportionally so if you on ly want like if you look at our low volume pile there's very little red there so proportionately they're going to have very little red in those blocks and that's an intentional choice okay right toe have just a tiny amount of red in there and same with your lights and darks we could have maybe only picked one or two there are more darks than there are lights overall in the fabric and so it's about what you want if you didn't want any lights and there don't put any lights in there right? So it becomes a decision that you make early on but this is where we'll make a few blocks and then we'll stop and go I don't like the lights in there I shouldn't have put them so we'll put the blocks with the lights aside and then maybe go on that may or may not be the case ok, so I've got another section here made on let's press those set my seem first and then open it up again because because I pressed to the side I always try to press to the side that has either no or less seems because then it will stay flatter I'm doing ok on my seem allowances so there's no trimming that I'm feeling I need to do but I'm just going to show you what I meant when I said I tend to trim afterwards I'll do that in the next round because you'll see it on the next round I'm getting a few here so I'm going to intentionally do it where I'm trimming where I need to trim someone is so this piece tio let's get a longer one so that piece there, right? So you can see I've got this excess amount I have options I can go to the cutting matt and aiken slice that and give myself a nice straight edge I can cut with the scissors or I can trim afterwards when I have little bits like this I tend to trim afterwards I'll show you what I mean go all the way I'm just going to add something on to see that's not quite long enough, you know and you can add to any side don't remember we don't want to be creating log cabins that's not our goal here there's some trimming, but add so some side don't you know, do a strike section on one side and then add to another don't think about it too much going on that piece fits and do it okay, so just to show you that I met with this one, right, so now I have this piece here which needs to be trimmed so I tend to go now to my match use my seem a lot where I might seem wass put my quarter inch mark on there and then give myself a nice straight cut after the fact and then I will go and I will press that here what sort of emotion I'm gonna be your therapist here for what sort of emotions are you feeling how does it make you feel I it's like it's like mindless sewing but not in a bad way with like you said like you don't know where you're going to end up and it's it's fun it isthe we've already been converts I think I'm gonna put a lot of therapists out of business I think of a lot of people so a lot of therapists would be out of business because those of us who do will understand that was that t shirt I saw so I don't kill our clue so I don't think people yeah I have that sure you yeah it's very very appropriate it ok so I've got a few little sections together here I'm just going to take this one out of the machine well um didn't cut for me okay see I've been sowing some fabric together and I have a few little sections this is the kind see already look go look that pits together. Nice thing this is the kind of improv that here in the studio we're doing I'm going to show you a couple of different ways while you guys continue sewing and making up your blocks I'm going to show you a couple of different ways that we can approach this our approach improv I should say because this is not the on ly way to improvise there's lots of different ways to do it what's ok here I'll give you guys these back you can add them to what you're doing thank you cem premade stuff so let's take my blue strips here remember I only cut these as strips I've just got a whole bunch of strips they're all roughly the same length I don't necessarily know where I'm going with ease but let's play around and see so I'm going to take my pile of strips and have them next to me and all I'm going to dio is just picked two different ones period and so them together I will line up the very first bit that I need to so get my needle in not my president foot and go again still going to use a quarter inch seam allowance right my pieces air all sort of different wits there's a little bit of curves and that's okay just keep sewing goes faster or a slow as you need to be comfortable that's the other thing with improv is there's no it's not just that there's no right or wrong way it's that there's no distinction on the best way to do it or how fast it should be done. So many of us have taken classes where, you know, you feel that pressure to get to the end of the day and have the finished quilt and you're like, but but they're moving so fast and I'm still on my first book and you feel bad and, well, an improv that doesn't matter because it's improv excuse me, so I'm just going to grab, you know, some of my fabrics and and so things together just try to mix it up, not have the two same ones look that already have a pair sewn together, so I'm going to add to that right start lined up at the top and then continue to move my fabric. I don't know if you guys are catching this on the camera there's a little bit of a curve in there, I'm just going to keep moving my fabric and line up my edges and continue on wait do one more pair just because I can, and then we'll press thes and see what we've got in this white piece on top, you'll see it's put a bit of a curve to it, and all I keep doing is instead of giving myself straight line, I keep moving and lining up my edges those slight curves are totally fine to use. Because a good eye on this is where some starch will be your friends when we go to press wait, that lay flat way. Okay? What I often do is when I'm getting to the end of the seam and I need instead of stopping and starting with my thread I just take a couple of fabrics for one fabric and just have it he's something that I leave in their continually. Okay, let's, get teo, I'll show you these long strips. Nothing fancy was just strips that we were sewing together set my seem open it up well, that one's I've got some different lengths. That's okay, totally fine. We'll see where this goes again. I don't have much of a plan for these have a little bit of an idea. I'm having some conscious effort because I have chosen to just deal with strips and I'm not sewing them into end. I'm sewing them, you know, side to side together. I'm pressing to one side just because that's where I tend to go when I'm doing this remember, I'm pressing. I'm not running the iron across and stretching this out entirely thiss was my one that had a lot of curve. You can see that even as it's just laying here the curve in it that's ok and impress this one towards the dark and that is still going to lay flat and it will be a very subtle curve in the final thing very, very subtle you just want to make sure you're getting that along the way so in this case I would continue to sow strip sets together and see where that goes and in a little while I'll show you what that could be, but for now, no one wants to watch me so strip sets together because that's kind of boring not very terribly exciting selling so I'm going to show you what I've done with my gorgeous bundle of trendy fabrics here this is yet another way to approach improv okay, so I'm gonna take my three and that skinny big and large first thing I'm going to d'oh get those out of the way is I'm gonna pick I'm gonna pick the's tigers, right? I got a little bit of a hold on there that I want to get out and make sure tigers cats will go tigers they're cats with stripes we'll say they're tigers right? I'm going to take one of those gorgeous pieces and I'm going to pick one of my you know, contrast ing fabrics here let's cut one of the ones that I caught this one with the postage stamps in it remember when I was getting into instructions a little while ago and I said don't make log cabins that's, what I'm gonna do now, okay? And I'm going to make log cabins. So this is why this is one of the instances where scissors at the sewing machine are handy. I'm adding one side, but because I had cut long strips, right? I don't. This is why it's improper, because I don't know how big this is. I'm not going to measure it and then cut this stripped the same. I'm just going to go to my machine ago. Yeah, that's about the same, and if it's a little bit shorter, long, we'll deal with that when we go to add the neck scene so its own all the way down, I'm only going to make one of these at the time. So remember I said I had that little bit of fabric that I just folded call it a leader and ender on just so it in, so then it's, like you're always change, piecing, you're not having to constantly, um, stop and start and cut your threat and everything. If you have a sewing machine that that goes in the, you can adjust it to stay in the needle down position, then it's perfect, because you're never having to worry about that threat disappearing or things moving on you, so one side really, really simple I've got that little excess thing I'll cut that off next I'm going to take now one of my thick pieces I had used the medium the first time now I'm going to take a thick add my second side tio here I lined it up still using a quarter inch I've got access let's cut that off okay and continue on thank you tin you on around and around this way do that to other sides really, really quickly show you where we're at with this this is one of the ways see I've got that little tab there I'm just going to use my scissors, line it up with the edge of my fabric and cut it off press and at the other two sides real quick let's pick the skinny sign because why not? I'm sure I don't go on any might seem allowances as I go over so that the block continues to lay flat and then I got one side left to d'oh sometimes improv is about putting a little bit of that control in your life it's a good way tio I've got a longer piece so I'm going to use my rotary cutter here you could do a little bit of control and a little bit of randomness either way you get great results and I want you teo enjoy the process as you're doing this so if pure pure improv like what our studio classes doing here today just freaks you out on dh scares you first of all, I encourage you to try it at least try it once and see how it goes but if it completely freaks you out after that, then try to embrace ways where you can bring it in like doing these log cabins or picking another block where you give it a little bit of more of an improv treatment but it's still too you a recognizable block okay, now we've got that block because improv can come just simply in terms of how you cut the fabric in the first place we didn't lose a ruler we didn't measure we're not worried about a final size but you still have a fair amount of control in this finished block right? Cute pretty fun super easy on the finnish block you see what I did here in the studio by is super easy right? Really really easy really cute still see the tigers but there's some control because I've done this sort of log cabin look and then we're good after that okay? So I'm gonna show I'm gonna put up on here the design wall now a couple of the ways that we've done things my strip sets I'm just going to take one from here that's already done right there's my strips that really very simple and on there a couple of different ways and how are you guys doing good can I start let's start thinking about I'm gonna put some things up on the design wall to show people where we're at with it but tell me how you already said that you're very free and ask you guys how it's really family michelle how is this for you because I know you had said you're a half square triangles person you know we were working together on another project and you were very strip sets very precise and everything so how does this feel tb going at it this way yeah god this is so cool I'm just putting things together if they don't fit and I sniff it off end if I don't like it I turn it around or I cut it it's great wonderful, wonderful and nikki this's kind of outside my comfort zone so it's I'm trying not to think and I'm constantly having to say stop stop thinking yeah and in my head I have this little speech going so it's so it's just so so yeah just so it so because my tendency is to start doing that log cabin so I'm just kind of became these long bits is very typical and there's nothing wrong with doing it's just that we have to fight the urge to do it every single time well I won't get a different result if a key keep doing it the same way bingo being ago yeah. What about you, tracy well, she had a great idea we switched our block so because I keep kind of I think we're kind of doing the same thing for own blocks we switched so we're kind of making it different things so you had started and then you she's got bigger squares she's using I'm back up smaller ones so we switched him so that I'm adding together yeah fantastic that's one of the true advantages of when you're working in a group right? This is why I like for a so day for a guild or even just having your best friend over you can get very far in doing a really interesting project but you've challenged yourselves at the same time right? And because you can talk the whole time because you're not obsessed about cutting off a point or making sure that everything you okay is that true twelve and a half inch block so that they can go together in there I was going to suggest to nicky and it ties into this if you ever having a lot of trouble with this some of the things that help us relax its when I teach machine quilting for example when we machine quote we tend to go like this and we get very, very tense you know, if you are someone who enjoys a adult beverage doing your machine quilting it's something I actually recommend right not everybody drinks so but in this would be the same thing it's a way to relax and and just kind of give yourself like you know just a couple of sips to just kind of go ok yeah we can do this chocolate does well wonders as well on debt and you know go for it anymore right? Yeah that's my goal my master brian yeah on dh karen how are you enjoying it? I think this is really fun on on I like this block in particular where um tracy did all these really small pieces which I had no interview it's not my tennessee I'm like you I think large yeah on dh it has a nice combination of building two people together exactly yeah. Ok, so then the next question I want to ask you guys we talked to those sort of rhythm and like handwriting everybody develops their own sort of process or way for doing this. So how many of you guys have been cutting before you so like trimming out squaring giving yourself a square edge or cutting off the access before you so the same doing both way ever work whatever really works yes. Okay, I have done that that's yeah I'm like I put it in an old that peace is too long and it's still and it's under the needle I stopped the the pedal but yeah it's under the needle already and do it that way and that's exactly it's everyone kind of gets to that that sort of comfort level and how often you step up impress like I I will just be working on what ends up being multiple blocks at once because I just keep going and then stand up and press a whole bunch and then sit back at the machine I'm very rarely working on just one block at a time there's always multiple things going on and yeah like is that is that a block is that what started that would be a block you could have a much larger bloc as well if you just go until you start going this is kind of gets getting unwieldy right and that's when we're going to put the block up there to help us puzzler another good indication and what's your largest ruler uh okay eyes and this is what we're going to be doing shortly is you will have to at some point put a straight edge on all of this stuff and so if you're if it's larger than your largest ruler and makes it more difficult to do it if it's larger than your largest matt it makes it more difficult so I always like to have when I'm doing improv these are you know I'd like to have a small ruler because when you need to do a little tiny square up who wants to bring this thing out right? It gets in the way so a small ruler I like to have a large square ruler this is a twelve and a half inch in my studio I also have a say sixteen and a half inch ruler which I love it's it's really nice and big and I can do lots with it and I like to have a long ruler a cz well because then I have a lot of options for squaring things up and long is is relative it's what what is your space what's your budget you know but I think if you have sort of three roughly these rulers you can do almost anything in there and you may just simply go yeah that's good enough because I'm bored I don't want to so another seem on that one that's another way to determine whether it's done visited gee's bend right? Yes, um I'm not familiar with I mean, I know they're amazing world cultures. Yes, but did they use rulers when they're cutting suffered a just like randomly like how did they peace through pieces together? Is it more like this? Yes, jeevan is very well known so for those of you who don't know geez bend is a community in rural alabama that has a very longstanding quilting tradition. Most of the residents are descendants of the slaves that had were moved there and then the families have stayed in the community has sort of evident float along the way but they have this amazing quilt tradition that has become very recognized within both the quilting community and the art world on dh their quilts are you know, ninety percent of the time improvised and when I was able to visit there in the fall and I was talking with some of the quilters which remember that there's a number of quilters so just like there's five quilters in the room here we haul have slightly different styles they have slightly different styles and some prefer one block over another but most of them were saying like there there they didn't have, you know, huge mats and there was a lot of cutting with scissors, you know? And they yes they're sewing with machines they didn't always so machines but that's the same for any other quilters, so I think they all had a different style, but it they're very well known for an improvisational nature onda lot of their quilts I found weren't squared up like we would typically do it along the edges and again but that was a personal preference some makers when you looked through all of the quotes because that you go into their into their building and there's have this entire room filled with quilts that you can look at touch admire by just amazing yeah pull them all off the show like fulham out like hey sit down and put this one on your lap because it's really heavy and because it's made with old jeans and and you should feel it it was just amazing and they were the most wonderful kind women they're entirely and so yeah so it just they'll have their own signature sort of styles and rhythm right this is the thing is it's improv everybody has their own rhythm with what they're doing okay so I'm going to put up I'm going to get you guys to finish up sort of the last little bits that you're doing don't worry about the size or shape or what you have what you've got and we're going to put it up on the design while here okay let me grab what you guys have over here you're done your time and no more sewing grabbed an extra piece there that z whatever there is okay okay so let's see where we're at gorgeous stuff going up and what what were you guys thinking when you kind of decided to switch the markets both you guys are totally different I noticed the way you approach idea and she's saying you got a little I know is you know a lot of little stuff and I've got bigger stuff would switch it so that we add right the opposite it teach each was really cool has more now and have been so look how far you've gone in a very short time I wouldn't have got one square down why is that I was slower slower sewer I think you know do you think it's because you're stopping to make the decision well I think that's part of it too is that I I would overthink it I'm going to take that we've all seen knees so I'm gonna take those obviously we get to see what you got almost had baby quote ok look at this look at that see that and I'll talk about big one piece why not it's gorgeous fabric great and that's the thing sometimes we're doing this because we want to show off what we've got there so what we have a whole bunch of different blocks you know small pieces with big small with big sum you know here's another good example of small with big he over here the little pops of red you know r really fun but otherwise it's just kind of you know, a low volume someone say mess but I'm looking at this thinking oh well look at that and the look of those two fabrics look together and I really like this little section here and and all that there's tons of really really interesting things to look at right so we're gonna keep sewing and everything and we want to get to the point where we have a whole bunch of I'm calling these chunks you can call them slabs that's another terminology that I use a bit but to me they're not quite at the point where we're putting these altogether yet there there's so close and we can start putting together but maybe we're going to start building things up you know at this point right it becomes the opportunity to look at things and say where do we want to go from here? So is anything jumping out at you guys that you love or I don't like at this point? Well, I think we both agree we like the father, right? Yeah in the black really some salad yeah and the black really jumps out to I don't know if you if you should separate those not that you should do anything right because it's very freeing but should you separate the black when you put it in the quilt don't even think about that right now probably right? No, but this is exactly the questions that I want you to ask, right? We need to stop and step back after we make a little bit. This is why I said at the very beginning we don't cut all the fabric because maybe you look and go, but I really can't stand this blue in there and I wish it wasn't in there so I'm not going to use it again but if we don't take that moment to stop and evaluate what we're doing so when you're saying the black right the black does stand it stands out more than the white right a lot more so then you have to ask yourself the question do I want to use more black so it's less obvious do I not want to use black at all right or am I going to be very careful about where my black goes much like you might ask the same question about the red am I going to be very careful about where this goes anything else jumping out at you guys you've made the block so I'm like the strands of that teal blue going I'm through it's got a great directional in that one and then the darker blue and the um yeah those are fun punched with the red exactly because these colors are very saturated right? So compared to these sort of more subtle kind of things you're out they pull out ah little bit more so you have places where your eyes receding and then everywhere when you look at it it receives and other places where it really jumps out at you so it means your eyes constantly moving across this there anything you guys don't like and what you've got there I'd like to see more large pieces okay like this size or bigger yeah I think there's a lot of smalls and I just like to see it a little bit better balance okay? I like the runaway help pops out. Yes, so we need more places where we can kind of rest or I yeah, ok, yeah, ok, that's, great. So for our first part of the class, this is amazing. Amazing work. You guys like you got into it immediately. You went for it, and you've created some really good stop.

Class Description

Improvisational quilting invites you to experiment with unexpected textures, designs, and colors. Learn about this playful quilting technique and sew along with Cheryl Arkison as she creates a completely improvised quilt top in Improv Quilting Basics

From fabric selection and prep, to sewing and puzzling blocks together, to making a quilt top, Cheryl will demystify the improv process. Cheryl will help alleviate any fear you have of this technique and bring a new level of fun to your quilting. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Select, prep, and cut fabric
  • Plan using a design wall
  • Assemble pieces together

Cheryl will show you how to troubleshoot common obstacles and you’ll learn how to turn the fun of improvising into beautiful, quilts.



I have taken all three of Cheryl's classes and she is an excellent instructor. Amazing. She is clear, engaging, non-judgmental, informative and has a ton of quality suggestions. Can't say enough about her! I hope that she does more courses in the future. Thanks very much, Cheryl and Creative Live. Very inspiring.

Virginia Crawford

Great class. Cheryl is a very capable designer. quilter and teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed (and benefited from) the emphasis on design in this class, where Cheryl presents how to achieve balance in improv quilting design making best use of fabrics. I like that she covers using low volume fabrics. I'm very impressed with this class.


So I've just watched this whole course in two evenings, and can say I got my money's worth. Cheryl is engaging, experienced and reassuring, and has enough information and samples to offer to make things interesting for those not sewing along in the moment. I do not have the opportunity to attend classes, so seeing others sew with shared intent is new for me; sometimes having only a teacher's example leaves more room for my creativity, but this "bee" atmosphere prompts other kinds of jumping-off. I had some trouble with the platform (longer segments took up to 20 minutes to load and crashed if I tried to start somewhere other than the beginning) and would like the camera operators to be more aware of each others' shot lines so they're not standing in the middle of the viewer's screen. Sturdier design boards would be great. Now my only question is who got to keep the collaborative class samples!