This week in our Exploring the Basics posts, Tammy and I are chatting about Improv piecing.
Improve Piecing- what is it?
Let’s start with a definition- What is Improv piecing or quilting? There is an impression that improv piecing means everything is wonky, you cut without rulers and without following any rules.
It doesn’t have to be that rigid. The idea is to start, with or without a set plan. Then you let the quilt evolve and see what happens. You could start with a pattern but not worry about exact sizes. Or you could start with small pieces of fabric and just sew them together.
Maybe you won’t follow the perfect ¼” seam rule, or maybe you want to make a quilt without using any rulers. Of course, if we made out whole quilt without following any rules, the quilt may not lay flat, or have holes in it. That wouldn’t work!
Improv is about flow, about beginning without knowing how it will end. It doesn’t mean you can’t sew straight seams, or use strip sets, or … it is not about what you can’t do, it is about exploring what you can do differently.
Different ways to do Improve Piecing
Have you ever tried improv piecing? I don’t do it a lot but I have experimented with it!
I have played with improv piecing making Log Cabin blocks, something I explored in my Log Cabin course on Quilting Daily.
For the log block, I started with a wonky cut center and then just added strips, cutting them to size after sewing and then adding in the same rotation as a log cabin but without worrying about length for width of the strips. As long as it was long enough, it was good!
Crumb quilting is a form of improv. I had a lot of fun making these mini quilts. Made the blocks, quilted them and turned them into mug rugs, a mouse pad and even a little bag! You can read more about crumb quilting in this post.
I made this improv mini quilt using a log cabin block that I then sliced, added leftover strips to, sliced some more and added more strips…
Last year I took an improv class with Sherri Lynn Woods who is well know for her improv style. The method we followed for our quilt was very fun and started with some strip sets and curved piecing. Very different from what I have done before.
This was the first time that I had I taken a class on Zoom. We were in lockdown, I hadn’t been out of the house in a while so I decided to call my quilt, Seasons of a Pandemic, never realizing we would go thru a year of this. I talked about improv quilting and this quilt in this post.
Trying something New!
Improv piecing is many things and can be approached in a few different ways! And really, it is something fun to try! Start with some of your scraps so you don’t care so much what happens! Making an improv mug fun, or placemat or potholder is a great way to try a new technique!
Tammy has a really fun technique called Guided Improv. Click here to go to her post to learn more about that!
Next week in our A Quilter’s Alphabet series, Tammy and I will explain quilting terms starting with the letter Q!