Sunday, August 5, 2012

Improvisational Fun

Box o'scraps
At this month's BAMQG meeting, we got through the business portion and show & tell quickly and were treated to demonstrations on four different improvisational piecing techniques.  Everyone brought their sewing machines, basic sewing tools, scraps of fabric and an open mind.  

Each of the demos were approximately 10 minutes covering all the basics of the technique and sample projects--and then we had 20 minutes to return to our sewing station to experiment before the next demonstration began.  

1st technique-Curvy 9 Patches


The first demo covered two techniques using slice and dice.  The first involved slicing into squares and sewing in strips of fabric.  I recently used this technique to create one of the butterflies for the SCVQA challenge...so I opted for the second technique to create some curvy 9-patches.  This process started with 4 identical squares of fabric (navy, blue, bubbles and purple), cutting gentle curves to get 3 strips per square.  Then I shuffled the strips which were sewn together to create a curvy rail fence.  I cut two more gentle curves, reshuffled and ended up with some fun patches incorporating all 4 fabrics!


The second demonstration had us cutting random wedges of fabric sans ruler straight edge to create a fabric strata which could be incorporated into other blocks using the previous slice and dice technique or including as a row within a block. Creating the strata was fun, and we were encouraged to incorporate a "pop" of color---and if you can't guess which is the "pop" then it isn't bold enough!  Once I created one strata I decided to go onto create a wonky log cabin block.  I managed to complete most of it within the 20 minute practice time.

The third technique was from Gwen Marston's Liberated String Quilts--Chevron String Bars quilt.  What I liked about this process was in letting go of trying to control every aspect of the layout of fabrics and embracing randomness to guide the final layout of fabrics.  This was accomplished in several ways:  incorporating different thicknesses of fabrics, sewing two random pieces together and then throwing the 60-degree cuts into paper bags to be randomly pulled and sewn together.  While I did not have strips of fabric ready to play--I do foresee myself making this quilt in the future.

The fourth technique was actually wonky log cabin blocks.  I appreciated seeing some of the design options that can be incorporated-sometimes out of necessity due to fabric shortages to create some intriguing log cabins.  At this point my head was swimming with ideas...and since I had already created a wonky log cabin today...I decided to skip on the last practice session and pack up. 

These demonstrations really helped liberate me from some of the traditional designs/techniques--heck I didn't even use my straight edge all day!  I may just have to pull out that box of scraps for some more improvisational play!


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