Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Play With Improv.

I'm sure you've heard it before, but I've got to say it again. I'm simply terrible at keeping up with BOM's, Linky Party's and QAL's. Please don't take offense if you have one I keep skipping. And what beautiful irony that I have my own monthly linky party going on around here at the first of every month! Oh the laughter that has caused me a time or two, as I'm sure you can guess.
The Ugly Quilt
The one thing {other than my daily circles} that I determined to make sure and keep up with was Ann and Kaja's AHIQ series. No matter what. So yesterday and today found me sewing up a storm. I wanted to finish up with my improv. string borders on the Ugly quilt especially. 

When sewing the strings together, I just matched up two longs sides and sewed, no extra cutting for curves etc. Then, when I had about six brown and pink strings sewn together, I added in a red string. That string was laid face to face with a brown or pink string set and then cut {freehand} to the curve. Next, I added another brown/pink string set, cutting to the curve to match up to that previous red string, and on and on I went. It seemed to help 'straighten' the border and also add some interesting wonkiness. This all feels very new and 'modern', but really, this is a very old style/design in quilting. Making the border in these comfy colors really emphasizes the vintage make-do look for me. I can totally see this quilt hanging out on my couch some day in the future!
No fancy corners for this quilt!
So then I jumped to these crumb/improv. blocks from the scrap bin. A couple weeks ago I had pieced the blocks together in sets of four with a light colored striped fabric. There was a plan of sorts. I really liked the 'glow' that was slowly emerging, but then somehow I ruined it by adding in too much brown. That's a tendency I have when it comes to brown, using too much, but I continued on with what was pre-determined. Honestly, I think my brain was on auto-pilot or something because I wasn't really thinking about anything but getting it done.
Improv. Squares with first short sashing strips
The plan was to add long brown sashing with the shorter brown strips {picture below}, but this just immediately set my nerves jangling. I mean the very second I put them on the wall! Waaay too contemporary of a look for me. I couldn't get the long strips off the wall fast enough. And then I was stalled. Duh.... Time to wake up and pay attention! With the idea of sashing still in my brain, I considered using a lighter colored fabric in place of the brown {looking at the picture above sort of gives the illusion of that}.
Adding the long sashing strips
Then I stepped back from the wall and gave it all a very long look. Hmm....  What if? And so yes, I squished all the rows together and gave that a good look. And I'm liking this very well indeed. Not exactly what I was expecting out of these blocks, but still... It's sort of interesting in a scrap bag kinda way.
And then taking them away
There are still three more rows to add onto this quilt, and it's only about 42" wide--much too small to call it quits. For now I'm leaving it on the wall and looking at it every time I walk through. It's not my normal style of quilting and yet I'm absurdly pleased with it now that all the rows are cozied up together. 

I'd like to think I'm opening up to the idea of what Improv. might be. A What If sort of conversation that is really just an extension of what I've been trying to do for the last couple years. And I'm not done with strings either. I had a great idea pop into my head just the other night. Maybe next month I can actually find the time to explore where my brain is going with those.... Time to link up with Kaja and Ann's January AHIQ!

29 comments:

  1. Love your post, especially the last part where you leave your quilt up in the wall and look at it when you walk by. I do that too. I always say I hope it will talk to me and tell me what it needs. You would be absolutely amazied how many times they start singing after a few days.

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  2. I think all that improv is so clever, I am afraid I am not very good at it.

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  3. I'm not much of an improv person either. I have seen some nice quilts done that way though. I really like the quilt you did with the string border. Very Pretty.

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  4. You have got loads done! I like your string borders a lot and the whole Ugly Quilt is looking great. I like how you are incorporating more 'improv'-y bits into your existing style; it works so well. Also, good call on those crumb blocks - again they have a feel that is somewhere between vintage and modern which I really, really like. Thanks for remembering to link up with AHIQ!

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  5. Sometimes I wish I had four design walls, but maybe it's a good thing I do don't. Leaving an in-the-works quilt up on your wall is really the best design principle there is. I can tell that your latest piece needs to hang out for a while and that's a-ok!

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  6. It is amazing how much I learn from you. I love the way you play until the feel is right. I think that I do that too, but somehow when you actually explain the process it makes so much sense. I love reading and scrolling down to where you finally "nail" it. This one is no exception. Oh, and it is time to re-name the "ugly" quilt as it clearly is not ugly now!

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  7. it is interesting - you can really use up a lot of scraps with that kind of block. I have recently seen a photo of a quilt that I liked the way scraps were being used so printed it out and put it on my bulletin board so it can be inspiration for another scrap quilt

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  8. I love the collision of traditional and improv in your pieces. You took a tradional style and color of fabrics, and modernized them! I like all three variations, and the last one the best.

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  9. Everything old is new again. Or there is nothing new under the sun.
    Love the way you made your border. Choosing an intermittent color string to straighten the long lengths of a border is such a good idea. They do tend to curve, don't they?
    And the way you are working through you crumb blocks. Fabulous. It's funny how seemingly minor strips become glaringly wrong. This reminds me of the selvedge quilt top I made a while back. Something about a single string across the entire top is simply overwhelming. Need to remember this... Before I do it again.
    Thanks for linking up with AHIQ. I love your take on improv; more like updated utility.

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  10. I just love transforming "ugly" quilts into beauties! claire aka knitnkwilt

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  11. 'The Quilt Formerly Known as Ugly'...
    I love how what-ifs always generate more what-ifs!

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  12. I agree with Gayle on "The Quilt Formerly Known as Ugly," because it's anything but! It's such a delight to see the progression of both of these quilts. I wholeheartedly support the what-if approach!

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  13. The string bits look great on the Ugly quilt! I'm a sucker for red,pinks and browns. I play with my quilts on the wall too. That's the fun part. Keep rearranging until it feels right. It's a wonderful process. I've also been taking pictures when trying each new layout, then looking at them all. It gives me a different perspective.

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  14. Love the colour combo in your 'ugly' quilt! And I enjoyed reading all about your string quilt too. Your unique style with the irregularities of improv all work well here... unpredictable results are sometimes the best!

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  15. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder! This beholder doesn't see ugly.

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  16. Yes, what if and why not? I thought that was white sashing until you said it was just the board, lol. Great idea to sew the rows without sashing, and I love the pink and brown and red string border, too!

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  17. Your strings seem to tie up your so called ugly quilt. They radiate from the center. Then the crumbs are lookin' good without being fenced in. Keep the flow goin'.

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  18. Wish I had the guts you have! Love seeing your improv quilts!

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  19. How can you make an "ugly" quilt better? Improv! Bravo!!

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  20. I love your description of improv as a conversation. Sometimes (STILL!) I try to lecture the quilt and it all blows up in my face. I loved your scrappy string border. It's so perfect for your quilt.

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  21. I like two quilts, but my favorite is the brown and pink.

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  22. You crack me up, calling that the "ugly quilt" - it's anything but ugly. The string borders look great, and this one just has such a folk art look, I love it!

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  23. Both quilts look great to me! I like to leave things on the design wall and walk by them for a quick peek too! Sometimes if I'm lucky that leads to new insight! lol! cheers!

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  24. Have to say, I so admire a talent for "improv" quilting. In my eyes none of you quilts have ended up in the ugly category. So there ! LOL

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  25. I like the colours in the last quilt, and admire your decision to scrap the dark, and rather heavy, sashing in favour of a more random placement; much more lively!

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  26. Gotta say, I'm loving that crumb block quilt. I'm not crazy in love with the brown sashing, but the blocks themselves are fine. If you really feel that there's still too much brown, make your three remaining strips with much less brown and fit them between these strips. That will spread the browns out a bit and lighten the whole. You could add one more strip to have enough to separate all the strips. And remember that the strips don't have to be all exactly the same height. You can shorten the four strips by an inch or two if you really want the quilt to be a predetermined size.
    I know, I am just full of ideas and opinions...I'm a teacher and fixer in my bones. Imagine being one of my English students! Poor babies, I feel sorry for them.

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