The improv quilted wall hanging featuring all the improv quilt blocks I stitched up as part of the 30-Days of Improv QAL back in August is fully done and quilted and ready to be hung!
Pulling together your final quilt composition can be intimidating – where do you even start?
I get it!
Working without a pattern can feel like you’re diving into murky waters – you know you’re going in, but you’re not sure what you’re going to find in those waters.
Which is why I’m so excited to share a little more about my process.
Let’s dive in 😊
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HOW THIS PROJECT GOT STARTED
As we were heading into the summer months, Amanda (@broadclothstudio) and I were looking to let loose and have a little quilty fun. Specifically, we wanted to focus on improv. I had been working on lots of workshops and pattern designs and the thought of stitching without a plan was exactly what I needed. As we were chatting away, we got so excited about challenging ourselves we thought it would be fun to invite you along for the quilty ride 😉
Which is exactly what ended up happening.
You can read more about that journey here but suffice to say we connected with our friends at Art Gallery Fabrics and before I knew it, I had this gorgeous stack of Pure Solids sitting in front of me to play with!
WHAT I MADE
The 30 Days of Improv Quilt Along was structured as a 5-Week challenge where for 4 weeks you focused on a specific shape and the fifth week was the composition.
I’ve shared my love of improv with you over the years and this project was fun to explore improv from a different angle.
Normally my improv stems from fabric scraps leftover from previous quilts. Here, I was working with yardage.
In the video, I share with you how I tackle the fabric preparation to set myself up to create each of my blocks. I teach a similar approach in my Modern Mini Improv Workshop (more coming in 2022 – sign up here to be notified).
From there it was about tuning into my instincts and connecting with the fabric while keeping the weekly shape in mind. It was fun to see each block evolve, and I share my thought process with you as I’m piecing them up.
There’s an energy I tap into when I’m stitching improv blocks and all these elements – the fabric, the shapes, your mood, your visions, your instincts – come into play and impact what you ultimately create.
I love the modern improv blocks I created. Not only do I love the colours I used, but the shapes that emerged are a lovely balance of abstract with structure.
Here’s a recap on the blocks broken down by the Weekly Challenges.
Here’s a roundup of the weekly 30 Days of Improv QAL blog posts to see more:
HOW I PULLED THE COMPOSITION TOGETHER
The best place to start with any quilt composition is the design wall. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. It doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. Here’s a tutorial to make one similar to mine. Or you could also pick up one of *these and keep it rolled up when not in use. There’s also *this meshy one.
You can also use a floor or a table, but what’s handy about a design wall is that you can step back and see your progress.
Anyways, that’s where all my compositions start – at the design wall 😉
A lovely quilter I follow on Instagram Irene Roderick calls it “Dancing with the Wall” and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe this process! It really is a dance, and it highlights the creativity and flow that this process has if you allow yourself to tap into the quilty zone.
My initial thought/plan was to lay the blocks out sequentially by week, starting with Week 1 Squares and building out from there.
There’s no straight path to an improv composition. There are usually twists and turns that occur and that’s all part of the fun. There is quite a bit of thought that goes into bringing an improv piece to life. Just like a painting evolves, so does an improv quilt.
HOW I QUILTED THE IMPROV WALL HANGING
My original plan was to hand quilt her only to end up machine quilting her and adding highlights of hand quilting!
See, even when you think you know what you want to do, things can change at the last minute.
A big component of improv is being open to your direction changing.
Here I was really curious to see what machine quilting could do for her. And I absolutely love the stitching in the ditch I did and the dimension and texture that brought to the piece.
Then add on the yummy big stitch hand quilting in 12wt Aurifil Thread and Aurifloss and the texture is next level.
HOW TO HANG AN IMPROV QUILTED WALL HANGING
I’m still thinking through where I plan on hanging her but she’s ready to be hung thanks to the hanging corners I stitched into place before tacking down the binding.
You can see a full tutorial on making Hanging Tabs for your wall hangings or check out the Hanging Sleeve Tutorial if you’ve got something a little larger you want to display.
I often get asked what fabrics and tools I’ve used to create my pieces, so here’s a round-up of everything I used to make this 30 Days of Improv QAL Quilted Wall Hanging come to life.
- *AGF PURE Solids in Lemonade
- *AGF PURE Solids in Light Citron
- *AGF PURE Solids in Dark Citron
- *AGF PURE Solids in Raspberry Rose
- *AGF PURE Solids in Plum Preserve
- *LDH Rotary Cutter
- *LDH 9” Midnight Edition Fabric Shears
- *Aurifil Thread in 50wt Colour 2000 for piecing
- Aurifil Thread in 40wt Colour 1231 for machine quilting
- Aurifil Thread in 12wt Colour 1231 for hand quilting
- Aurifil Thread in 12wt Colour 2115 for hand quilting
- Aurifil Thread in 12wt Colour 4020 for hand quilting
- Aurifloss in Colour 4030 for hand quilting
- *Cutting Mat
- *Sewing Machine
- Wool pressing mat
- *Flatter Spray in Pineapple Grove
What’s the one thing that scares you from diving into improv quilting?
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