Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another Improv block or two!

Following along from this mini tute, here are some step by step photo's showing how I put these blocks together to make my Oakshott cotton Improv quilt...

Square in a Square

To make my improv quilt blocks I used strips of fabrics and scissors.

Taking my middle fabric (black) I cut a rough square. Next I cut a second rough square, larger than my first one.

Taking the larger square I cut it diagonally twice to yield four triangles. The triangles were then placed around the centre square ready for sewing...

Taking the top and bottom triangles, I sewed them onto my centre square, then trimmed them to neaten and chop off those ears.

Repeat with remaining triangles, sewing them onto the centre square and trimming to neaten...and that's it, a square in a square block, so simple. 

Repeat with other fabric combo's. These were fun to make and I found I was able to strip piece them....

I made six of these square in a square blocks, then sewed them together and added on a couple of small fabric strips to one side and across the bottom. I was happy with how they looked just like that!

Pinwheel Blocks

These pinwheels ended up being a lot simpler than I initially thought they would be. I began with two squares cut the same size (lay the two fabrics together and cut once to yield two squares!).

Next, both squares were cut into quarters diagonally.

I then laid the triangles out on my scrap of wadding to make sure I had the layout correct. Taking a set of triangles (one blue and one white dot), I sewed them together, repeating with all four sets...

Taking each triangle unit I trimmed off the ears to neaten (and make sewing easier without those flappy ears in the way!)...

Next I sewed the top two triangle units together and repeated with the bottom two. Then sew the top unit to the bottom unit and the pinwheel is done!!

I repeated these steps four times to make four pinwheels. I sewed them together with a teeny strip of fabric up the middle...

...and added a few strips around the outside. A tad crooked, but it didn't matter when sewing into the larger quilt (putting the quilt together will be shown soon).

 Back on Sunday, see you soon. xo

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ruminating, Pondering, Reflecting...!

To chew the cud, 
to meditate or muse, 

Over the past few months I have been doing much ruminating (love that word it just rolls off the tongue!), pondering & reflecting....about my blog. 

I realise my efforts in blog writing this year have been very minimal. I have not been fair to any readers I may have had, who must be incredibly frustrated with the long, drawn out absences between posts. For that I apologise. I have had to take myself back to the basic reasons for writing a quilty blog in the first place. A couple of those reasons join up with a large, vibrant, online sewing group where I could both give and receive great ideas and take my quilting skills to new levels. To document my creativity, my failures and my successes. What I didn't count on were the amount of fabulous people I have met and experiences I have had through my blog (like starting up a local bloggers stitch group, now into it's third year). 

When I look at my beginning reasons, I realise nothing has changed. I still want these things. Therefore, when deciding whether to close my blog or to keep it going, I have decided I need to keep it on, for now. To that end, I need to get out of the rut I am in as far as one blog post every three or four weeks. So I am making a 'new years resolution in May'!! For the next 5 weeks until the end of June, I will blog twice a week. Every Wednesday and Sunday. To get back on track. I apologise in advance for the fact that sometimes, I will have nothing to say, and perhaps will have only a photo of my dinner!!!! 

I may not get to responding to comments that are left on my blog (though I will attempt it and I will read each one). There will still be lots of colour however, one of the many things I am passionate about!! 

So see you on Wednesday, with a few more photo's from my improv quilt. Thank you for your patience with me. I really, really appreciate it. xo

Monday, May 5, 2014

Improv...Getting started and a Log Cabin Block

About three weeks ago I promised a few small tutorials showing how I made my improv quilt blocks. So here goes....

Getting Started

I had already decided to use these beautiful shot cottons called Impressions from Oakshott in the UK.

I added a few of my favourite texty prints to the mix along with a couple of Keiko Goke's yummy crayon-like fabrics for a little colour blast!

Before I even touched the fabrics however I had to work out where on earth to start!!! I began by jotting down a few simple blocks I might like to try using the improvisational or liberated method (please excuse my bad drawings!!). This was a great way to give some direction to my quilt. 

The idea I had in mind when planning this improv quilt, was to make up various blocks using nothing but a pair of scissors, and my sewing machine!! To start off however, I cut my fabrics into strips using my rotary cutter. My shot cottons initially measured up as skinny eighths, so I cut these down to about 4 inch strips x 18 inches. I cut two of these out of each colour. My texty and keiko prints were larger pieces, so I just cut one strip for each print around 4 inches x w.o.f.

I felt strips of fabric like this would be a lot easier to handle at the sewing machine rather than a large chunk of fabric. 

Log Cabin Block

To begin my log cabin I began with a simple square. Using my good fabric scissors, I simply cut out a rough square.

Next I lay my centre square onto a strip of fabric I wished to use for the next border, then stitched a 1/4 inch seam along the edge (I used 1/4 inch seams throughout the entire quilt).

I then finger pressed the seam open and trimmed to a neat rectangle using my scissors. Each time I cut with my scissors I made my cuts by 'eye'. I didn't have to think about finishing this block to a particular size, so cutting without measuring was the way to go. If my cutting was a little wonky, it didn't matter.

I continued along in this manner, adding more rectangles of varying widths to the square around all four sides and finger pressing each seam open as I went along. 

You may choose to iron each seam as you go, however I found the finger pressing did the trick for each new seam, then I ironed the entire log cabin block once it was complete.

First border is done! I enjoyed using two colours for my first border. 

Continue adding borders in various colours and widths. For this next border I used four different colours...

Then the third border used green along three sides, and a colour along one. 

Don't stress too much about the width size of the rectangles. Improv quilting is pretty forgiving, and if you end up with a block that won't quite fit into your quilt at the end, you can easily add on another strip or two, or chop a bit off! One thing you do need to remember when cutting down your rectangles though, is to leave a little extra fabric for the 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

And that's it. For my improv quilt I used three log cabin blocks made in this way. I really like the wonky look of these blocks (though I recognise this can be a very off-putting look for some), I like to think of them as organic!! Improv quilting can be a huge challenge if you do prefer everything matching perfectly, however I encourage you to have a little try, this method is rather freeing and a lot of fun and a nice way to use up some of those scraps and off-cuts you may have lying around. I will show how I made a few different blocks in my next post.