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. 


Pinkadot Quilts said...

Good tutorial, I love those Oakshots, so pretty!

Anna said...

you are such an adventurous quilter and an inspiration!

SharynB said...

Your quilt will look fabulous when finished!