23 March, 2015
Improv Quilting Basics - On CreativeLive
After years of teaching improv to quilters I know firsthand that it isn't something that comes instinctively or easy to many. I also know that it isn't as difficult as many believe either. It is a technique that can be taught and learned, if you embrace it and not fight it.
My latest CreativeLive class is all about Improv Quilting Basics. I walk you through all the steps from preparing fabric to turning blocks into a quilt top and even quilting tips. So often I see improv discussions that talk about the process, but they never move beyond making a block. There is very little public discussion on how to actually turn those efforts into a quilt. That discussion is precisely the bulk of this class.
Whether you want to go with total improv, are looking for more structure, or just want to play and see what happens, you can get direction for all that from this class.
The studio students worked on two different projects in teams. You will see how they went from a pile of fabric to this small tops/start of big tops in just a few hours. The first group - Karen and Tracey - worked with some neutrals. It was a collection of solids and near solids that I put together with some fabrics from the Calligraphy challenge on Spoonflower, hosted by Uppercase Magazine. (In my head it was called the Ink quilt.) They worked from a pure improv standpoint - they cut up fabric, sewed it back together, then puzzled it to turn it into a quilt top.
Nicki and Michelle worked on a stack of low-volume fabrics (a nice follow-up to the Quilting with Low Volume Fabrics class) with pops of red. The combination was from a student in Inuvik and I'd wanted to see it in action again. In their case they built up their improv blocks and we squared them up. In the class we talk all about the tips and tricks for building improv slabs this way and considerations when putting them together. And look, they've finished what they've started too!
The whole time the students were sewing I was playing myself. You get to see that too. I show yet another way to put a quilt top together and discuss more options. Not to mention a tiny trunk show of some of my favourite improv quilts.
At the end of the day I want my students in Improv Quilting Basics to feel totally comfortable working improvisationally. That means different things to different people. But having improv in your skill set can mean so many things. It doesn't just have to mean that you make slabs or totally improvised quilt tops. It is about embracing a spirit that means you don't freak out when you run out of background fabric, or gives a you language to translate your inspiration. Improv means trusting the process.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I let the studio students keep the work they made. I only asked that when they finished that these quilts be donated to charity.