Tag Archives: improv piecing

Tweaking The Wall

My version of tweaking involves my design wall, not meth, just so you know. Since last week I have been futzing with minor revisions to “The Left Coast” and a shaggy improv piece inspired by fabric designed by Katie Pasquini Masopust. Both works have spent time on the design wall, as I drop by to squint at them, add/subtract bits of fabric, and take a photo. This process was repeated several times each day. My husband calls it “staring at the wall.”

First, thanks for all the comments on “The Left Coast.” I really wasn’t trolling for compliments, but I appreciate all your kind words. I also appreciate the thoughtful comments as to how it could be made even better. Since I don’t want to disassemble the piece I will leave some ideas to apply to any other version I make. I’ve been playing with other ideas, especially the notion of adding something to the upper right hand side, the sky/water area. Since there are many rock formations off of Big Sur I decided to add some to my work. You’d think it would be a simple thing, but I’ve tried several permutations of color, shape, number and position.

“The Left Coast” with rocks

“The Left Coast” original

I know there are color variations between the above photos. Time of day makes a big difference in how this piece photographs, which is actually an unintentional reflection of the Big Sur itself. I’d love to get your reactions to the rock additions as I’ve looked at it so long I can’t tell whether it’s better or not.

The improv piece has two starting points; the fabric and the backside of a failed mixed media piece.

“Square Dance” fabric

The mixed media piece featured hand painted and printed fabric, but it was awkward and just didn’t work. As I balled it up to throw in the trash I looked at the backside and decided I liked it better than the front. Between the lively fabric and the backside of failure I decided to make a wrong side out piece, where the seam allowances would be on top. Further, I decided to sew raw edge fabric bits onto the whole thing. Since my blog is about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’ll show you what resulted.

Part of my tweaking has involved pulling off fabric bits as I went overboard with them. After I reached the stage above I decided that major surgery was needed.

The above photo cropped to eliminate the right side.

I think I crammed too much into the space so it comes across as Fibber Magee’s closet. I’m not so old I remember the show, but my father used to tell me about it. Instead I’ll create two quilts. The right hand side will become a table runner with fabrics added to the ends. The left hand side will become an experiment with decorative stitching and any embellishments I can scrounge. It’s already a mess, so what the heck.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Endless Scraps

Each week I toss out a few fabric scraps to reduce my collection. Most of my recent pieces are made almost entirely of scraps. Over the past two weeks I’ve put together three tops made of scraps and slapped fabric for another onto my design wall. Result? The scraps are winning. My color sorted boxes of scraps never seem to get emptier even though I’m not adding many new bits because I use mostly scraps. I suspect there’s a secret spell that transfers other quilters’ scraps to my boxes.

But I push on to use up those scraps. I decided each of my latest scrap creations must contain nothing but scraps (duh!), blocks sewn from scraps (I have a collection,) and photos printed on fabric. I also decided to use some techniques I learned in my From Sketchbook to Wall class.

Since it’s spring, allegedly, I began with pink and purple scraps and a highly distorted photo of begonia leaves. I fused the scraps onto acrylic felt and sewed around the raw edges. Then, I began to applique and embroider a la Tansy Hargan. I plan to embellish more once I figure out what to add.

Next, I moved to blues, purples, and grays and a more tailored look. The photo I used is left over from my shoes quilt. I fused the raw edge scraps to drill cloth and again sewed down the edges. There will be no hand work as that drill cloth is tough stuff. I went through way too many versions of the layout and have reached the point of declaring it done simply because I’m tired of it.

Next steps are up in the air, possibly stenciling or some other form of printing.

For a change I decided to sew my scraps together on the third piece and got into improv curved piecing. I was glad I remembered how to do the technique. The photo of spools of yarn was cut into four pieces which were scattered about.

This piece will actually have batting and backing, unlike the others.

Finally, I began to select scraps in the green and blue/green family for one or more pieces. Right now there’s no particular order to the scraps, though I think I may build circles with that one print fabric on the upper left. I wish I could tell you that deep thought goes into much of my work, but it would be a lie. Often I simply respond to colors.

And speaking of colors, I had to photograph this view of my house. My green house seems right for Earth Day.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

I’ve Created A Monster

You may remember I planned to do scrappy piecing this year. My thought was a little bit each week, kind of an ongoing project. Well…

I now have one piece finished, one ready for quilting, and one almost done. They have been my passion for the past two weeks. Oh, I did some quilting on the birdies and the girls’ seascape, but I kept getting up from my sewing machine to tweak my designs a little bit more. This was so not my plan.

I’m puzzled how I created such different designs from my black/gray and yellow scrap bins. Two are rectangular while one has diagonals. I adopted an arbitrary rule that I had to go with the basic shape of the scrap, though I could trim it.

mostly-black-and-blue“Mostly Black and Blue” is Mondrian-ish with the pops of red and yellow. The mottled gray fabric is from my “Moonrise” quilt. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the leftovers from earlier projects.


“Getting Brighter” is still in progress as I keep adding little squares like stepping stones across the surface. I cheated and used yardage for the black speckled linen and gray and cream print areas. The photo’s angle is off as the piece is high up on my design wall.


“Pointing Toward Lavender” has the very last of some treasured McKenna Ryan and Lonni Rossi fabrics, plus hand dyed damask. I had issues with the damask stretching during quilting so I ended up starching that fabric heavily, which I should have done in the first place. Restitching the quilting after starching solved the problem, though I abandoned my idea to change line direction a lot.

Since this isn’t a piece I’ll be entering in shows I decided to try another facing method. I found that mitered facing corners aren’t the best method for me.  Better to learn that now.

I think I may make my scrap sewing a monthly, rather than a weekly, project. My trips to the fabric candy store obviously need to be rationed.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Little Bits

In between more expansive projects I’ve been fitting in little works. I thought I’d catch up with the latest here.

First, Ohio SAQA members are putting together a trunk show of 8 by 10 inch pieces to showcase diverse art quilt styles. Each art quilt will be mounted on mat board and encased in a protective plastic envelope with a label on the back. The resulting trunk show will be available to any SAQA Ohio member to use for interactive presentations.

I decided to showcase improv piecing with mostly hand dyed/painted fabrics in Amethyst and Amber (With A Touch of Turquoise.) I found it’s hard to create anything interesting in such a small size.

Amethyst and Amber

To continue the improv theme,I created a 9 by 12 inch piece for one of my small quilt groups. I call this one A Real Eye Opener.  Yes, those are hot fix crystals on it.

AnEyeOpenerFinally, I used my applique skills to create silk insignias on the tabards of Arthur and Patsy for a local production of Spamalot. I assure you these are washable. Fabric markers sure helped.

Arthur finalNow that I’ve procrastinated for a few weeks I have no choice but to return to problem solving on some larger pieces.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects