Tag Archives: tutorial

Yesterday I shared my improv hammock quilt block. The second block I made for Chris was a book.

The book block was less tricky. I started by cutting book page shaped pieces out of the blue fabric. Then I added borders of white on three sides. I used the blue and white book pages as my template for cutting the background. These strips are about 5/8" wide. Rectangles were cut for the sides and I used the curve edge of the blue fabric as my template to cut the curves white strips.

Next, I cut out the book shape from my background fabric, starting with the diagonal cut that aligns with the spine of the book.

I used my rotary cutter to follow the curve of the book along the top and bottom of each side. Since these are fairly gentle curves this technique works pretty well. (If these were more precise or sharper curves like a Drunkard's Path, it becomes more important that the two curves that are cut are actually different curves so the stitching falls along the same curve on both pieces. This is why Drunkard's Path templates or rulers have an inner and an outer template piece.)

Last cut was to trim along the straight sides of the book.

Here's what my background looked like when it was all cut up. (Of course, I oversized the starting piece of fabric to account for seam allowances and extra wiggle room.)

I removed the two yellow pieces in the center and replaced with the blue and white book pages. First I sewed the seams on the straight outer side edges of the book. Then I added the improv curves to the top and bottom of each section. Finally, my last seam was the central seam along the spinoff the book.

This block also finishes at a little larger than 12" square. If you missed the other block I made for Chris, I shared about it yesterday.

You can see more blocks that were made for Chris as well as other blocks for the Quilts Unscripted Bee on Instagram.

Fun fact: It's been just about 6 years since I sewed my very first improv curve.

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In July, Chris asked for blue and yellow blocks showing what summer represented for us.

My immediate thought was a hammock, because last summer my daughter and I spent many hours in the backyard hammock together reading. Eventually, I came around to making a book block for my second block. (Check back tomorrow for that block.)

The hammock was a tricky construction. It was created with improv piecing using smooth improv curves and slice and insert methods to put the frame in the right place. I used this reference photo of my backyard hammock (hello draught "lawn"!) as a guide for proportions and angles. I'm feeling quite pleased with the engineering feat of this block. Here's how I did it...

The grey strips for the frame may have been about 3/4" wide. I cut a bunch and laid them out in the orientation of the frame. I cut some blue 3/4" strips which would be needed to add onto the grey for some seams.

I cut my initial hammock piece freehand with a rotary cutter. This gave me a plan. Then I just had to figure out how to make it work to all go together.

In order to add dimension to the fabric portion of the hammock I pieced a second, darker yellow onto my initial curve. You can see that I left lots fo space to trim my final shape for my hammock.

Then I pieced on a large piece of blue for the background above the hammock. When I have no idea what I'm doing I use large pieces, because it's usually easier to trim down than to add on.

Next up was starting to piece the frame. These were mostly done slice and insert style. I just eyeballed the length of each piece of the frame to approximate the proportions from my photo of my yard hammock.

This was probably the trickiest seam. I had to piece in the blue background beneath the hammock, but one part of the frame gets pretty close. Here I'm using scissors to cut the same curve from my blue fabric to match the lower edge of the hammock.

Sewing a curve that went across a seam made this tricky. Not perfect, but pretty good. This might be the first evidence that I was going to have some problems in the top corners. I chose to ignore that for now and keep working on the frame.

I pieced more frame in the lower right and was thinking about how to insert the frame between these two pieces. I think I realized I should have added blue onto the grey and that piece in the lower right had to be rebuilt.

Auditioning grey strips for the length and angles needed for the side pieces of the frame.

Here I'd sewn on the base and side pieces of the frame, further exacerbating the problems in the upper corners. Again, ignoring that problem. I've also laid out the other three legs of the hammock. This helped me get the angles right.

Slice and insert to build the leg pieces.

Second leg attached. Again, I'm piecing on extra big pieces that I'll trim down.

Trimmed the lower left and right to continue the angle of the section above it.

Planning the slice and insert sections for the last two legs.

The hammock is built! But... I need to address those problem spots at the upper corners.

I lopped off the top corners at an angle that worked to not lose any of the hammock. My last two seams were to piece in background to fill those corners, nice and neatly.

The block finishes at around 12" square. I left it oversize for Chris to trim down as she put her quilt together.

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This morning I shared a tutorial of this block with a few dozen fellow guild members of SCVQA during our virtual meeting. We miss having meetings and are enjoying the Virtual Coffee Break Zoom meetings that Mel and Geri have been hosting. Have your local quilt groups been meeting virtually?

Also, this is your final reminder to link up your improv projects by the end of the month for Show Me Something Improv. :-)

 

Split Complementary

My color palette for this block grew out of some color play with my Kona fabric chips. Analogous Colors are a group of three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. For example, yellow, yellow-green, and green. Complementary Colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow and violet, or yellow-green and red-violet. A Split Complementary color palette uses one color, combined with the neighbors of its complement. I've chosen red-violet with yellow and green.

Scrappy Slab*

I used a scrappy slab for the center of my block. This "made fabric" can be built from any scraps on hand and can be used alone, in a design of your own, or in any position in a traditional block or pattern you already own. The possibilities are truly endless.

I don't concern myself with starting pieces being square or seams being parallel and perpendicular. I simply sew together pieces of scrap fabric choosing mates that have edges that are roughly the same length. If necessary, I trim the edge of the fabric (with scissors) so I am sewing straight seams, and I attach them with 1/4" seam allowance, same as if I were doing precise piecing (though this is more forgiving in that sense). I press my seams open (having used a reduced stitch length during sewing) which is my personal preference. If necessary I trim off any overhanging fabric to give me a new straight edge for the next seam.

Generally, I start numerous scrappy slabs at once that can be pieced together as my project grows. Smaller slabs can be used just like individual pieces of fabric, combined with single or pieced chunks*. I find once slabs get large enough to be unwieldy that I have an easier time trimming edges with a rotary cutter and ruler.

Keep building to the size necessary for your project.

*I use the words slab and chunk to describe a pieced unit that is not a specific "block" size. Blocks are a predetermined, specific size. Slabs are what they are. You can trim down to a specific unit or block size as needed for a project.

16" Sawtooth Star Block

Color 1 (green): Using monochromatic scraps, piece a slab large enough to cut one (1) 8 1/2” x 8 1/2” square. 

Color 2 (yellow): Cut eight (8) 4 1/2” x 4 1/2" squares. 

Background/Color 3 (red-violet): Cut four (4) 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” rectangles and four (4) 4 1/2” x 4 1/2”  squares. 

Construct four one-at-a-time Flying Geese units.

Step 1: Aligning the edges, place a 4 1/2” x 4 1/2" yellow square on top of an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” red-violet rectangle, right sides together. With your favorite marking tool, mark the stitching line corner to corner on the yellow square.

Step 2: Stitch on the marked line. Optionally, sew a second line of stitching 1/2" from your first line as shown. This will create a bonus HST when you trim 1/4" from your marked line.

Step 3: Trim 1/4" from your marked line as shown (or halfway between your two lines of stitching).

Step 4: Press your seam.

Step 5: Repeat on the second side.

Unit finishes at 8 1/2" x 4 1/2". Make 4.

Layout your nine pieces as shown. Sew each row together and combine rows for the finished block. Unfinished dimensions are 16 1/2" x 16 1/2".

Three blocks would make a 16" x 48" table runner. Sixteen blocks (or 9 blocks with an 8" border) would make a 64" x 64" lap quilt. These could all be identical color placement, a variety of placements of the same three colors, a variety of different split complementary combinations, or anything you'd like!

P.S. Here's another Sawtooth Star where I used my scrappy slab in the background and binding.

Happy quilting!