Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More on Improv Piecing

The February challenge for the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild was to make an improv pieced mini quilt, or mug rug. Of course, being in love with improv piecing, I was right on top of this! I chose two colours inspired by the quilters of Gee's Bend, and added black into the mix. My goal was to make a mosaic inspired looking mug rug, and here's what I got:

This is the front ;-)

And here is the back. To me, it looks like a plant cell!

I didn't exactly document the process of making this little mini quilt/mug rug, but if you would like to make one yourself, it is not very difficult. Here is what I did:

First, I cut a piece of fabric in each colour 9" by WOF. Usually when you are improv piecing, it is best to either make your fabric larger than your finished piece, so that you can cut it down; or, you can have one piece longer than the other. This is because a lot of fabric gets eaten up in seams, and when you are piecing improv curves, you will likely never end up with a perfectly matched seam (if you do, let me know how, please!!)

Next, I cut a piece of either blue or red fabric (I honestly can't remember which, but it doesn't matter). Using my rotary cutter, and no ruler, I placed my fabric on my cutting board, so that it was 9" tall, and cut gentle curves into the fabric. **Note: it is always best to start and end your cuts mostly straight, so that your piecing is easier**

After cutting the gentle curve into the fabric, I cut it off my long piece with a wide border, and mostly straight. Next, I placed my fabric onto my black fabric, right sides facing up, and traced my cut (it doesn't matter if you cut a bit of coloured fabric off here, so long as your pieces can be put together like a puzzle). Then, I cut off a slightly wide border of black fabric, matched up my seams, and began piecing. If you would like a visual on this, just check out an earlier post here, which shows more improv piecing, and has a link to a great video by Alicia Merrett.

My next move was to cut curves into the black fabric, line it up with my second colour, trace the curves using my rotary cutter, and piece. I continued this until I had about a 9" X 14" block of stripes, using black in between my two colours, and ending my block on the opposite colour than what I started with. With improv piecing, it's best to iron your seams in one direction, rather than pressing them open - the fabric follows the curves much easier.

Okay, so I have a big piece of striped fabric; how in the heck to I turn it into what you just saw, you ask? Easy! I just turned my fabric so that the colours were stacked top to bottom, and cut a chunk off, again using gentle curves. Then, again with right sides up, I cut into black fabric, tracing my curves, and pieced those two together. Next, I cut curves into the other side of the black, flipped my stripes upside down, and repeated. One more stripe of black, one more flip, and the center was done! To finish, I simply used the same improv piecing techniques to add a strip of black around the center, and voila - my top was done!! Quilt as desired, add binding, and you too will have a nifty little mini quilt to hang, or mug rug to use. To be truthful, I really liked how this turned out, and will likely make another when I find a bit of spare time.

The fam and I are taking a road trip to Seattle this week; I hope to have lots of cool pics to inspire you!! And please, if you do make a little mini quilt/mug rug, let me know - I would love to see it, and maybe have a virtual "show and tell".. Happy crafting!!

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