More on Improv

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living CourageouslyThe Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My opinion changed as I progressed.

At first I wasn’t thrilled with the assumption that I didn’t do improv because I was afraid of failure and that I needed meditations to decrease anxiety. I am not afraid of failure, and I try many new things. I am not convinced that I need to abandon use of rulers entirely. I did not like the first several “scores” (what Wood offers instead of patterns). But I usually finish a book I start, and as I continued I began to like the samples better and  Wood also decreased the assumption of fear. So by the end, I enjoyed the book.

In the ten “scores” and the color chapter there are an interesting variety of approaches to improv piecing. I’d say I started out with about two or three of her tactics in my repertoire. It was good to have options expanded. Her explanations were mostly clear (and I reasoned, on those few times when I didn’t understand, So what? it is improv.)

A valuable section is her tools section where Wood explains techniques unique to improv: how to solve problems and inconsistencies that occur because of the free style cutting and stitching, like bumps and bubbles and matching up irregular seams other than straightening them.

A valuable book for quilters who want to do improv in more ways than random bits of fabric and wonky log cabin.

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Filed under quilting

Color Play

Lately I’ve been seeing posts deriving palettes from photos through various programs, Palette Builder 2.1 being one of them.

I decided to play too.

photo plus palette

While I might have fun playing with this palette, the first thing I notice is what is missing, the reds and yellows. Does that mean Moda doesn’t have a match for these? I’d be surprised if that were true. Is it related to amounts of color, and the tool goes for larger percentages? Maybe.

Let’s try another with more accent colors.

Second paletteWhere are the white and reds? Does the algorithm “assume” that I can see these accent colors for myself and need help only with the more subtle ones? Maybe.

Well, let’s try one where there is no accent color, just for fun.

Landboat palette

This one is to say, yes, these are from my most recent Lan Su Chinese Garden visit. And yes the red rose is blooming again. And here is the ritual landboat shot.  I missed the new ritual bridge shot. Gotta get into that habit. But about color: no accents to lose, so no disappointment. Benefit of the palette builder here is the blue, second from the right. I’d not seen that in the photo.

Just one more. It is a bit addictive, I must admit.

more color

I tried a more colorful photo. Can you believe that that one pink (I’ve already forgotten its Moda Bella name) is the only reddish color from that photo? It is obviously not a selection based on amount of a color in the photo.[ETA: Since looking at the tutorial mentioned in the comments, I see that the program does work from volume of a color. I’ll have to study why that doesn’t appear to be the largest amount of a shade of pink to my eye.] I would also appreciate if the “save” feature produced the names of the Kona Bella solids along with the squares. You get the names when you upload the photo; they just don’t save.

A while back I took a class with Jean Wells Keenan when she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. She too advises getting a color palette from photos. However, she emphasized maintaining the proportions of colors in the photo. Now wouldn’t a tool be lovely if it did that proportion math? Of course I’m using a free app; maybe one exists out there that does what I want for a fee.

I’ll be linking with Creative Goodness on Friday, link in sidebar.


Filed under design, quilting

Scrappy Inspiration

A bit of a round about trip here.

I started with Val’s Tuesday Archives, where the topic of the week is quilt shows. And after posting I started following links.

This one was of a local show that featured a Man Cave.

And about halfway down was this quilt.

Scrap quilt

I can’t tell which of the three men to credit with this quilt; it does sound like it is one of their designs.

I’m posting both to share because I think it a good design and to have it available when I want to try it. It is made with 2 inch squares that finish at 1 1/2 inches. It would be a great use of scraps and make a wonderful leader and ender project.


Filed under quilting

Bridge Print Bunk Quilt Finished

And just in the nick of time, the last bunk quilt is finished. I left off with the top and went off to design and quilt others, but am back.  Previous post is here if you want the history and fabric information.

finished quilt

50 x 70

The binding is another print from the Waterfront Park line, but I don’t remember its name. I’m trying something new here–print binding. Usually I go for solids and either the darkest color in the quilt or a color darker. Can’t get much darker than navy though, and I didn’t feel the need for more navy. I rather like that there is a bit of navy in the binding print though.

For the quilting I started with wood grain to suggest air and water currents. It shows best in the center.


It got modified a bit on the navy when I tried to go around the bridges.

Quilting on navy

And a bit more when I quilted the 6-inch aqua and navy checkerboard strip.

Binding and aqua quilting

The quilting design works better when one is not changing thread colors.  It looks much nicer when the curves are echoed more than you can when you come to the edge of a color. Filing that fact away for future reference.

The backing is a Dear Stella print; when I bought it, I was envisioning more aqua on the front. I’m not ready to try different colors on top and bobbin, so there is navy stitching on the back.

Showing the back

With this quilt my quilting blitz is over for a while. Time for some scrap control and designing. Stay tuned.

Tuesday I’ll link with Free Motion by the River; Thursday with Free Motion Mavericks and Needle and Thread Thursday, and Friday  with LAFF, TGIFF, and Finish it up Friday. You may want to see what others are doing: Buttons in sidebar and links here where necessary. Come the 14th I’ll link with Le Challenge where the theme for the month is wood. I think wood grain quilting counts, even if it is meant to look like currents.


Filed under quilting

Postcard Print, Bunk Quilt, Finished at Last

I left off with the green and tan needing quilting. (Reverse history starts here.) Finished that a couple days ago.

Quilting on green and tan

The green is as I had planned all along (don’t know name of it; it reminds me of the “pipes” screensaver); the tan I had been undecided.  First thought was to do the same wonky triangle  ( Night Quilter’s tutorial here )as on the narrower sashing; second was that the circles in the peach sashing by the map fabric needed “company.” Well, when you can’t decide, do both. I figured out how to alternate spirals with the  enlarged triangles.

Today I finished the binding.

finished quilt

The white pillows are to show the dark brown binding since it doesn’t show up against my black sofa. The idea was to echo the border of the photos and their dark outline on the print. Don’t know if it does that, or if it matters.

A question. I’ve read about clips to hold binding. Do you use them? Or pin bindings?  I pin only the corners. It has seemed to me that adjusting the fabric as I go (I’m talking about the second stitching ) doesn’t take any more time than removing clips as I go. So far I’ve not had bubble trouble; it has ended even. I do top stitch the binding from the front for the finish. Might be different if I tried Stitch in the Ditch from the back.

Another question. Do you pin the binding when you do the first stitching? I didn’t. I just took my chances that seams wouldn’t hit the corners because they never had. Then one day they did, and the thickness was a major pain to stitch. My machine complained bitterly and almost didn’t do it. Now I pin fairly widely.  When I come to corners I have to remove only one or two pins to make the mitre.

And the backing.


I was tickled to find a print with most of the same colors as the front. I’d wanted print so quilting would show less. On the front I matched thread to fabric (a royal pain) so quilting would show less. This was, after all, a practice quilt. I’d not thought about that when choosing all those solids.

I’m thinking my quilting signature will have to be uneven stitches and dented spirals. At least for a while. But it will hold together and keep someone warm. And maybe the dents won’t show once it is washed.

Linking with Free Motion Mavericks.

Come Friday I’ll join the various finish links: LAFF and TGIFF , Finish it up Friday.

Now off to pin the first made/last quilted bunk quilt.


Filed under design, quilting

NW Quilters Show

I was thinking about posting some winners, but why reinvent the wheel.

Enjoy the post from WonkyWorld.

A couple other quilts that caught my attention and my camera.


I can see that weeping willow block in my future, and the wind-blown fir.

Quilt info:

trees--maker info

And a variation on Storm at Sea

storm at sea variation

I am totally intrigued with what changing the values and sizes of segments can do to a traditional pattern. Even after reading it was Storm at Sea, it was hard to see the traditional block.

A detail shot and the identification

storm at sea detail

storm at sea infoOne week old isn’t very archival, but it seems to be the only show I’ve posted about with photos. So linking with Tuesday Archives.



Filed under quilting

A Return to Leisurely Quilting

With the finish of items for the NW Guild show (today and tomorrow at Expo Center in Portland) I have returned to a more comfortable pace on the bunk quilt from postcard print fabric. Back history starts here. I considered aiming for a Friday finish, but that would have disrupted the leisurely approach.

But the start wasn’t comforting.


We all know better than to do this! Normally I watch those flapping sides like a hawk, but obviously my attention wandered here. Luckily I caught it quite early–one advantage of changing threads and frequent quilt repositioning. It took only five minutes to pick it out and requilt the portion involved; it was mostly the yuck factor and self scolding that was annoying.

I have practiced many things with this quilting.

map fabric quilting

Here I was practicing following the lines (as also when I outlined the postcards earlier). I’d pondered what quilting would least disrupt the map print, which is rather subtle, and decided the best bet was to follow some of the roads and train tracks, enough to adequately attach the layers. The safety pin marks where I had pieced batting, so I also wanted to be sure there was a little extra quilting there to reinforce the join.

The line and circles in the peach sashing are meant to suggest the train line with its stops marked on the map fabric.

What is left is the green on two sides of the four patch and the tan border. The green will be the meandering squares that allow cross overs and I am undecided about the tan. Plan A was to repeat the wonky triangle border, but I’m thinking it may need curves. We’ll see.

Linking up with Creative Goodness--come see what others are making. And Oh Scrap! for pieced batting.There are directions there as well as a linky to see what others are doing with scraps.


Filed under quilting