May 14, 2014

Project Update: Catherine Quilt (Improv Quilting)

I've been making progress on my Catherine Quilt so I thought I'd share some photos today.  If you remember in my last project update I was just starting to piece together random fabrics to form quilt blocks.  Here's the first two that I made.  
This type of quilting starts with scraps so it's a great project for those who keep  all their scraps, big and small.  I didn't have many scraps so I started with all new fabrics + a large bundle of linen that I purchased at a thrift shop.  
Some simply call this type of quilting "scrap quilting" or "wonky log cabin" but after much research on the Internet I found that this type of quilting actually has a more formal name.  It's called "improvisational quilting" or "improv quilting" as I will call it from here on out.  It can be very simple in nature by just sewing together random scraps or it can become a very artistic expression using fabric and intricate designs.
I decided to use this improv quilting method but I had no idea what it was called or if there were many others doing this kind of quilting.  Why am I interested in this type of quilting? When I took my first beginning quilt class several years ago the quilt had 9 square blocks that had traditional type pieced patterns.  The patterns had to be so precise, it involved measuring and matching up corners and making triangles.  It was a bit stuffy feeling to me and I felt like the dear ladies at the quilt shop silently critiqued  every little mistake.  Of course they didn't and were nothing but super helpful and nice...but still I felt that maybe this type of quilting wasn't for me.  It was too perfect.  It didn't settle well with my mixy matchy, scrappy style that I was used to in my paper crafting.
So I decided to venture out on my own and just see what I could come up with.  I had a few ideas brewing about when I started my Catherine Quilt.  First, I wanted to pick fabrics with patterns and colors that I loved. I think my quilt really does reflect my style, sort of like what I would select when paper crafting.  I also knew that I wanted to dig into this beautiful stash of linen that I had been saving for a special project.  I loved the idea of using the soft tans of the linens as my neutral instead of a white fabric. Next, I knew I didn't want to measure anything.  I know that sounds crazy but it's just like my paper crafting...I don't measure too much. It's so stifling to have to be that precise.  So I started cutting strips without measuring any of them.  Then I started laying them out as you see in my photos today.  Next I just started stitching them together and trimming them down.
One issue I had was deciding if I wanted all my blocks the same size.  I initially thought about using my 12" ruler to square them all up but in the end each and every block I created was a different size, about 18" square approximately.  I thought by doing this, my quilt would have a more organic look, without perfectly spaced squares.  I thought it would be unique if the viewer of my quilt had to look twice to see how I pieced all the pieces together.  The more I worked on piecing the blocks, the more mixy matchy they turned out.  I'm very happy with the results so far.  

Since I started quilting my preferred way I looked up improv quilts on Pinterest.  I've added lots of quilt ideas to my Quilts board and my Catherine Quilt board.  I've found that the Internet has endless inspiration for improv type quilting.  If you're like me and think perhaps that the traditional type quilting blocks are a little too much for you at this time, I so hope you'll give this style a try.  


Kristie said...
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Kristie said...

You are beyond "crafty" and talented. I love everything you do from your cooking, paper crafts and now quilting.....You inspire me though I can't hold a candle to you. Thank you for always sharing your beautiful work with us all.

~ Jo ~ said...

So far so good! Looking very nice Michelle. I am not a quilter and I don't sew so I wouldn't have a clue how to do something like this even if I had wanted to LOL


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