Improvisation #5: A Quilt Begins


Improvisation is a messy business. This is the current chaotic state of my sewing room. Piles of fabric everywhere. I have an idea I want to execute but not sure yet which fabrics to use. I know the blocks will be similar. The final block size I’m aiming for is 10.5″, but I expect each block will be unique – that the internal construction will vary.

I started this improvisation by selecting fabrics from various boxes, largish pieces, small scraps (enough for a 3″ square). This afternoon I began by choosing 24 different pieces and cutting a 3″ square from each.

Here’s the idea – a small square embedded in a somewhat larger square (white with blue dots – the only fabric common in all blocks), which is asymmetrically embedded in a dark square, which is embedded, again asymetrically, in a brighter square, and last, the four layers are set into a final “square” but this time offset and truncated.


This was a first try – not entirely successful. I created the final size block I wanted (actually a bit larger for good measure). But directional fabrics aren’t going to work for the last square! I haven’t yet figured out how to piece that final large square in the most economical way possible – it would be relatively easy with solids. With this linear print I was able to orient three of the segments in the same direction but I wasn’t able to get the fourth piece to align without wasting a lot of fabric (I elected to go for economical to see if I could get away with it, can’t). So I will take this block apart and try again.

In the meantime I’ve decided to build the 24 blocks as far as the 4th square.

Then, I’ll look at them all and make a decision about fabric for that final square – I am likely going to have to go fabric shopping for a couple of different, yet complementary fabrics. Then there’s sashing and a border – not anywhere near that yet!

I love the challenge of problem solving my way through an idea to a completed quilt. Nothing could be more boring than following someone else’s directions. So I’ve learned to be comfortable with the mess involved with improvising.

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