Improv curved patchwork quilted mini mat...
It was mesmerizing. I immediately made a commitment to do some research on the technique to try it out myself.
Traditional quilting involves straight edged geometric designs; apart from curves based on (geometric) circles, you rarely find organic curves. Traditional quilting can also be quite regimented; not much is done without knowing beforehand that it will be done.
When I saw this being crafted on the fly — the "improv" part — it intrigued me even more.
The "cutting and piecing as you go" method is sort of like how some people do crumb quilting with scraps. You don't know what you'll end up with when you're finished, which ensures that each work is unique.
This can also be done with fabric scraps, but since I was just learning the technique, I decided to start with six 8" x 8" squares of coordinating fabrics from my last Bluprint purchase.
|Six coordinates from the Lily and Loom Red Sky collection...|
The process is pretty simple, although it's always a bit unnerving when you're attempting something for the first time and the first step is to cut into fabric without guidance. (By the way, this project also prompted me to change out the blade on my rotary cutter — I'm worse on that than I am about changing needles!)
The idea is to stack a couple of fabrics, right side up, offset by some amount (a couple of inches or so in my case here). Then you slice a slow curved line with your rotary cutter through both layers. Take away the top right piece and the bottom left piece and sew the two remaining pieces together. (I used a 1/4" seam allowance.)
|A simple process... (sorry for the bad lighting in these photos)|
It looks like a difficult sewing job (third photo above) since the edges don't match, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. (I did not pin or glue, both of which I saw others do.) Go slowly and use a pin or a stiletto to guide and hold the fabric underneath the presser foot as you sew.
Of course, do keep in mind that the greater the curve, the more challenging it will be to sew the unmatched edges together. (So long, languid waves instead of short choppy ones.)
|Press the seams to one side...|
Pressing after sewing each seam is absolutely necessary. Here is what my first seam looks like from the back.
I repeated the basic process with the remainder of the fabrics, creating different looking curves by varying the angle and location at which the fabrics are stacked before cutting.
|All six fabrics have been used...|
You'll end up with an oddly shaped piece like I have here. The idea is to build onto this until you have a big enough panel to cut whatever shape you want out of it.
At this point, I figured it was enough to cut my first circle and therefore started on a second panel.
For a template, I traced around a 7.5" dessert plate.
|Both circles done...|
For those of you who are curious, if you're judicious about placement, this technique isn't overly wasteful with fabric. Here's what's left of my original six squares.
After cutting out and fusing matching pieces of fusible fleece to each circle, I proceeded to quilt one of them. (I kept the other side plain.) The two circles were then placed back to back, trimmed to match and basted together.
The final step was to bind the edge with some binding that I had left over from making my Route 66 bag collection.
For a first attempt, I'm entirely happy with how this turned out. All told, it took about three hours to do and was a fun exercise in "on the fly" creativity.
It's also a bit zen inducing. The moment you lay down the fabrics and think hmm, do I curve this way or that or do I start here or there, you're not thinking of life's other problems.
Had the fabrics been solid colours, I would have quilted both sides, but I saw how the quilting sort of hides the print.
On the unquilted side you can see fun hedgehog print more clearly. (Although next time, I might topstitch the seams.)