#30DaysofimprovQAL – Week 1 Stripes

Yikes! Instagram has a lot to answer for! After reading a post by Shannon of @shannonfraserdesigns I decided to join in with the 30 Day Improv QAL. Shannon along with Amanda of @broadclothstudio are hosting the QAL and providing weekly prompts (via email), ideas and short videos. If you ‘do’ Instagram then follow #30DaysimprovQAL to see the numerous ways the prompts are being interpreted.

Ah! Interpretation! That’s the rub for me! Improv patchwork is way outside of my comfort zone: no pattern, no cutting instructions and lots of room for interpretation 😱

Anyways, I followed the advice given, chose five fabrics and cut each piece into quarters, one quarter for each week of the QAL. I decided to set aside 20-30 minutes every morning to act on the prompts.

And here’s the photo record of my first week of improv (I’ve copied the daily prompts in red).

  • Monday – keep it simple by just exploring cutting and piecing your strips. See how alternating the direction you piece your strips in helps limit (or exaggerates) the wonk.
I cut through all five fabrics using a rotary cutter without a ruler.
Strips stitched together all in the same direction. Feeling quite proud that some do have a bit of a wonk!
  • Tuesday – play with scale and see how piecing skinny strips feels different to super wide strips and how it can add complex detail to your block.
Stitching together the skinny strips was tricky. The seams didn’t want to go under the machine foot and kept shifting. Even, quarter inch seams they are not!
  • Wednesday – lean into the wonk by combining your free hand cutting while piecing your strips all in the same direction. See how much ‘wonk’ you can build into your piece!
Look at me! Cutting fabric freehand with scissors!
Strips not so wonky but the block has certainly got a wonk!
  • Thursday – pull out that rotary cutter and give your strip sets a fun slice and sew it back together. Then dice it up again!
Before the slicing, stitching and dicing.
After, slicing, stitching and dicing. I have to confess to not giving any thought to this process – treating it like making a quilt from random scraps rather than contemplating ‘stripes’!
  • Friday – incorporate some negative space in your block composition to see what effect that has on your stripe motifs (this is a great opportunity to put your trimmings from earlier in the week to good use!).

I hoped throwing in some negative space fabric would create improv blocks. I quickly realised that’s not how it works! I decided to try ‘interpreting’ traditional patchwork blocks.

The top two blocks are based on the ‘Blocks In A Box’ block. The block on the bottom left is based on a Four Patch and the one bottom right… Well! That one got made and then chopped and stitched some more and I have no idea what it might be based on! This all took me at least 1½hours – way more time than the 20-30 minutes of the previous four days.

End of Week 1 Conclusion: The short version – I really have no idea what I’m doing or what Improv Patchwork is! The longer version – I think the two blocks on the bottom row provide some sort of exploration of ‘stripes’. From a practical point of view I realise I cut my fabric strips way too narrow. My blocks are a mass of bulky seams that will be a nightmare to quilt! Maybe I didn’t need to use all five of my fabrics? Maybe choosing multi-print fabrics is going to make this QAL quite problematic?

I’ll be glad to have the weekend off from improv! Hoping to return to the challenges of Week 2 in a positive frame of mind!



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