Posts Tagged ‘wandering strip piecing’

Lines- Seams Waiting To Happen

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

I’ve previously blogged about my approach to planning  http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=1010  and in that particular post used a collage of diagrams on pages from it:

Collaged sketch book pages

One was a snippet from a diagrammatic sketch of a man wearing heavy outdoor clothing featuring a fisherman’s rib neck on his sweater.  I saw it in some ad in an Aussie newspaper back in about 1995, and clearly remember it but can’t find the actual pic.  It inspired me to sketch the pattern of knitting and the use those lines and shapes in a commissioned quilt for a book “Quiltskills” 1997, published by the Quilters Guild of NSW.  Each chapter featured particular skills useful to contemporary quiltmakers, illustrated by a quilt made especially to go with the article.  Mine was chapter 2, Irregular Shapes.

Anyway this morning I found a very old and poor image of that quilt, Waterweave”,  the colour of which somehow seems stuck at ‘too green’ but anyway I’ve put it alongside that line diagram to show how for me a basic diagram can lead to an actual quilt.  Its typical of my planning that I work things out as I go, and usually know when its time to stop.

Waterweave quilt and sketch blog

 

As a student and then teacher of geography, illustrating whatever I’m talking about with a simple diagram is what I naturally turn to, so my designs in fabric and thread tend to develop from that kind of mark making, too, and I’ve mentioned before that I see almost any line as a seam waiting to happen.

Bungle Bungles + Glitter

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

With the ghastly weather this week I’ve been able to put some serious time into this next work in the Bungle Bungles series – adding gold painted dots to the pieced shapes, of what will be #7.BB 7 blog_edited-1

This only a small section of it, of course, maybe 25cm square, but the piecing’s almost all done.  There’s more paint needed in places, then it will be ready to layer and quilt. I’m tossing up whether to hand or machine quilt this time, but will have decided by the time I get there.  I have the next one in mind …

Photographing Quilts In The New Series

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Kimberley Dreaming pieces collage blog 2

 

I’ve just set up a photography date next wednesday with my photographer here, Eduardo Baldizan, who has photographed all my work done here, and is great to work with.

Unusually  for me, the bindings and sleeves of three are already properly finished.  Many’s the time I’ve hastily basted these things in place at the last minute for photography – you can’t tell from the front, and I am by nature a bit of a last minute wonder.

And as usual, there’s the lure of a  last minute pressure buzz – I have several days to attempt the next one that I’ve been mulling over while I make # 6, and think I’ll make a dash for it, beginning in just a few minutes.  If its a wet weekend, as expected, I’ve got bags of time …  the entry deadline’s not for another week yet!

Freehand Or Improvisational Piecing – The Basics

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

 

detail, Ebb and Flow 2

I’m quite often asked how to go about improvisational or freehand (template free) cutting and piecing which has become very widespread  among quilt makers in the past 25 years- a modern tradition really.  Widely used by art quilt makers who piece their designs, and seen in quite a number of Modern Quilts, it’s all rotary cut and machine pieced.   The following basic instructions contain all you need to know to begin, as I only learned it from watching a short demonstration by Nancy Crow at the start of a several day long workshop, and then plunging in to using it straight away. It enabled us to rapidly get through heaps of exercises in her class on design and colour.  I’ve been enjoying this way of piecing ever since.

basics of improv

 

Hand piecers could use this just once,  perhaps, to make some wayy lines in the one direction  but it really is a machine technique,  even if you’re pretty speedy, as hand sewing won’t allow for more complex cutting, re-arranging, inserting slivers and so on.

Freehand or ‘improvisational piecing’ has become a modern convention – and once you recognize it, you’ll see it wherever there are pieced art and non-traditional quilts.   Elsewhere on this website are two galleries of my original quilts made between about 1990 and the present –  the Color Memories gallery followed chronologically by the Ebb& Flow gallery.  Keep in mind that have been piecing this way for over 20 years, but I too began with these simple instructions way back then.   With practice, you too will be able to achieve more complex constructions if you wish.

Basics of improv blog image

The main things to remember are:

  • to place both fabrics right side up
  • without built-in seam allowances, as you cut and sew each fabric shape its area showing on front becomes progressively smaller – so start out larger in anticipation. Experience will tell you how much to allow, but, if you run short somewhere on a side you can always add another piece as quilters traditionally have !
  • in addition to getting smaller, so, too, the edges become progressively more irregular. Resist your trimming urges until you have finished ALL the piecing.   When you do get round to trimming, discard tiny pieces but keep anything useful – small bits also piece up into lovely freeform mosaics you could use for appliqued or printed designs – see Judith Trager’s work among others for some good examples.

Alicia Merrett ‘s YouTube videos, are good in a very precise, controlled way –but, they were pitched to careful traditional quilters, but even so, you might find them helpful.    In the Nancy Crow class where I learned this piecing, we had a lot of colour and design work to get through in the time, and Nancy showed us these basics that enabled rapid working.  We put all rulers away and did no pinning, just putting edge to edge and sewed.  Some managed this better than others in the workshop; and at home I found my own way of working which includes periodic dots along the cut edges with permanent marker or other pen/pencil/chalk – and even more of these in tight curves.    I usually pin every few inches, more in tight curves –  but it all depends…. there are no right ways to do this, and only one correct result – a flat one.  Once you have learned the basics, experience will teach you whatever you want to know next – think it, try it.  And, if you ever need my advice or help, feel free to contact me through this website.

 

There’s Nothing Like a Bit of Scrap Bag Diving!

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

I keep a large bag of small scraps., principally offcuts from projects.  When I’m clearing up after finishing something, anything worth keeping goes into the large clear plastic bag on the floor beside my sewing table.  The bag being clear helps, just a little, when I’m looking for something in particular, as I was this morning.  I needed more earthy colours to add more shapes to the current Bungle Bungles piece I’m working on, you may remember.

earthy colours

Relatively speaking, piecing like this uses as much fabric in seams as shows on the front.  When I’m doing pieced work, I use a large variety of different fabrics in small amounts; and nothing is cut out in advance, its all cut freehand and sewn seam by seam in the technique known as ‘improvisational piecing’. The Ebb&Flow quilts in particular are assembled in this way with a lot of scrap bag diving along the way –

SCRAP BAG  Ebbs and Flows

 

 

Needing more of some fabrics including some of those little one-offs that add spice, I took a deep breath and began scrap bag diving – well, turned it all out on my table, and started sorting though, selecting things I can use, and putting most of it back into the bag.

SCRAP BAG archeology

SCRAP BAG  save all yellows

I carefully save all offcuts of every yellow, partly because although I rarely buy any yellow fabric, a touch of a yellow value here and there in every piece of art, whatever the medium, is vital, literally giving life to the work. The more valuable the fabric/colour, the smaller amount I am prepared to save…. and the smallest piece of a strong almost acid yellow I came across this morning was barely 3cm x 1cm!

SCRAP BAG  save yellow

This piece of yellow with airbrushed red and blue is gradually running out – so its very precious. I have about  3cm x 4cm left of a fat 1/4 bought years ago from Deb Lunn in Denver.

 

SCRAP BAG good grief

This morning I realised scrap  bag diving is rather like archeology, digging down though the past – and like archeology, it throws up some puzzles, of which this is one!  I don’t remember putting it together, but these are definitely my fabrics, and all sewn together by me, for sure – but why?  I certainly don’t remember anything in which this sequence appeared.  It’s a nice yellow in that striped print, though….

 

SCRAP BAG elegant snippets

I really don’t remember the work these offcuts came from – they were trimmed off after the gold stitching along each place the cream meets the print…. quite elegant, really, and I may do something more in these gentle neutrals soon. With gold stitching/quilting.

 

 

 

SCRAP BAG extra units CynthiaSCRAP BAG raided block

I often work in repeat units – and always make a few extra to get the best possible result when juggling them at the assembly stage. From ‘Cynthia’s Quilt’ top, and ‘New Directions’ below, come these ‘spares’ which have useful sized pieces – and the raiding has already begun on the lower ‘block’.  The fabric in that block terminating in the triangle/arrow head is destined for salvaging for use in the next set of strip assemblies I need to put together; I only ever had a small amount of it and I’m down to last few square centimetres…

 

SCRAP BAG one glove

And finally, much to my delight, virtually at the bottom of the heap, I found one of the pressure gloves I’ve been missing for a while, since last spring really….so then I had to tip it all out again and go through more carefully to find the other.   And sure enough, it was there.  The weather’s getting cool again, and some days now my hands are feeling a bit in need of pressure on the arthritic joints – so this find was timely and welcome!.

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