Posts Tagged ‘Dividing basic shapes’

Revision Notes – Improvisational Piecing

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

I’ve just been updating my class handouts for introductory and advanced classes in Improvisational Piecing, IP, which I’ll be teaching in Gramado, Brasil, in September. I generally refer to IP as ‘freehand piecing’. Every line is a potential ‘seam’. I’ve loved this style of patchwork since I first encountered it c.1990, and these days it appears frequently in Modern Quilting, art quilting, and variations on traditional patterns.

Cutting only with the rotary cutter and piecing by machine, the maker has no set pattern pieces to follow. I often do a basic sketch diagram:

Some simple traditional patterns adapt well for improvisational piecing

– or have a photo in front of me to start with, such as this one:

Woollen fabric sample albums at a historic museum. Lines are everywhere! These images have been pinned on my wall for a while … the lines are important, but so are the colours.

Unlike the precision of traditional patchwork, accuracy of meeting points is not only unnecessary, little mis-matches and irregularities are essential for the organic look IP has.

Dividing a square to build complexity – the size of the square determines how much detail can be gone into!

I’m removing the above diagram from my class handout, because I’ve come up with something I think is better; but I’m sure some readers might find these diagrams a bit inspirational and want to try the ideas they suggest.

The basic geometric shapes that make up traditional patchwork patterns all lend themselves to improvisational inserts, and they’re worth playing around with because there is always plenty of scope for the ‘What if?’ and serendipity which make it so much fun to do. The end result is something more interesting, more complex, Plus there’s potential for borders and backgrounds …

Sunburnt Textures 4, 2014. 30cm x 30cm
Detail from Ebb&Flow 16, 2009

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