Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Improv Work On the Design Wall

Not So Serious Sewing

Sunday was peaceful, and I'd finished up several projects the week before. I was after something relaxing, low-key, and just fun. I pulled out this WIP that I started early last spring while attending an Amy Butler & Hilde Dunn retreat. It was an exercise in improvisational piecing, and on my list of 2015 Q3 Finishes on the Windy Side. The initial slab was built by a partner blindly picking out pieces of fabric from a pile, and handing them to me. I had little control over the color scheme to start.

The center was done yet needed a frame, and I pulled this muddy pink out of my solids stash. It's an odd color, but it played well with the mishmash in the middle. Then I pulled strips from my scrap bins to make into the next pieced border. I pieced my scraps without squaring up, and it got interesting and more exciting. 

TIPS & TRICKS-Mitered Corners

I mitred my corners by creating 4 strip-pieced squares for each corner. The borders were 5 1/2" so I made each square 6". I went 1/2" larger than needed, and cut two diagonally with my stripes vertical, and two with my strips horizontal to create 8 HST's. I sewed these into 4 squares, and THEN I sewed these with to my top and bottom borders. Now I was dealing with 4 typical borders that looked like I spent a ridiculous amount of time making them. Easy peasy!

The narrow dark blue border anchored the multicolored piecing, and I looked around for some serious bling fabric to set it all off.

It's shiny, stripey, and I have lots of yardage. It sets off the center like neon lights, and fits the improv them to a T. Although I don't know the content, it presses well, is a higher grade than acetate, and you'll never believe where I found it!

Would you believe this was an old dress in that wonderful vintage stash I showed you? I asked several people when they would estimate the pattern of the dress, and they guessed late 50's-60's. Tightly fitted bodice and 3/4 sleeves, and close to 5.5 yards of fabric in the fully gathered skirt. The integrity of the fabric is solid with no funky smell--things you need to check for using vintage material, so it's going in today. 

I can't help but feel connected to the quilter/sewist that saved this garment for decades knowing it might have another life. I challenge you to add something repurposed, upcycled, reused, or vintage to a project. Hunt your Goodwill, resale stores, and garage sales for treasures. You may be deeply rewarded by the feeling of creating a unique piece while preserving a saver's vision. 

Also, I must admit there is something deeply satisfying to really understanding how the first quilters used the resources they had, and weren't able to run off to their LQS for the 'perfect' fabric. I can't wait to see how this turns out today, but what are your thoughts of working like this?

Linking up with~
The Quilting Room with Mel at Fiber Tuesday 
and last week I was the most clicked 
link with this post: 

Zipper Bags Simplified Tutorial
The Quilting Room with Mel

Podunk Pickin's--A brand new linky!

Freemotion By the River
Quilt Story
Blossom Heart Quilts
Late Night Quilter


Sandra Walker said...

Once again, you have me grinning here. Although I haven't ever taken apart a garment to work it into a quilt, I have made a quilt, for my parents' 40th anniversary (how weird, I JUST wrote that on Shelley's blog, the blog I read before yours, as she used the block I'd used), anyhow, it was from my mum's scrap bag of fabrics from clothes she'd made us 4 kids and herself. I loved it, and felt the connection to how it used to be done, big time. That's a pretty deep feeling. Speaking of deep, that dress's colour--!! The gold is going to be perfect. You are just TOO smart to do mitred corners like that! Must remember that trick. :-)

Ruth said...

Love this experiment of yours! I think this is going to be brill so looking forward to seeing the next installment!

Jayne said...

Love the piece, but when the picture of the fabric from the dress was auditioned...even better! It will be perfect! I've used a shirt or two for zipper pouches, but not in a quilt. I can't wait to see the next step!

Skootchover said...

Love your improv piece. I like how the borders give the eye a place to rest. I need to keep that in mind.

Tu-Na Quilts said...

I loved reading about how this quilt came together especially about using the vintage dress although I gasped a bit since I've been to retro shops where they sell vintage clothes at really good prices. I've been working with my mom the last 6 months or so on a project using her double knits from her old clothes and leftover yardage for a quilt. It will be for my sister since the light green was from her prom dress. My mom is in her 80s and is having fun realizing her dream of using up those scraps and now she has plans for us to sew together at least 4 more of them using different patterns. The double knit quilts will last forever but are so difficult that it's really been a lesson in patience, language self-control, and diligence. I do think she will choose a more simple pattern for the others...I hope. Here's a link to my flickr pics if you are interested in seeing it https://www.flickr.com/photos/127685344@N05/20775153315/in/dateposted-public/

Sew Surprising said...

This is a stunner, using the vintage dress really sets it off as well as adding a story to the quilt top. Im a fan of improv and admire those who can do it so skilfully such as yourself, look forward to seeing this finished :)

Unknown said...

I never consider giving a second life to cotton garments or sheets, but I will now. I have made quilts for others using their children's baby clothes. Not different from you suggestion. Thanks for the tip. I found you on Tuesday Tips and Tutorials.

Amy said...

I love how it turned out and enjoyed meeting you at the retreat!

Oui Crochet said...

Very nice! I really love the vibrant colors!
Thank you for sharing with #FiberTuesdays!