Wednesday, 11 May 2016

WIP Wednesday - Improv Round Robin

This round of our Irish Modern Bee threw me quite a challenge. 

I have great love for improvisation style quilts and admire them afar. When I saw Cynthia's starting block pictured here at the top I thought cooooool, this'll be fun! Then it sat there looking down at me from the design wall asking me what was I going to do?

My fabric pull - closest I could get to Cynthia's block!
I tried sketching and extending the curved lines of the block and thought matching fabrics and seams would be a nightmare so I turned to Sherri Lynn Wood's: The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. When I bought this book I instantly loved it but to be honest found it a little intimidating. I closed the cover, picked it up, put it down, picked it up again and since it's been in my library of quilt books I must have flicked through it dozens of times.

It's a book you have to make time for, not for the reading though that is really enjoyable but for the doing. The book gives you Scores as in a musical score - the notes are the same but every performance is different. The projects are just beautiful and full of colour and your eye dances around the quilts. I love those kind of projects that just draw you in.

Like most things in quilting you just have to carve out some quiet time and give it a go. Cynthia's block forced me to do that and I am happy to say I had quite a bit of fun playing with improv curves. Rachel @Stitched in Color picked up the challenge of this book and is working through each score in the book with fantastic results. My little dip into it is making me itch to do a bigger project too though maybe not all of the book just yet!

So I decided on an imrov curves score, think of it as freehand drunkards path!

The score has you make a single freehand curve on a stack of blocks and re-arrange top and bottom pieces to sew them back together - then do it again and again and see what you get! Cynthia's block was based on 4 blocks, 8" in size so I wasn't sure what size to make to border the block but in the end trying not to overthink it I made bigger and trimmed my additions back to 8" too. That made 12 blocks around as a border. It's probably a bit big for a first border but I think it works and I hope it will give Mary some opportunities for adding to the next round.

Evening horrible night time shot but you get the idea!
I tried also to bring in some prints and lighter colours too in the fabics to make it easier for the next rounds. I played around with the layout and like this one, it has some colour clumping (a made up Ruth technical term!) I think it makes it seem a little more assymmetric than scrappy this way so I think I'll be sewing this together this evening and passing on to Mary on Friday! I think I might lend her the book too as it was such a great help and working through the score meant lots of concentration and no time to panic!

Best match I could get with the fabrics!

So now the design wall looks like this!

It's back to traditional blocks made modern for the next while but I think I'll be coming back to the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters in no time at all!


  1. I really like how the curves continue out in the border you added. And if color clumping is not a term, it should be - it makes so much sense!

  2. You met the challenge with flying colors Ruth! I love Sherri Lynn Wood's book so much and it has been through a very similar process in my reading activities too.
    I like how you aimed for asymmetry and how that makes the quilt look more like art. We need to all start using the term 'color clumping"!

  3. Improv. is definitely fun and fast. But I think I have done enough for now and got great satisfactory from making proper bloks. Knowing the result when making gives me kind of assurance of landing. Improv. makes me wanting to adjust forever.

  4. Your color and block choice look great with her center block. Awesome!

  5. As a non participant this year it has been fun watching these come together, and interestingly everybody as their own discernible style and fabric choice unique to themselves. And you are good at improve - your house blocks last year?

  6. What a fabulous start to that Round Robin quilt. I love the idea of improv blocks but find them really difficult to do in practice, yours have turned out wonderfully well.

  7. Great blocks! I love the color scheme and the random curves.


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