Recently I had the pleasure of taking a class called Artful Improv – Permission to Play! from Cindy Grisdela. The class was entertaining and stretched my design skills in new directions. I highly recommend taking one of Cindy’s classes if you get a chance. This particular class is based on her new book, also titled Artful Improv. We learned various improv piecing techniques and how to let go of the “rules” to piece blocks in a free form fashion.
I often approach quilt layout and color placement in an improv way, but before this class I had not explored improv piecing except the slice and insert technique. My sample work from the class includes improv blocks, improv curves, angled stripes, and scrappy insets. I used a wild and crazy assortment of saturated colors on this, inspired by the cover quilt on Cindy’s book.
Quilters Must Play!
My sister-in-law Janette and I took this class together and we had so much fun we just couldn’t stop. In fact we went back to the hotel, set up our sewing machines, and continued to play with improv piecing until midnight. What, you don’t sew in hotel rooms? Quilters must play! Later at home I made this mini-quilt in a quieter color palette, just shades of grey with a touch of lavender. Ahhh, soothing and peaceful. This mini-quilt includes improv curves and an inset made from angled stripe blocks.
Things I Learned
It is tricky to know when your improv design is finished. You can experiment with the blocks and design choices for a long time, but at some point you just have to feel that it is finished and sew the blocks together.
You can do improv wild and crazy or you can do improv more controlled. It is all good!
You need to be aware of sizes as you add pieces. In my wild and crazy class work you can see some tiny triangles and slivers that happened because I added pieces too close for seam allowances or too narrow in the block trimming area.
Most important, I learned that I love improv piecing and I will definitely add this to my quilt design toolbox.
Find Out More
You can find more about Cindy’s techniques and see some of her amazing quilts at Cindy Griselda Art Quilts.