Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not a Bunch of Squares ~ Improv Patchwork {a tutorial}


Happy New Year!  I'm so excited to be back here to share.  For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jennifer and my blog is That Girl... That Quilt.  My brain is all too often overflowing with creative ideas so how perfect that I have the opportunity today to post on two blogs! 

I adore patchwork and I get a lot of questions about how I make my patchwork projects.  The short answer: no templates, no patterns, no sketches... just fabric, a ruler, a rotary cutter and your creativity.  So today I wanted to show you how to make improvisational patchwork.  It might feel a little strange at first if you are not used to sewing as you go but I promise that it's lots of fun and a great way to work with your stash!


I like to choose a foundation fabric piece first.  This isn't a foundation fabric in the traditional quilting sense.  It's more like the inspiration and the fabric you will be building your block around.  In my patchwork I use a lot of linen.  I love the texture created by using a mix of quilting cottons and linens.


Now find a similar sized piece of fabric and stitch the pieces right sides together {RST}.  Open and press.  Square your new "block" if it will drive you nuts to have wonky sides.  I like to keep it improvisational so I don't square until my block is done.


Next find a piece of fabric that is similar in size to your new created "block".  Stitch this fabric {RST} to your existing block.  Open and press.


Here's where it gets fun!  Take some smaller pieces and stitch them together to form a strip that is the approximate length of the block.  Press each seam and then stitch the strip to the block.  Unless you are just extremely talented {or lucky}, the seams of the strip and the seams of the block will not match.  If this bothers you ... breathe ... remember that you are learning something new!


Get creative and continue to build your block until you have a nice sized patchwork piece. 


I am using a 12.5" square ruler to square up the block.  Make three more patchwork blocks and you will have yourself a nice 12" x 48" patchwork table runner!


Stitch all four blocks together and press your seams.  Baste, quilt, and bind.  For a small project like this, machine binding works great.  If you need a tutorial, here's one that I wrote several months back that will walk you step by step through machine binding.


Too busy to make your own improv patchwork??  I'm giving this little table runner away on my blog today...

Thanks for letting me share!  I hope you will visit me over at That Girl... That Quilt soon!

38 comments:

Leila said...

of course it helps if your scraps are as fabulous as yours! Great tute I'm sure going to give this a go, thank you!

Lee said...

Thank you for a lovely tutorial and link for doing the binding! Always helpful for us new quilters!

Elizabeth D. said...

Fun project!! I love the binding you used here. :)

Karen said...

I've been wanting to try this. Thanks for the nudge and for sharing your joy of quilting.

Madame Samm said...

Good Morning Jennifer... your color choices are becoming of a table runner. Thanks for your tut and visit.

sewinggeek said...

Nice part about sew as you go is that there is no more quilting if you do not want to! Great for quick projects or gifts especially runners and placemats.

Michelle @ Sew-Krafty said...

Thanks for sharing something new!

Mommarock said...

Nice tutorial.. You describe everything so well.. Me, I am always afraid I am babbling, but to read what you wrote.. it all sounds so clear and easy! Thank you.

Colleen said...

Well written tutorial...thanks for sharing your fun creative style! My daughter works much the same way when she is sewing/quilt making. She just grabs a bunch of fabrics and builds her blocks. Your color choices work well together!

Sue said...

What an inspirational post. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. I've been looking @ 12 inch rulers this week, wondering what I'd use one for....now I know! Perfect timing....there is a sale on @ the LQS tomorrow.

Marie said...

Very nice - thank you for sharing. I am learning to let the fabric tell me where and what it wants to be. This is an excellent help in what I am doing.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

I love your blog Jennifer. Thanks for sharing this cute tutorial ;-)

Vickie said...

Love the tut and the linen/cotton combo! Fun.

Sarah Craig said...

Thanks for sharing this great tutorial! I'm getting ready to teach improv blocks this Saturday, and I may just refer them to this post - you make it very clear and easy!

Diane H said...

Very nice - off to visit your blog and check out your binding tut. Thanks for sharing.

Mystica said...

Please count me in! Thank you for sharing.

Cindy said...

Thanks for your tutorial! I've been trying to stretch myself these days and another voice in blogland sharing their "improv" quilting keeps me motivated to try.

Domestic Moose said...

I'm definitely going to try this. What a great idea.

Irene Onderweegs said...

Well, that's about the way I constructed a full tablecloth. Of course came out not that bright, because I didn't have your stash ;^}
But: your runner might very well run along my full monty!
Thank you very much for this tut.
May your life be pieceful and scrappy!
Irene from Amsterdam

Needled Mom said...

What a fabulous project and I'll bet it was fun too.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Improv blocks are just FUN. You gotta break away from the "straight edge" once in awhile. I have never used linen in my quilting - it's a cross stitch/tapestry cloth here and my floss/silks would just cry if I stole it away.

rubyslipperz said...

It's so cool to see great ideas for using odd shape/left over fabric. I can visualize this with even smaller pieces and maybe a smaller square up (10" or 8"). Thanks for sharing your wonderful idea!

hugz,
annie
rubyslipperz106.blogspot.com

Trudi said...

That's a great post, thanks for sharing your Improv tute! It's sometime hard to let go of the control, this should encourage more to give it a go!

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

What a super idea!! Thank you for sharing!

Evelyn said...

Great idea, and wonderful tutorial. I am in the midst of reorganizing my stash. Got a lot of odd Christmas fabrics left-this is gonna be tops on my to-do list. Thanks

Staci said...

I love this, and am going to give it a go. Maybe today. . .

Alison said...

Love it, love it, absolutely LOVE IT. I have a piece of green linen that has just found it's destination!!
Thanks for the great tutorial.
Regards,
Aliosn

Jacqueline said...

I LOVE this idea. Thank you for sharing! You just got yourself another follower!

Quilt n Queen said...

Thank you for the tutorial Jennifer. Will give it a try with my big basket of scraps but I have to make my mug rug first for MSamm's contest. Love the dot binding...:)

Mimi said...

I love to make table runners - usually as gifts to family and friends. Thanks for the tutorial, I love the freedom and how simply your runner is put together.

Marcia W. said...

Thank you for the tutorial. Jennifer, please enter me in the drawing for the runner. Perhaps having a real example in my hands will move me to becoming more improvisational in my quilting. followr MarciaW.

Barbara said...

many many thanks for the lovely tut !

Beverly said...

I always enjoy your projects. This one would certainly take me out of my comfort zone as I have slight control issues, but I'm going to take that step and "just do it" as they say. Thanks for being inspiring!

JANET said...

nice tutorial. Thanks for sharing

Ariane said...

What a great tutorial!!! I love you improv table runner. Thanks for sharing it with us!!! Hugs Ariane

StitchinByTheLake said...

I'm so glad to see you have a tutorial on machine binding - I just can't seem to get the hang of it so I'll be looking at your tutorial to see if I can figure it out. blessings, marlene

Pam said...

What a great idea!! ...I know what I'm doing tomorrow!!!

Char said...

Great post. This is my favorite way to sew, just putting bits and pieces together. Never found a scrap I couldn't use.