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:

  1. 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!

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

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

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  6. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 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!

    ReplyDelete
  9. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  13. 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!

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

    ReplyDelete
  15. Please count me in! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 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.

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

    ReplyDelete
  18. 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

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

    ReplyDelete
  20. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 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

    ReplyDelete
  22. 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!

    ReplyDelete
  23. 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

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

    ReplyDelete
  25. 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

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

    ReplyDelete
  27. 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...:)

    ReplyDelete
  28. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  29. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  30. many many thanks for the lovely tut !

    ReplyDelete
  31. 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!

    ReplyDelete
  32. nice tutorial. Thanks for sharing

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

    ReplyDelete
  34. 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

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

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

    ReplyDelete

You think they are just words...they are sew much more than that...your wee messages tell me, you are kind, smart and important...