100 Days – Week of Improv – Introduction

Welcome to the forth week of 100 Days of Modern Quilting – the Week of Improv!

Improvisational piecing (sometimes called free piecing or liberated piecing and shorten to “improv”) is just what it sounds like: sewing together fabric without always measuring and cutting to precise measurements.  The freedom of piecing like this appeals to many modern quilters as it keeps the design process of quilting continuing through the labor of piecing.  There are no mistakes to be made in improv piecing – if you like the way it looks, it works!

This might sound daunting in that there is no jumping off point, or pattern, to work with but often improv piecing is often done within a context or structure.

Red & Aqua - Alissa Haight Carlton, 2009

For example, this quilt is based in a usual grid of blocks and each log cabin block was improv pieced.  Between the block layout and the limited fabric colors, this improv piecing is actually quite structured.

Neutrals - Alissa Haight Carlton, 2010

Here, not only are the blocks improv pieced, but the assembly of them is as well.  With all quilts, if you want them to end up a rectangle, at some point some planning will have to happen, but this layout was improv pieced until measuring to fill in empty spaces had to happen.

Crossroads - Alissa Haight Carlton, 2011

In this quilt, the improv piecing runs through the non-block based quilt design.  Framing the improv piecing within a design that focuses on negative space gives it another sort of structure.

Many modern quilters embrace improv piecing, but we’ve absolutely been inspired by quilts from the past.  One need only take a look at the amazingly beautiful Gee’s Bend Quilts to see that clearly.  We’ve also found lots of inspiration from contemporary quilters, like Gwen Marston and Nancy Crow, who work with improv piecing.

We hope that if you’ve never done any improv piecing this week of featured quilts will inspire you to get to your sewing space and do some.  And if you have, maybe you’ll see a new spin on it that excites you to try something new!

3 thoughts on “100 Days – Week of Improv – Introduction

Comments are closed.