Category Archives: Projects

Kite Shape Experiment – Tutorial Posted

Yesterday I got a much-needed new computer.  I cannot tell you what a difference it has made so far in just about everything I use it for!  Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer to get everything set up and all my files transferred than I thought it would.

None the less I managed to get my tutorial written and posted before the weekend was over; as promised!  Check out my Tutorial page for how I made the kite shape from a recent experiment.

I’m going back to doing a little more fine-tuning of my new “baby”. 🙂

What Would Happen If….Kite Shape

Just a quick post before I head off to work to give you a preview of the results of a new experiment.  Another “what would happen if” block that came out like this:

Kite Shape Experiment1

So what can you make with this shape?  Here’s some things I put together:

Kite Shape Experiment Group

Stay tuned for a posting this weekend on how I made this shape!  I’m off to work…

Video Tutorial for Using Microsoft Word as a Virtual Design Wall

I have mentioned in other posts that many times I will make a test block for a quilt idea, take a picture of it, then use Microsoft Word as a way to preview possible design layouts.  I have been considering making a video on how to do that, and because of a request (and all my Christmas shopping and wrapping is done) I decided to give it a try.

This will work whether you are using just one block, or more than one in your quilt idea.  Just take one picture of each test block to insert in your Word document, and copy as many times as needed.

As you’ll see I am not yet an expert with video editing software, but I believe my effort is acceptable, LOL.  Pardon some of the awkward transitions!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It’s come to my attention that a lot of people like to use bloglovin’ as a source to easily follow blogs.  So I added a button in the right menu.  I hope that helps others interested in following me to use their preferred method.


Curved Piecing – My “What would happen if…” Drunkard’s Path-like Quilt

Next stop on my quilting/learning adventures – trying out curved piecing.  I have seen so many really interesting, beautiful and fun quilts made from blocks with curved piecing so I wanted to give it a try, but with a little twist.  This is the top that resulted from my experiment:

DP Quilt Top


One of the things I really liked about this top was that the wedges appear to be floating on top of the white strips because of the slight overhang on the corners.


You can also do a layout that results in just diagonal stripes.  Below is an example of my first experiment with this block where I just took a picture of the block and then laid it out on my computer:

Experiment 2

I really liked that layout too and may make another quilt like that.

So, how did I make this block?  This is a half-square triangle with a quarter circle wedge cut out of the lower corner.  However cutting and sewing that quarter circle was done in a bit of an unconventional manner.  Since many times I get ideas then look at what tools I have available, I wondered if I could figure out how to make a Drunkard’s Path type of block without a template.  I ended up using a ruler I had that was designed to cut quarter circles in different sizes.  You normally use it to make full circles from pieces of fabric that you fold into quarters.  It’s called the Omni Arc and it worked great for cutting my quarter circle wedges!  However I had to make some additional cuts to fit the piece in properly.  More to come on that.

Plus, I used charm squares when cutting my wedge, and my special cutting technique provided left-overs that allowed me to make small Drunkards Path blocks to play with as well.  Here’s one example of some left-over blocks that I laid out on my design wall:


Of course the other key to making this block was for me to learn how to sew the curved pieces!  My web searching turned up some tutorials that I liked and I tried both techniques, which I’ve linked below.  I put in two examples of the No Pin technique because I think watching both of them provides a clearer understanding of the process:

For the 3-pin technique, I actually did not put the top and bottom pins in, just the center one, which I felt made it easier to manipulate the fabric to keep the edges lined up.  Both methods worked for me.  Using the pinning method at first made me feel more confident.  Then after I had made a few blocks I tried the no-pin and made blocks successfully as well.

Also, using a shorter stitch length when sewing the curve was helpful.  You may already use a short stitch length when piecing, but I shortened mine even more than I normally do (1.7 mm on my machine).

Regardless of which technique you use, it is possible to pull the top fabric a bit hard and end up with your pie shape not quite matching at the end.  If that happens, you can still square up the block if needed.

So, before I show you how to make this block to make this quilt, I want to give a plug to the makers of the fabric I used.  I just loved the colors and print of these fabrics, and as I tend to do just bought some with no idea how I would end up using it.

The charm packs I used are by Amy Ellis called Modern Neutrals for Moda fabrics.  The gray/blue colored fabric is by Kate & Birdie Paper Co. for Moda as well, and I believe is called Signature Linen.  Not sure about the cream-colored fabric, but it all worked so well together I felt I wanted to share that information.

Hop on over to my tutorials page to see the step by step process I used to make this quilt block.







Geometry Lesson II – NOW the top is done

Something was missing…now it’s not. 🙂  I decided I needed some kind of border so here’s the result.  I didn’t measure the placement of the black squares in the red border strips; just eye-balled what I thought I liked.  I wasn’t trying to line things up in a particular manner, but somehow they do look more planned than I imagined they would.  I’m happy with it!

Improv Blocks II Top Done

Geometry Lesson II – 2nd Improvisational Quilt

Yes, I had to get started on my second improvisational quilt right away!  This idea hit me as soon as I quilted my last stitch on the first one, so I had to dive in.  I used the same fabrics as in Geometry Lesson I, but went “dark” and anchored the shapes in frames.  This is a mix of hand dyed, batik, and solid fabrics.

Geometry Lesson II Top

The other difference with this quilt is that there is not a focus fabric geometric shape that I began working from, but instead I just started taking random pieces of fabric and sewing them together at all different angles.  After I achieved a big enough square-like or rectangular shape I cut it into the geometric shape I thought would look good.

Here is a look at the individual blocks:

Circle II


Triangle IIDiamond II

Rectangle II

I managed to use up almost all of my hand dyed fabrics (used in the frames as well as random piecing), but still have some of the batik prints left for a future project.

The quilt top finished at 38″ x 48″;  two inches on each side larger than Geometry Lesson I.  I don’t know how that happened, LOL.  I didn’t plan the size of any of the blocks, just stopped when they looked “good”.

I think it’s going to take me a while to figure out how I want to quilt this one!  I’m really happy with how it turned out. 🙂

Final Update on my Improv Quilt

The quilting is done!  What a fun time I had making this quilt since I was trying new things. 🙂

Improv Quilt Done

The improv piecing itself was new, and I used a 30 weight variegated thread for my straight line quilting.  I normally don’t use thread that stands out on my quilts, so this made me very nervous, LOL. I did some areas with spiraling triangles and rectangles, so that was something new as well.

Varigated Threads Closeup

I didn’t mark anything on the quilt prior to stitching, however I did use painters tape to lay out a starter line in some of the areas, then either stitched right along the side of the tape or put the side of my machine foot along the tape.

I did make a pretty major mistake which I managed to work through.  Normally I have a number of blocks in my quilts and stitch in the ditch around them to stabilize everything as part of the quilt design.  Since I had a lot of white space and a limited number of blocks in this quilt, I did very little ditch quilting and started to realize that as I took pins out to do some of the long lines of stitching, my top was starting to slide around.  I had to start re-pinning the top in certain areas to try to stop it!  I still ended up having a few areas that got a little bunched up before it dawned on me what was happening. I’m going to really have to think about my pinning pattern for future quilts with a lot of space between the blocks!  Any tips are welcome!

Oh, and here’s the back.  Not sure I’m happy I stuck that white strip in the middle, but I can live with it.  I didn’t have enough of the batik print to make a whole back, but I kind of wish I had put other colors back there.  Oh well!

Improv Quilt Back

So this one’s done and the next one is in my head already!  I’ll see how long it takes me to get that going.

Improv Update

As is my usual habit, I stick my finished tops on my design wall and stare at them for a while when contemplating how I’m going to quilt them.  As I stared at my improv quilt, which I’m officially naming Geometry Lesson I, I decided to add another border.

Improv Quilt Top

So now, instead of color on just the right side and bottom, I added strips to the top and left side.  I thought the first way looked “interesting”, but the more I stared at it the more I felt something was missing.   Now I’ll call it done.

A Night at the Improv (some days too). My take on Improvisational Piecing.

During my learning to quilt journey, I’ve found many quilt making techniques that intrigued me but none that appeared to be more personally freeing than Improvisational Piecing.  Think about it – no restrictions, no instructions, no complicated math; how much fun is that!

Here is the result of my first attempt at Improvisational Piecing (my way).

Improv Quilt

This quilt top was the result of several separate concepts I had over time which finally gelled into one:

  1. I wanted to use a rainbow or color wheel palette within a quilt so I begin collecting fat quarters, jelly rolls, and random yardage (when the whim struck me) to build that stash
  2. I wanted to use various geometric shapes within one quilt
  3. I wanted to try applique, eventually…
  4. I love batiks – must use them in more quilts
  5. I wanted to try improvisational piecing
  6. I wanted to continue to explore the concept of “modern” quilting – using more negative space, bold or unexpected color combinations/patterns, etc. (I’ve made a couple of quilts that might be considered modern already).

So about two weeks ago the time seemed right for me to sit down and merge these ideas into a quilt.  I thought I’d share how I worked through that process.

Getting Started

Improv Quilt1 Improv Quilt2

Although scraps would work great for this kind of project, I had started collecting batik jelly rolls, fat quarters and small amounts of yardage in my color scheme.  So my plan was to cut up random sizes of pieces from my strips.  I also chose a focus fabric that was going to be used as my shape foundation.  In other words, from the focus fabric I would cut a geometric shape for each block I wanted to make, but build on to that shape by adding strips or pieces of fabric around it until I liked the result.  I had no planned size in mind for the foundation shape or final block size.  I would make that decision when I was ready to make the block.

Square Block

Improv Quilt3

I started with a 2 1/2 inch square of my focus fabric.  I then started adding pieces of fabric or making strips out of different colors of cut-up fabric to sew around the square.  I did this in a kind of clockwise direction, probably similar to making a Log Cabin block but without being worried about to which side of the block I’m adding what color.

The only “rule” I enforced on myself was to keep the color order of my strip pieces the same as a rainbow; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.   So if you look closely, you might be able to notice that was what I did.  If I sewed a Red strip to a side, then wanted to make a multi-colored strip for the next side, I had to use Orange, Yellow, and Green for instance.  The next piece had to be Blue, etc.  I think that kept me from over-thinking or stressing too much about color placement.  I would also audition each strip just to make sure I didn’t have the same sized pieces or colors bumping against each other too much; re-cutting and rearranging as needed.  I did not want any seams to match up either.

When I felt like I had added enough to make it a good size I stopped.  I also didn’t worry if it was an actual square, all sides the exact same length.  If it looked like a square, that’s all I wanted.

Rectangle Block

Improv Quilt Rec

I basically did this the same way as the Square.  I cut a rectangle out of the focus fabric than went around it with different strips made up of different sized pieces of fabric.  I would sew them on, then trim, then sew another side, trim, etc. as needed until I liked the result.

Improv Quilt8Improv Quilt11

Triangle Block

Improv TRI

Same concept here, however now I also had to add setting triangles to give me straight edges to incorporate the triangle as a “block” into the quilt.  So I just cut oversized triangles from my background fabric and sewed them to the right and left sides, trimming them down a bit as I deemed necessary.


Improv Tri2

Hexagon Block


This hexagon does not necessarily measure out like a true hexagon, but it looks like one!  So that was good enough for me.  The hardest part of this block was figuring out how to cut the background fabric to frame this into a proper block.

I ended up cutting two large squares of background fabric and sewed them to the left top diagonal and the right bottom diagonal.  Then I sewed two large strips of fabric across the top and bottom, trimming on the diagonal.  I then sewed two more strips on the right and left.  Somehow I went through that process without taking pictures, but I think the picture below shows what I’m trying to explain.  I squared up the block using a square ruler.

Improv Quilt13Improv Quilt12

Again, this looks like a hexagon but I wasn’t concerned if all sides were exact, like a true hexagon.


I took a different approach for the circle.  Using strips of fabric I made a square-like block from which I cut out a circle using a special ruler.  This was the first time I actually used the ruler although I bought it some time ago with another quilt idea in mind.  I haven’t gotten around to making that quilt yet. 🙂

Improv Quilt14Improv Quilt15Improv Quilt16Improv Quilt17

Improv Quilt18

The next step was to raw-edge applique the circle to a square of background fabric.  I had never done applique before but understood the process; kind of.  In the past I had watched videos on different applique techniques.

First I took some scraps of cloth and tested out various applique stitches built into my sewing machine.  When I found a stitch I thought would work I continued to practice on scraps.

When it was time to do the real thing I used safety pins to secure my circle to my background square, then used an Elmer’s, acid free, washable glue stick to glue the edges down.  I just flipped the edges back and ran the glue stick on the wrong side of the fabric then pressed the edges against the background fabric.  The goal was to keep me from accidentally shifting the edge as I stitched around it.

Improv Quilt19

After setting my sewing machine to the lowest speed I stitched all around the edge of the circle.


Improv Quilt20

I didn’t consider using a different color or weight of thread for the applique because I really didn’t want it to stand out.  Also, since batik fabric is “crisp” compared to regular cotton, I didn’t need a stabilizer either.


Improv Quilt21

Following my same plan, I randomly added strips around the focus fabric cut in the shape of a parallelogram.  This one I measured so that the focus fabric was an actual parallelogram. 🙂

Now that I had all the shapes that I wanted, I just put them up on my design wall to figure out a layout that was pleasing.  Once I finalized that decision I needed to map out what background pieces to add to my blocks to connect them all together.

In the picture below I outlined all of the background pieces that I added.  I believe you can see the logic and order for how I put this together.

Improv Quilt Outline

So there you have it!  My first foray into Improvisational piecing!  I really enjoyed it and see many more Improv projects in my future.  Now to figure out how to quilt this…