On a complete and total whim a few weeks ago, I decided to make an improv quilt. The fabrics, mostly Shelburne Falls by Denyse Schmidt, just spoke to me as I was wading through the stash. I don't know what drew me to the purple – perhaps the wild violets that show themselves in the grass every spring? No matter! Purple it was! And bonus because I have a dear friend whose birthday was around the corner and she loves purple like I love green. No better time than that! I grabbed the fabrics, pulled in a couple of other prints (a purple gingham, the pink pez, red and pink dot) and some Kona snow (always on hand!) and started cutting.
If you'd like to make something similar yourself, the process is super simple. I cut full widths of the printed and the white fabrics about 14" long. Then I sub-cut them into smaller strips using my rotary cutter without the ruler. I was intentional in making them different widths and a little wonky/angled, but not too crazy. I paired each printed strip with a white strip and sewed them together.
Once that step was complete, I took each print/white pair and sewed it to another print/white pair so that I ended up with "blocks" alternating 2 prints with 2 white strips. I find that making blocks like this to arrange in the quilt top is measurably faster and easier for me. It takes much less time to lay everything out, I have fewer design decisions to make and I make them faster! Once I had the blocks arranged the in five rows (one for each of my friend's children), I sewed the blocks together. Due to the irregularity of the strips, the sewn rows had to be trimmed down before I was able to sew them together into a quilt top. You do lose a bit of height on all of them – two rows ended up being 12" unfinished and the other three were 12.5" unfinished. I was aiming for a 60" quilt so it is good to cut the strips taller than you think they need to be.
After I had the rows sewn together and the quilt basted, I let it sit for a couple of days before quilting it. I wasn't sure if I wanted straight-ish lines or if I wanted to free motion something. In the end, I decided to quilt it with free motion loops from side to side. I didn't mark the rows, but rather used the seam lines as a general guide and that seemed to work well. The quilting was fast! Maybe an hour and a half? A good reminder that free motion quilting often takes less time than straight lines – I always forget that!
The back was pieced with a 60" wide piece of the purple gingham and a strip of other prints along one side. I bound it with a stripe from the same collection that I didn't use in the quilt top. Oh – and one little part of the binding is another print that was a mistake I added as a design element. I think it gives it a little extra charm.
I washed the quilt so it would be soft and crinkly. I loved how it came out and had so much fun making it. I'm already plotting the next one!