Piecing and quilting improvisationally is all about creating a design without a pattern and making it up as you go along. You may have a general idea of the direction you would like to take, but you cut, sew and audition shapes, then adjust as necessary to suit your own taste.
Organizing Fabric for Improvisational Quilting
In my book, Improvising Tradition, I show you how to add improvisational elements to more traditional, familiar quilting techniques and designs. As you might imagine, creating quilts this way can get a little messy. All the changing fabrics, cutting sections off, and beginning again creates piles of rejected fabrics, as well as scraps in odd sizes, trimmed pieces of thread and, of course, a growing piece of fabric art. This probably sounds familiar to any of you who quilt or sew, even if it’s not improv piecing.
I organize my fabrics in an open shelving unit, folded and stacked by color. The shelf is next to my sewing and cutting table where I can see and reach it as my sewing plans may change. For smaller scraps and strips, I sort by color and store in clear plastic shoe boxes. This makes finding the right piece and size of fabric easy, as well as making clean-up of scraps quick. Small children are also useful for this —I put the scrap bins out, and my six-year-old loves to put scraps away by color in each box.
I hope you'll take a look at Improvising Tradition and experiment with ways to express your own, unique voice though improv quilting.