Welcome to Poppyprint! I'm so glad you've stopped by for the annual fall festival.
I've been saving this little quilt for the festival, although pictures were posted on Instagram when I pieced it initially. It is made entirely out of Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids - in fact I used almost every last thread of the 7 small cuts of fabric handed out at our Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild meeting. We are participating in a challenge to make a quilted item out of these fabrics (any other solids could be added) and there will be a big reveal of all our members' quilts at our November meeting.
As soon as I opened my package, I went straight to work on this quilt. I'd been playing with a new method of improv piecing that occurred to me one day last summer and I was itching to try it out using solids. The name "Improv Under the Influence" has a double meaning for me. The first influence was a vintage quilt that inspired this modified courthouse steps layout - the quilt hung in "American Quilts - the Democratic Art" exhibit that I was lucky enough to see last year in Bellingham, WA. Photographs were not allowed in the exhibit, the quiltmaker was unknown and the quilt does not appear in the coffee table book I purchased, so I can only describe it to you from memory. The quilt had a very Gees Bend vibe, but did not originate from Alabama as I recall. Like my version, the steps were defined by colour. The horizontal steps were pieced from suiting scraps and solids in neutral shades of black, brown, cream and white. The vertical steps included a lot of red, brighter calico scraps and white. I couldn't take my eyes off that quilt.
The straight-line quilting was entirely improvised on the go, using the piecing as a guide. I used lime and hot pink Aurifil 30 wt thread.
The second influence is that of traditional piecing methods. I often hear at my traditional guild that quilters want to explore the idea of improv, but they don't know where to start. The thought of randomly cutting strips of fabric with scissors seems wasteful and intimidating when they are used to precise rotary methods and a set plan. The way that I constructed this quilt from pre-cuts allows you to maintain a 1/4" seam allowance, use your rotary equipment and have a lot of fun! Using this method, no two people would ever end up with the same quilt because there is a lot of freedom to improvise and play. I look forward to teaching the method at guild next month and can't wait to see how people use it in their quilt-making.
The backing fabric of this little 28" square hanging came from a clothing shop in Sarlat-la-Caneda, a beautiful town that we visited in the Dordogne region of France in 2012. The colours were just so happy and unique that I bought a yard for my stash. I could not believe my luck when I saw how well it coordinated with the challenge fabrics! I chose to forego a traditional binding and instead let the piecing run all the way to the edge of the quilt by attaching a facing (the solid green frame you see around the backing edge). I followed this excellent tutorial by fellow VMQG member Terry Aske.
An adapted, larger version of Improv Under the Influence will release as a pattern in 2014!