Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Variegated Threads - A Modern Spool Quilt

About 18 months ago, I was asked by the MQG if I'd agree to publish my Chess on the Steps pattern in Simply Moderne magazine (produced in France by Quiltmania).  I happily agreed! Quiltmania editors were impressed by the free pattern of the month quilts on display at QuiltCon 2015 and enquired about running a monthly feature on MQG quilts and modern quilting techniques written by MQG Communications Manager Riane Menardi.  Soon the terms changed and the folks at Simply Moderne requested new, fresh patterns in lieu of the previously published free patterns of the month. I was so pleased for the opportunity to be a pattern contributor for a piece on Improv Quilting (although, as you know, actually writing a pattern for improv is a daunting prospect and sort of counter-intuitive to the process).

Hmmm, what to do? I knew I wanted to incorporate my Improv Under the Influence technique because I think it is such a fun gateway for quilters venturing into improv from a traditional quilting background.My inspiration came in the form of Oakshott's new Colourshott range. This gorgeous, luminous fabric had served me so well with Chess on the Steps, but I wanted to use more fact all of them! Looking at a unit of improv strips sitting on my design wall from another project, it came to me that it would make a perfect thread spool. There are so many ways to make spool blocks and I've long admired vintage spool quilts. I've even made several fun spool quilts using selvages in the past.  This time, I decided to take advantage of the colour range and create variegated spools, each with four different but related colours; just like you'd see on real thread display racks.

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

Ultimately, the pattern is part 'planned' improv (the thread units of each spool are built using my Improv Under the Influence technique) and part traditional piecing. Once trimmed, the thread units are pieced into the spool block, then joined together to form the wall hanging. One fun element of the pattern is that two rectangular spools sewn side by side form a square block, so the quilt could be laid out with alternating two horizontal/two vertical spools. That way, the light and dark grey backgrounds would zigzag, forming a secondary pattern.  I've also created a table runner sewing 7 spools side by side. I can't wait to use it on my dining table for Stitch Group days!

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

I had a lot of fun quilting this piece using my collection of rainbow Aurifil 40 wt threads that I'd initially purchased to finish this quilt a couple of years ago. That custom box of Aurifil thread (purchased from my friend Carola) seemed an extraordinary extravagance at the time, but I have used all of the colours time and again, so I don't regret it for one second!  In the background areas, I used a medium grey and quilted a swirling loop to resemble pooling threads. In each variegated spool, I tried domestic ruler work for the first time (sewing the straight lines with a darning foot beside a thick ruler) so that I could go back and forth in both directions without having to turn the quilt to avoid the dreaded 'fabric drag' between the quilting lines. Each spool features a coordinating or matching thread colour. It was a great success on my Juki!

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

Simply Moderne #5 features my Variegated Threads pattern and an article on Improv Quilting by Riane Menardi of the MQG.

I just love this little quilt.  It is a great introduction to improv work, which of course can evolve into a much freer, creative process where the maker begins with a toolbox of techniques and an inspired idea instead of a pattern. 

Want to make your very own? The Oakshott company has prepared full kits for the front and binding of the quilt, conveniently made with charm packs of their luscious new Colourshott range of shot cottons. If you are luck enough to attend the Birmingham Festival of Quilts next month in the UK, you can see my quilt in person at the Oakshott stand as well as purchase a kit - otherwise they are available online right here.  You'll also need a copy of Simply Moderne issue #5 for the pattern, available here.


Lisa J. said...

This is great. Many of us are dipping our toes into improv and it's nice to have a helping hand to guide us along.

Susan said...

My experiments with improv were far from satisfying. This looks like a great way of trying again, although strangely odd- a pattern for improv!

Pip said...

I enjoy making improv quilts but find it hard to explain to others how I do it, so I think this will be really helpful for people trying improv for the first time.

Debbie said...

Very nice! I really love your improv under the influence technique!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas on this one. Please keep posting about such articles as they really spread useful information.Thanks for this particular
I hope it stays updated, take care.

Pumlans flitiga fingrar said...

This is so nice, to see morse of your improvisation technic! A beautyful Quilt indeed!

Indianna said...

Fabulous quilt, such a fun design. I will look out for it next month in Birmingham, I've never been to FOQ before so it's going to be quite an experience!

Beatrice said...

Great quilt! Unfortunately, I won't be able to go to Birmingham this year. Too bad. Hopefully, I can get hold of the magazine!