Tag Archives: curves

Eye Spy Something New

My recent experimentation with improv curves has got me excitedly skipping down the path of curved sewing, eagerly trying every rendition of curves I can find. Mastering curves is one of my big goals for the year, so I’m happily nurturing this skill with every try.

eye spy quilt beginningsI have collected quite a sweet stack of fabric scraps featuring colorful creatures and items (many thanks to my most generous fellow quilters who sent scraps!), and with Allison from Campbell Soup Diary constantly prodding encouraging me to try freezer paper appliqué, I figured it was finally time. Thus begins another new project–an eye spy quilt for my kids involving inset circles, drunkards path blocks, and any other curves I can find.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spySince I don’t have an actual mathematical compass in my house (gasp–appalling, I know!), I decided to use my Sizzix die cutting machine to help with cutting circles, since of course the eye spy quilt will need to consist of curves of all kinds. I only have the Sizzix BigZ L die that includes 2″, 3″, and 4″ circles together, so I could use it to cut the freezer paper but not the fabric. You can be sure the solo 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ circle dies will be in my next order! I grabbed some freezer paper, my washable school glue with Fineline tip, some appliqué scissors, my Sizzix fabi and circles and drunkards path dies and some fun fabrics.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyI used a combination of Allison’s fabulous tutorial for a mini drunkards path block and the techniques used in the six-minute circle and other improv sewing I’ve been trying. I basically followed Allison’s tutorial, using the Sizzix to cut the circle in the freezer paper, and ironing the freezer paper to the wrong side of my background square to get started.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyI clipped the curves and pressed them out around the freezer paper, actually gluing them a bit to the paper so that they would stay pressed back better (brilliant tip, Allison!). Then I diverted from Allison’s tutorial and switched into “six-minute circle mode”, running a bead of glue around the tabs.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyI then positioned the circle over the strawberry piece, pressing it with an iron to heat set the glue.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyOnce the tabs were heat set and secure, I gently pulled the background fabric up and slowly stitched around the inside edge of that freezer paper circle using a zipper foot. That way, these inset circles are sewn and secure, but the stitches are still hidden like with actual curved piecing.

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyThen I trimmed the excess fabric from around the strawberry, creating a 1/4″ seam allowance. I LOVE the outcome! I also think this took even less than six minutes, which is kind of amazing in my book. Only a couple hundred more squares to go!

inset circles with sizzix and freezer paper eye spyI don’t have a real firm plan for this quilt yet, other than I’m aiming to use 4″ and 8″ and possibly some 2″ blocks and aim for a smooth rainbow gradient as well as the eye spy fun within the blocks. I have not yet decided whether I will include squares as well as circles, or if I will keep this a purely curvy quilt. What would you do?

drunkards path block beginnings sizzixAs you can see, I did give one drunkards path block a go since I have a drunkards path die that finishes at 4″, but I clearly need more practice with actual curved piecing. It ended up a bit wonky and smaller than 4 1/2″ (for visual reference, the strawberry and cat blocks are about 5 or 5 1/2″ square since I plan to trim them down at the end and I wanted some wiggle room). Next time, I’ll try glue basting for the drunkards path block, too, I think. It’s worth a try!

I’m linking up with Lorna at Let’s Be Social, since I’ve added yet another project to my works in progress pile. After this one, I’m going to focus on finishing what I’ve started for a while!

Nurturing One Layer at a Time

This year I’ve dedicated myself to focusing on nurture–nurture of my children, my family, myself, and well… my sewing know-how! With a big project finally wrapped up (I’ll share more about that a bit later), I allowed myself to stretch WAY out of my comfort zone a bit and begin to work on fine-tuning two big aspects of quilting into which I haven’t yet delved too deeply: improv and curves.

back of improv curves block inspired by beesewcial
Isn’t the back fun!?

For the past week or so, I’ve been playing and experimenting with improv in response to the Bee Sewcial theme for March, which was suggested by Hillary from Entropy Always Wins. For those of you who are not yet familiar with Bee Sewcial, it’s a sewing bee with a bunch of super talented improv quilters, where each member suggests a general theme/prompt and color scheme each month and the bee members have free reign to sew their interpretations of the prompt. I’ve been blown away and inspired by the blocks these uber talented women create, and I’ve been meaning to play along using their prompts as inspiration.

Layers screen-shot-2016-02-29-at-6-48-14-pmThis month, Hillary invited her Bee Mates (and others playing along with #inspiredbybeesewcial) to “explor[e] the idea of layers (components that appear to be in the foreground and components that appear to be in the background) in your block design using the colors of this peeling paint image by Richman as a guide.” She asked that we bring at least two “layers” to our designs but said that we may add more.  She requested specific Kona colors consistent with the Richman image. I encourage you to read her post for more details, here. I was immediately smitten.

layers color palette
Suggested Kona color palette (left to right) Robin Egg, Capri, Breakers, Cyan, School Bus, Persimmon, Carrot, and Orange

I ordered the suggested colored fabrics, reviewed an impromptu lesson on the six-minute circle style form of improv curve sewing that Stephanie from Spontaneous Threads was kind enough to walk me through a month or so ago on Instagram, and began plotting.

layers improv curvesI added two already-stashed Kona oranges (orange and persimmon) to add a bit more depth to the foreground and got started. I began with the lightest robin egg blue and built out from there.

improv curve glue basting processA really fun aspect of being active on Instagram is the immediate feedback and visible spread of inspiration. While I was working on this creation, I posted updates along the way, as is my style, and a number of people expressed interest in trying it themselves (a couple have even sewn up a block already!). Since this is my very first time trying this method in earnest, I gave the best basic directions I could and directed them to the “six minute circle” technique. I applied the six minute circle basics of cutting the shape plus seam allowance, clipping curves, pressing the seam allowance with an iron, glue basting down, and then sewing along that pressed seam (from underneath the top fabric, so the stitches are hidden).

Note that in the photo above, I pressed the seam allowance on the orange piece and sewed it that way. In hindsight, because of the sharp curve of that mountain on the right, I should have done the reverse and cut and pressed the seam allowance on the layered piece and sewn down to the orange. This may seem clear as mud, but I’m hoping that as I practice this method and get more well versed in what consistently works, I will be better able to show you how to do it!

hand stitching tight curvesTo solve my steep mountain, tight sewing space problem, I decided to hand-stitch the steep part of the mountain down. The sewing machine foot (I used the zipper foot since it’s skinny!) didn’t want to fit up in that curve without sewing over bunches of fabric, so rather than make a mountain out of a molehill, I just hand stitched. Granted it’s wonky as anything, but it’s sewn down! No rules, right?!

improv curves layers inspired by beesewcialI’ve finished my base, but plan to build one more layer with needle-turn appliqué. I think I did a fairly good job of eliciting “layers” with this block, so I technically could stop here and call it a win. But, as is often the case, my initial vision included one more layer. Hillary mentioned depth of field in photos as a potential inspiration source, and so an image of looking through a field with a sun glare behind came to mind. This block looks a bit like a martian landscape at the moment, but with a little needle-turn appliqué that will soon change.

next step in improv layers inspired by beesewcialI want to try to play once more with a more modern take on layers, since as hard as I try, the natural gorgeousness of real life works its way into my quilting more often than not. Don’t get me wrong–there is nothing wrong with realism in quilting; but if I’m wanting to stretch into a different world of quilting for a bit, I may need to leave the tangible objects behind and play purely with geometry, color, and shape.

I’m really happy and excited with the outcome of this block so far, and feel like it opens up a whole new world of textile creation. I’m already plotting projects that incorporate this technique, and I’m thinking I’m getting really close to being ready to finally finish my Dropcloth Sampler Rainbow Color Wheel project.

What new techniques are you itching to try? What’s holding you back? This week, I encourage you to jump in and try it! No fears, no worries, no expectations. Just play. You just might be pleasantly surprised!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.