Improv Stripes

Debbie Jeske of A Quilter’s Table started an improv stripes QAL recently, and today is the day some of us will be revealing our work. This has been such a fun little QAL;  check out #improvstripesqal on Instagram for more inspiration.

We were to pick some fabrics and/or scraps and sew them into strip sets. I had a couple of oddball fat quarters tucked away in a drawer. Oddball not because the fabric was ugly, but oddball because I really couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I’m glad they came to mind for the project because they seemed to work well. I happened to stop at a quilt shop during the sewing, so I also picked up a couple FQs I thought would be a fun addition.

There is something very relaxing and fun about cutting randomly and then just sewing away. I didn’t really think much about what should go next to what, or how big the strip sets were. I just sewed them together. My first sets looked like this. If you follow me on Instagram at @piecefulwendy, you can see my progress as I went along.

Improv stripes -

I sewed strips together until I had no more fabric left, adding in a bit of gold here and there. Thinking I’d make a little mini square quilt, I squared some of the blocks right away, but left some as they were until I figured out how to fit them together. In the end, I moved them around and made a runner.

Improv Quilt - Runner 1 -

The runner measures about 11″ x 25″.  I used a piece of gray fabric from my stash for the backing and binding. I’m not sure where I picked it up, maybe at SRHarris. I realized as I was working with it that there is a very light staining on the fabric. I’m wondering if it is from water damage, or maybe it just wasn’t a good run and that’s why it ended up at the store. It’s barely noticeable, so I’m not too concerned.

Improv Quilt - back view -

I quilted it with a lime green Aurifil thread. I originally intended to add one more color of thread, but I was enjoying the green so much that I just kept going. Keeping with the improv feel, I made organic lines both horizontally and vertically in groups of three.

I also set some of the longer strips aside. A few people mentioned how the longer stripe groups looked like birch trees, and I couldn’t resist going with that. So I made this.

Improv Quilt - Birches -

It’s a little mini runner, about 9″ x 30″. I’ll call it “Birches”. The gold fabric makes me think of  little streaks of golden sun along with the other purples and pinks of the sunset. Sunset through the birch trees — see? It works for me.

Improv Quilt - Birches back detail -

I used a variegated gold thread (Gütermann) to quilt this, just stitching some organic lines here and there. Once again I considered adding in another color of thread, but ended up with just the gold. The same gray fabric was used for the backing and binding on this mini as I did in the other.

Improv Quilts - runner and Birches -

Have you ever done improv? Did you enjoy it or not? I’d enjoy hearing about your experience. I’ll respond to every comment; however, I won’t be responding until next week after I return from the road trip.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


16 thoughts on “Improv Stripes”

  1. Wendy, I love both of these! I really really like the Birches 🙂 I have not done a bunch of improv work, but was just thinking this morning maybe I should start sewing some scraps together as a leader/ender project and see where they go. There definitely isn’t a lack of scraps in my house.

  2. These turned out really lovely! I love the lime quilting on the first. How fun. Thanks much for sewing along with me!!

  3. I really like what you did with your improv stripes! I’ve been participating, too, and having fun with the whole idea. I’ve just started experimenting with improv piecing – I started with Debbie’s Crosscut QAL last summer actually. I enjoy the challenge of figuring something like this out, but haven’t ventured out on my own past the qals yet!

  4. Hi Wendy: I was going to sew along with this but unfortunately my crazy life had other plans for me. I love improv and I don’t do it enough.

  5. Both of these pieces are so cool, Wendy! I really like the scale of the little stripes on the fabric interacting with the bigger stripes of the improv strips. Neat!

    I’ve done a bit of improv, and enjoyed it. I was tempted to join this improv-a-long; perhaps next time.

  6. Oh I love both of these. The fabrics are beautiful, they were obviously waiting for the right project to come along, and it did. Birches is my favourite of the two, it reminds me of a wood. I’ve only done improv a couple of times, once it turned into one of my all time favourite quits, Bluebell Woods, the second was when I had some narrow strings of Oakshott fabric left, and being so beautiful and so expensive I wanted to use up every scrap, it turned into the most beautiful cushion, I was so happy with it. Improv is next on the list, but I just have to finish one or two things first, I think………..

  7. These look like so much fun. I’ll watch for one of these quilt alongs to get some improv piecing going in the future!

Comments are closed.