teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Monday 3 April 2017

Improv: Beyond The Bee - February Bee Block #NYCMetroMOD

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

This is my February Improv: Beyond The Bee block for Judy.

Improv: Beyond The Bee

As members of the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild Bee, we are using many of the ideas in The Improv Handbook For Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood and working with scores (rules open to self-interpretation) set by that month's Guild Queen Bee.

As I mentioned Queen Bee for February 2017 is Judy and she sent me these fabric strips and a pre pieced section that you can see in the bottom left of the pic below.

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Judy's Score
Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Judy's Rules:
add black + white, if desired

Shape and Size:
surround pre pieced section with supplied fabrics and black + white, if desired
minimum size 12" x 12"
can be square or rectangular

Idea Conception
Looking at the supplied fabric strips, the obvious design would be a log cabin, so I knew I didn't want to go there.  I decided to piece the strips together to create fabric and then cut the pieced fabric and piece it around the pre pieced section.

Choosing Fabrics
I raided my black + white scraps and found some small triangles, cut away excess from various projects and some rectangular strips.

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Making My Block - The Process
I sewed the black + white triangles together to make half square triangles (HSTs) and then sewed them around the pre pieced section.

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Next, I divided the strips into 2 colour ways: purple/orange/yellow and green/blue/brown.  I sewed each set of strips together, curve sliced them twice and turned the centre section 180⁰ and sewed the three sections back together. 

I sewed these along with some offcuts and leftover strips around the pre pieced/HST section to fully surround it and I added a black and white stripe in the bottom corner.

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com  Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com  Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com
Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

I didn't trim the finished block - I like to leave it so the person piecing the quilt top can trim it down to the size/shape that works best for them at that time.

Forgot to measure the finished block, so I've no idea what the finished size is, but I know it's larger than the 12" x 12" minimum Judy requested.

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Assessing My Work Against The Score
When I first opened the package of fabric from Judy, I didn't think strip colours would work together.  I think, in the end, they look pretty great.

I have no fear of improv or curves - I can slice through pretty much anything these days and I'm able to sew it back together again, I've no idea when I arrived at that stage over the last 5-1/2 years and all I can put it down to is practice!  
I also discovered that, at some point in the last 5 years of being in Bees,  I've lost my fear of cutting into other people's fabric.  I realise that I now work with confidence, I have knowledge and ability and I can make anything work - that's really something wonderful for me to acknowledge, WOW!

I love the black + white HSTs. The piece is so busy, you don't really notice them but I like the detail.
I also love the yellow and purple strips framing the pre pieced section and HSTs - anyone would think I'd planned it 😉

I've already sent the finished block back to Judy.  Looking at these pics, I wish I'd had some of Judy's fabric left to fill out the bottom left section a little more so Judy can trim it to a larger square/rectangle - or I could have used a piece of black + white.  Nevermind, it's done now!

My Thoughts
Not a difficult piece in itself but it allowed me to acknowledge a great deal about myself and my ability.

Improv: Beyond The Bee

Improv Piecing by www.madebyChrissieD.com

Have you made a quilt using scores from The Improv Handbook For Quilters?  
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too.
I'm Vice President of the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild #nycmetromod and from 2012-15 I was a member of our Guild's first Bee and I shared how I made each block with you here on this page along with our Guild's challenge and charity blocks and now the Improv: Beyond The Bee blocks too.

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  1. Be interesting to see how this is used.

  2. i love how this turned out. Fun shapes and movement.

  3. This turned out really great!

  4. It's so interesting to hear you talk about how much you have learnt and developed over the years. You really do know what you are doing!


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Chris Dodsley

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