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Improv quilting – what’s it all about?

 

Yesterday I gave you a brief introduction to the PFAFF Quilt Expression™ 4.2 sewing machine. I hope you had time to watch some of the videos and previous QUILTsocial blog posts on this great machine.

Although improv quilting is being talked about a lot in Modern Quilting groups today, it’s really not a new technique. Crazy quilting and the quilts of Gee’s Bend are really forms of this style. Improv quilting is just a way of sewing scraps together to create larger pieces which are then incorporated into blocks that can be used in a quilt. Here’s another link about the Gee’s Bend quilters that you might like to check out.

My own work is usually pretty structured, but I have been making these little wonky improv houses for a while and have used them in a few quilts. They’re great fun to make and you can use up some of those scraps you have been saving.

 

Winter Village quilt by Jean Boyd using improv pieced houses
Winter Village quilt by Jean Boyd

 

 

Hip Hop houses quilt by Jean Boyd with improv wonky houses
Hip Hop houses quilt by Jean Boyd

 

When you’re making these houses, there are a lot of bias edges to sew. The IDT™ integrated dual feed foot on the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 is a great help for sewing those seams. This walking foot isn’t a separate foot just for quilting, but can be used for almost all sewing. It really prevents layers from shifting while sewing, especially on those bias edges.

 

The IDT™ integrated dual feed foot on the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2
The IDT™ integrated dual feed foot on the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2

 

So let’s get started on our improv houses using the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2.

I had a lot of black and white scraps left over from a recent project, so decided to use them for the houses.

 

Black and white scraps for my improv houses
Black and white scraps for my improv houses

 

Then I found some orange pieces for the sky and green for the grass. I won’t be using all of these fabrics, but it’s always good to have a variety to choose from.

 

Green fabrics for the grass in my improv wonky houses
Green fabrics for the grass
Orange fabrics for the sky in my improv wonky houses
Orange fabrics for the sky

 

When making these houses, all seams are sewn on an angle. The exact angle doesn’t matter. Just experiment until you get an angle that pleases you and creates a fun house.

If you’re new to improv quilting, you might like to use these measurements as a guide for your first house, or just use the scraps you have.

Grass – one piece 3″ x 10″

Sky – two pieces 3″ x 6″, one piece 3″ x 8″ and two pieces 3″ x 9″

Walls – three pieces 2″ x 4″ and three pieces 2″ x 2″

Door – one piece 2″ x 3″

Roof – one piece 4″ x 8″

Now let’s start sewing! Make sure you have the IDT™ dual feed foot on the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 engaged. It will really help make your piecing much more accurate. I like to use the “needle down” feature for all my piecing. I also attached the ¼” foot which just snaps on and off on this machine — so easy!

Sew a small wall strip to a door strip on a slight angle. Trim seam to ¼”. Press seam toward wall fabric.

 

Door strip sewn to a wall fabric strip
Door strip sewn to a wall fabric strip

 

Sew a wall strip to each side of door unit on an angle. Trim seam allowances to ¼”. Press seam toward wall fabric.

Make sure you save those little scraps that you’re cutting from the seam allowances. You just might be able to use them for another house!

 

Sew a wall strip to each side of door unit on an angle.
Sew a wall strip to each side of door unit on an angle.

 

Sew one piece of sky fabric to each side of the door unit. Trim seam and press.

 

Sew 1 piece of sky fabric to each side of the door unit.
Sew 1 piece of sky fabric to each side of the door unit.

 

Sew one strip of roof fabric on an angle. Trim seam and press.

Sew one strip of sky fabric to the top of the roof.

 

Roof and sky fabric have been sewn on
Roof and sky fabric have been sewn on

 

I love the way the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 cuts the thread at the end of a seam and pulls both threads to the back.

 

The PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 cuts the thread at the end of a seam and pulls both threads to the back.
The PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 cuts the thread at the end of a seam and pulls both threads to the back.

 

Sew a piece of sky fabric to each side, creating a slanted roof.

Sew one or two pieces of grass fabric, on an angle, to the bottom of the house.

 

More sky fabric and grass fabric have been sewn on
More sky fabric and grass fabric have been sewn on

 

You can trim your house block to any size you want. I placed my 8½” ruler on the house block and trimmed it to 8½” square.

 

Place the 8½" ruler on the house block and trim.
Place the 8½” ruler on the house block and trim.

 

And now you have even more scraps to make more houses!

 

More scraps to use in another house
More scraps to use in another house

 

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see how I used the PFAFF Expression™ 4.2 to make an improv house with a window and a chimney.

 

PFAFF Quilt Expression™ 4.2
PFAFF Quilt Expression™ 4.2

 

 

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Getting to know the PFAFF Quilt Expression™ 4.2

Go to part 3: Making a house a home out of the improv quilting wonky house block

 

Jean has been designing and publishing patterns since 1997. For the past 10 years she has been designing patterns for new fabric collections by Northcott Fabrics. Her work has been published in several magazines in both Canada and the United States. Jean holds a Fiber Arts Certificate in quilting and has taught extensively throughout Canada, including six national Quilt Canada conferences. She was named "Canadian Teacher of the Year" in 2003 by the Canadian Quilters Association and has won numerous awards for her quilts.

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