Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mid-Week Workshop :: Piecing an Improv Block

Before I get to today's topic, I wanted to tell a little story.
The other day, my youngest daughter, a junior in high school, told me that, though her Physics class was very difficult for her, she was really enjoying it because it was genuinely challenging. She added that there have been other classes that were "hard", but they didn't challenge her the way this class does. 
I think what she meant by that was that when you work on something slightly or more out of your usual realm, and begin to understand it, bit by bit, there's a sense of growth and accomplishment that only that kind of challenge brings.
I've experienced that type of challenge today in prepping the materials for this post. 
It started when I decided that, rather than take step-by-step process shots of the making of this block, I would make an Instagram video instead. I've made those before and they're fun and cute and that's about it. Also, if you're not my friend or follower or whatever on Instagram, you probably wouldn't  know the video was there. 
So, I uploaded the video to my Google drive and then downloaded it to my computer and then uploaded it here.
For those of you who've been doing this since Roosevelt was in office, this may not be impressive. I don't claim to be the first to do this. Just that this was the first time I've done it and I had to figure it out and it was challenging and I feel accomplished having done it. 
In a similar vein, I think that many of you, afraid of working improvisationally, might encounter the same experience if you give the technique I'm featuring a try.
So, today's workshop is about piecing this block:
The block is part of this work in progress:
It features 4 of the striped prints in my new collection, From Outside In, and a solid.
You can make this too. Ideally with these exact fabrics, but, since they won't even be in stores until January and, once you watch the video, you'll be rarin' to go, select other stripes or solids. I wouldn't use big, bold prints, but I think you could use smaller, more discreet prints.
The key to this is consistency of strip placement.

Note that in this group of four blocks the center red square is pieced first to a yellow striped piece, then to a green striped piece, then to a cream striped piece, and finally to a blue striped piece. That order is then repeated for two more rounds. Also, though the orientation of the block may change as it is sewn to other blocks, the strips are sewn on clockwise.
So, what do you need to make this block?
Strips in 5 solids or stripes.
Using a rotary cutter, freehand cut and layout all the parts of the block
BTW- you can do this. Physics is way harder and you've been uploading video since before the invention of the microwave oven.
Now, take your strips over to your machine and, one at a time and in the order they were laid out, sew them together.
Here, watch me. 

Apologies for running out of video feed before I managed to attach the last two strips, but you get the idea.
I did include a mistake, which I fixed, because everyone makes them and I'd like to credit my dog, Charlie-Tucker with providing background vocals.
I would note that as I pieced each strip I pressed it to one side and trimmed it to fit.
It's really so easy...really.
Questions? Ask in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer.
Also, don't fret, we'll cover how to put these potentially differently-sized blocks together in next week's workshop.


Estela said...

I like the fabric it gives it a completely different look!

Malka Dubrawsky said...

Thanks. I like the fabric too, but I think it could work with a lot of different fabrics.

Marty Mason said...

"The more I know, the more I grow." That's my mantra - so thank you very much for helping me grow a bit today.

Malka Dubrawsky said...

I agree Marty. It's always a good day when you learn something new.

Courtney Koch said...

I LOVE this block! I've been thinking about courthouse steps and log cabins recently, not sure if I really wanted to try them, but then your wonky version completely sold me! Then with the stripes and the colors and the little contrast solid square in the middle -- oh so wonderful! So thank you so much for this little tutorial. I was pretty sure I could figure it out myself, but then you went and gave us this little gift. Much appreciation! Your quilts are gorgeous and always inspire me! Thank you.

Eruth said...

Just discovered this turtorial. Thanks! Do you normally use a pinking blade for cutting pieces? Interesting idea.