Thursday, March 16, 2017

Improv + Paper Piecing

There's a good chance that when you heard the title of Amy Friend's new book, Improv Paper Piecing, you went "what?" just like I did. But really, it's a thing, and Amy/During Quiet Time shares it well as 'A Modern Approach to Quilt Design.'

In Amy's words: "By creating a block from an improvisational sketch and then repeating it methodically  with paper piecing, you harness the power of repetitive design. But because the block design is improvisational, the patterns feel fresh and unexpected."

What a novel thought, right? Besides sharing the expected paper piecing essentials, Amy also shares how to group and number paper-pieced templates, design your own improv block templates, and some advanced paper piecing tips - all so helpful in creating your own masterpiece.

After perusing Amy's book, I can honestly say that I love the quilts she created for it, and that I 'get' her concept. Yes, I totally love improv - the random one-of-a-kind creating one can do with it. But I've often had improv creations that I love so much I really would have liked to recreate them, which is where improv paper piecing comes in and makes that totally possible. Look at it as another option.

Here's one quilt that called to me - Amy's "Sixty Seconds."

Photo by Amy Friend. Used by permission.

Rather than strictly following Amy's quilt design. I chose to use her block patterns and go my own direction - you know, sticking with the improvisational theme, right?

On close inspection, you can see that the triangle blocks are not identical, and fabric placement appears slightly angled. I actually printed the templates at both 100% ("Sixty Seconds" uses them at 150%.) and 75% to add even more variety to my project.

I also scaled down the final project, creating a table runner rather than a full-sized quilt. For quilting, I tried a new-to-me design at a random 50-degree angle - a 'diagonal grid with gentle curves' from Jacquie Gering's Walk book [#walkbook]. I like how it kind of complicates the main elements while still letting them be the focus.

And then I finished it all off with a bit of an accent in the binding. And why not?

It was nice to take a little foray into this new concept of mixing improv and paper piecing and I look forward to exploring it in my own work.
I received a complimentary copy of Amy's book, but be assured that my opinions and recommendations are always my own, and that I would never suggest a product that I don't actually use and enjoy.


  1. love this! putting the book on my wishlist. great job

  2. I have definitely been more and more drawn to paper piecing as I continue to grow as a quilter, and I am fascinated by how improv and paper piecing can coincide. Your post helps illuminate that a bit.

  3. Great accent on the binding. I will have to check the book out and play around.

  4. Amy's idea is brilliant. Both takes on the starting point feel fresh and playful.

  5. Love the addition to the binding ! The book looks like interesting.

  6. That is a great table runner! I am just amazed at the genius of designers who come up with new/old techniques. This is a great one!

  7. I love your take on the pattern, the book really seems like a great marriage between paper piecing and improv, something I would not think would go together.

  8. This is great. I, too, was curious what that oxymoronic name meant. Thanks for showing us. And that little binding improv? Sweet.

  9. Beautiful table runner - love the quilting and what you did with the binding :)!

  10. Why not indeed! You know how I feel about those bindings! I've been eyeing this book and the intrigue is there. I love where you took the blocks and that quilting is very interesting!

  11. Very interesting concept indeed! I'm not usually a fan of paper-piecing but this is very intriguing. I love what you did with your blocks and that quilting is really fun.