Tag Archives: modern quilting

Give Piece a Chance


Today I am working on a Modern Quilting technique:  Improv Piecing.  Some people who teach the concept are Rayna Gillman   and Victoria Findlay Wolfe .

Rayna advocates taking an orphan block and cutting it up, adding to it, cutting again, adding again, etc. until you are a happy camper.  Here goes….


half a peace

half o’ peace

This is half of a block I made experimenting with fonts on my HV machine.  I cut it in half before I decided to take a pic.

I worked on it for about an hour and at NO point during the process did I think I would be happy with the result but I am always OK with experimentation.  I cut up a couple of other orphan blocks in the same colour family, used a little marbled fabric I had made and added a touch of green.

This is the new finished block, which is not a square, but I quite like it:


finished block

first block for Give Piece a Chance quilt

Like it so much that I am going to do other blocks in other colours and put them altogether in one big quilt.  I am anticipating quite a scrappy look….

Oh, and Rayna says to keep all cut off scraps for a future improv block so here they are:

pieces of pieces

pieces of pieces

I finished by organizing some of of my pieces of pieces into colour piles.

Now I am going to put a zipper in a skirt for a pattern I am testing.  That should be fun…


Colour Theory – Part One


I don’t know about you but when I started quilting, I had very little confidence about my colour choices in quilting.  Kind of surprising since I have loved fashion all my life.  My favourite colour is turquoise and I gravitate towards it every time when looking at fabric.

Initially, I asked quilt shop staff to help me pick things out or I would rely on a prepackaged set of fat quarters. What I have learned over time is that there are no rules about combining colours but there are guidelines.  What has more impact is the value of the fabric, which will be the subject of another blog post in the future.

Over time, I began to develop my own sense of colour, sometimes relying on a focus fabric to help me, or instinct, and other times using a very helpful tool called the Colour Wheel.

This is what it looks like and you can find it on many sites online.

These are the 12 pure colours, of which there are 3 primary, 3 secondary and 6 tertiary.

The 3 primary colours – blue, red and yellow – are the basis for all other colours.  They are equidistant on the colour wheel.

The 3 secondary colours – green, orange & violet – are created when equal amounts of the primary colours are mixed together.  Blue + yellow = green;  yellow + red = orange; and blue + red = violet.

That leaves us with the 6 tertiary colours – yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet and blue-green.  Their names come from the colours that sit on each side of them on the colour wheel.

If you add black to any of these colours, they get darker and are Shades of the original colour.

If you add grey to any colour, it becomes less intense and is called a Tone.

If white is added to a colour, it becomes lighter and is a Tint.

Shades, Tones and Tints will be the subject of a future post but the next one will be about Colour Dominance.

Be not afraid of colour.

Up From Here…..to there


Remember the original Up From Here block?  24 and a half inches square?  and I had 2 of them and just enough fabric left to fool around a bit with?

Here’s the original block:


Here’s what I did with it:


I think that will be it, though.  No borders – I think that would detract from the design.

Process Notes:

  • it was pretty easy to fool around with this block design – the measurements were already there for me and all I had to do was figure out how to apply them using the fabric I had left
  • I only had to pick out 3 small seams…
  • I love this fabric line! –  Paris & Company – glad I have about a fat quarter left of each fabric so I can make another project with them – or maybe I will piece them together somehow for the backing

If you like the block, here’s the link to the PDF file again:


it’s all Up From Here…


This weekend I was inspired by a member of my Modern Quilt Guild:   Ann took one big block and surrounded it with a solid.  I thought it was very striking!  This is her block:


The next day I happened to be doing a paper purge on my sewing desk and found a pattern from the Sew Mama Sew blog for a big (24.5 inches square!) modern block called Up From Here.  It was calling my name…..

Sew, following the instructions from the blog PDF file (http://www.sewmamasew.com/march2013/MarchBOM2.pdf),  I quickly whipped up 2 blocks.


Not sure how I will finish the design yet as I did not have enough background fabric to make any more blocks but I do have enough to play around a bit.

Interesting note on the process:   it was recommended to press seams open, which I did and actually found a little awkward,  as I have been pressing all seams to one side for some time now…

Modern Log Cabins – the process


I enrolled in the Craftsy Block of the Month 2012 Class (great class and free too!) and the May block was a Modern Log Cabin – one of many versions out there.  Here’s my block and some comments on the process I followed to get there.


Things I did do:

  • fussy cut the centre
  • looked for colours that I felt matched
  • squared up the block between frames
  • pressed each seam
  • used scissors & a rotary cutter
  • used old style prints AND modern solids
  • pieced everything by machine
  • had a focal point (the deer)
  • used a non-traditional colour palette
  • changed the format of the original block into a frame, instead of an L (per the Craftsy pattern)

Things I did not do:

  • use pins
  • use high contrast (not strictly light paired with dark)
  • centre the fussy cut centre block
  • worry about 1/4 ” seams
  • worry about the width of the strips
  • worry about perfection
  • are we seeing a pattern here about not worrying….LOL

This is not the only way you could modernize the log cabin block.  I followed the directions in the Craftsy class (http://www.craftsy.com/).  It was very improvisational and some people might not like that aspect but I did.  It made me  a little more free with my own design choices and stepping outside your comfortable box is always a good thing, in my mind.

Modern Log Cabins – first, some history…


Most quilters are familiar with the traditional log cabin block – it is the most recognized block and its origins are often associated with the American Pioneers.  However similar designs have been found on ancient mummies and in English quilts predating 1830.


Strips of fabric were hand pieced around a central square, usually with one half dark strips and one half light.

A red centre symbolized the hearth of the home; yellow, a welcoming light in the window; and a black centre in a quilt hanging on a clothesline is believed to have meant a stop for the Underground Railroad.

How has this block become “Modern”?

see my next post: Modern Log Cabins – the process.