Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tiny Scrappy Improv

Since our chat last week about challenges, I've been concentrating on one of mine - teeny tiny scraps.  I really enjoy saving scraps.  Using them feels so resourceful and tends to inspire creative solutions.  The smallest scraps I save are in the 1.5 - 2.5" range.  They live in little square pop-up fabric boxes, sorted by colors like so:  red/pink, yellow/orange, blue/green, neutral/purple.  I keep the tinies together so they're out of my way when I'm rooting for something more substantial.

::Idea::  create little improv patchwork squares from my tiniest scraps

Improv piecing means the composition of any one square emerges from the shapes of the scraps themselves.  I begin by arranging them like puzzle pieces that somewhat fit together.  It really helps if scraps are pressed, but sometimes I wait to press them until after sewing the first seams.

Improv in Tiny Scraps 

The first seams in my improv puzzle will generally join the smallest pieces.  Whenever possible I sew these without doing any trimming in advance.  As you can see things look pretty crazy at this point!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

Then I take a ruler and trim to create a couple of straight edges.  My cuts are based on the already-sewn seam - I match a thin black line on the ruler to the seam before cutting. This keeps cuts nicely perpendicular!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I don't trim all of the edges, just those that will be adjacent to future seams.  The edges that will be on the outside of the finished patchwork square will be trimmed later on when I am cutting the finished square to its final size.  Anything to save time!

After each round of sewing seams, I replace pieces in the improv puzzle.  Oftentimes the puzzle changes as I go.  I may see that I need to add another piece to bring it up to size, or I may just forget how I originally laid things out.  No matter!  That's what's great about improv.  Just relax and let it happen.

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I like to sew a few improv squares at once so that I can be more efficient with my getting up and down to press seams/trim/etc.  So we have a pretty scrappy chaos!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

As I've stockpiled scrappy squares I've found I actually prefer to keep them simple.  Too many tiny pieces becomes visually cluttered.  Try combining a larger scrap (maybe in the 3-4" range) with 1-3 tiny scraps.  Here are a few more examples:

Improv in Tiny Scraps

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I'm trimming my finished improv squares to 4" square.  Have larger scraps overall?  You could trim to 5" square or really whatever feels right to you!  I made a few squares from my scraps and then decided that 4" allowed for just the right amount of tiny scrap presence.

Next we'll need a quilt setting or some other plan for these babies.  Any ideas?

17 comments:

  1. How about these woven squares? http://quiltingismorefunthanhousework.blogspot.cz/2014/04/scrap-palooza-quilt-4-part-two.html It would be cool to make each line with different color.

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  2. I love the idea of doing a simple layout with sashing in between each improv block. Maybe in color order? Let the scraps shine!

    I may have to try something like this with my scraps when I get home.

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  3. Tiny scraps are definitely a challenge for me. I like what you've done with yours. If you don't end up going the quilt route, they'd be perfect for linen zippy pouches, needle books or maybe even coasters (not that you need even more coasters - hahaha!).

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  4. I agree with needle and nest - I'm always gifting zippy/boxy pouches to someone! How about placemats? beachbag or tote?

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  5. Tiny scraps make me nervous! If I keep them, they make me feel too guilty to cut into my fat quarters and yardage. Anyone else ever feel like that?

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    1. Honestly, nope! I don't feel guilty sewing with what's on hand, whichever thing I happen to reach for. Sometimes I actually think "gee, I need to sew with more of my yardage because my yellow scraps are getting low..."

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  6. Love the idea I have so many scraps sitting in boxes waiting to be used for something.

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  7. Scraps make me happy, I save them because one day I am afraid I will not be able to afford fabric.

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  8. These could make such a cute soft baby book, maybe and something to make it crinkle. The different patterns in the patchwork/fabric would be so engaging for a little one to play with.

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  9. I love improv blocks! So much fun. I always find your scrap tutorials so inspiring. Last Christmas I made many friends/relatives journal covers with improv scraps and they were a big hit. I have been trying to think of a way to do Anna Maria Horner's Color Dive quilt with just stash fabrics (especially if I could use up some many-colored scraps) and I think these 4-5" blocks will be perfect.

    Years ago, I made a simple quilt of dark stars on a light colored ground, and I think these scrap squares would make really fun star centers. Mine was similar to this, but I did not do wonky star points (just regular triangles): http://wombatquilts.com/tag/wonky-star-quilt/

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  10. I too love using little scraps and even have my students keeping theirs for me. At present I am using them to make little 4" NYB blocks with a white background. They are so so cute.

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  11. From your scrap storage tips to the great instructions, this is so inspirational. Thank you!!

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  12. this would look great in miniature http://www.modabakeshop.com/2013/07/boho-patchwork-vintage-star-quilt.html

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  13. Lovely! This is my favorite kind of quilting!

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