The class I was most excited about taking at the Sewing Summit was Improv Piecing with Jessica Berrett of Urban Patchwork. Feeling ready to break out of the box and embrace a more unstructured approach towards piecing, I grabbed my scrap bag and anxiously awaited a new found freedom.
Jess opened with a show and tell session of her quilts. Her style is unabashedly organic and modern infused with a sense of randomness. The daughter of an artist, Jess absorbed her design sense from her mother who continues to provide feedback on balance and color.
I love her asymmetrical compositions and unexpected color combinations that make each quilt distinct. So how does she create these lovelies? A process she shared was to commence with a scaled rectangle or square drawing of the finished size of the quilt on graph paper (so the outline) and then sketch within without paying heed to the boxes, then when the layout pleases her she will refine her drawing to align with the graph paper grid.
Top 10 Tips for Improv Piecing
- Use pieces of various shapes and sizes
- Arrange blocks in unique ways
- Slightly curved seams add interest
- Work with what you’ve got
- Think beyond squares
- Asymmetrical balance is pleasing to the eye
- Add pops of color & contrast with small pieces
- Use multicolored & high contrast prints sparingly
- Neutrals & solids give the eye a place to rest
- Deliberate use of negative space can provide balance
Making my block was so much fun! I just went for it without spending too much time analyzing my design and I love how it came out! One thing is certain, there will be a lot less scraps going in the trash from here on out. I’ll be creating my own scrap bags for more improv play! Read more about Jess and visit her blog.