Sunday, March 2, 2014

Modern Improv Mechanics

This is my contribution to my guild's Modern Challenge.  (see last post)  It measures about
87" x 87".  I like the fact that the challenge had no size limit.  I like working large!  The piecing was all improvised, here's how.
I started with this sketchy idea...
Once I had decided on the scale of the 'ladders'  I took a 90" square piece of bleached muslin and hung it on my design wall and started working on the layout of the 'shoots and ladders' with large paper strips.
Once I got the layout roughed out I started constructing the 'ladders'.  I decided the 'shoots' were going to clutter up the negative space to much so I would quilt them in after the top was finished.
Once the first and farthest away ladder was worked out I started to piece it.
It helps to have a nice long area on which to pin large scale pieces.  The frame for my long arm works well for this.  I often use it when putting on long borders.
Once the first ladder was sewn I pinned it roughly where I wanted it on the big piece of muslin on the design wall and then draped it over the long arm frame to adjust it 'til it all lay flat.
Then I simply sewed down along the wrong side of the pinned edge, rather like one might sew down a strip on a piece of foundation sewing.
Here's the resulting piece.  Flipped over on the muslin and ironed flat.
The tricky part of this process was deciding where to cut the muslin background so's to make it remain approximately 90" square.  I reasoned if I cut the muslin 1/2" inside the edge of the 'ladder' it would approximate the correct seam allowance and size.  I layed it out as you see it and then picked up the edge of the 'ladder'  and cut down the far edge of the omnigrid.  I'm not sure if that makes sense but I hope the picture helps...
Once the edge was cut I put  the muslin to the unsewn edge of the 'ladder',  right sides together and sewed the first ladder into place.  Then I put all the 'ladders' back on the top to recheck their placement and then repeated the whole sewing and pinning process for each ladder in turn.
Once I finished the top I had to figure a way to quilt the durn thing.  I took a picture of the quilt and printed it and then traced the picture several times to sketch different quilting options.
When I had settled on a layout for the 'shoots' I went back to my large paper strips and layed them out on the top and marked the 'shoots'  with green painter's tape to guide me once the top was on the long arm frame.
Here's a picture of the lower left corner quilting.  My thought was the 'shoots' would be simply quilted in the background and not compete with the more graphic 'ladders'.  I'm not sure that part of the design worked so well?!  I might try this again with grey background and white 'ladders'  and different quilting...but not anytime soon!
cheers, Claire W.


  1. Wow, that's amazing! It was so interesting reading about the ingenuity involved in making it too.

  2. Loved your quilt and it's fun to get a peak behind the scenes. I'm working on something large and it definitely presents a challenge.

  3. I really like the aesthetics of this quilt