Tuesday, 9 May 2017

How I made my improv quilt back.

I haven't got as much as I planned done this week, tell truth it wasn't that I didn't have the time, more like I was reading a book.  You see I'm a bit of an obsessive reader and once I start NOTHING gets done.  I'm behind in my housework (what's new), ironing, sewing, you name it.  The book?  A Woman of Substance, 902 pages, just how I like my books.  Now that I finished I can get back to sewing.

I got two things done this week, first my bee block for Irene from Patchwork and Pastry.  Here it is in construction.
Can't see it?

Look closer

and closer.  Yes it is that small, the centre block is 2 inches, that's unfinished.  It's a nine patch and the pieces were cut one inch.

Then it becomes a block within a block........

in another nine patch.  This one is five inches unfinished, no I'm not kidding.

Finally with the addition of four 5"x 6" and four 6" square blocks it became a triple nine patch, 16 inches unfinished.  Colour?  These are colour pics, yes really, Irene requested we use greys.  The colours are slightly distorted on the pics, grey on a grey design wall doesn't photograph so well and the colours are paler.

The centre was a bit fiddly, but not as bad as I expected to be honest, although my seams in the first block are a little on the wonky side but remember the centre blocks are half inch finished, have you ever stitched anything smaller than that?  I just hope she likes it.

if you want to see Irene's tutorial you can find it on Bee Inspired.

But now, how I made the improv back for circles.

First I continued the improv panel already started, which I showed you last week.   I used the leftovers from the quilt, anything squares, rectangles, strips, whatever was left, which wasn't a lot really.   Then I added squares and rectangles of the backing fabric stitching them together any old how, but it wasn't wide enough.  I didn't stick to the technique I used in Bluebell Woods but in retrospect that was easier than putting the pieces up on the design wall and adding some background as filler as I did here.  I did have two of the eight inch blocks left from circles I could have added in but I am saving them for something else.

I dug deeper into the meagre scraps and made it wider,  If I had more scraps I would have maybe made the panel longer but you work with what you have and I didn't want to add in any other fabrics.   I couldn't use it with all wonky edges like that so,

I trimmed it using my ruler and cutting mat as a guide.  Actually as you can see I used two rulers as the improv was longer than the length of one ruler.  I lined them up with the markings on my big cutting mat.  Using two rulers I could cut as far up as I could then slide the first ruler up to the top holding the second one steady to keep it in the right position, then just move the second one to the side so I could finish the cut.

and I trimmed all four sides squaring it up.

This was the finished result, 21 inches wide and just over 32 inches long.  The size isn't vital, as long as it extends the width of a standard width of fabric is it's wide enough for the quilt back.

Then I added a piece top and bottom.  I cut a 20 inch length and halved it so I had two pieces 20 inches long by about 22 inches wide after removing the selvages, then I just trimmed them straight.

Next it was preparing the rest of the back.  Baby was relegated to the floor and I lifted the platform she sits on to make a lovely big cutting surface.

First I took my length of fabric which I had already cut to about 64 inches, long enough for the back of circles.  I folded in half and the in half again matching the selvages and making sure it was folded straight.

If you haven't done this before it's really important to feel right the way along the fold line to check there are no ridges and that all the layers are lying straight, I can't emphasise this enough.

Again using the lines on the cutting mat as a guide, both horizontally and vertically, I cut the fabric through all four layers of fabric (you need to press harder than normal).

I cut it off centre, about 15 inches from the right side as I think it looks more aesthetically (been saving this one) pleasing than cutting it down the middle.

So all it needed was to stitch it either side of the panel, and......

this is what it looks like after pressing the seams, I like to stitch and press the narrow side first, just because it seems easier to manipulate the weight.   It's upside down as the panel will be on the right nearer the top, it was always my intention for it to be higher at the top than the bottom.   Now all it needs is........

for me to trim the excess fabric.  I lined the ruler up with the seam lines so I could cut it straight and it's easier doing it on the floor.  Good job I could just use one of my smaller cutting mats, this is the first one I ever bought, it's well over ten years old.

So, not as much sewing as last week but I am well pleased with what I did, such a relief and no I haven't layered or quilted it, I was too busy reading I told you.

I got something wonderful in the post this week, more than one thing, but I've ran out of time, sorry.  I'll show you what I got next week and with a bit of luck I will have made more progress on circles, we live and hope.............

Until then,
With Smiles from,
Kate x

Linking up with:
Midweek Makers
Wednesday Weight Loss
Can I Get  Whoop Whoop
Needle and Thread Thursday
Lisa in Port Hope hosting TGIFF
Finished or Not Friday


  1. Wow, Kate! Your improv back came out super! Improv is not easy for me. But I'll keep trying. XO

  2. That is exactly how I am with books. Once I start, I don't stop until I'm finished. I think it's because I know if I stop, I won't get back to it...ever.

    Your backing is amazing. Thanks For sharing!

  3. This back could be a front! It really looks great. Thanks for sharing your process, Kate.

  4. You took great care creating the backing for your quilt and it is just lovely. This will be a two sided quilt because the back is so pretty.

    Glad you took a break and enjoyed your book!! Now, back to the sewing room. :-)

  5. That back is spectacular, Kate. Nice work!My tiny 9 patch was all distorted like that as well. I think it's the bulk of the seams. I can spot it in larger blocks as well but it's not as noticeable in the overall effect - just one more reason why you shouldn't worry about striving too hard for perfection, sometimes it's in the nature of what we're working with.

  6. I read Woman of substance ears and years ago and like you could not put it down a great book vaguely remember they did a tv series of it too.
    Loving your improvu I too do my scrap blocks like that made over 100 so far this month some very small but b not joined them together yet scraps do not seem to have shrunk either!

  7. The 9 patch in a 9 patch block is pretty amazing. How you make anything that small is just beyond me. Thanks for sharing how you make your backs. It's pretty similar to how I do it. It's always a challenge working with those large chunks of fabric.

  8. Good Morning Kate! I love how the improv quilt top turned out. All the colors just look so nice together. I go on reading spurts like that - sometimes they are forced by the library sending me two really good iBooks at one time, and other times they are self enforced. ~smile~

  9. Great looking improv back! Thank you for sharing how you put it together on Midweek Makers

  10. Your improv back looks great ! I hate working with such large pieces of fabric ... Lovely block too !

  11. I love your improv top! Such great colors!

  12. I love your backing! Sometimes it takes a long time to make a pieced backing, but it is always worth it! This quilt is going to be amazing...front and back!

  13. I like the improv back a lot--the background color is perfect for the others, and I like that the background is worked into the squares.

  14. Your slab is a wonderful jumble of colour. I really like using deep saturated colours like that, at the very least they're usually kid and pet friendly. Thank you for linking to TGIFF!

  15. Wonderful improv and loved hearing/seeing more about how you did it!

  16. Love your improv backing! I agree, slightly off centre is much more interesting!

  17. Great backing! And even I might not have had the patience for that 9 patch block!

  18. That is such a tiny little block! I love your improv backing. It's always fun to have a pieced back.

  19. Love, love, love the teeny tiny nine patch! I like stitching mini items, but no, I don't think I've stitched anything so small!
    Love your improv backing too! Great way of using your scraps.
    Barbara x

  20. That is so awesome that you started your backing with that tiny little block and built it up. The backs you made are beautiful.

  21. Honest opinion - the bee block is a test of patience, not of my sewing skills. The explosion of colors in the improve block is a feast for the eyes. If (and absolutely no pressure here) you choose (you don't have to) make something for me, please lean towards (just suggesting)the improve kind not the bee kind...just saying.

  22. I'm so happy to see you making progress with Circles! That pieced back was well worth the wait--it's a lovely quilt all by itself! Thanks so much Kate for linking up to Wednesday Wait Loss! Hmmmm. I wonder what you could have gotten in the mail. )

  23. Congrats on being featured in Midweek Makers! I wanted to come back and reread your post and realized I had never commented on it the first time around! I am truly going bananas and hoping life calms down here pretty soon. Your improv backing is just the way I like 'em! Bright and colorful! I have to admit I find improv difficult to do but enjoy seeing others do it. Especially with lots of color. Great scrap buster!

  24. If you want square piecing use the paper piecing technique, it works great with those tiny pieces


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With smiles from,