Sunday, November 22, 2015

Improvisational Quilt Games with Diane Hire

Here's my latest, another batik scrap quilt, hot off the sewing machine, but before embellishment.
If it seems familiar, it should, because this is the kind of design taught by Diane Hire, one of my favorite quilt authors, and a pioneer in improvisational quilting, Her books Vivacious Curvy Quilts. and Quilters Playtime - Games With Fabric, are prized possessions (no affiliation!)

A couple of weeks ago, I felt a yen to cut some improvisational curves, so I pulled out Vivacious, and started stacking, cutting, and resewing. Following Hire's detailed instructions, I came up with blocks like this:
Put them together:
Joined those: 
Used the scraps to make wonky piano key borders down the left edge, and across the bottom (an idea from Quilters' Playtime):
And made up my own game to create the arrows that go up the right side and across the top. When I was finished with the arrows, I thought they also looked like pine trees, mushrooms, circus tents, and/or  um, testosterone thermometers.
(A friend also told me she thought they looked like 'pathways to pyramids'! Love that!) A tutorial showing how these arrows were made is at the bottom of the post.

My final step was to add 92 buttons. Ta daa, here it is done. I'm calling it "Counterclockwise."
Closer. The dotted batik block on the upper left didn't need buttons!
Diane's books have directions for most of it, except the arrows, so here's my quick quilter's game for arrows.

1. Cut a bunch of half-square triangles (I started with 3" squares, cut in half diagonally, but any size works).  Dub one color the background, and two other colors as the arrowhead. I happened to have the lavender triangles leftover from another project. Stitch a bunch thusly: 
Ideally, the seam allowances should be pressed towards the arrowhead, but as you can see, it didn't always happen for me. 

2. Collect three strips for the shaft,each a little narrower than the top piece. (I chose about 3" wide and 6" long for each). 
3. Fold the right strip onto the middle one, good sides together, at an angle, and sew the length of the strip at the angle. 
5. Cut excess from right side of middle strip: 
6. Open up and press the right piece on the right side. Then repeat with the same color strip on the left side. Press the seams inward.
 7. Stitch tip units to base units at the narrow end of the long triangles. 
8. Open. 
Put them on the wall and contemplate. Definitely circus tents.
9, Option: Trim the excess base fabric straight across, to the width of the arrowhead. (Or angle the cuts, if you prefer). 

Now you can try them out as borders for your quilt.  My average arrow came out to about 8 1/2" x 5 1/2". If you're math averse like me, you can can always make a few arrows extra-short, or extra long, to fit your border.

Along with the arrows, I pulled out another trick that I learned long ago, although I don't remember where. I placed 3-D inserts into one corner of each block, which creates a pinwheel and furthers the circular illusion. 
These start out as the kite shape on the left side of the photo below. It's widest angle is 120 degrees,and the opposite angle is 60 degree. 
Fold in half the long way, as shown on the right side of the picture above. Then baste each one with a 1/8" seam allowances into one corner of each block, with the narrow tips facing in the same direction (clockwise or counterclockwise - just be consistent!), and the fold facing the center.  When four of these meet at the corners of four blocks, they form a 3D pinwheel! So easy! So fun! Here's another pinwheel. 
Have you played any fabric games lately?

UPDATE: Part II of this post, with a detailed arrow-making tutorial that includes measurements, can be found in the next installment, here.

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