Improvisational piecing can be a freeing experience. As the name suggests, this is your opportunity to do your own thing, with no rules and boundaries. This isn’t to say, you don’t have to follow any patterns at all. However, you can be as creative with your quilting as you like, creating something that is borne from the depths of your imagination, with or without something laid out on a page.
Modern quilters use different techniques within their craft, depending on their particular preference or the design they are trying to create. Traditional techniques will often dictate which colors and precision seams are used and the quilter will follow the pattern to a tee. There is nothing wrong with this of course, but it isn’t very freeing. If you are somebody who wants to explore the deeper recesses of your imagination when quilting, improvisational piecing is for you.
With this modern technique, you are in charge of the colors you choose and you can experiment with your favorite shapes too. You can still have a rough idea of which direction you want to take, but you are free to improvise as you go. With this technique, you can let your imagination run free. You might stick to the plan you envisioned in your head or you might decide to change direction, as you don’t need to be confined to any boundaries. All you need to get started is access to a sewing machine, your usual quilting supplies, and pieces of fabric in a variety of colors and materials. From there, you are free to do as you please!
The Art Of Creativity
If you are copying from a pattern, you are still being creative. The fact that you’re sitting down to make something rather than buying a piece from a store means you are showcasing your creativity. However, too often these days, there are limitations placed on how creative we can be. Patterns and pre-formed fabrics can prevent us from using the full flow of our imaginations, which is a problem for those of us who want to break free from constraints. It’s for this reason that improvisational piecing has become so popular.
One of the most common forms of improvisation piecing is about sewing random pieces of fabric together. The quilter will start without knowing where they will end up. They place their pieces of fabric in a bag and pick them out randomly before adding them to the quilt they are sewing. Essentially, they are making things up as they go along, which is, of course, the very nature of improvisation.
There are some who will question the creative process here, but the quilter is still showcasing their creativity. They can still work to the general idea that is in their head and they can still have some control over the colors and fabric shapes they require during the preparation stage.
Of course, the quilter doesn’t have to throw caution to the wind throughout every stage of the quilt-making process. When work begins, they can change the layout of their quilt as their imagination dictates instead of doing everything randomly. In short, they can do what they want, using the self-imposed rules they have laid out and not the rules of another.
Improvisation In Quilting
We may have made improvisational piecing appear simple in our description above, but there is far more to it than we have discussed here. There are techniques and concepts that are worth learning, as these will help you make the most of this type of quilting. If you are interested, we recommend our Beginning to Improvise course or our Class Series “Improv Quilting”. These pre-recorded introductory classes will get you off to a great start with this popular quilting technique, so follow the link if you would like to know more.