Fabric Pull
Modern Design Lab

MDL Mini Quilt Challenge {Design}

After the bustle of the holidays, start of the new year, and QuiltCon, the Modern Design Lab group is looking ahead to our plans for this year. One of the first challenges in store for us this year is a mini quilt challenge. We will all be working to create a finished 15″ square mini quilt (including binding) using any shades of white, gray, and black in combination with Kona Grasshopper. The other fabrics can be solids or prints and any construction techniques can be used.

Fabric Pull

Fabric Pull

I spent the better part of an hour going back and forth about whether to include prints or not and what shades of gray to span between black and white to use. Grays can be very tricky with different undertones, and I wanted a nice value distribution that wasn’t too jarring in color tone. I also wanted to work from my stash which has its own unique challenges. In the end I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anyone that I settled for a complimentary mix of other Kona Cottons from my stash. If anything, I’d like the lighter gray to be just a bit darker, but nothing in my stash worked as well.

Test Block

Test Block

I spent some time doodling out design ideas (we are working from an inspiration photograph that I will share at a later date), and in the end I think I am going to head toward some improv pieced blocks that generally follow the lines of the test block I sewed together. The thin inserted lines will finish at 1/4″ wide.

Test Block - Squared Up

Test Block – Squared Up

I started with a 4 1/4″ wide by 5 1/2″ high dark charcoal scrap. After inserting the thin white lines, I was able to square the block to  3 1/4″ x 5″. I’m glad I sewed up the test block; I knew that the width of the block would shrink with such a small inserted line, but it’s really good to have a better idea of how much it will shrink. I think my next step will be to start with a wider scrap. After that it’s probably time to just dive in and start piecing because the general idea for improv is to explore, right?

Have you explored improvisational piecing before? I’m going to call this a controlled improv piecing approach. I will still use my rulers, but not aim for cutting exact angles or perfectly matching lines. We’ll see if the result still looks too structured or if I’ll be able to loosen up enough for it to match the concept that I envision!

4 thoughts on “MDL Mini Quilt Challenge {Design}

  1. I’ve done both controlled and reckless improv, and I enjoy both methods. Admittedly, I get very excited about reckless improv, but the first time cutting without a ruler can be a bit intimidating. I like the look of this so far, Yvonne. It will be fun to see this take shape!

  2. Lea says:

    Yvonne, I’m really liking that block and am looking forward to where this quilt goes. The colors you picked are beautiful too.

    I very much enjoy improv piecing. It’s freeing, and fun, and a bit mysterious. Even before I officially tried improv I often would change my mind while working on a quilt and change it along the way.

    In my life I’m very structured on a daily basis. I think improv can serve me as the wonderful opposite for the creative part of me. It isn’t that I haven’t, or won’t make, and appreciate traditional patterns but there is a freedom to improv.

  3. Debbie says:

    I enjoy seeing your take on these challenges. Have fun exploring and finding your way!

  4. Kaja says:

    I use a ruler to trim but not measure. I think it’s the thought process that makes it improv, not your cutting techniques. I like your colours a lot, as always. There’s always a kind of clarity about the groupings you choose that I have come to recognise and always admire.

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