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.
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.
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.
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!