Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Improv Paper Piecing - a review and a new project

I was recently sent a copy of Amy Friend's new book Improv Paper Piecing to review. I had loved Amy's last book, Intentional Piecing, so Iwas very happy to do this, and I was also interested and intrigued by the subject matter.

Long time readers will know that I love a bit of what I call 'freehand foundation piecing', where you draw on to a foundation like sew-in interfacing. I have a tutorial for this method here. But I have mainly used this technique to produce improv versions of complex curved blocks like Pickle Dish and New York Beauty.

But I had never tried, or even thought of, improv paper piecing. In her book Amy takes a technique that often appeals to the more OCD perfectionists amongst us and encourages us to use it for really creative, original designs.

Above are a couple of projects from the book (just a small example of the many really gorgeous, stunning quilts!) and you can see how modern and graphic they are, with a fluidity and looseness that you don't usually get with FPP. It's kind of an orgainised rendomness!

Below and above are two of Amy's quilts, made using this same method, and hung at QuiltCon this year. I really loved them both, the one above is called Aboreal and the one below Shibori.

Amy explains how to do everything with pencil and paper in the book but I know she also uses EQ7 to produce her designs. I have had this software for about 18 months and though I do use it I know I am not making full advantage of it.  However while at QuiltCon last month I took an EQ7 class with Christa Watson and now feel so much more confident with it!

So I thought I would follow Amy's method and try my hand at some improv paper piecing AND use my new found EQ7 knowledge to design a block.

This is what I came up with. The inspiration was a 'compass block' in an old quilt with a bit of 'Storm at Sea' thrown in. Each of these blocks is the same, I have just rotated to them.

And to be a bit more modern with my layout I have taken some blocks out to give the quilt plenty of negative space and make it 'off grid'. What do you think? Would you prefer it with all the blocks showing? EQ7 is great for playing around with designs. Read on to find out how you could WIN a copy!

I decided to trial a couple of 6in blocks to see what I thought before comitting to anything larger.

With FPP blocks EQ7 can suggest section and numbering. Usually I overide this but I thought I would try it's suggestion this time. However it involved some (albeit gentle) Y-seams, which are not my forte, so you can see it ended up a little puckered.

So for the second block I sectioned it a different way and I much prefer the results, even if it does require a lot more seams.

So now to decide what to do! Carry on making more little blocks and turn it in to a wall hanging? Or scale up for a full sized quilt? Or just add these to my growing orphan block pile? ;)

Meanwhile I can thoroughly recommend Amy's book. It is so nice to have something a little different ot get your teeth into! You can read more about Amy at her blog During Quiet Time. 

And if you fancy your chances you can enter a giveaway to win a copy of EQ7. Giveaway ends April 17th!


  1. I think you should make the bigger quilt....love how just turning these around makes your eye move around the quilt!! Maybe take the upper right one off for a wee bit more negative space.
    Or keep doing the smaller ones cause this would be an awesome pillow!!!!

  2. Yes, I do use EQ7 for all my designs. While it is possible to use pencil and paper, it's so much faster to use EQ! I like the addition of negative space, and, as I said in the book, think it is often necessary with these blocks. They need a little space, either within the block or in the layout. I like it!

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  4. paper piecing certainly gets wonderful sharp points it is on the to try list! I think one of our members is going to share how to do it at our next meeting