Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Deconstructing Coins

I've had some fabric panels for awhile (I think a year!) that Hawthorne Threads sent me along with a giveaway. They are samples of some of their digitally printed collections. They seem to coordinate quite well with each other, and I thought it might be fun to use them together in a quilt. 
Then in the last few weeks, the leaders of the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters, Ann and Kaja of Fret Not Yourself and Sew Slowly introduced the idea of making improv quilts with a Chinese Coins theme. If you look at my panels, you see ready-made coins. I could have just cut them apart and sewed them back together with some sashing, but I decided that it was time to challenge myself to go a little further with some improv piecing. 

The extent of my improv up until now has been mainly to hastily combine leftover quilt top fabric pieces with some yardage to make backs of quilts. And I've always thought of it as a relaxed way to just play with fabric. But I look at the process of other improv quilters and I see a slowly unfolding design with lots of consideration, challenge, and discovery along the way. And I have a feeling that most of these quilts end up very different from what their makers initially envisioned, even when the vision was hazy. So with these fabrics, I'm going to try to slow down and let them take me on what I hope is an new improv adventure. 

I searched my stash of solid fabrics and found quite a few colors that work with the prints.

I supplemented with the new blue fabric you see at the left end (from a local fabric shop) and a new piece of coordinating fabric (smoke--the second solid from the left) from Hawthorne Threads. 

I spent yesterday afternoon "deconstructing" the coins in the panels. They are approximately 5 1/4 inches long by 2 to 3 inches wide. 

Then I slashed some of them and inserted solid strips 1 inch wide (1/2 inch finished).

Notice I have the coins placed vertically for a possible horizontal line of coins. There are quite a few with directional prints, so this makes sense to me right now. I'm trying not to make any hard and fast rules here, though, so we'll see what happens. My first thought was to slash every coin, but then I realized I don't have to do that, at least not yet. (See the third coin in the bottom row--I like it the way it is.) I'm going to do a few more with slashes like this (trying to vary the location of the slash a little more) and then think about what variations I might do and how else I can work in the solids. 

This project has been muddling around in my mind for awhile, but now that I've started sewing, I'm going to try to do a little at a time and stay open to new directions. 

Meanwhile, I'm going to focus on quilting my hexie quilt. I've chosen the quilting thread (leftover from another project) and have narrowed the quilting to two different ideas. I know it will be quilted with my walking foot as FMQ on anything bigger than a mini isn't going to work for me right now. Oh, and I also bought an extra little length of the navy fabric that's in the quilt top to use for binding. I like that it's printed diagonally. I love the look of bias binding, and faux-bias is so much easier for me than the real thing.

Ha, I pin-basted this quilt to the extreme, I guess because I wasn't sure how I was going to quilt it. 

I'm linking up today with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters. You can reach them at either site that I marked above or through the AHIQ button on the right. 

Have a good week, wherever your quilting takes you. 


  1. You are off to a great start with your new improv! Those panels are perfect for it. Looking good!

  2. You have such beautiful soft colours; your quilt is taking shape nicely.

  3. What a great collection of fabrics to start. Adding those solid inserts is wonderful! I'm glad you're not slicing every piece. It would be too standardized and the buffalo is too fun to slice. (Go vegetarian here.) ;-)
    You've written such a thoughtful post. While improv/utility can be simply putting pieces together quickly because winter is coming, thoughtful consideration helps us all develop artistic vigor. Thanks for linking with AHIQ.

  4. You were lucky to have such a wide group of patterns printed as samples. It is often hard to take what there and start turning it into something else. You are doing that with the solids, a good choice. Thanks for showing us the process, which is so instructive about the lessons you've learned.

  5. Those sample panels are so cool! I like the little inserted strips and the idea of keeping some with no strips. Variation will spice your piece up! Improv piecing takes a bit more thought and time, but it is so freeing not following a pattern and challenging yourself to go with the flow!

  6. Go for it! Your fabrics are lovely and I like your mix of solids too - that's just how I go about starting something. I also like what you have done so far so really look forward to seeing how this develops.

  7. Love your improv fabric choices. I admire you for "improv-ing"! My only improv is like what you were doing with the backs of quilts.
    The quilting thread for your hexie quilt is gorgeous - love that quilt!

  8. What a wonderful way to get a good selection of scrappy style prints. I really like the way you've slashed some of the 'bricks', and I think you've got lots of potential if you leave some of them 'as is'. I look forward to seeing what you do with them next. Good luck on quilting your beautiful hexie quilt - another selection of lovely colours and prints :)

  9. Neat to see you using those unusual sample pieces in this way! The colors are so soft and pretty. Often when I see improv quilts they are in very bold, contrasting solids. I like this more muted direction.

  10. The fabrics are so pretty and you matched the solids so well. Now, what you do with them and how you bring it all together has me very intrigued. I will be watching this space carefully, but I am sure whatever you do it will be sweet and comforting (no calories though) like our favorite fried starchy sweets :-)

  11. What a great way to use a panel.

  12. Oh, what a fun way to use those panels! I like the idea of not slashing all of them. What about doing some opposite ones too....solid with an insert of one of the prints? Just a thought....

    Have fun - I'll look forward to seeing what you do with this!

  13. I love your fabric choices in both quilts--and I'm always amazed by the designs Hawthorne Threads comes up with. Bravo for deconstructing--what you're doing looks like fun AND intimidating, too! Can't wait to see how both of these turn out :)