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Fete – A New Improv Triangle Quilt

I’ve wanted to make a quilt with improv triangles for a while and until now I couldn’t find a good enough excuse to make one, because I’ve got so many other works in progress. The excuse I’ve come up with is my sister’s 40th birthday in January 2017. It’s a good excuse, right?!  I mentioned her birthday a few weeks ago and asked for ideas, but nothing really grabbed my attention. Triangles had been percolating for a while though and when I saw this fabulous bunting in Truro recently it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on.

Mosaic image of bunting in Truro with a bright blue sky behind purple and orange tenants. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Bunting in Truro spring 2016

It’s so joyous and festive, just right for a birthday celebration. So the triangle quilt got it’s name before it even got started: ‘Fete’. It’ll be a lap quilt.

'Fete' a new patchwork quilt in progress. Improv triangles in pinks and reds prints on a grey print background. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Improv triangles

I decided to have a look at some improv triangle quilts to see what others have been up to; there are a lot of half square triangles out there aren’t there! Not what I had in mind. I had a look through a couple of my books for more ideas. I love Sujata Shah’s triangle quilt in Cultural Fushion Quilts, but I want a lot more movement in mine, not really just the tips of the triangles missing across fairly straight rows. A corner of one of Sherri Lynn Wood’s improv quilts that I saw in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters was nearer the mark. It’s definitely creating movement that interests me.

Sewing individual triangles together for an improv patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Sewing individual triangles

I started off by making the bottom row of small triangles, cutting each triangle individually to get different angles. I soon realised that sewing this way might take a while so decided to have a go at layering alternate light and dark squares and cutting out several triangles at once.

Sewing large individual triangles together for an improv patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Making some large triangles

The trouble with this method is that you get fairly uniform triangles and not much movement. It’s pretty easy to spot these particular triangles in the top row on the left of the block. I decided to finish the row with individually cut blocks to see what happens. Suddenly the movement came back. Maybe I’ll try a mix of the two methods for a bit of time saving – I’ve given myself to the end of May to get the top finished so that I’ve got 6 or 7 months to hand quilt it.

Detail of improv triangles for patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail

I plan to use as much scrap fabric as I can, it’s so much more eco friendly and I just love trying to make it work. In the detail picture above you can see where I’ve joined two pieces of grey fabric to get a piece large enough to fit. I think I’ll have to buy a fair bit of fabric though to cut some large triangles. Most of the pieces I’ve already got will result in small triangles like the ones in the bottom row and I definitely need more variation. I actually bought a quarter of one of Tula Pink’s Eden fabrics yesterday and nearly died at the till – almost £16 ($23) a metre. WTF?!?! (Excuse me!) I haven’t used it yet, but it’s going to look great for larger triangles.

Improv Triangle Tips

If you’re interested in having a go at improv triangles I’ve got a few tips that might help along the way:

  • If you’re cutting your triangles individually you’ll get a lot of different shaped bias edges that can easily stretch. The best way to overcome this is to sew them together slowly (make sure you don’t pull them through the machine and let the feed dogs do the work).
  • Don’t press your seams as you go along, instead just finger press them. I’m pressing my seams open wherever I can because it’ll be much easier to hand quilt that way.
  • Once you have a row of triangles stitched together spray the reverse side with starch and press (don’t iron!). Flip the row over, starch and press again. Pressing them just the once gives a lot less opportunity for stretching the edges and you’ll find your rows are less distorted and lie flat.
  • Stay stitch each finished row about 1/8 of an inch from the edge – again it’s all about stabilising the seam so that it can’t stretch. (Click on the 1st Improv Triangle image to enlarge it and see the stay stitching in a bit more detail. I used a grey thread.)
  • If you’re going to use large triangles I recommend stay stitching them individually too.

Have you got any tips for triangles you’d add? Let us know!

I’m linking up with Kaja and Ann for this month’s Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) and hope to see lots of inspiring quilts in progress.

Happy sewing until next time.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

26 replies
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Pat. I’ve got plans in my head that the colours will change as it goes up the quilt (this is the bottom at the moment), but bright and fun will rule the day 🙂

      Reply
  1. Marly
    Marly says:

    You are using some beautifully cheerful fabrics and this is going to be a lovely present. Thank you for sharing the process, especially about the freehand cutting. I always forget to use starch but I’m grateful for the reminder to use it when sewing bias edges.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh Marly, I’m terrible at remembering to starch. I’ve discovered the best way is to keep a can of it beside the iron, which is usually left out on a table. Doesn’t look pretty but hey, I don’t have one of those perfect dream studios – and wouldn’t want one I couldn’t be messy in.

      Reply
  2. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    Nice start: I love the yummy colours and the bunting inspiration. I layer and cut several triangles at a time, but I cut without a ruler, so as I straighten up in the sewing each one changes slightly.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It’s got a bit bigger now and it’s got some lovely curves happening. I don’t use a ruler either and I use scissors most of the time nowadays, unless it needs to be spot on (like the Ocean Waves shirt quilt). One of the things I want to capture is that feeling that the strings of flags are coming from a central point – ish!

      Reply
  3. Kate Heads
    Kate Heads says:

    I love your bunting pics. The process is really interesting, I hadn’t thought of the pro’s and con’s before. Thank you for the great tips too.
    Smiles
    Kate

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hiya Audrey! Hope every thing’s well with you, will be over for a visit soon – it’s been too long since this rotten flu. I’m getting so excited about it, I think it’s as much about the process of making it all fit together than anything. Look forward to sharing some more of it soon… it’s growing, when it should be my Summer Blues that’s being quilted oops!

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Sharon, lovely to meet you. Thanks for your kind words 🙂 I told my sister I was going to make her a quilt and asked what colours she’d like and she gave me carte blanche: “surprise me”, she said. I hope these colours and shapes will say ‘happy birthday’; they’re definitely fun!

      Reply
  4. Ann
    Ann says:

    What wonderful colors! My favorites. And I love the isosceles-ish triangles instead of HST or HRT. They really seem to flutter. How fun to see your inspiration photos, too. This will be something to look forward to in the coming months. Thanks for linking this helpful and exciting post with AHIQ.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      There are some of my favourite fabrics in there too Ann – my sister won’t realise how lucky she is to have them, I’ve been hanging on to these scraps for ages! It’s so good to be back with some vibrant colour again 🙂

      Reply
  5. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Lovely fabrics in your triangles Stephie and I love the fact that you have two different sizes, very interested to see where this one goes!
    Gosh what a price for the Tula Pink fabrics!!!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Maureen. The triangles are going to be all sorts of sizes to try and capture some movement, it’s like fitting a jigsaw puzzle together 🙂 Yes, I could have done with a paper bag to breathe into when I took that fabric to the till! It does look good though, I’ll just balance the cost out with lots of scraps – my kind of quilting.

      Reply
  6. Abigail @ cut&alter
    Abigail @ cut&alter says:

    Looking great! Might have to take a leaf out of your book – whilst I love HSTs I really don’t have the patience or the will to sew, cut, trim repeat ad infinitum. This approach looks great and for me at least not quite so tedious!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh I totally agree Abigail, anything to get out of the tedium of loads of chain piecing – and cutting thousands of pieces all the same, ugh! And people say I have patience! I think we’ve all got our individual limits 😀 Although this approach engages the brain a lot more, I’d far rather use it than lose it!

      Reply

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