myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Scrappy Improv Quilt

I have been SOOO busy over the last couple of weeks getting all my samples made for the new 2014 myBearpaw craft classes. Which has meant that I have been a bit absent from blogland, but it does mean that I now have lots of new makes to show you!

We launched the new prospectus at our Students Christmas Party on Tuesday night and my Scrappy Improv Quilt class has been one of the most popular so far.
I loved attending Lu Summer’s Improv class at Fat Quarterly Retreat last summer and I love the little mini quilt I made there. It has been hanging in my Craft Studio and students have been asking me for a similar class.
So I have designed a class which shows some improv techniques but really gets to work using up your scraps and also any orphan blocks or bits and pieces of failed patchwork that you have lying around.

I started this mini with a tiny block left over from one of the borders in the ARRR8 round robin I did a few years back. It had been pinned to my noticeboard hoping to get used again someday.

I had tried to do something scrappy with these narrow strips a few weeks back but I hadn’t really been concentrating and it hadn’t worked. So I chopped them up a bit more and made a little scrappy mountain range.

Then I tried a bit of crazy patchwork. I’ve never done this before and just made it up from pictures in my head so it probably isn’t actually crazy patchwork, but it still used up some scraps and looks nice and kaleidoscopic.

I also did a long strip of wonky sawteeth, foundation pieced the way I used to do it (before paper got involved!) over sew-in interfacing. No need to pull the paper out as the interfacing stays in. You just draw straight on to, no need for a printer (very low-tech!).

There’s also a bit of failed Dresden Plate that I top stitched on to a background, one random flying geese unit that I found in my scrap box, and a bit of Drunkards Path.

The hardest bit was assembling all the elements into something pleasing, like doing a big puzzle, but very satisfying when I got it to work.
In the class I hope students will bring in all their orphan blocks and I can help them make something beautiful out of the rejects, so a kind of patchwork therapy class!

I machine quilted it any old way I wanted, and then decided to have a play around with some hand stitching. I knew I wouldn’t have time to hand quilt as heavily as I did on the mini I made in Lu’s class. So instead I sewed areas of seed stitch, cross stitch (I got this idea from Krista Poppyprint!) and fly stitch, along with the odd bit of regular hand quilting.

Here’s the back, Painted Mums by Heather Bailey.

I pieced this all in one very happy day. I just LOVE playing with fabric, and I know my students are going to love this too!
If you are in the area and would like to join us for really fun day, you can get more information here, there are still places left as I type!
More new class posts coming up very soon!!


  1. That's exactly why I never throw anything away…I have a little bin that holds all bits and bobs of rejects and leftovers or parts cut off!:)

    That will be such a fun class Jo…I can just see all your students helping each other with their "Puzzles"!:)

  2. This is just gorgeous Jo, I love the mix of hand and machine stitching! Must make time for some improv next year (and I'll try to make it a bit less co-ordinated next time ๐Ÿ˜‰ !!!!)

  3. I agree with the previous comment, and love absolutely everything about this. A scrappy quilt is the only 'real' kind of quilt, as far as I'm concerned. I love the combination of machine quilting and hand embroidery, and the dark border holds it all together perfectly. You certainly have a natural talent for seeing the possibilities in the most diverse of scraps.
    Teresa x

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