Free form piecing is a quick, easy and fun technique of quilt making that has become very popular in the modern quilt movement. Many talented quilters have written books about their methods, including Rayna Gilllman, Jean Wells and Maria Shell. They each have their own techniques and styles, which are interesting to study and compare. I recently started doing some free form piecing using hand dyed fabrics which were purchased at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. The fabrics were so pretty that at first it was hard to cut into them, but once I got started, the process was both addictive and rewarding. With no seams to match, and no rules to follow, it’s been a lot of fun as well as an education on color placement ( seeing which colors work well together). Here are some photos of the work I’ve completed so far. Don’t be afraid to use those pretty fabrics you’ve been saving, try this and see what happens!
These beautiful Asian fabrics were recently donated to our Quilt Ministry. They are printed with gold highlights, rich colors and gorgeous details. I used an easy to stitch Half Square Triangle design that consists of a mirror image setting and uses only four different fabrics (the 3 shown in the first picture above and one more dark navy-gold print). This lap sized quilt has 96 five inch (finished size) square blocks . The overall size is 40″ by 60″.
Last year, my quilt “Checks Mix” was juried into the Fall AQS Show in Paducah. I was thrilled to be accepted and excited to visit Paducah for the first time. Paducah is a UNESCO designated City of Crafts and Folk Arts. There are only 7 such cities designated in the world. Aside from the AQS show, Paducah has the National Quilt Museum, a historical museum, lots of shops and restaurants and a scenic walkway along the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. It is also the home of Hancock’s of Paducah, the largest and best stocked quilt shop I have ever visited. I didn’t win any ribbons at the show, but was surprised to find that my quilt was selected to be included in the 2019 AQS Engagement Calendar. It’s featured during the week of National Quilting Day, which is March 16, 2019.
My niece’s 4 year old son is a dinosaur expert! He knows all their names and will readily correct you if you mistakenly call one by the wrong name. He also has an extensive collection of dinosaurs and needed a bag to corral them in. It was a hunt to find the fabric, but once it was located the bag was quick and simple to make. It has a pocket inside for the “special” dinosaurs.
At our quilt ministry group we received a donation of a bag full of 2 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ triangle blocks. Not wanting to let them go to waste, I took the bag home and started playing around with them. Using a 9 patch design with a solid square in the middle created a star block. These star blocks were then stitched together resulting in a secondary design of a pieced square block between each star. The quilt really needed a border fabric to tie it all together and I ended up using a narrow cream fabric with a nice red print which emphasized all the red triangles. It was fun to save the bag of scraps from the trash pile and end up with something useful- a lap sized quilt to be given to a person in need.
I have begun working on a paper pieced pattern called Moncarapacho designed by Willyne Hammerstein and published in her book Millefiori Quilts 3. It’s a beautiful star design composed of diamond shaped pieces. Each piece is cut from fabric and basted to the paper, then whip stitched together to form the stars. I purchased the paper pieces from PaperPieces, a store in Paducah, KY that caters to quilters who love the technique, (see photo below). I’m using reproduction fabrics and fussy cutting to center the designs inside the diamond shaped pieces. It’s a very slow process, but addicting as you begin to see the quilt grow when you add each new star block. It’s also one of those projects that’s easy to take with you while waiting for appointments. The great thing about the paper pieces is that you get a perfect point on all sides. This gives you great accuracy and allows the star blocks to easily fit together. If you are going to all the trouble of stitching a complex design like this, it’s nice to see the blocks behave themselves and fit perfectly! I have a long way to go on this quilt, but am thoroughly enjoying the process.