Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Improv-Designed Tops

With three projects needing design wall space, I've had to prioritize what I'm working on - get one finished so I can put up the next one!

So my latest quilt top finish is this 67" X 73" piece begun during a February QuiltCon workshop with Ashelyn Downs. I'm afraid it didn't turn out as the Large Scale Minimal Improv design it was meant to be, but I'm happy with it. 

It includes Painter's Palette solids - Cloud, Waterfall, Lapis and Oyster - the latter being the one that's my new favorite neutral. Though, now I'm out of it! 

The little color pops are Kumquat. I wouldn't be nearly as pleased with this quilt design if it didn't include those happy bits. 

Linens are these four pieces. 

Denim pieces are denim yardage (the darker blue), and legs from hub's blue jeans.

As much as I'm really looking forward to quilting this, my next big task is to find stashed fabrics from which to piece a backing! No small task, given my dwindling fabric piles.

I finished appliquéing leaves and the stem for my 20" X 20" pillow top. This piece is the result of my five-lesson Organic Improv Appliqué workshop with Jo Avery through The Threadhouse Academy. I always like Jo's designs, and this was no exception. She's a great teacher!

After putting a piece of batting behind the piece, I thread-basted the layers on my Bernina 770 using stitch #21 which I think is actually a tack stitch. 

Now I've begun hand quilting with a variety of colors of Wonderfil Spagetti, a 12-weight perle cotton. The pattern I'm stitching is what Jo calls "improv plaid."

Book Recommendations
Back in 2009, I read several books written by Kimberly Stuart. At the time, Kimberly lived local to me (in Des Moines, Iowa), and was a young mother with a couple toddlers. She wrote several very funny - like laugh out loud! - books about juggling a home and motherhood. I met Kimberly! See how young I looked.
Kimberly hosted a giveaway of her books. I won! Winners were asked to travel with two books and give them away.

I'm mentioning my past relationship with Kimbrerly because I just read Heart Land which she wrote and published in 2018. 

Heart Land is a story about Grace, a young woman originally from Iowa who, after graduating at the top of her class from F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology, New York) has spent six years, working hard to earn her way to the position of designer at a renown fashion company.

When circumstances force her to return to Iowa and her grandmother, Gigi's home in Sliver Creek (fictional city), Grace remembers why she was anxious to leave. As typical in Midwest small towns, everyone knows everyone and their business, including Tucker, the fella she left behind who has become a successful contractor. 

Gigi has recently begun sewing clothes to sell at a community market, so when Grace makes a few alterations to Gigi's beautiful fabrics, they both realize Gigi may be able to capitalize on her skills and make enough money to return to New York. Thus begins a series of events that make Grace realize her hometown has more to offer than she thought.

As you might expect, this is a sweet story of love, and discovering what's most important. I admire how Kimberly weaves faith and prayer into Heart Land which is very much a reflection of the Heartland I miss. I need to catch up reading all of Kimberly's books!

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Things You Save in a Fire
 by Katherine Center begins in Austin, Texas where Cassie is a firefighter/EMT. She loves her job, yet an unfortunate incident during an awards ceremony, and her mother's unexpected request for Cassie to move to Massachusetts to help her out, finds Cassie reluctantly relocating. Her new job in a Boston fire station comes with being in a facility that's unaccustomed to accommodating a female, and a captain whose prejudice towards female firefighters apparent. 

As Cassie proves her worth, both physically and while on the job, her heart is leading her to feelings she wants to deny - an unwanted relationship with her mother, and a man. Maintaining distance and professionalism while on the job is critical, and while it earns her the respect she deserves, it doesn't come without conflict, and false accusations. Cassie must face unfair treatment, and learn a lesson about forgiveness.  

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Go as a River
 by Shelley Read is one of those stories that has me fondly remembering several Barbara Kingsolver books I read years ago. 

In Go as a River, its 1948 and 17 year-old Torie is the only female on the Nash family farm in Iola, Colorado, which is known for its sweet peaches. Her family - a gruff dad, a rowdy younger brother, and an uncle who returned from war without a leg - leave her feeling alone.

When Torie meets and is attracted to a young man, Wil, on Iola's main street, she follows her heart in spite of rumors and lies about him. When he disappears, Torie (now calling herself Victoria) comes to recognize that she's more on her own more than ever before. She must flee into the mountains to survive. However, self-sufficiency proves more than she can manage, so she's forced into a decision that breaks her heart. 

As she's trying to reconcile herself to a life alone, Iola citizens learn that a reservoir is to be built. The town will be flooded. Victoria is the first person to sell out. She must save her peach trees and forge a new life on her own. 

I love how the author described the beauty of this area, and what this young woman endured to make a life for herself. Really, a sweet story. 

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

Has spring sprung where you are? Spring is looking good around here. Even the medians at major intersections are full of color.

I'm grateful for such lovely views. Linda


  1. I'm drinking my coffee and your post came into my inbox, yay! Thank you for showing a close up of the fabrics you used because now I can envision the texture and feel of the quilt. I'm inspired to quilt with denim and linen from my stash....should I prewash? I adore every book by Katherine Center. In Ottawa, Ontario, Canada the Forsythia bushes are an explosion of yellow and the Magnolia trees are just starting to bring forth their lovely flowers. I'm seeing daffodils nodding in the Spring breezes. This is my favorite time of year!

  2. Oh my, this quilt is so appealing. The blues are restful in a dynamic design. Nicely done!

  3. I love your organic leaves pIllowtop, especially its bright cheerful palette. How would you compare the Wonderfil 12 wt. with Aurifil 12 wt. as far as ease of use? I've never had the opportunity to try Wonderfil and would need to order online as we don't have any nearby quilt shops.

  4. Your improv QuiltCon quilt is looking great, love those little additional pops of Kumquat! Did you find it tricky mixing in the linen & denim with quilting cottons?

  5. The need for my design wall often spurs me get something finished. You are quite right about those color pops are Kumquat. They give those pretty blues an extra spark. I enjoy throwing in a little accent like that too.

  6. You did well from your classes! Part of the fun of improv is that you never know for sure how it will turn out :D


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