Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oakshott Blog Hop-- Improv Autumn Quilt

The Oakshott Autumn Blog Hop

I am thrilled to participate in the blog hop for the new new Autumn colourshott fat eighth pack from Oakshott. I received this beautiful bundle of fat eights to create something fun. I have worked with Oakshott cottons previously on my Unraveled quilt. I love the look and feel of them. The colors are beautiful and wash up so soft. 

For a couple years now, I've been interested in making a Modern Maples quilt. Something has always held me back. Perhaps it's the structure of a pattern or making something that so many others have already made. I knew shot cottons would make a wonderful leaf quilt. Since I will likely never actually make Modern Maples, I did my own take on that idea: Autumn Improv.

Like all of my improv projects, this quilt began as a simple idea and slowly evolved. I first made the leaf blocks. Next I added layers of low volume fabrics around them to create blocks. I really enjoy the free-flowing nature of improv projects and feel it's well suited to the leaves in this case. 

The leaf blocks are fairly simple even though improv piecing may seem intimidating at first if you haven't attempted it before. Today I'm sharing a quick tutorial on how to create these improv leaves.

Begin by cutting out the leaf shape. Simply freehand this with the rotary cutter. My leaves are all different shapes--some long and narrow, some short and round, others somewhere in between. This leaf shape in now way needs to be perfect.

Next overlap the leaf with a large piece of fabric for the right section of the block.

Carefully cut the background fabric to match the leaf shape. Essentially we're making puzzle pieces that will fit together. 

Remove excess background fabric and save for scrap projects or for piecing the quilt later. Mark the approximate center point of the leaf and background and pin. 

Sew from the pin outward on one half of the seam. Repeat with the other half of the leaf to complete the seam. I found sewing in this manner reduces the risk of distortion. The fabric shifts more when sewing the complete seam end to end. 

The leaf should look reasonably smooth once pieced. Then press the seam toward the leaf. Do not stretch the fabric, particularly the leaf fabric. This will cause complication later. 

Finally repeat the whole process with the left background section of the block. Press well. If at this point the block is not laying flat, use a light amount of starch to force it flat. 

Piece blocks together as desired. I loosely used a log cabin style--building the rows of the blocks around my leaves. I pieced my blocks together using the same basic technique shown here with the leaves: overlap sections of the quilt to be joined and cut raw edges to match up. I make matching small dots with a removable marking pen on either side of the seam allowance to guide me and I stitch longer seams. 

I had full intention of creating a very large red leaf on the back of this quilt and requested extra yardage to do so. As I worked on this quilt I  decided to add hand quilted detail in each leaf. As such I wanted a very simple backing to allow the stitching to show up on the back. Although this will take me a while to complete, I'm excited for the ongoing project and love the effect.

I did my first leaf with far too similar of a thread. Generally I think the stitching needs more contrast. Although, I left it as is because I also like the idea of one or two that don't stick out.

It shows up perfectly on the back. My backing is difficult to see in this photo, but it is Branches in Ash from Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander.  It gives a really nice subtle texture while still allowing the quilting to show.

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog hop! The last one is tomorrow!

October 21: Sonia Spence--
October 22: Rossie Hutchinson--
October 24: Mary Menzer--
October 28: Alison Dutton--
October 29: Nicholas Ball--
October 30: Kati Spencer--
October 31: Wynn Tan--


  1. How beautiful!
    I know what you mean about making that quilt…….I love your version!

  2. Love the leaves, and how perfect is oakshott for them! Gorgeous!

  3. Your leaf quilt is fabulous, well done.

  4. Love the design, I like the variations of your leaves too. And great colors -- I like all the quilts I've seen in this blog hop.

  5. this is stunning! I love the hand quilting showing on the back.

  6. I love it! And I really like oakshott cottons.

  7. Your work is always so amazing! Thank you for sharing yor incredible talent, and as always, I love, love your quilt!

  8. Love your leaf improvs. This is really beautiful and perfect with those Oakshotts.

  9. This quilt is amazing. I love it! Thanks for showing how you made the blocks.

  10. I'm in love with this quilt! I wish I had just a smidgen of your talent! Love those low volumes with the oakshotts. I can only imagine how stunning it must be in person. What beautiful work (as always!).

  11. So beautiful, Kati. Thanks for the tutorial!

  12. Thank you for sharing how you created your blocks. Your quilt is fabulous.

  13. Love these leaves ~ it's a beautiful quilt and thanks so much for a great tutorial on how to do curves!

  14. It's gorgeous! Love it! Especially how the low volume background really makes the leaves pop! x

  15. Wow, I love this. Don't know if I dare try it!?

  16. What a beautiful project. I love the pop of color on the back from the hand stitching.