Artsy Group – Improv Piecing

Connie welcomed the group of 11, and asked us to introduce ourselves. Ten attendees were members of APQG (including two who were inspired to join the guild because of the “Art Feeds the Soul” quilt show last month). One member of BCQG also attended. Connie and Linda had conspired to revive the Artsy Group while sitting together during the quilt show.

What is the Artsy Group?

As part of her introduction, Connie answered the question of “What is the Artsy Group?” It is not a class. Think of it as a series of cooperative workshops, where guild members bring ideas and/or techniques that may “spark” the others to try something new. The goal is to make people more confident in what they are doing as quilters.

Meeting Schedule

Artsy Group will meet monthly on the first Tuesday of each month. (APQG has Elmira Community Center reserved every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, as well as “the Tuesday before.”) Typically, our start time will be 9:30 AM. Our next meeting date is May 3rd.

We can decide whether to meet or break during the summer. Fall meetings will fall on

  • September 6 (unless we delay until Sept. 20 to work around Labor Day week)
  • October 4
  • Nov. 15 (3rd Tuesday), since we can’t meet on Nov. 1 (Elmira is used as a voting precinct.)
  • December 6.

General Expectations for Attendees

  • Attendance – There is no expectation that the same people attend every month. Artsy Group is open to all members of APQG and BCQG. Come when you can!
  • Projects – Connie hopes we can all take what we learn today about “Improvisational Piecing Techniques” and turn it into a finished “something” to bring in to share at the May meeting. Overall, she and Linda hope that the Artsy Group will “make a big splash” at the next quilt show!
  • Programs – Members are invited to suggest topics to be explored. (One possibility suggested today was to learn about Faced Edgings, which tend to be preferred over traditional binding for art quilts.)
  • Yearly Challenge – In the short history of the Artsy Group’s existence, we have found that having a “Challenge” (leading to some sort of “show and tell”) has been a great way to share what we are learning with the larger guild. Past challenges have included
    • Combine a randomly-assigned collection of adjectives into a quilt.
    • Take a traditional quilt block and make it “artsy.”
    • Make a quilt that reflects your favorite song.

2022 Tentative Programs

Blue Stripe Challenge – As a Challenge option for this year, Tanya and Phyllis told about seeing a fascinating display of small quilts at a recent show of the Capital Quilters Guild that required use of a 3-inch wide strip of solid blue fabric. Today’s group liked the idea, so the “Blue Stripe Challenge” has been issued! We will aim to have our quilts “almost ready” by the Artsy Group’s meeting in January. That way, we will have time to consider how to display them in our 2023 quilt show next March.

Topic for May 3 – For May’s meeting, today’s group agreed to have Linda teach us how to make her tiny foundation-pieced lapel pins. (A couple of people “opted out,” which is fine). Linda will be making up 20 kits that will fulfill an order placed by a Boutique customer at the recent quilt show! (These will be used as Christmas ornaments.) She suggests that the income from the project be used to support Artsy programs.

Program – Improvisational Piecing Techniques

Connie started out by saying that Improvisational piecing is not new! The best example is a crazy quilt. She showed us a quilt from her collection that had probably been made during the period 1885-1900.

A “Crazy Quilt” bought for Connie at a church rummage sale.

Connie referenced a book called “15 Minutes of Play,” by Victoria Finley Wolfe, where the author uses the term “made fabric.” Connie had used this technique in her “Wrinkly/Irony” quilt (note background on the left) to add to the contrast between chaos and order.

Connie next told about a class experience she had with Irene Roderick, who wrote the book, “Improv Quilting: Dancing with the Wall.” From that class, Connie had created a two-color quilt she calls “Galactic Grasshopper,” which will be exhibited at a show in Mancuso, SC this summer. “Made fabric” can also be incorporated into more traditional quilt blocks.

Connie passed around several other items of reference material regarding Improv Piecing.

Two other members of the group shared improvisational piecing projects. Tanya showed her collection of “I Spy” blocks, where she had combined various fabrics (of non-standard sizes and shapes) into “themed” blocks – to make them all the same size.

Also, Linda demonstrated a project where she plans to incorporate curved stems into a piece of neutral fabric, then overlay flowers on top.

This is a challenge for a fundraiser to support the people of Ukraine. (Linda, we hope to see the finished project at our May meeting!)

Later in the meeting, Linda had sewed in her first curved stem.

Next, it was our turn to practice this piecing technique! We had brought scraps to share, so our first step was to sort through the fabric for inspiration!

Then get to work cutting and sewing!

Here are a few projects coming together by the end of the morning.

It was a fun morning’s “play.” Thanks, Connie and Linda, for reviving the Artsy Group! We were all inspired!


Artsy Group – 2019 Archives

In 2019, a smaller group of guild members began meeting an extra day each month to learn about more “artsy” or modern techniques – that may or may not actually lead to quilts! We learned about designing with basic shapes, painting on fabric with Inktense pencils, making our own stamps to make printed designs, using a computerized fabric cutting machine to prepare designs to for “applique” quilt projects, etc.

Workshop with Roxanne Lessa

In April of 2019, we participated in a workshop called “Teeny Tiny Art Quilts.” Here is a photo from that workshop, taught by Roxanne Lessa. She even taught us basic elements of design! By the end of the day, we had designed our shapes, fused fabrics onto a background, and made a small quilt that was intended to be mounted on a wooden-framed canvas and hung on the wall as “art!”

Mini Quilt Show – block variation

In October of 2019, we held a mini show during our regular Piecemakers meeting to share with the guild the results of an “artsy challenge” – to take a basic quilt block and make it “artsy.” Here are several of the resulting mini quilts. Can you see basketweave, flying geese, monkey wrench, bear claw, Jacob’s ladder, bow tie, 9-patch? What else?

Song Quilt Challenge

Just before the pandemic, the next challenge was issued – to make a quilt that illustrated our favorite song! I think we may see one of these song quilts in the “Art Feeds the Soul” Quilt Show. That would be appropriate, don’t you think?


January 2022 – Quick & Easy Quilts

Welcome to APQG in 2022

Our new President, Lovely Leona, welcomed us with “Happy Scrappy New Year!” And introduced the President’s Challenge for 2022. Bring your completed challenge projects for the “Scrappy September” mini-show, and possibly win a “fabulous prize!”

Appreciation to Outgoing President, Carolyn

We had planned to honor our out-going president at our Christmas Party in December, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we presented our gifts to her at January’s meeting. This is a memento for her sewing room.

A small token of appreciation for our outgoing president

Quilt Show Updates – “Art Feeds the Soul”

Linda shared with us all we needed to know about preparations for the upcoming quilt show March 9-12. Quite a few entry forms were turned in at today’s meeting! We are hoping for 100 quilts! Don’t forget to sign up to help with all the quilt show tasks!

Program – Quick & Easy Quilts

For our program in January, members shared ideas for “quick and easy” quilts. When you need to make a quilt in a hurry, what pattern do YOU use? Leona and Joanna both brought examples of quilts made by the “Disappearing Nine-Patch” technique.

Joanna had prepared an illustration of how to make the 9-patch block “disappear” into four equal smaller blocks, that can be rearranged for an effect more interesting than the basic nine-patch.

Another interesting “easy quilt” technique is to make “string blocks.” Leona taught this in a workshop last fall, and she has asked her “students” bring their completed string quilts for “show and tell” at our April “Picnic in the Park” meeting at South Graham Park.

string blocks – made with center “lattice” (white strip) and assembled into diamonds

A simple quilt with large squares

Quilts made with Panels – large or small

Scissors Sharpener, Pat Love

Mr. Pat Love was at our January meeting to sharpen all those pairs of scissors we wore down during the pandemic! Thanks, Mr. Love!