Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Improv Quilting - Portrait of a Polka Dot Lady

For those who may not know

Until this month I was a member of  "The Endeavourers" (see button in RH side bar for link). The aim of the group is to make an art quilt to fit the chosen subject for the quarter over those three months and then to show the quilt on "The Endeavourers" blog at a given date. I am now leaving the group as I  find I don't have as much free time as I thought I would have in order to be able to complete a quilt within that timescale.



I was so excited when I read that the November reveal for The Endeavourers was to be “Improv”!

I didn't really know much about Improv then but, of course, I've searched the internet widely to read more.

I found out more about Improv HERE, and somewhere I read that Improv is basically made without a pattern and I was especially encouraged when I read that "if you think what you are doing is Improv, it is!"

So, one day I was reading a blog where the lady showed how to stitch Improv circles ..... I had to go out for some reason, and when I returned I hadn't bookmarked the lady's blog, so now I cannot find her to share the details with you here (sorry for being an idiot!).

Anyway, this gave me the idea to make a quilt with a picture of my "Polka Dot Lady" in it! However, as you might guess, this was waaaay harder than I ever imagined!

This is how she looks so far!

I started with a rough sketch of how I imagined she might look, and other ideas of what I could add to the quilt:

I soon realised this was all too much and decided to concentrate on "my lady", and then debated where to start!!!

So ..... I started with her hair buns:

I actually sketched the buns on the pink polka dot fabric, just eyeballing the sketch to see if I could envisage the completed size. Then placed the first "bun" on a strip of background fabric. It was very complicated ..... I was afraid of cutting the wrong size ..... so there was lots of sketching ..... using my rotary cutter for all cutting .....

And then the difficulty of how to stitch them in place .....

Pulling the raw edges together and stitching very slowly .....

Not too bad for a first attempt!

It even looked quite good on the right side too!

After stitching the second "bun" and guessing their positioning .....

Lots of sketching to work out how big to cut her hair .....

I stitched her hair in place in much the same way that her hair had been stitched on my "Polka Dot Lady" pincushion ..... with a raw edge, and machine stitched in place, as decoratively as I could.

I didn't take photos of making her shoulders, but basically I cut out a cardboard template ..... starting with an oblong about the size I wanted, worked out the curve of her shoulders and cut out the shape I thought her neck should be, then cut the fabric from that shape.

I machine stitched the neckline to her dress in the same manner as the "buns" .....

Maybe this is too many photos, sorry!

Then I realised the neck would be too tricky to machine stitch, so this little part will be hand stitched.

Anyhow, I placed the shape over the background and, using my trusty Flexion pen (no affiliation I just find this is what works for me), which irons off with heat, drew the shape to cut out. 

To be more precise, starting with the outer line - 
  1. actual shape of the Polka Dot Lady piece,
  2. stitching line,
  3. cutting line.

I started with the body ...... machining it in place ..... next from the top of the head, stitching round to the neck, and then started again on the second side in the same way.

And here she is with the lines all ironed out.  The right side of her neck is fully stitched but the left is a little trickier to stitch. I might undo the left side of the body as it doesn't really sit right in the background.

So, hopefully you can see why I've been a bit slow with this one ..... it was soooo much trickier than I ever imagined!

There will be borders, maybe a star or two, oh, and there's my lady's face to embroider, but the finished piece will only be 15 inches square when finished, and hopefully it can be considered a little bit "Arty"?! But I can't say how soon it will be finished.

As I said at the beginning ..... I was a member of "The Endeavourers" but I am parting with them now, however I will be popping back to visit as there is so much wonderful inspiration among the lovely ladies there. I wish I could continue, but I just don't work that fast!!

So do pop over to visit them if you have a moment.


I will be back here soon with more of my tiny stitching projects!
(Oh, and let me know if you have any questions on the method used for my mini quilt.)


Wishing my "Endeavourer" friends all the best, for future quilts,

Barbara xxx

P.S. I think my commenting problems are all solved, thanks to Catherine ..... and hopefully next time I can tell you more, in case the same happens to you!


Kaisievic said...

Wow! Barbara, your polka dot lady is amazing! Well done!

Kim said...

I think your improv, polka dot lady is fabulous. Lot's of tricky stitching there...and yes.....very, very arty!

Christine B said...

Hi Barbara! What a great idea your quilt is! You have made such a good job of it too! Often these little projects are the most time-consuming but, they are so rewarding and you learn so much en route! Christine xx

Queeniepatch said...

I can see how this must have taken a lot of your time. You are so stubborn!
Please complete this quilt, but in your own time. I am sure it will be great.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Hi Barb. Sorry your are leaving the group, but you do have a lot of stitching going on so I totally understand and will be glad to see more of what you are working on. Your lady is turning out pretty cool.
xx, Carol

Rhona said...

Polka dot lady looks great!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare said...

This is fantastic. It looks like a very ambitious project but it's turning out beautifully. I can't wait to see more :)

Julie said...

Well done, you've really made a great job of this.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I will echo the 'well done's' that you've already received! If I had been doing this I would have wimped out and simply done the whole thing in applique. Have to admire your using this method!

Maureen said...

Barbara, your Polka Dot Lady is delightful! It is sad you are leaving the group. And, you a correct in saying these quilts do take time. I'm late with mine this quarter due to shoulder surgery 5 weeks ago.
Happy Quilting in the New Year!
:) Maureen & Josephina Ballerina (the cat)

Pamela said...

You are very creative!

Astrids dragon said...

Oh wow, she looks great! I certainly don't have the patience for that, but you have done an amazing job on her so far!

Mia said...

It already looks great, Barbara! Great quilt. Kisses, my friend.

Sandra Walker said...

Wow, I totally get all the angst, and thinking and sketching that goes into some of these 'oh just improv' pieces, just as you described it! Your polka-dot lady is coming along wonderfully, and good call on the hand-stitching of the neck. Hmm, would it be called reverse-appliqué improv??

Sheryl said...

This is looking very pretty Barbara. I like the pale green fabric.

rosey175 said...

Well I just shriveled up at the very thought of sewing those curves ahaha~ I hope you finish this piece in your own time. I have a huge problem with deadlines which is why I don't join in many SALs/KALs/CALs/any other a-longs. It's just too stressful and that's not the point of crafting for me. G'luck with your other tiny projects! :D

As a new sewist, why would the neck be difficult? Is the angle too much or too bulky of fabric?

FlashinScissors said...

Rosey, your guess is spot on! The neck is tricky because of the amount of fabric, and it’s almost a 90° turn. Anyway, I decided I wasn’t sure I could keep it on track, so, as Sandra says there will be some reverse appliqué improv!
Barbara x

Textile Ranger said...

Hi Barbara!
I am supposed to be making a sleeper for my grandson today, but instead I have spent a lovely morning wandering through your posts and links! I am amazed at how many different crafts find their way into your plans and hands!
Thank you for a very pleasant morning, and good luck with your polka dot lady quilt. Maybe she will get some friends -- plaid, check, stripe?

handmade by amalia said...

I'm glad the polka dot lady is back with us for another project, Barbara, I really like her. And I liked the many photos, half the fun is seeing the process and not just the finished quilt. I hope that you are well and happy. I've not been in touch much lately, been a bit busy, but hoping to do better.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What a clever idea! I love the idea of taking one subject and doing a variety of crafts with it.

Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

Wow! I’d have wimped out and settled for applique! She looks great