I knew my next quilting project had to be something that would work with my vintage machines. They haven't been sewn on in about a year so this was something I wanted to correct. While I get a gorgeous stitch on any of the old gals I find it difficult to get a precise 1/4" seam allowance. I can get really close using the guides on the needle plate or an after-market 1/4" foot, but not the kind of perfect 1/4" that is necessary for a really fussy patchwork piece.
What better way to make use of an antique machine than to create a modern quilt piece. After making several detailed quilts in a row, requiring accurate cutting, measuring, sewing, and following a pattern in detail, a free-form, spontaneous improv quilt seemed like a nice change. Of course, I still did my research! Letting go of rule following is really tough for me so I needed to make sure I had guidelines to at least structure my thoughts and loosely plan my course of action.
I started with the two things forming the backbone of my quilting knowledge: books and Craftsy. Create Your Own Freeform Quilts by Rayna Gillman, has been on my shelf for a few years now but I've never done more than flip through it. After reading her easy process for stitching strips of fabric together in mindless meditation and then cutting them up again and again, I was inspired to use up old stash and abandoned quilt blocks. There are no unfinished quilt tops in my cupboard but several experimental test pieces are definitely waiting to find a forever home in some form or another. Next, I turned to the INSPIRED MODERN QUILTS Craftsy class in my library, with instructor Elizabeth Hartman at the helm. I've done several lap quilts from the class and love her modern and tidy style. While Elizabeth is known for her organized piecing of many units of patchwork and currently has gorgeous woodland animal patterns in her on-line shop Oh Fransson!, she does offer several Lessons on Modern Crosses, Improv Pods, and Wonky Log Cabins. The latter was just what I was looking for and my starting point for my project.
I am also a member of QNN.tv and a fan of Quilt Monkey. On it, co-host Nick shares his Liberated Log Cabin blocks so by combining what I've learned from all 3 sources, I was ready to dive in. I chose to base my quilt on a curated tote of fat quarters and yardage. That will give me plenty of fabric to form a core of blocks and background and then I can raid my stash for an extra pop of colour and print with some favourites I haven't used as of yet. My 1957 Featherweight was the first vintage machine to get a crack at the improvisation and even though she is 60 years old and hasn't been sewing in over a year, she purred like a Featherweight should right out of the cabinet. I have never made any project on this particular machine so I was excited to put it through the paces and see how she behaved after her initial test drive.
I think things are going well and these are the blocks I have completed so far. Of course, 'completed' is 100% up to my whim and I may end up adding more or leaving some out when it comes time to put the whole quilt together. I like what I see on the design wall already and have a few ideas of what direction I might go - while still keeping an open mind about the process. According to Nick at Quilt Monkey, we aren't supposed to overthink things as we go, and as I said, that proves easier said than done for me personally! I'll keep going, zipping strips under the needle and see what fun results I end up with. I'm enjoying the process and it's very addictive not having to worry about cutting accurate sizes and achieving that perfect seam width. I don't need to know what piece goes where or which print matches; so much fun it's hard to stop!