FABRIC SELECTION & GETTING INTO THE IMPROV MINDSET
The best place to start when diving into an improv project is getting in an improv mindset.
But what does that mean?
Simply put – it’s about abandoning the ‘quilty rules’ and tuning into your creative instincts. This is about letting go of any preconceived notions of what improv should be and just letting loose and having some fun! Here are some guidelines to help get you in the spirit of improv:
Do some stretching beforehand. Yes, stretching! Super simple but being physically limber also tends to free up your mind. You want a nice calm flow for improv. Try literally shaking off your anxieties before you start!
Don’t overthink things. Sometimes it can be tempting to second guess ourselves. Try and resist that urge and just do what feels natural to you. There’s no right or wrong here!
FABRIC REQUIREMENT GUIDELINES
Since we’re working without a pattern, the following fabric requirements are meant as a guide to help you with your fabric pull. We’re aiming to make a 5” block size every day, but this is really open to interpretation: they can be smaller, larger, or a mix. The following amount of fabric is more than enough to see you through making a generous wall hanging, with probably enough leftover for an improv backing (in case you want to hold off picking up a backing):
Fabric A – 1 yard
Fabric B – ½ yard
Fabric C – ½ yard
Fabric D – ½ yard
Fabric E – ½ yard
Backing & Binding – 2 yards
FABRIC SELECTION TIPS
Picking fabric can be the best of times or the worst of times. To help make this a fun experience, here are some top fabric selection tips:
Pick up to five different fabrics. The fabric requirements listed above are intended as guidelines and are the amounts both of us are using in our projects. To help keep you from feeling overwhelmed we recommend not exceeding five different colours.
Fabrics can be:
Solids only (our plan); or
A combination of prints and solids.
If you decided to use prints, we suggest avoiding large focal prints or florals as their motifs tend to get lost in smaller improv designs.
When it comes to selecting colours, here are some things to think about:
What’s your favourite colour? What colours haven’t you paired that with? Use this as an opportunity to explore how your favourite colour plays with others.
What’s a colour you’ve never played with? This can be a fun time to try something new and see where it leads.
Consider the colour value. By incorporating a mix of light, medium and dark colour values ensure there’s enough contrast and dimension in your fabric pull. Lighter fabrics have an airy and open effect, while darker values are more grounding.
Start with your backing fabric! You can then pull colours that are featured in that print to build your colourway from. An easy way to do this is by looking at the selvage as some fabrics identify what colors are used in the print with tiny swatches.
Play up the warm and cool tones. Warm colours (also called advancing colours) tend to pop, while cool colours (also referred to as receding colours) draw your eye in. You can mix both warm and cool or focus on just one to see what effect it can have.
You can also have fun by mixing several of the above elements.
Here’s an example from Shannon:
For this year’s palette I decided to go with a combination of two colour inspiration points: Pantone Color of the Year 2022 Very Peri paired with soft peachy coral tones (a fav, as you know 😉).
Instead of matching Very Peri exactly, I decided to be inspired by the colours and pulled Blueberry Zest and Field of Lavender. They both have that lavender feel to them, with Blueberry Zest being moodier with a fiery undertone of purple-red.
One thing I like to do is test my colour combinations visually before I finalize my selection. One way to do that, is to either create a mock-up and play with your dominant colour or lay your fabric colour chips over one another so you can see how they play off one another. This technique led me swap the below colour pairing because the values and tones were too closely matched.
Here are the PURE Solids I'll be working with:
Blueberry Zest (PE-441)
Field of Lavender (PE-495)
Peach Sherbet (PE-444)
Apricot Crepe (PE-426)
Sweet Macadamia (PE-471)
Here’s an example from Amanda:
This year, I’ve had an unofficial goal to try to work with purple and orange, colors that I don’t naturally gravitate towards. For the first half of the year, I challenged myself to work with purple (and umpteen purple projects later, I’m now reaching for it first). So, it seemed like a good time to spend some quality time with orange. Initially I thought of working with an ombre of oranges, but then I thought I’d shake it up a bit by adding in a dark blue. Once I had these two anchors, I turned to my good friend Pinterest and spent some time exploring different orange and blue combinations. From there, I turned to my PURE Solids swatch card and pulled out all the oranges and blues (as well as a favorite blush pink plus some neutral creams and grays). Then I started playing with them and eventually settled on: