Monday, October 4, 2021

"Heartbroken": A Valentine's Day Mini for the Scrappy Improv Quilting Blog Hop Tour

Woo-hoo!  It's finally my turn to share my project on the Scrappy Improv Quilting blog hop, hosted by Kelly Young of My Quilt Infatuation in conjunction with the release of her newest book!  When Kelly asked me to participate several months ago, I was thrilled to accept because: 1. I have never done ANY improv quilting before and it's something I've been wanting to try anyway, and 2. the "mini quilt" projects in Kelly's book are small and manageable, most finishing at 24" x 24" like the one I'm sharing today.  Great size for experimenting with new techniques when you're not sure you are ready to commit to a huge bed quilt.  

My 24 x 24 "Heartbroken" Improv Mini with Rose Texture B2B Quilting Design

The project I was assigned is called "Heartstruck" in Kelly's book, and it's the Valentine's Day project from her Seasonal Sensations chapter.  Most projects in this book finish at 24" x 24", by the way, which is awesome for your front door,  entryway, classroom, office  -- any space you're wanting to brighten up with a splash of quilty cheer that can be swapped out regularly so you never get tired of any one quilt.  Since many of my clients drop off and pick up their quilts from my home, I'm thinking of making a whole series of these mini quilts to display on my front door to welcome new clients -- and to reassure them that yes, this IS the right house where the quilter lives!

Kelly's 24 x 24 "Heartstrings" Improv Mini, As Featured In Her Book

Studying Kelly's "Heartstrings" mini, I love how her arrows direct your eye through the quilt in a back-and-forth motion and I was also excited about all of the empty "negative" background space because that's a great opportunity for dramatic quilting to make an impact. When Kelly invited me to participate in the blog hop, she encouraged me to "make the project my own" and have fun with it.  So, as much as I like Kelly's Heartstrings mini, I was looking for a way to change it up somehow to make it "mine."  I started thinking about the fact that there were three hearts rather than just two,  kind of like a Love Triangle.  And THAT reminded me of the late Princess Diana's remark in her 1995 BBC interview, about how there were three people in her marriage, making things "a bit crowded."  💔. Aha!  In my version, the top two hearts were going to be lucky lovers who get "struck by Cupid's arrow," but the third one was going to be a broken heart that Cupid passes by.

Where Can You Find This Pattern?

Before I go into this any further, I want to make sure to share where you can find this pattern, as well as all of the others you've been enjoying throughout the blog hop.  Kelly's book is now available on Amazon as either a paperback or as a Kindle e-book:

Available on Amazon here (affiliate link)

Kelly's methods and instructions are clear and easy-to-follow...  But only if you read them before you start chopping up scraps and sewing them back together again!

Minus 5, For Not Following Directions...

I got a little carried away with my red scraps and, when I ran into difficulties and read Kelly's instructions again, I realized that her method of precutting and sorting scraps into different rough sizes and then piecing several small units together to create a larger one was much better than slicing and stitching willy-nilly as I'd been doing.  But then, as I kept reading, I found grace at the bottom of page 13:


Kelly's tone is upbeat and encouraging throughout.  I'll bet she's wonderful as an in-person workshop teacher, but her book is the next-best thing.

Back On Track, Using Good Measure Bias Triangle Ruler, available here

So, back to the Heartstrings project instructions and, uh-oh -- I'm supposed to use a Triangle-in-a-Square specialty ruler set to make this quilt.  I don't have one, and I really didn't want to have to buy more specialty rulers. 

 But then I remembered my complete set of Nifty Notions Cut For the Cure rulers that I bought years ago in a class with Kaye England, and sure enough, there's a Half Rectangle Triangle ruler in that set that works with the Bias Triangle to do exactly the same thing.  (Note that, not long after I bought my Cut for the Cure rulers, the manufacturer had to rename them Good Measure because the Susan G. Komen Foundation sent them a cease and desist order for their trademark phrase "for the Cure.").  Anyway, these are the rulers I used to make my mini quilt.  Check the rulers you have in your own drawer before you go out looking specifically for the set mentioned in the book, because chances are good that you already have ones that will work just fine.

Ready to Sew!  Used My Good Measure Half Rectangle Triangle Ruler for Turquoise HRTs


Arrows Accomplished!

Kelly's project used pinks and reds for the hearts an gray scraps for the arrows, set on a white background.  I discovered that I didn't actually HAVE any gray scraps -- must not be a color I use much?  So that's why I went with black and white scraps for my arrows instead.  If you click on these pictures to make them bigger, you might be able to read the fairy tale text printed on one of the fabrics I used for my arrows.  I thought that was especially well-suited to this project and schemed to ensure that my carefree improv piecing just "happened" to result in right-side-up text!

Finished Top, Prior to Quilting

That zigzag crack going through my broken heart is created with an appliqued black satin ribbon that I am pretty sure came off a box of post-Valentine's day sale chocolate several years ago.  I didn't think of adding it until after the whole quilt top was assembled, so I just turned the cut ends under and machine appliquéd the ribbon pieces to the heart with a narrow zigzag in black thread.  How apropos, that my broken heart should be created with the ribbon from a self-bought box of chocolates, don't you agree?  Hahaha!  Now I was really starting to have FUN...

This 24 x 24 Mini Looked So Dinky On My Giant 13' Quilting Frame!

Since this piece was so small, I didn't bother to pin the top to my leaders as I normally do.  I just used a couple of strong magnet bars from Harbor Freight to secure the edge to my belly bar during quilting.

Bold Contrast Thread is YLI 40 wt Cotton Variegated Maui Sunset

I knew EXACTLY which quilting design I wanted to use for this piece.  Anne Bright's Rose Texture B2B was the perfect way to represent the ubiquity of long-stemmed red roses every February 14th.  I chose my favorite "look-at-me" diva thread to ensure the quilting really stood out, too -- YLI's 40 weight cotton Machine Quilting thread in a variegated red/pink/purple/orange combo called Maui Sunset.

YLI Machine Quilting Thread in Maui Sunset, available here

The color was selected to contrast boldly with my turquoise background fabric, but blend into my heart fabrics to keep the focus on the improv piecing and the variety of prints in my mix of scraps.

Quilting Blends Into Hearts, Stands Out Against Background

I wasn't sure how my long arm machine was going to like quilting through all of those stiff seams in my improv piecing, or through the satin ribbon on top of the improv piecing, but my Bernina Q24 stitched through it beautifully like it was nothing, without any skipped stitches or thread breaks whatsoever.  I love my Bernina long arm machine.  💓

--- PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  Click here to find out how to book your quilt with me.

I Love How This Thread Looks Against My Black Satin Ribbon Crack!

Okay, that's about all I have to say about this project!  Here's one final look before you leave:

My One And Only Valentine's Day Decoration is Completed!

Now that I've got Kelly's scrappy improv technique down, I'm looking forward to making several of the other, non-Valentine's Day themed projects in the book.  I'm also thinking about ways of adapting her technique for appliqué and foundation paper piecing projects.  Which is pretty much the highest praise possible, right?  Not only did Kelly get me to try something new, encourage me along the way and lead me to a successful finish with this project, but she has also inspired me to continue the journey and incorporate what I've learned into other projects.  Thanks for including me in your book launch blog hop, Kelly!

Kelly's Book, Available in Paperback or Kindle Download on Amazon here

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts


To-Do Tuesday at Texas Quilt Gal


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

I'm also hosting TGIFF (Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday) again this week, and I have been holding back a beautiful customer's quilt finish to share with you then.  You're just going to have to be patient and come back on Friday -- can't wait to see YOUR recent finishes linked up as well!  

Kelly's Scrappy Improv Quilting blog tour will continue on Wednesday with the next two featured mini quilts, so be sure to check them out.  In case you've missed any of the previous posts on the blog hop, I've included the full schedule below.

Signed copies of Scrappy Improv Quilting are available in Kelly's Etsy shop HERE, or ask about it at your local quilt shop.  It is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major booksellers.  

Scrappy Improv Quilting Blog Tour, Complete Schedule:

10/4- Heartstruck- ME!  Rebecca Grace @ Rebecca Grace Quilting
           Star SpangledChristine @ Triangles & Squares

10/6- Birds of a FeatherPreeti @ Sew Preeti Quilts
           Fall FoliageSusan @ Quilt Fabrication

10/11- OrnamentalGail @ Quilting Gail
            Churn, Churn, ChurnCynthia @ Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

10/13- Sunset CrossingKate @ Katie Mae Quilts
             Positivity- Sarah @ Sarah Goer Quilts

10/18- All Dressed UpLinda @ Flourishing Palms
             ShockwaveAnne-Marie @ Stories From the Sewing Room

10/20- Sweet Bee (a bonus thank-you pattern), Finishing, and Wrap-Up (here!) 


Darlene S said...

I absolutely love your quilt, fabrics, colors and freemotion quilting for your Scrappy Improv Quilting Challenge. Total #CreativeGoodness. Just makes my heart smile.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

I really like it in the turquoise background, Rebecca!!! And the black stands out so good on the turq. Love your quilting choice!!!

Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation said...

Your mini is SO fantastic, Rebecca Grace! I love your unique take on the pattern. I'm glad you enjoyed the book! Thank you again for participating in the blog hop!

:) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

Kathleen said...

This is so much fun. I love the back story and the fun addition of the ribbon. What a great quilt. I just started sorting some of my fabrics into bags, so much easier to make slabs that way. I love all the quilts from Kelly’s new book and hope to make one some day. I forgot about YLI thread which I always used on my domestic machine - there were a few colors I really really liked. I may have to go search out some for my HQ!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Looks like fun, Rebecca. Love, love, LOVE the quilting design you chose!!! It really fits the theme.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

great improve - and nice to hang on your door so clients know they are at a quilters home

Sandy said...

Gorgeous, Rebecca Grace! I love the way you adapted the original to your own vision. :)

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I love your version of this little quilt, Rebecca, and it was fun to read your post about how you created it! The turquoise background, and one arrow turned the other way are just great and make it your own. This is one of the quilts from Kelly's book that I'd like to make, too. said...

What a fun piece! That turquoise background is the perfecting setting for your quilting!

Christine S said...

I’d never know you haven’t done improv! It looks fantastic!!

piecefulwendy said...

Oh, the turquoise background really makes this little mini sing! Love it!

Preeti said...

You indeed made the quilt your own. Love the darker background, but saddened by the broken heart. You know you could have added a fourth heart or just left it at two. The best part about these mini projects is that we can play to our strengths. I see yours in the quilting - love those roses in variegated thread.

Quilting Gail said...

I LOVE your version of Heartstrings! Awesome quilting!

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

Wow, wow, wow! Your mini is absolutely stunning.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Don't know which I love more...your quilt or the story behind it! Both are wonderful. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

dq said...

Does that mean the machine quilting was improv? It looks amazing!!! So, do you mostly do pre-planned/computerized patterns in your quilting? I am curious as I may send you one of mine some day.