Improv Bee 2017 round up

At the end on 2016 I was approached by Lisa @sewwhatyoulove to be part of a new Improv Bee.  Along with Friederike @piecestopatch, Monique @noonoomon1, Saija @saija_elina, Melanie @mellmeyer, Katie @sewaroundtheworld, Christine @lopolokko, Alisa @astitchinbetween and Vicky @vevivicky we embarked on a year long improv adventure!

As much as I enjoy working in an unplanned way, working to someone else brief while working in a loose way puts a totally different spin on things.  It was challenging, surprising and very satisfying to try out new ways of thinking and making.

Each quarter the Queen Bee’s delivered their themes.  We had architecture, succulents, Op art, the human body, watercolour transparency, Miami, tide and the beach, birch trees, stacked cut out shapes and well wishes.  Each one with size and colour limitations.

As this was a group effort I wanted to know how everyone found this process and asked my bee mates to contribute to this post.
Katie said,
I wanted to try improv for a while, the bee gave me the last little push I needed to finally dive in.
Things I’ve learned (besides how to cut and piece without rulers):
– how to transform an idea into a block, to simplify and to embrace trial and error
– to realize when a block is ‘enough’
– that improv is what you make it! To use my own rules (with/without ruler/self drafted pattern/…) and don’t care about what other people say improv is to them…
– working with new to me color combinations and ‘make them work’
I love those challenges every quarter because it gives me the opportunity to work on something new and exciting without having to piece a whole quilt.
And although I’m really sad that some of us had to leave, I’m glad that we only work on two themes (four blocks) a quarter. It’s exciting to work on them but not too much stress, so I’m happy we slowed down a bit this year.
Christine said,
How did I get there… a pure chance! Dear Lisa started to contact some IG quilters and I was lucky she invited me. No doubt at all I jumped into this bee circle, having no idea of what I was going to build ! The improv technique was completely new for me and i really enjoyed mixing a new technique with all themes … some were surprising , like Monique’s human body in Superman shades!!! We had also beautiful botanical themes with Saija’s birch trees, or Katie’s plants on a wall, that forced me to use green that is absoloutly not my favorite color! I loved also finding nice words and made my first letters blocks for Mell. Had also a great pleasure with really tricky ones, Vicky’s cuts out and Alisa’s transparency were very challenging, and Lucy, your grand Budapest hotel is still terrifying for me… my only regret is that only one was completely finished , Friedericke manages to piece and quilt our beaches blocks last year… hope 2018 will be full of joyful improv challenges and lovely quilts!!!!
Monique said,
I had seen quite a bit of improv piecing on IG and was desperate to try it for myself, so when Lisa asked me to join the #improvbee I thought all my Christmases had come at once! I have been challenged, inspired, frustrated, elated – all in equal measure.  Some bee blocks are easy and seem to come naturally, and quickly. Others, are a lot harder and require much time, thought and a few practice blocks before getting it right. I am still struggling with being less literal, and more abstract, in my interpretations of themes. I am working on learning to “let go”. I find that when I am able to do that, and I just enjoy the process (and am not fixated on the end result) I create much better blocks. During my time in the bee I have totally let go of my fear of curves, and embraced them wholeheartedly! I’ve been so lucky to be a part of it all, alongside all of these amazing artists.
Lisa said,
When I first started quilting I didn’t know anything about traditional blocks, modern blocks, improv blocks or actually quilting at all. Diving deeper into quilting and starting to use Instagram opened a whole new quilting world to me. One of the first people I ever followed was Hillary Goodwin (@entropyalwayswins) I just love her use of colors and her very brave way of piecing quilts. I feel like for Hillary nothing is impossible, she just figures out a way to do it. And this approach really resonates with me. I’ve loved following her #beesewcial group on IG and did sew along for a few themes #inspiredbybeesewcial just for the sake of learning a new way of piecing. I loved sewing along, but then ended up with a few random blocks. So inspired by that I reached out to sewing friends on IG that I thought would be interested in learning and improving their own improv style without being judged but still ending up with a great quilt to show off. I’ve learned a lot during the first year and am sure to learn a lot during the second! I find it really interesting, that some themes are really hard for me to approach (like Lucy’s Grand Budapest Hotel) but seem to be super easy to do for other beemates, and the other way around. I love the challenge and I love the results! 

We have already kicked off this years Improv Bee which I’m sure will bring as much fun and as many challenges!  And you can keep up with this years themes and blocks by following the hashtag #improvbee on Instagram.


Happy Quilting!


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