Monday, July 10, 2017

Introducing...Improv by Amy Friend

We gave you a sneak peek at this fabulous modern fabric collection after Quilt Market, and this week we're back to share it in a big way. Introducing Improv by Amy Friend for Contempo Studio:

This is Amy's first fabric collection, and we're thrilled to have her designing for Contempo. We recently spoke with Amy to learn more about Improv.

How did you get into quilting and blogging?
I worked as a museum curator, but decided to stay home after my kids were born. Modern quilting blogs were taking off. I’d learned to sew as a kid—making garments with my mom and grandma, but traditional quilting never drew me in. The modern quilting aesthetic was so interesting to me because I loved the graphic, bold designs. I taught myself through experimenting and online tutorials. My husband suggested I start my own quilting blog, which is called “During Quiet Time” because that’s when I sewed, while my kids were napping/resting.

Why is designing fabric a good fit for you?
In college, I studied studio art and art history, so I have an art background. I have always enjoyed print making—repetitive design. Both fabric design and foundation piecing are ways of working in that manner.

Why does foundation piecing appeal to you?
What I really like about it is the design potential—anything you can draw with straight lines, you can create. It doesn’t have to be things that are easily measured and rotary cut like half-square triangles. And you can easily repeat them because you’ve drawn a pattern. If you simply improvise, you can’t necessarily repeat the design. It allows me to be creative.

Also, I never want to copy anyone’s work and I feel that’s one way I can avoid that—if you’re drawing by hand, you’re pretty much assured it’s an original design.

How does being a quilter impact your fabric design?
I know what kinds of fabric I like to sew with, what I tend to look for, and I created those types of fabric. For me, it’s lots of low volume solids and small prints with textured backgrounds.

Tell us about your Improv fabrics.
My line features modern blenders. They can read as solid from a distance, but there’s enough going on that you can fussy cut them for specific areas. I started with things I like to doodle when I’m on the phone and on hold. I do a lot of crosshatch sketching, and I like it as a quilting method.

For the molehills print—I had paper piecing in mind—thinking it could be used for shingles, scales, field of grass, etc. I used it on my owl pillow as feathers.

The twisted screen print is an expanded crosshatch idea. I was doodling and thought it looked like a patched screen—felt like it was a modern textured solid. This is probably my favorite print in the collection.

The triangle prints are also doodles. I added the negative space between them because modern quilting patterns have negative space. 

It's the same with the little triangle bows. They also have asymmetry with an improvisational feel. Tried to make them feel modern in the way my quilts feel modern.

Let’s talk about Improv’s color palette.
The colors are the ones I found myself using the most in the year prior to designing the fabric. They’re colors that I’m drawn to. I tend to work in a minimal palette, and wanted to create a few little subgroups of minimal palettes. For example, grays mixed with peaches, or with citron, or with burgundy and rose. I like to use gray as my neutral because it highlights the other colors I’m using. I love using gradients in my quilt designs, so the palette has several values within each color.

The collection has a number of low-volume prints—they’re great for cutting up and seaming and creating a cohesive background.

What do you like best about fabric design?
I’ve always enjoyed the whole process of completing a quilt. This added a last step—the quilt was made in my own fabric. I feel like it gives me more ownership of the whole piece.

Can you tell us about your book, Improv Paper Piecing?
The book talks about incorporating the design potential of paper piecing. Designing a shape, and the repeating it. That’s how I’m combining the two concepts of improvisation and paper piecing—improvisationally sketching the design and then repeating it through paper piecing. Then maybe rotating the blocks or using negative space, or otherwise giving them a modern layout.

Tell us about “Tranquil,” your free quilt pattern.
I was trying to bridge the gap between a traditional audience and modern quilting. It’s a traditional looking block, but it floats in negative space. It’s a happy medium, showing how to incorporate my fabric into more traditional designs.

The "Tranquil" free pattern will be available soon on our website.

Amy designed several additional quilt (and pillow) patterns to showcase Improv, and we think you'll love them all!

Click here to read more about the pattern and find out where to purchase it.

"Triangle Toss"
Click here to read more about the pattern and find out where to purchase it.

 "Bangles & Beads" (inspired by the bowtie print in the fabric collection!)
Click here to read more about the pattern and find out where to purchase it.

Click here to learn more about the quilt and find out where to purchase it.

Owl Pillow (block featured in Amy's Improvisational Paper Piecing book)
Click here to learn more about this adorable owl pillow!

Coneflower with Butterfly Pillow
Click here to learn more about this pillow and where to purchase the pattern.

Snowdrop Pillow
Click here to learn more about the pillow and find out where to purchase it.

Amy also has a coordinating thread collection with Aurifil. 

Here's a peek at how well the threads coordinate with the Improv fabrics; 
you can see more on Amy's blog.

Keep visiting the blog this week--we have a week's worth of designers who will be sharing projects they've made using Improv! Come back tomorrow for the first one. 

Click here to see the entire Improv collection. (Be sure to ask for it at your local quilt shop--it's shipping to shops now!)
Click here to visit Amy's website.

One more thing...Amy is also an EQ Ambassador, and EQ is currently offering Improv as the month's free fabric download for the EQ7 Fabric Library. Click here to find it.
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  1. I love Amy's patterns,they are so well written! Clear concise instructions make following them easy.

  2. I purchased Improve today at Cross Cut Sewing Company in Melrose. I am making Caged. Amy is a wonderful designer and a sweet sweet person. She is so talented. I look forward to future collections.

  3. I would like to try the pillow pattern in these fabrics. Nice clean lines

  4. I love these colors together!