Improv Patchwork - Sunset Mini - Quilting Detail
2017 Finished Quilts, Blog Hop

Improv Patchwork Blog Hop

Today, I am really excited to share about a new book by Maria Shell: Improv Patchwork. When getting to know more about Maria and her goals for writing Improv Patchwork, I was especially struck by her statement:

The techniques in this book are designed to empower you to stitch without knowing where it may lead.

The book itself is broken into chapters that introduce components that Maria refers to as “prints made from solid fabrics”. The chapters themselves can stand alone and be used to create quilts, or the components can be used together; the ideas certainly build as the book progresses.

You may have already guessed at one of the hooks for me: Maria’s use of solid fabrics to create prints. I really liked that perspective on improv piecing, and I really spent time reading and re-reading her introduction topics on color and color value (topics near and dear to me).

I wanted to dive in and explore Maria’s book by creating a quilt, so after reading her advice on cultivating a color palette, I went to my solids color bins and pulled out some pink and orange fabrics that reminded me of glorious desert sunsets. I photographed my selection and after evaluating the image in black and white, I decided to cull the grouping down to 5 pinks and 5 oranges.

Using Maria’s chapter on Mat-Made Strips and not using a ruler (!!), I started at the “bottom” of the quilt top in the oranges and worked my way up the quilt top. When I used all of the colors, I paused to evaluate the mini quilt top (image on left). The lightest pink in the upper right didn’t work with the overall feeling of the rest of the piece, so I cut off the top and changed it to the final version (image on the right).

Improv Patchwork - Sunset Mini - Quilting Thread Selection

Improv Patchwork – Sunset Mini – Quilting Thread Selection

I backed the quilt in solid Kona Pomegranate (the next to “darkest” pink in the quilt top), so I selected 50wt Aurifil 4020 (Fuchsia) to use in the bobbin. Note that it is extremely unusual for me to not match my top thread to the bobbin, but because this mini quilt top was only about 22-inches wide by 18-inches tall, I knew I would only need two bobbins at the most for the full quilt top… and I wanted to change my thread color on the top of the quilt a lot.

From the top of the quilt working down, I used 50wt Aurifil 2530 (Blossom Pink), 4020 (Fuchsia), 2535 (Magenta), 2420 (Blush), 2220 (Light Salmon), and 2250 (Red).

Improv Patchwork - Sunset Mini - Quilting Detail

Improv Patchwork – Sunset Mini – Quilting Detail

I was inspired by Maria’s quilting detail of many of her stripe quilts that used a different quilting motif in each stripe of color.

Improv Patchwork - Sunset Mini

Improv Patchwork – Sunset Mini

To complete the mini quilt, I used a Faced Binding. It was my first time using a faced binding, and I love how it works for the Sunset Mini quilt. (Tip: I used Elizabeth from OPQuilt’s Faced Binding Tutorial.)

Improv Patchwork - Sunset Mini

Improv Patchwork – Sunset Mini

My husband is a big fan of this mini quilt. In fact, he told me that his vision for making a quilt has always looked a lot like this mini quilt!

I hope you are inspired to give improv quilting a try, and I highly recommend Improv Patchwork to help guide you through the process. Improv patchwork is available now through C&T Publishing (affiliate link) and Amazon.

I am thrilled to be able to give away one copy of Improv Patchwork (hard copy for US winner, ebook for international winner). The giveaway is open through midnight Eastern on October 25th, and you can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below (by entering the giveaway, you are acknowledging you are 18 years of age or older). A winner will be randomly selected and notified via email on October 26th; the winner will have 3 days to respond or a new winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Improv Patchwork Blog Hop

To learn more about Improv Patchwork and for other opportunities to enter to win a copy of the book, you can follow along with the Improv Patchwork blog hop (full schedule below)!

October 16 – C&T Publishing
October 18 – Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting Jetgirl
October 19 – Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side
October 20 – Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal
October 21 – Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession
October 21 – Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine
October 22 – Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog-Fun Quilts, Stuff & More
October 23 – Cindy Gisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts
October 24 – Heather Pregger at Heather Quilts
October 25 – Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher

Linking up with TGIFF and Finish It Friday.

140 thoughts on “Improv Patchwork Blog Hop

  1. Elizabeth E. says:

    I totally agree with your husband about this being a perfect quilt: it has all the elements of color, pattern, skilled quilting and a suggestion of the bigger world outside our sewing rooms. Thanks for the shout-out on the binding tutorial. Your quilt is beautiful!

  2. Melody Martin says:

    I have not done any improv piecing or quilting. But I am very interested in giving it a try.

  3. sgrancio says:

    Amazing quilting on your. Mini and the colors are perfect in telling your story. The book sounds terrific! @susansquiltstudio

  4. Darleen Sanford says:

    Improv is something I really want to get into. I also love the solids you chose.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I have tried improv and enjoy it. Your mini is awesome!

  6. ioleenkimmel says:

    I’ve done a coup of improv pieces. It’s a great way to practice piecing curves and a way to try new ideas.

  7. C says:

    I haven’t tried improve piecing without a ruler

  8. Janet T says:

    No, I have never tried improv piecing, but I love your quilt. I may just have to try my hand at it! Love the way you quilted a different motif in each stripe.

  9. Sharon Tucker says:

    The key word there is “empower” Gwen Marston and I have talked about that word in relation to improv/liberated piecing. It’s SO true and I’m glad to see you putting it right up front on your review. I”ve ordered the book so please don’t enter me into your give away.

  10. Donna says:

    I have tried improve piecing and it really is quite wonderful to use scraps. Love the quilting on the mini quilt.

  11. That is my favorite method of piecing – I just finished a quilt doing just that
    I have never done a faced binding and that might just work perfectly with my Super Secret Statement quilt I am currently working on.

  12. I’ve not really done any improve quilting but have wanted to try. I love your mini! And if the book is what inspired it, I know I’d love the book.

  13. Ann Harrison says:

    I have done some improv piecing and found it very satisfying. I want to learn more!

  14. Toni Leggate says:

    Thank you again for adding to my learning curve with a beautiful mini. Just ‘my style’…

  15. i’ve done some improv piecing but haven’t liked the results too much – this looks like an interesting approach to the method! I really like your mini!

  16. nancyangerer says:

    I have not tried improv piecing but am interested in it

  17. Erica says:

    Great job on your mini. I especially love the different fmq in each section.

  18. Jill Jackson says:

    I have enjoyed taking classes from Maria & yes I have done a little improv sewing. Looking forward to seeing her book!!!! I loved your mini quilt!!!

  19. I have tried improv piecing, but never without a ruler. I ❤️ your quilting on this mini!

  20. Ilana says:

    I have tried improv piecing on individual blocks. I’ve made a few slab blocks and intend to play more with this technique.


  21. Rachel says:

    I got hooked on improv after Cindy Grisdela visited my guild, ever since it’s been really tricky to engage with a pattern, or at least a whole pattern. So fun! Love love love your quiltscape!

  22. patty says:

    I love doing improv – don’t do it often enough. That quilting texture is so yummy, wish I could feel it through the computer screen.

  23. Jayne says:

    I have never made an Improv Quilt. The one you made is awesome! I want to learn

  24. Lea says:

    Yes, I have done some improve piecing. I love the freedom it offers and the not knowing how it will turn out in the end.

  25. Wendy M Hill says:

    I’m very eclectic and have tried all sorts of techniques and methods, including “starting without knowing what the end result would be”. Whether I do more problem solving ahead of time or during the process, I just love working with cloth and stitch. I’d love to win this book.

  26. Mary D says:

    I have tried improv piecing. I enjoy seeing what others create with this design.

    tushay3 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  27. Tish says:

    This is beautiful! I love the different fillers in each section. I’ve struggled with improv in the past, but I have to say, your mini makes me want to learn, just so I can quilt it 🙂

  28. Melody Lutz says:

    Your mini looks good enough to eat! I have not tried improv, but I think it would suit me well.

  29. Nancy N says:

    Love your mini. I have done some improv piecing, but definitely need to do some more. This book might be the impetus I need to do it!

  30. Claudia W. says:

    I haven’t done improve piecing, but I have accidentally done improve quilting. I just started quilting one day and went where my hands and machine took me. It was quite pleasing!

  31. quilterpt says:

    Wow, that is a gorgeous quilt. No, haven’t done much improv as when I have tried, it seems to not have been very successful. Yours turned out great though. Maybe I just need to keep trying.

  32. Karen Foster says:

    Her workshop is at the top of my all time favorite and influential ones I’ve taken. Good choice to modify the top section and I love the quilting.

  33. Cathy L says:

    I want to learn more about improv. Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. Carol says:

    I have done some. I enjoy it!

  35. dmearls2015 says:

    I agree that the modified top was a good choice because all of your curves were rounded and the straight lines were out of harmony. Loved the colors and the quilting and would love a change to win the book!

  36. Fabrics chosen, some discarded, all beautiful in the way you chose, then the quilting and a facing, this is a beauty.

  37. Improv piecing, not in curves, but random shapes for an odd log cabin type. Your curves are so good with those colours.

  38. Rochelle Summers says:

    I love the way this turned out and I really love the quilting in each of the strips. Doing a facing on a quilt really changes it.

  39. Emma Kemmis says:

    I am just starting to dabble with improv and am dreaming about this book. Looks very interesting

  40. Karen s says:

    I’ve never tried improv piecing . . .but some of my piecing ends up looking like improv!

  41. Jodi Gradolph says:

    I’m working on my first improv quilt now!

  42. Julie J Vogel says:

    i would like to make a quilt like this in blues and greens! I think it would look like water! I love the way you have this quilted!

  43. Diane says:

    Making components without knowing where it will lead would be hard for me.

  44. karenbolan says:

    I love improv and usually use some aspect in every project.

  45. Vicki H says:

    I haven’t tried improv. I sure do like your mini.

  46. Jinger says:

    I haven’t tried improv piecing, but your gorgeous work makes it tempting! Sounds like a great book.

  47. Kathy Slaughter Cummings says:

    Only for quilt backs; it’s fun!!

  48. Chris says:

    I have but it’s been awhile. Time to do again. Love yours, it’s all about color for me.

  49. Dee says:

    Love your color selection for the fabrics. Your” mini” Quilting is amazing!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)