Me? Improv?

Earlier this week I was reading the comments left by blog readers that got me thinking.  Here’s what it said, “I don’t know why, but I did not expect “improv” from you. Lol. However I love what you did. It made a great quilt top. Maybe I need to try this. Do you think you’ll do more?”

The comment came after I showed off these blocks for a baby quilt I was working on….


I actually have done improv….I don’t do it a lot but have.

Early this year I did this quilt…. (The original post about the quilt can be found here)  To me, this is improv but I might need a better definition on improv.  To me improv is sewing without really cutting first.  Grab two pieces and sew them….to some I think improv means the modern look sewn with solid fabrics.

If I follow my definition….this quilt is improv.


This was done with a panel.  The alternate blocks between the blocks with the abc letters are completely improv.

When I first started looking on the internet for quilting inspiration-years ago- I came across a tutorial on improv quilting..I followed it and made this… (more on this quilt here)  This is improv is going by the second definition.


It was a baby quilt for my great niece.  I loved working on it.  Either way it is defined…I guess I’ve made both types of improv quilts.

Later I went on to host a “Crumb” along here on the blog.  That started after I made this quilt for my daughter Kalissa.  I had so many people wanting to know how to make it so I did tutorials each week on how I made the blocks that went into this quilt.  If you look close you can see free form pieced quilt blocks like stars, nine patches, flying geese, log cabin and churn dash blocks are mixed in the quilt.  No ruler or rotary cutter was used to make this quilt except when I squared up blocks.  I still love this quilt, don’t you?

While I was hosting the crumble along I sewed along too.  That left me with enough blocks to make a baby quilt so I made this….You can see the improv blocks in this one better.

This was later gifted to my grandson Carver.  It’s his quilt now…..

By that time I was VERY tired of working with upcycled men’s shirt fabric.  I wanted to try improv with my Civil War prints.


I think of all the quilts I’ve ever made, this one is likely my favorite.  I had so much fun doing it and completely love the results.  Here’s a closer up picture of it.

That’s my old dog Gracie showing off the quilt.

There is a whole section of the blog that still exists that shows how to make the blocks for this quilt.  You can find it here.

So yes…I think it’s okay for me to say I can do improv quilting.  I am always saving fabrics to make more.  My version of improv typically uses crumbs (tiny pieces of fabrics) to make the quilts.

So tell me…what is your definition of improv?  Are my quilts made from crumbs improv…or are they crumb quilts or are they both?…and as for the question of will I made more.  FOR SURE I WILL….I love doing it.  I just don’t like the mess of it all!  Thanks so much for asking the question.  It really gave me a chance to think about how I quilt and also gave us all a chance to firm up out quilting definitions.

8 thoughts on “Me? Improv?”

  1. Jo, I’m with you on the mess that comes with improv or string piecing or crumbs. I like doing it until I start sneezing from the dust and lint I’ve just created. Thanks for sharing these fun quilts.

  2. I like the freedom and creativity of solving the puzzle to make blocks the same size, which I don’t always feel when following a pattern. I have crumb blocks going and haven’t done any piecing on them in quite awhile. Maybe I can get back to them this summer.

  3. I really love your improv quilts! Doing improv quilts I think is good practice for all quilter’s as it helps break down out tendency to have everything perfect. It is a freeing way to approach our art. It’s good to put aside the rules from time to time and just sew!

  4. Improv to me means creating with out a pattern but knowing what you want to have in the end. I have found it takes more time for me to create improve than it does for me to follow a pattern and get er done. I have been given partials quilts, other bags are treasures of left over pieces from someone and they all get make into something for charity quilts. Improv to me is a way of creating something you imagine your end product to be.
    All of the quilts you showed us are wonderful.

  5. Elaine Walker

    Ok, guess I haven’t been following you long enough. I hadn’t seen most of these. Thanks for sharing again. I had seen the ABC quilt and for sure it is “improv”. I think I just associate you with Bonnie Hunter style quilts. But, of course many of her string quilts would be “improv” haha! Anyway I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your posts. Your blog is one of two I follow very closely. Thanks

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