Tutorial :: Improvisational Block

ChristinaJune 17, 2009


Today’s tutorial is not the same as the last tutorials.  There is no direct way for me to tell you all how to do your improvised block, I can only lead you in the direction to free form sewing your pieces together.  I created my block and at the end was very happy with it – but let me tell you, part way through I wasn’t liking it.  But I just stuck with it and I’m glad I did.  So the directions in this tutorial will simply explain how I went about piecing my block.


First things first, go grab some fabric scraps.  If you don’t have any, make some.  Just cut some random pieces from your fabric.


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1.  First I decided on what pieces I wanted to start with, knowing that I would add in more as I went.  But I wanted to have a good foundation of scraps to start with.  At first I thought I’d lay them out in a general idea of how I wanted the block to go, but then realized that wouldn’t last for long.

2.  I chose my first piece of fabric and decided to sew it to a white scrap I had.

3.  Then I sewed it in place and pressed it open.  I decided to trim my white, as it was a little on the “thick” side.

4.  Next I added white to the other side and then (not pictured) added it to the top and bottom as well.  Squared it up some (nothing to perfect) and went on to my next piece.

5.  For my next set of pieces, I decided to sew together a bunch of the prints, no white yet.  First I sewed the green to the brown, then I sewed that to the vine and lastly I sewed that piece to the orange.

6.  While that was nice, it wasn’t done yet.  I trimmed the orange and added on the gold sprouts.  Then I added white to the gold sprouts and finally white across the yellow-orange end.


7.  I decided to sew this to my first piece, so that I would have another white on one side of the block.  At this point I thought I might have it all encased in white as well.  But, decided to work on another block to add in.

8.  The brown dot block was made similar to the orange flowers.  I sewed pieces of white to either side and then each end.  This time I chose to leave the one end long so that it would fit my main piece.  With all those fabrics, it needed a little more white.

9.  After sewing the brown dot to the block, I decided to add the blue flower print.  Originally, it was a lot wider, but I trimmed it down, thinking it was a little too much.


10.  I then added white where I trimmed away some of the blue.  This was looking more balanced, but now it was TOO much white.


11.  So some pink flowers were in order.  That just balances out nicely.  Of course my next order of business was to trim it up to 12 1/2” square.


And isn’t it a lovely block?


My mom decided to do her block with only the fabrics she’s been using so far.  It’s simple, but still improvised and lovely!


Liz also added white into hers.  Remember, she had to cut some “scraps” for hers, and I am just loving how it turned out.  The fabrics really work well with all that white!

It’s so hard to explain something like this, since it’s all individual and something you’re just going to have to go for.  Give it a try, and see it to the end, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the end result.

Comments (7)

  • mandy

    June 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    “Improvisational” – but who cares=) I had to look that one up, too. That’s why I like the shortened, dumbed-down, lazy version: “improv.”

    I LOVE improv, your blocks look great!

  • KatieQ

    June 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    They all came out wonderfully. I wish I had a picture of teh one I made my mother with the kids’ old baby clothes! It was all sorts of haphazard, but I LOVE it! Improvisational is the way to go :)

  • Giddy for Paisley

    June 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I know I keep saying this but this block was hard. Not technically difficult, but creativly it was. I still don’t love my block but it is grows a little more on me everytime I look at it hanging on the way. I think I would stress myself out if I did an entire quilt “improv” style. I over think it. Your block and your moms are great. I love how different all of our blocks are.

  • Cristin

    June 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Very nice all! Improv looks like fun!

  • Amanda

    June 18, 2009 at 2:48 am

    I made my very first (and second) improv block this weekend! It was tons of fun and kind of freeing. There will definately be many more of these in my future! I very much enjoyed your tutorial! I’ve got pics that I will put up tomorrow.

  • Little Dickens Designs

    June 18, 2009 at 3:51 am

    I love all of those! Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Christina Lowry

    June 19, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I love that all three blocks use the same idea but look so different. Looks like fun! My next project?…


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