Improv Quilting!

I love to make improv quilts. I find it both exciting and exhausting – it is very rewarding because I find that it brings life to my studio! So, when I was asked to join Rayna Gillman’s blog tour for her new book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts, how could I resist?


I often get asked about how to make improvisational quilts – it’s not an easy answer because I find that I use different techniques depending on what I want accomplish. Generally speaking, it’s just hard to put into words. Another hard question: what makes a good design? I think some people overlook improv quilts as not having design – in fact, the best improv quilts have a very strong, well thought out design. Rayna addresses both of these questions quite well in this book.

She starts out defining improvisation and giving specific techniques that can be followed. Then she talks about experimentation – a key in making improvisation successful. She offers a list of questions to ask while experimenting with an improvisational design. At one point, she compares improv quilting to taking a drive. Do you prefer to wander while you drive or have a GPS on? Personally, I’m a GPS kind of girl! I do like control – but even if you like control, improv has a place in your quilting. I almost always have some kind of controlled element in my improv quilts. This book has both: control-freak kind of improv (that’s the kind I lean toward making) and all out improv. Here is an example of what I fondly refer as the control-freak kind of improv:


Rayna defines elements of design that should be considered when it comes to quilting – improv or not, these elements are universal to all design. It’s a great list with straightforward definitions. So, the ‘what makes a good design’ question is answered! Yay, Rayna! I need to print out this list and pin it next to my design wall to make sure I consider all of these elements as I create. She illustrates these points as she walks through some designs using some orphan blocks. This is the final design.

11209 Gillman F'17

11209 Gillman F’17

If you are short on ideas, don’t know where to start, or you just feel like you have hit a mental block (haven’t we all been there!): the last part of the book addresses inspiration – where to find it, how to get it, a gallery to enjoy and some new ideas on string quilting and using orphan blocks to get you started. I particularly liked Debbie Anderson’s series of houses!


If you want to be entered to win an eBook copy of Create Your Own Improv Quilts, just subscribe to my blog – at the top of the side bar. I don’t post often – but in the next week or two I will be posting about a series of improv holiday blocks!

You can see what everyone else is saying about this book, here’s the blog tour schedule:

Friday, November 10
C&T Blog
Monday, November 13
Cindy Grisdela
Wednesday, November 15
Teri Lucas, Generation Q Magazine
Tuesday, November 21
Desiree Habicht
Wednesday, November 22
Angie Wilson
Tuesday, November 28
Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Thursday, November 30
Tuesday, December 5
Melissa Shields
Thursday, December 7
Patty Altier

A New Year and A New Book

I really didn’t mean to ignore my blog for so long! Between the holidays, snow-days, and my new book time has just flown by! So, first things first, when I last posted I was giving away a copy of Classic Modern Quilts to whomever got the closest to picking the colors that I love for 2014. The winner was ‘usairdoll’ with smoke and dark violet. I love that shade of gray and my personal favorite purple or pink, or whatever color you want to call it, is cerise. I finished the quilt top and my sister (Quiltin Kaboodle) is quilting it for me. I’ll post a sneak peak when I get it back. I’ve seen some of the quilting that she is doing and it’s phenomenal!

On to more current news: my book is out and I think it’s just beautiful. The photography and the layout alone are enough for me to stare at it for hours! I am so excited to have it in my hands! The book is laid out in six chapters each addressing a different way of using negative space. Each chapter includes three quilts and patterns for each demonstrating the technique. I’m looking forward to seeing what other quilters will do with these techniques. Here are a few peaks inside the book.

Technically, I guess this is not an ‘inside’ peak! Isn’t this cover awesome!

AtN-front-coverHaving a sister that is battling breast cancer, it is always on my mind. This quilt – ‘Aware’ – can be made to represent any awareness by changing the colors.

Aware_WatermarkThis quilt – ‘String of Pearls’ – was inspired by Lizzy House’s pearl bracelets fabric. The quilt uses two charm packs and a few extra pieces. I love the way it turned out. It was quilted by Ida Houston of Cowtown Quilts – the quilting is amazing!


This last peak is ‘Savanna Nights’. I have a weakness for Echino prints in general and this Echino print was the inspiration for this quilt. All of the blue solids are In The Beginning Modern Solids.


If you would like to purchase a signed copy of the book, you can click on the button on the right side of the screen!