Improv Stars Quilt Block Tutorial

This one is long overdue! I made the tutorial WAY back in 2017 for my group in the do. Good Stitches group. A long time ago!

I asked my group to make a few of these stars each and send me some navy squares as well. The stars and navy squares turned into this lovely quilt I call, Falling Stars.

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You may recognize it as I’ve posted it on the blog before when I was honored to have it featured in the Curated Quilts Curves Edition. The magazine is fantastic and this issue is full of great talent (if I do say so myself!)

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I even had some left over the quilt back. I think a random scrappy placement would make a really cool quilt, too!

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You can take this block tutorial to make all sorts of fun things! So let’s jump into it! They are curves, but they are super simple! Trust me on this! Let’s go!

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1. Stack the background and star fabrics, right sides up with the star fabric on top of the background fabric. 

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2. Trim off each corner with a quarter circle shape. No rulers! Start your curves at approximately the center of each side of the background fabric and finish on the adjacent side of your square, in approximately the center of the background fabric block.

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3. You want to keep the corners in the same location as they were cut! Discard the star fabric corners and the background fabric star. (I keep all my scraps, so you can keep them and use them to make an inverse color Falling Stars quilt!) Then stack your star and corners and move to your sewing machine.

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4. Line up your star fabric with a quarter circle of the background fabric. Right sides together. You will want the background fabric to overlap the corners of the star fabric by about a half inch. Do not line up the corners of the background and star fabrics!

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5. Now sew it together. No pinning! This is all about moving the pieces slowly through your machine and continually aligning the two pieces. You want to hold the top fabric in your left hand and very slowly, move the star fabric with your right hand. As you sew, continually move the blue and yellow fabric towards each other so that the edges align with each other as you continue from one end to the other. If you need to stop and adjust, that’s fine. At the end, the bottom fabric is going to try to stick out and it’s ok if it does! 

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6. Iron each quarter circle as you go. Iron towards the background fabric. You’ll see that the fabric will guide you to ironing towards the background fabric! 

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7. Sew on the next quarter circle. Make sure you overlap so that you have at least 1/4″ before the yellow, preferably more.

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8. You’ll end up with a pretty funky shaped block! Use a 6 ½” square template if you have one to square up your blocks. Try to keep at least ¼” of background fabric at each corner of the star. 

Once you get it, you’ll have plenty of stars in no time! Enjoy! 

My son started a new quilt this week and he wanted stars, so I didn’t teach him any old star. I taught him an Improv Star. He made tester block for his first attempt and it wasn’t very good. (Mostly because I cut the fabric the wrong size since I thought it was just a test.) He kept trying to convince himself that it would work because he didn’t think he wanted to make three of these. But by the time he finished the second one, he realized how easy it was and continued on to make the third! If he can do it, so can you!

Can’t wait to see what you make with the Improv Star Quilt Block!

Yellow and Grey Improv Complete

This little lovely is the 2016 Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month! Yep, 2016. It took me four years to finish it for some reason… No idea why… It wasn’t hard.

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Each month there was a different block or ‘slab’ as the designer, Matt, described it. Each month he’d give us a type of block. Since it’s improv, there weren’t many directions rather a type of block.

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One reason it probably took me longer was that I did it as QAYG (quilt as you go). Which in theory, should make it go faster, but it didn’t seem to be that way for me. When I do these as QAYG, I do it slightly differently than a traditional QAYG. I start the blocks with quilting the middle blocks on the batting. Then I combine the blocks with a 3/4″ seam allowance. then once two blocks are combined, I continue to quilt the blocks, sewing over the seam allowance. At the end I add the quilt back and sew it on by adding more quilting, including some stitch in the ditch.

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I even took my friend, Debbie’s improv class to get some blocks done. And this was back in July of 2017. I got to hang out with her, learn some improv tricks and also get some more blocks done!

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I think that center block is my favorite block in the whole quilt! I could make a couple of quilts from that layout! Right now I’m thinking Christmas placemat and a whole quilt.

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Second favorites are probably all the triangle blocks!

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And the back is made up of all the scraps, extra blocks and extra fabric left over from the front.

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One thing I’ve done this year is finish my stack of SMQG BOM quilts! I need to share the others soon!

The Daily Improv

I’ve said it other years, but this is my year of cleaning out my WIPS! I’m doing a good job of it, now to get them photographed and blogged about!

This is my first quilt I finished this year! It’s not one of my oldest WIPs, but it was sitting there just waiting! All the blocks were done, they just weren’t put together…

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Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side had a one week Improv Challenge last year.  The intent was to get you started in improv. I love improv and am not new to it, but I couldn’t resist her one week challenge. Who knew it would actually over a year for it to all come together though… (well, I should have known based on my track record!)

Each day you get a prompt and make one block from that prompt.

And actually, it looks like anyone can still do it any time. Just sign up here!  Each day sends you a new prompt and it’s a great way to try something new or different with out the commitment of a long term sew along!

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I really love how it turned out!

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I think the first day was stripes. In this picture you can see my stripes block and one of the triangle blocks to the right. The top one was the paper pieced improv block challenge. I still struggle with the idea of paper piecing and improv in the same sentence. To me they don’t go together! Other people would totally disagree with me and that’s ok! So I made a couple of paper piecing patterns and went with it. We’re trying new things, right?

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This is my favorite one! The Log Cabin block! I love improv log cabin blocks. love love love! I actually made two of these!

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And curves. Another of the prompts was curves. I think I ended up with two curve blocks, too. There’s even more curves bceuase as I was squaring up the blocks, I would use those cut off pieces in other blocks areas to make the blocks ‘fit’ with each other. I love the little bits of curves here and there.

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And then the back was a big improv block in itself! As I mentioned before, I used a lot of my ‘cut off’ pieces to piece the front. I also incorporated smaller scraps to fill in the background space. I had a few smaller pieces left over for the back, but I mostly used the bigger scraps. When I was done with the back, I had just enough of this fabric pull left for the binding!

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I’m usually a straight line, one pattern all over kind of quilter. Trying new things with piecing doesn’t scare me. trying new thing with quilting does! In this one, I tried to change the quilting in different areas to reflect the improv shapes of the blocks. You can see it here on the back pretty well.

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What do you think? Are you up to the challenge? Give it a try!

The Daily Improv

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Design by me, with prompts from Amy’s Creative Side

Quilted my me

Completed in  March 2020

 

Improv Flower Pillow. Done. Finally.

WAYYYYYY Back in 2017 I took a fun little class to make one Improv Flower Block with Mr. Domestic.

And I made the block. Right then! I had these grand plans to hand quilt it. But it just sat there and got moved around my sewing room for literally years… Then last month, I was like, forget the hand quilting, let’s get this done! And I did!

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I’m really missing my friends at the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild these days! The guild offers a lot of fun classes and this one with Mr. Domestic, back in July of 2017, seemed like it would be fun. He’s quite the personality!

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I honestly don’t even remember the steps he taught us to get to the finished product, but it’s basically an improv process of sewing strips together and then cutting them into strips again.

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Here’s the crazy thing. I had half of it finished before I even left the class. And all the other strips done, too. I went home and finished the block two days later. Then it took me 2.5 years to get it quilted. Which took about maybe 2 hours or so… Then another 1/2 hour to turn it into a pillow. WHY???? Why do I let things sit for so long before finishing them????

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My original plan was to hand quilt it, but I love the texture I got  with the quilting I did do!

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Like usual, no quilting on the back. I do like to use two pieces of fabric on the back though. I cut two solid pieces and serge the edges. It gives it a more solid feel. I don’t know how to explain it, but I like it.

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I did my new love, the invisible zipper. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. Invisible zippers are more invisible if you match the zipper to the fabric! I was on a roll and didn’t want to wait until I got the right colored zipper, so I went with what I had. And I’m ok with it! ha!

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And that’s it! 2.5 years in the making… Has anyone else made this block? Did you make a quilt or a pillow or something else? It would be fun to make a mini version into a pot holder!

 

WIPs on Wednesday!

I have so much that I’m working on…. I didn’t have half of this until I decided to make my own mini Quiltcon right here at home, with a quilt class on Thursday night, a lecture on Friday night and a workshop on Saturday!

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Well…. This one I’m supposed to be working on… But I’m nervous and haven’t quite started sewing anything yet….

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And this one I was moving on pretyy fast until my quilting class bonanza! I’m hoping to finish it this week!

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This is the one I started in my class on Thursday with Katie. And I did inherit most of the finished pieces from a quilting friend! When I finish it will be similar to these quilts of Katie’s.

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And my improv start!

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And lastly, I’ve still got to finish Dad’s quilt! I’m so close!!!

How many do you have on your list????

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