The Spark- A Mini Quilt

If you follow me on IG, you know I have a to do list this year to get my WIP completed and my sewing area purged. I also have a list of exceptions and one of those exceptions is to participate in the Quilt Improv Studio’s quilt challenges!

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This challenge is Monochrome Dreams!

“Monochrome dreams” is our new improv patchwork game, aimed to let you play with one hue in many shades.

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Originally, I had a plan for a pink quilt. I’m on a bit of a pink kick right now. Not that you’d know if from what I’m sewing, but you would if you saw what I’m buying! 🙂

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Then, I was sorting through scraps I had pulled for an ongoing scrap project I’m working on, I found all these orange scraps that were already pieced…. I couldn’t resist! They are the leftovers from the Improv Flower Pillow I made a while back.

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I didn’t have quite enough to hit the 24″x24″ size requirement, so I also pulled more orange scraps to get me to the right size. I also cut way more squares than I needed for another quilt I just finished and will tell you about soon. So I pulled those orange squares and started cutting into them too, making flying loons.

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I was going to cut out the yellow (or the very, very light orange hehehe) pieces, but in the end I decided to keep them in. They are what give the quilt it’s name. The Spark!

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I usually am not very creative with my quilting thread. This year I participated in the monthly Aurifil 2021 Color Builder program. Mostly to get the awesome wildlife paper piece patterns by Cassandra Beaver. But the ones I just recieved happened to be orange, so I used them!

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Some detail shots….

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The back was almost just one piece of fabric. Which isn’t really my style, but for the smaller ones, I don’t piece as much. This one I cut the back wrong, so I had to add the orange anyway. And you know me, I always like to throw in a picture of the label!

I know there are a bunch of pictures, but I also wanted to share a few behind the scenes…

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My kiddo did the quilt holding. We did 4 photo shoots. Two just didn’t turn out quite right. Then we found these fields! The pup looked happy to stop and smell the fresh air!

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And that’s my Spark for the Monochrome Dreams Challenge! Are you participating? What color would you use?

Red and White Quilt

It’s almost perfect for this holiday weekend! It’s just missing that Blue part….

This one was started way back in 2018 and finished last year. It is a paper pieced pattern that I did with my do.Good Stitches group back in the day.

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My group was usually not fans of my paper piecing obsession! But they played along nicely anyway. Well, some of them did. I bowed out of the group not long after designing this one and presenting it to the group. A few members never sent me their blocks… Oh, well..

There are actually 3 different blocks in the quilt and I had assigned different blocks to different people. The original quilt design was intended to be a little larger, but I think the size it ended up is just right.

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One thing I do love about bee quilts is the variation in colors of fabric. I love how this is a red and white quilt, but when you look closely each block is just a little different.

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And the back. I had a few blocks that were a little smaller than the rest so they went to the back. That is a typical problem when doing paper piecing. Be sure to always print your pattern with no scaling. If you don’t, different programs treat PDF’s differently and some scale up or down the image.

Anyway, they ended up being perfect for the back, so it all worked out in the end.

The little triangles in the top corners are not part of the quilt. I basted them on to make it easier to hold for photographs! And it seemed to help.

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I just really love this one! I did have a little trouble quilting it due to the bulk in the corners. I need to figure that out before I attempt this one again.

I’m also considering publishing the pattern one day soon. Yes, no?

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And my quilt holder fighting with the wind. You can see how he used the corners. Not my idea. I got the idea from my friend Debbie, aquilterstable, who got the idea from Zak Foster Quilts.

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It’s quite Red, White and Blue for the holiday weekend, but it’s as close as I could get! I hope everyone in the US has a great 4th of July weekend and stay safe!

Courthouse Steps Mini Quilt

My first quilt finish this year.

I’m off to a slow start this year with my broken leg in January, but I’m hoping to catch up soon!

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I started this one to submit to the Curated Quilts Mini Challenge for the ‘Stripe’ issue coming out later this year. The challenge was:


Please use “balance” as inspiration for your quilt design. Balance can be interpreted at many different levels and we encourage you to explore what balance means to you. You can improvise or paper piece your mini quilt. We love seeing how creative everyone is and appreciate all forms of piecing in your mini quilts. The color palette we would like you to use is included in the image above, soft grey, jade green, bright pink, bright blue, purple, and highlighter yellow. 

Originally I was going to make a striped mini, with circles cut into it and in the circles the lines were going to go in a different direction. Maybe I still will make that one, but I saw a lot of others using circles and I didn’t want to anymore. But I kept making my stripes until I figured out what I wanted to do!

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Balance was the inspiration…

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I started my stripes picking out some of the colors from the challenge. Well, all of them except green and purple. I started with paper piecing the stripes, still unsure where this was going.

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I drew lines on a large piece of freezer paper and started sewing. The lines are spaced in 1/4″ and 1/2″ increments.

Doing this wasn’t very quick and it gave me time to realize where it was going.

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To balance the color, I went all grey. To balance the precise straight lines, I went improv.

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It almost killed me, but I finally got up the nerve to cut into all my stripes. They were so pretty just the way they were that I didn’t even want to cut them!

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The traditional courthouse steps quilt pattern was my third ‘ode to balance!

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I was falling in love with this mini quilt and knew I couldn’t keep it small enough to submit it for the challenge and that was perfectly fine with me! The challenge submissions can’t be bigger than 16″ square. This one ended up about 24″ square. Maybe one day they will do a Courthouse Steps issue and I’ll submit this then. in the meantime, I’m just loving on it!

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I also got new labels this year. Similar to all my other ones, but these are put together a bit different than last years version. Maybe I’ll do a blog post one day! I think these are my favorite.

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I love a good challenge to get me trying new things! I had never freezer paper pieced anything, much less small lines. I wouldn’t have picked these colors together, yet I love them! I had a great time making this one, even if I struggled for the design for a while.

Happy Easter!

I made a couple of quilted Easter decorations in time for Easter this year!

OK, full disclosure… I made them last year, but didn’t get them done in time for Easter! So technically, my first statement is true… LOL!

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As soon as I saw this bunny banner pattern by Sugaridoo in Quiltnow Magazine Issue 60, I was super excited to make it! I just think this little bunny is adorable!

FYI- Quiltnow Magazine is not longer being published and they have taken down the website where this pattern was located. The pattern is not in the magazine. Sugaridoo doesn’t have this pattern on her website, but she does have a similar bunny that you could use for a bunny banner project!

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So cute with the little chick on top! The pattern is a paper pieced pattern. I did not get very creative with this one, even the fabric colors are very similar to the one she made in the magazine. I really debated the quilting. I couldn’t decide what to do and was worried this diamond shape would take away from the bunny. In the end I think it turned out just right.

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I didn’t piece the back on this one. I did add a sleeve, but didn’t use it in the photoshoot!

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And you probably know that I love to just my scraps from a project in another project or a coordinating project right away. So I made Easter eggs! Scrappy, improv Easter eggs. I used this tutorial for my eggs, but instead of a circle, I made the egg shape.

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And I used more scraps from the eggs to make the back!

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A little invisible zipper action.

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Three eggs and another chick from the original pattern, makes for a cute pillow, if I do say so myself!

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I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend and hopefully you are able to get some sewing time in! I plan too. A little Easter Egg dying and sewing for my weekend.

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!

Impossible is a Bad Word- a mini quilt

Here’s a min quilt you may recognize. I actually finished it in 2019, but again, never blogged about it. Catching up! Late is better than never! ha!

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This mini quilt was a Curated Quilts challenge for the Well Said Issue. The challenge was to incorporate a word into the quilt, literally or figuratively. I have always told my son to never say, ‘I can’t,’ without at least trying first. During Christmas time we read a book by Matt Haig, A Boy Called Christmas, and in it the word ‘Impossible’ is considered an elf swearword. The book was great, but that sentiment has stuck with me. That sentiment, combined with our family not saying ‘I can’t’, inspired this quilt.

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I absolutely loved the color pallet for this challenge! Pink, orange, teal and bright green. I could use this color scheme over and over.

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I started by piecing the letters. No plan, pretty improv. The strips of pink were all the same size and I tried to make the letters the same size. But pretty much just winged it!

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Then I sewed them together. It had to be a square, so I had to rotate the letters in a ‘circle’. And I added the border.

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Then I do that crazy thing that quilters do. I cut it into pieces and sewed it back together. I wanted the word to look shattered!

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I wanted the quilting to further enforce the idea of the word being shattered.

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I took these pictures at Jackson Lake Island near Montgomery, AL. It’s a little island where they filmed the movie Big Fish. The only inhabitants are the goats. I just loved this series of pictures and watching the goat look and me, then see the quilt and then head over to maybe take a taste of the quilt. We moved fast, so maybe he just wanted a closer look, but I wasn’t taking my chances…

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Quilts in the Wild! ha!

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Have you made a word quilt? This was my first. And even though I made it in 2019, I still love everything about it. I’ve since made another word quilt last year. Before I made this one, I didn’t think I’d ever really make a word quilt. But now I wouldn’t be surprised if I make more!

A Buffalo Cushion

This is an oldie project that I never shared, but since I’m broken and confined to elevating my broken leg, I’m pullin’ out the oldies to share!

I’m an architect and at our firm at least once a year a vendor will ask us to participate in a design fundraiser. They usually supply a piece of furniture and we have to make it something else or embellish it or something! Then we give the piece back when we’re done and they have a party and silent auction to raise money for something. For this project, I contributed my quilting skills.

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The firm I work for is called Buffalo Design, so we decided to make a Buffalo seat cushion for part of the transformation.

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This is what we started with. A plain blank white chair that’s way heavier than it looks! A co-worker drilled the holes in the back of the seat. (more to come on that…)

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The name of our firm comes from the building where the firm actually began, but our logo is an actual buffalo. Everyone has different colored business cards and we each have a few different angles of the buffalo. The colors of our business cards became the colors of our cushion.

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I sketched out how the pattern would go together and put it in CAD. Which is how I make all my paper pieced patterns!

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Then I just started paper piecing it together until I had our colorful buffalo!

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The cushion fit perfectly in the curved seat.

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My co-workers took on the yarn embellishments! I love the pattern on the front and the pompoms on the back. And again, we stuck with all the colors of our business cards.

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The great thing is, my bosses went to the party and were the high bidder on our chair! So it’s still in our office for us to enjoy! I keep saying I’m going to make the office a buffalo pillow for our couch in the waiting area, but I haven’t yet. One day soon!

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!

I Really Do Care, Do U?- Vote!

The US election is in less than a week. Have you voted? I have. And you probably know how I voted. I’m lucky enough to live in WA and I have voted by mail in ballot and my voted has been counted.

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Do you recognize this? It is definitely not an original graphic image. What’s that word the MQG likes to use?? Derivative? Yep, it’s derivative alright…. But I did make a little change, from Don’t to DO!

I was recently watching a show that mentioned how fast the news changes. One day you are on the front page, the next day, the public has moved on and won’t remember. I’ve shown this to a couple of friends who had forgotten the inspiration behind it.

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This image of this coat on a very important person (to some people) on her way to a very emotionally and politically heated location was seared into my memory. I will never forget this. I will never forget the statement she was making as a part of and for this administration, as it is clearly a feeling the administration has for about half of our country. This is not an administration for all.

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I have never made a politically motivated quilt. My quilting usually doesn’t make a statement. Quilting to me is a way to disconnect from the world and the heaviness that I can’t control. It’s my therapy per se! Kinda like that shirt that I love, ‘I quilt so I won’t kill people.’ That’s totally me!

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Making the letters was a little harder than I imagined it was going to be! For each one I did a version of the inset circle tutorial I have on the blog. Just not always circles! Not all of them look exactly like the jacket I was trying to recreate, but I think I got pretty close.

Another technique I used was just curved piecing.

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If you look closely, check out the quilting. It’s actually hard to see, but it does say VOTE. Our way as Americans to make change is to VOTE for those who we feel will represent us and our ideals in the law making. There seemed to be a lot of apathy in the last election, but I’m hopefully that this election year has brought out the power of the VOTE for the upcoming younger generations.

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And the back… A little play on our flag… I had this red and white striped fabric sitting on my shelf for about 10 years now, so I was so excited to use it. I took it down and it had these stains on it. I was so bummed!

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Sitting next to the striped fabric all these years was also this red and white gingham that is very Americana to me. An upcycled sheet waiting for it’s new life! It was big enough to use as a whole piece. But as I was standing there, looking at it, I looked up and saw this bright blue fabric (Cotton and Steel Freckles) with the little ‘stars’ on it, I had to throw it in there!

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I always throw in a label photo….

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A little behind the scenes, ‘Are you done yet?’ Ha!

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I had so many Halloween makes planned, but this got in the way…

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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