What Improv Quilting Means to Me

What Improv Quilting Means to Me

There is something really different about the way I feel when I’m creating an improvisational quilt as opposed to when I’m making a more block based or traditional quilt. Over the many years now that I’ve been quilting, the majority of it has been spent creating quilts through improvisation, as a process rather than a means to achieve a known final product. While I enjoy both methods of creating and find value in both, my first love is improv quilting!


For me, creating a quilt improvisationally (is that a word?) means that I can enjoy the process of “building” a quilt, one piece of fabric at a time. In the process, one that used to take me weeks sometimes, it really felt like I was building a relationship with the piece. Each new session with the piece was another opportunity to go deep, to get to know what it needed better and understand its layers and subtleties.


These pieces are almost exclusively “built” on my design wall or the floor, using fabric scraps that I have on hand, leftovers from past projects. When I’m improv piecing, I tend to get lost in the present moment (oxymoron?) and really do a deep dive into the process of working with color and shape and feeling into where the fabrics want to go next in that moment. I’m often so focused on this process that hours could pass without me being aware. Not that I have that luxury much these days, but you know what I mean.


As many of you are aware, I have moved away from improv quilting for the most part and have been designing and writing more traditional quilt patterns. While this is also a process I love, my heart is really with improv quilting and for several years now I have struggled with how to create a “pattern” for an improv quilt that I can share with quilters who may be new to improv quilting and perhaps just need a few guidelines, some structure in order to feel empowered to give it a go.



A recent piece I’ve been playing with is just taking shape over the last several days and I’m feeling excited about finding ways to share it in some way…to allow others to achieve their own form of it. More on this to come soon.

I wonder, what does Improv Quilting mean to you? What do you think of it as a creative process? Is it something you would like to know more about? Try a little bit of? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Improv Quilting.

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