Tag Archives: improv curves


I can't remember the last time I sewed at home. It's probably been nearly two weeks. (Eek!) Thankfully, I did get some quality time with my sewing machine at a workshop last weekend. Bay Area Modern hosted Karen Foster (@capitolaquilter on IG) to share her Improv Abstraction technique featuring curved piecing. I've played with gentle curves previously in my Finding Dory mug rug and Improv Tumbler mini. Karen's technique involved creating parts and using them to play with the composition of the piece.

four small quilts featuring Karen's Improv Abstraction design technique: blues, magenta and chartreuse, purples, and multicolor

We spent the morning piecing the gentle curved unit and putting them together into larger parts. I made 12 units featuring the same gentle curve and pieced together two larger chunks. The first used three of my units, and the second connected two units vertically. I "fussy pieced" (is that a thing?) the seams for the curve to be continuous.

twelve navy and grey gentle improv curve units on design wall

seven navy and grey gentle improv curve units and two larger chunks on design wall

In the afternoon Karen introduced her technique for more extreme curves. You can see the example on the right in the photo of Karen's work below. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, but Karen showed me her technique before I left. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but it blew my mind. I'm looking forward to adding a new skill to my repertoire. The examples below include a "what not to do" in the upper left, and the lower left shows different options for pressing seams. While I generally press seams open, I think freeform improv piecing is a great time to play with how you press seams to see what works best for the piece. (Tip: Consider shortening your stitch length if you are going to press seams open.)

teal and mint pieced gentle improv curves

This was a great class to build skills with curved piecing and to just play with the design elements of the overall piece. I intend to keep my quilt small. I have a bit more of the navy (Kona Nautical) and a bunch of the grey (Kona Pewter). I'll definitely play with the extreme curves and I may include some strips and squares like Karen used in her multicolor quilt.

Karen Foster and Sarah Goer standing in front of Sarah's work

Thanks for a great class, Karen!





My friend Wendy was hosting the Disney Mug Rug Swap on Instagram and I just couldn't resist joining in. Easy peasy: Buy a mug, make a mug rug, include one extra. My partner listed a variety of Disney interests and I dialed in on Finding Dory, especially after I found this adorable mug.

I immediately visualized an improv pieced ocean for Dory (and friends?) and eventually decided on purchasing a little bit of yardage of Finding Dory fabric by Camelot from Fat Quarter Shop. I started by shopping my stash for an ocean fabric pull.

Then I went for it with my first improv curved piecing. It all went together pretty well. The batik (second from top in the finished piece) was a little tricky, since it doesn't have as much stretch to it. I simply overlapped the fabrics I was piecing and freehand rotary cut a curve through both at the same time, then I eased them together with a 1/4" seam allowance as I machine pieced them together.

Generally I press my seams open when piecing, but this is one of those times that pressing open didn't make sense. I pressed to the blue on my first seam, so I just continued pressing up on all my seams. Here's the finished piece, front and back, before I trimmed it down.

At this point it was more placemat sized than mug rug sized, so I had to trim it down. I decided on vertical so I could arrange my characters in a way that they mug wouldn't cover them up. I trimmed down to just over 8" x 11".

My next step was to add the characters. I used fusible web to attach Dory, Nemo and Hank, then stitched around the edge of each.

Then I went to town quilting. I used my walking foot and quilted smooth curves to complement my piecing using a variety of blue threads (all 50 wt. Aurifil).

I was able to find a piece of remnant binding (from Finally) that was large enough to avoid a scrappy binding and worked with my color palette. I think this quilt would have been lovely with a faced binding, but I just didn't have the time to learn a new skill at this stage of the process. :-)

I opted to back the quilt with the licensed fabric, but I placed it in the horizontal direction. I liked the repeat better that way, and this gives Lisa options for a vertical or horizontal mug rug.

For my extra, I opted to make a large Open Wide Zippered Pouch (free tutorial by Noodlehead). (Shown in first picture.)


Lisa and I happened to be assigned each other for the swap. Here's the super generous package she sent me. She chose a nifty mug that has an electric mug warmer to go with it and made me a bag and a keychain. Plus she decorated the tote box and sent a Mickey Mouse raglan t-shirt pattern plus a bunch of other little goodies. So sweet of her!


Thanks for visiting! I'm linking up to TGIFF, Finish it Up Friday, and Needle and Thread Thursday.

Linking up to the Q4 Finishes Link-Up. See my Q4 list here.


Finished Quilts

I had two small finishes this week. They'll be featured on the blog soon. I turned my improv curves from last week into my Disney Mug Rug and shipped off my swap package this week. Once I get confirmation that my partner has received it, I'll share it with you.

My daughter and I finally sat down to put the binding on her doll quilt. It's all done and ready to deliver. She's so pleased. Today I got the report that at school she said, "I just want to sew and sew and sew." I totally know what you mean, kid!


New Focus

I have a goal to finish this one by the end of the month. I thought I had nearly all the blocks complete and just had to trim them up and stitch them together. When I opened the box with less than two weeks left in the month, I found I only have 92 complete blocks out of my planned 144! Eek! So step one was to create a new slab of scraps that would coordinate with my original scraps. I'm hoping once this slab becomes 40 more blocks and they get sprinkled throughout the quilt that it will all work out. It uses a bunch of fabrics that were used previously, with quite a few new ones. I'm worried about that green on the top of the right edge.


Bee Blocks

And because I really have an inability to focus on just one project, I took a break from the above project today and finished up my four blocks for this month's do. Good Stitches for Serenity Circle. They will be trimmed down a smidge to 8 1/2" by 16 1/2" each.

We're using this Craftsy tutorial. They went together in less than an hour and a half total, but a couple are wonky in places. Ailish may need to starch them into submission when she puts the quilt top together. ;-) The tutorial is pretty straightforward, but I'd recommend that at the start of each seam, you offset the edge by about a half inch (see below). I only did this on the last (smallest) seams and I think it would have helped on the other seams as well.


Thanks for visiting! I'm linking up to Midweek Makers and Needle and Thread Thursday.