Tag Archives: improv


This past week my family was in New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. My sister and brother-in-law have been a couple times, and it sounded like a great experience. We decided we'd meet there for this year's Fiesta. Bonus! Balloons and baby nephew! Here are a few highlights from the photos I took.



While I was in town for the Fiesta, I visited Hip Stitch, a lovely quilt shop located conveniently a mile down the street from my hotel. The kids and I had a great time. They each had $10 to spend and were able to spend nearly every penny. They both decided on some hot air balloon fabric. I'm counting on one of them being willing to give me a small piece to make myself a hot air balloon mini quilt to remember the trip, since I didn't seem to win the awesome quilt being raffled off at the Fiesta (see below). They each got yardage of these crazy sushi making cats. No idea what their plans are for that one! My daughter also picked up a little of the Schmitties in dusty blue, from Cotton and Steel's Cat Lady line.

I had no problem finding a lot of fabric I like in the shop, and since we were shopping on my birthday, I got 20% off my entire purchase! What a lovely surprise. My mom had given me some money to spend on my trip and I found the perfect souvenirs, FABRIC! Oh, I also bought a Zirkel. Thanks, Mom! I picked a couple from Tula Pink's Slow and Steady, and a few that will work in my Swoon project, including my first cut of Moda Grunge. I couldn't resist taking the last two yards from the bolt of the rainbow fabric. Never pass up a good rainbow fabric!

Additionally, we did a day trip to Santa Fe. (Non-sewing related side note: If you're ever in Santa Fe, check out Meow Wolf! So much fun!) We stumbled across the Quilt Fiesta, a small quilt show put on by Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild. So I got to do a little more fabric shopping. ;-)


Beautiful Quilts

It was such a nice surprise to run across the Quilt Fiesta. Here are a few of my favorite quilts from the show.

Purple Rain by Deb Martinez
Artists' Description: The quilt used up so many of my scraps! The back used even more. Just working through my stash.
Inspiration: Pattern - Patternworks - Japanese Windows


Dancing Duo by Donna La Bombard, quilted by Tessa Atwood
Artists' Description: My parents were dancing at my mother's 85th birthday party when I took a photograph. Some of the material in her shirt comes from what she was wearing that day.
Inspiration: Adapted from family photo


Under the Sea* by Susan Kayar
Artists' Description: I started with the kit for Underwater Rhapsody by Barbara Jones (AQS) but switched early on to using marine biology textbooks and dive buddies' photos of real fish plus my own fabrics.
Inspiration: Adapted from Underwater Rhapsody by Barbara Jones

*I was unable to get a full shot of the quilt, so this is just the lower half.


Nambe Rainbow by Judy Johnson
Artists' Description: I wanted to use my scraps to make a quilt in rainbow colors. I chose a diagonal uneven strip block and an off center barn-raising layout just because I like it.
Inspiration: Original


Lone Star by Carol Naranjo, quilted by Millie Young
Artists' Description: My design comes from the Easy Lone Star class taught by Patty Bailey at SFQ in 2014. This is the third quilt I've ever made after learning patchwork and rail fence at SFQ.
Inspiration: class by Patsy Bailey


giraffe quilt by Lynne Horpedahl
This quilt was part of a Contemporary Quilting display. I really wanted to take him home with me! :-)


Plus, here's the amazing opportunity quilt from the New Mexico Quilters' Association. Some lucky winner got to bring it home from the Balloon Fiesta on Sunday.


La Passacaglia

Since I was traveling, I brought along my La Passacaglia project. I need a better storage/travel solution. What do you keep your EPP stuff in? I mostly only worked on it on the airplanes, but I did make some progress and those picky little triangles are growing on me.


Improv Curves

I missed my sewing machine while I was away and dove right into my first attempt at improv curves when I got home. I am in love! Here's my first piece.


Now that I'm home from vacation, it's time to clean the sewing room and reassess what my priorities are. My Q4 goal post is in draft form, so that'll be up soon. Mostly I'm just overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done around the house as well as all the things sneaking up on my calendar.

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


Sometimes life gets in the way of our plans and goals. I took six weeks off of blogging from mid-October to the end of November. It was unintentional. When I got close to posting again I was surprised it had been that long. I'd been sewing. But something had had to give. And blogging was one of the somethings.

Today is my Dad's birthday. Two years ago, on his birthday he was diagnosed with cancer. He would have been 66 today, but he lost his battle with cancer on October 27th of this year.

The past two years have been very hard emotionally. Many hours have been spent discussing death, dying, and cancer with my now 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 year old children. That is an exhausting task. I feared how I would help my small children through their first experience with death and with the loss of their grandfather.

His health was a roller coaster, up and down over the last year and a half of his life. In the bad times, I watched him in pain, physically and emotionally. In the good times, he was back on his bicycle, where he loved to be.

I found out about the cancer diagnosis right about when I was working to launch my blog. The news shocked me and delayed my blogging plans. My first post featured a quilt I made for my dad when I found out about the cancer. It was what I could do. At a time that I couldn't even talk to my siblings about it because they didn't know yet. I could throw myself into quilting and make something for him. That's one of the things that quilting does for me. It provides comfort in times that are hard. While the quilt was given to Dad, that quilt was more for me that it was for him.


This project is the first project that I started after my dad passed away. An improv quilt had been on my bucket list, but I wasn't intending to start anything new before the new year. Somehow in that lost space of having lost my father, I did what I knew would comfort me. I started a new quilt. I cut out fabric. And I did it without a ruler. It was liberating. It gave me a place to spend time thinking of him while I worked on this project. It's healthy to grieve. But I think it's also healthy to not let grieving overwhelm you. As life went back to normal in the sense of my day-to-day routines, this project gives me a break from the routine. I don't know when I will finish it, but as I work on it I will be reminded of him. And again, this quilt is for me. I hope the process of making it gives me the space to process all the feelings I'm having. I hope that once this quilt is done I will be able to look back and think that things are somehow just a little bit easier. Right now things are still feeling very hard.

I haven't really done a lot of improv, mostly just a few bee blocks. And when I "improv" I usually still use a ruler and 90 degree angles. This project was born from my own set of adaptations to Sherri Lynn Wood's Floating Squares score, from her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. I really enjoyed hearing her speak months ago and bought the book when it came out. As a perfectionist, rule-follower I really appreciate that her improv has some guidelines. In practice, I am enjoying it all just going together, without the picky worry of perfect points or perfect seam allowances. I guess the true test will be how much I love it when it's done.

I know Sherri presses her seams any which way... I was struck by the slide she showed us of the back of one of her projects. As a press-seams-open-er I thought it was complete madness. You can see here that I tried desperately to stick with pressing seams open. That middle seams was just wonky enough for that to not be happening there. I've darted in a couple places and I've pressed seams how the fabric wants them to be pressed. I can definitely see how important this flexibility would be in a project that had more curved piecing. I'm already seeing that the longer my seams get the more likely something is a bit amiss.

For those of you who are familiar with Floating Squares, one of the adaptations I've made was how many different fabrics I'm using. Seven. While I love the look of the basic three fabric versions, I wanted to work from my stash, and the larger cuts of fabric just weren't speaking to me so a number of my chosen fabrics are from half yard cuts. I have a vague notion that I'm working in three zones; these are parts of zone one.

I'm a bit of a blender addict. I don't buy much in the way of multicolored prints, and when I do, I find it hard to use them. I decided to use the stripe fabric as my filler fabric, and cut my squares from the blenders and bicycle print. I'm trying not to overthink the selection of pieces to put together and I'm enjoying the process.

I think one of the challenges of improv is knowing when you're done. In my case, when I run out of fabrics, I think I'll be done. I have no idea how big the quilt will end up being. That feels so weird and backwards. The solid black will be used in another zone of the quilt. Since I want some of my fabrics from the other two zones to cross into the zone with the black, I've started making some units with the black. And true to form, I'll likely jump back and forth between the three zones so I don't get bored. There's a rough vision in my mind. Time will tell if this is going to come out as I'm envisioning it.

Thanks for visiting.


In an effort to show more of my process on the blog, I'll be doing WIP check-in posts. One of my goals for 2015 was to work down my WIP list to a more manageable number. While I'll never be a "one project at a time" kind of girl, I was feeling weighed down by the number of (and the age of some of the) WIPs on my list. Of course I didn't spend my year not starting anything new and as of the beginning of October I had 36 projects on my WIP list. It's December which means it is crunch time. I decided to dive in and try to knock out a bunch of finishes in December. I recently knocked some into the done column by working on some low hanging fruit with projects that were nearly done. I'll be showing you those soon. Today I'm showing you what I've been sewing this week.

Monday evening I realized that I had ten WIPs on my ironing board that I had been working on that day/evening. Last night I worked on an eleventh.


Hanukkah starts on Sunday evening, so I realized that if I wanted to give the kids any of the clothing I had fabric to make, I needed to... um... make it. These are all fabrics that they picked out in June. I'm making my son two bowling shirts (frogs on yellow and baseball). The last one I made him was almost a year and a half ago and is getting too small.

My daughter is getting two dresses. Ironically, she chose frogs as well. And she was the one who chose the baseball fabric in the first place. I chose the red to coordinate (and bought extra for my quilting stash!). I'll use the Jewel's Stripwork Dress pattern for her baseball dress, but the skirt will all be one fabric. I have the bodice partially pieced together. It should finish up pretty quickly. I made this style dress long ago for her and she can barely get into it now, so I know she'll be glad to have a new one. Also, she's so excited to be playing t-ball this spring. She's been obsessed with when it will be her turn since watching her brother play last spring.

For her frog dress I'll be making my first Nelle dress. It will be simple with no trim or buttons. I'm a little worried that this one will be a little big on her, but I went with the 4-5 size. Since it's not exactly winter wear (though I'm in California, so really, throw on some leggings and a sweater and it's good) it will be nice that she will certainly be able to wear it through spring and summer.

I'm so amused by the environmental frog fabric she chose! Reduce! Re-use! Recycle!


I'm helping my son to finish his third quilt. It's a one block mini quilt and he just needs to bind it. I make his binding and we'll work together to attach it with the machine. He chose this fabric from his mini and I cut the largest square I could from it to make the binding strips. Bit of a fail because when I cut strips last night I realized that it won't be long enough to bind the whole thing. Hopefully he'll like something in my leftover binding strips box for the rest of his binding. We'll be consulting on that today. ;-)


I bought these four orphan blocks at a guild fundraiser an eternity ago. They've been in a box forever and I decided it was high time to make them into something someone would enjoy.

I'll be adding those wider poinsettia strips as an outer border, with those white flowers as corners (since the poinsettia fabric wasn't long enough to be a full border) to make a little table topper mini quilt.


I'm currently working on four(!) Very Hungry Caterpillar quilts. My son's room is decorated in The Very Hungry Caterpillar and he has a cuddle quilt, but he's been in a twin bed for quite some time now. I decided on the Fat Quarter Fizz pattern from Fat Quarter Shop (tutorial and link to the free pattern here) and it has been really quick and easy to put together. I decided to "go big" and use all my remaining VHC fabric when making the Fat Quarter Fizz units, knowing that would give me many more blocks than needed for his quilt. In addition to the twin quilt (still piecing that one), there will be a small lap quilt (almost pieced), and a crib quilt (shown here, upper right) in the Fat Quarter Fizz pattern. I had just a couple more units left over and chopped them up to make the squares for the mini quilt (shown here, lower left). It measures about 24" square right now so I may add some borders on that one. No idea where the three smaller quilts will end up. Step 1, finish them. ;-)


It dawned on me last night that it was December and my November do. Good Stitches bee blocks had totally slipped my mind. Oddly, since they were improv style, they were making me think a little more, so I had set the fabric aside early in the month. Since I finished and shipped my other bee blocks the first week of November, these just weren't on my radar. Ailish asked us to make improv symbol blocks and had some examples with arrows, hashtags, asterisks, etc. Here's my first one, which went together very quickly. I mostly just freehand cut with my rotary trimmer, then trimmed my block down to size (12.5" unfinished).

For my second block, I decided to try something a little more tricky. I started with some 1 1/4" wide strips and this is as far as I've gotten. Any guesses on what I'm going for? Don't worry, I have a plan B if this doesn't come together as intended. Oh see, I'm already using that leftover red fabric from the baseball shirt and dress!

That makes eleven projects on my cutting/sewing table right now.


I'm also starting to think about what I'll be making for my partner in round two of the Rainbow Mini Swap on Instagram. I'm so excited to get started (though let's be real, I will probably wait until January to start any actual sewing).


And, one more thing on my radar right now... I'm trying to get myself ready for my first broadcast on Periscope. It'll just be a little "All About Me" scope, and I hope to get to that in the next week. You can find me on Twitter and Periscope @sarahgoer. Follow me now to not miss my first Broadcast. For those of you new to Periscope it is a live video broadcasting app that you can download to your phone. As a live viewer you can interact with the scoper (person broadcasting) and other viewers through text messages, and you can "show the love" by giving hearts (similar to a "like" elsewhere in social media). If you miss a live broadcast you can catch it on replay through the Periscope app for 24 hours. Check it out!

Thanks for visiting. What are you working on this week?


I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday, Let's Be Social, Fabric Tuesday, and Sew Cute Tuesday.