Tag Archives: planned improv


I use the descriptor "planned improv" loosely. Sometimes the improv comes in the piecing. Sometimes it comes in the design work before piecing starts. In this case, the improv had to do with having no idea where I was going when I started piecing scraps together. And the plan was that HSTs would be involved, and I was working with a limited amount of scraps (at the beginning) with a limited color palette (that I'd curated for the bag of scraps).

This quilt has been a long time coming. The scraps that were the start of it predate February 2016 when I took Jeni Baker's Creative HST workshop at QuiltCon in Pasadena. (We won't discuss how these are scraps from another project that is not yet finished.) This three-hour evening class was a chance to play. I finished my first four blocks for this quilt that night and eventually went on to create 140 more!

As with many of my quilt projects, I worked on this one intermittently over the years. It had no deadline or destination. The quilt top was finally finished at a quilt retreat in September 2018. I mailed it away to be quilted (by Jess Zeigler) in December 2019. No rush on this one. ;-)

I finished the quilt with a faced binding in order to submit to it PIQF in October for their Online Quilt Festival.

It's 59" x 59". I plan to hang it in my entryway.


Unrelatedly, check out the new short film, Canvas, on Netflix.


I'm still playing catch up on showing you my finished improv log cabin mini quilts from my last 100 day project. You can see my green and yellow quilts in previous posts. Today, I'm sharing my red version! My main rules were to use black, white, and one color, and that my finished quilt would be 16 1/2" square, bound in black Kona.

In my red quilt, I chose to start with a traditional quilt block in the center of the log cabin. The sawtooth start block is one of my favorites, so I started with that. Since my mini quilts finish at 16 1/2" square I made a 6" star block for my center.

Initially I thought my logs would be wonky to surround the block (another variation to try later!), but I think the busyness of the print fabrics steered me away from that idea. In the end I have uniform 1" finished, rectangular logs. My log placement worked counterclockwise around the block.

I had fun with the quilting. I started with three colors of thread in three weights, Aurifil Red (#2250), Black (#2692), and White (#2024) in 50wt, 40wt, and 28wt. (Thanks Mel for the loan of a few spools I was missing!) I didn't have an overall plan. I just knew that I wanted to use a variety of color and thread weight. I started with a favorite filler, a zig zag meander, in the center of my star. Then I echoed the outer edge of the star. I switched threads and weights for each step. It adds a lot of time to the process, but I think the effect is worth it.

Here's an early view of the back of the quilt. This bowling pin print has been hanging out with my black and white prints, but it isn't quilt a black and white print, so it has been passed over many times. But it was perfect to back this quilt!

I filled in between my straight lines (which were free motion quilted, too) with wavy and zigzag lines of quilting. For the zigzag quilting I used washy tape to mark the lines where I needed to switch directions to help achieve a mirror image at the bends in my path.

After more echo lines of quilting, I filled in the corners and edges with zig zag meander in white. I used my usual machine binding technique with solid black Kona, but I opened to do the top stitching with 28wt red thread. I love this added detail.

My finished quilt is 16 1/2" x 16 1/2". I really enjoy how the different colors of quilting show up more or less on different portions of the quilt. For instance, the white thread really pops on the black solid, but fades into most of the print fabrics.

Thanks for visiting!

You can read all about the other quilts in the series here:


I've linked up to Brag About Your Beauties!


I shared the first of my five mini quilts completed during my 100 day project a couple months back. The project I actually started piecing on day 1 back in July was this yellow quilt. Day 1 started with these first five pieces sewn together.

I'd started the project with a plan for the color palette (black, white, and shades of yellow) and the intent to make a log cabin that would finish at 16 1/2" square. I'd chosen the three black and white prints you see here, and before I started cutting or sewing I thought this version would be a quarter log cabin and chose the text print to be my starting corner. (This was about the largest square I could cut from the scrap of this text print.) As I added the black prints, I opted to fussy cut the placement of the dots and arrows. And I started with my lightest and brightest yellows. My black logs finish at 1/2" wide because that's what worked with the prints.

When I came back to it on day 2, the text print no longer wanted to be in the corner so I started building on all four sides of the log cabin. I kept my black logs at 1/2" finished and decided my yellow logs would get larger as I went. The first four yellow logs (one on each side) all finish at 1/2" wide. I also continued the pattern of adding the black to two side, then the yellow to the same two sides before I moved to the opposite half of the block.

Sometimes I lay my fabrics out to get a visual of where the fabric placement will me. I snap a quick photo as reference. Since I often work on multiple projects at once, you can see my pink/coral/white/yellow solids for some bee blocks peeking out from underneath.

My final design choice was to finish with the log cabin off center. At some point I did the math to determine the sizes of my yellow logs so the quilt would finish at 16 1/2" square.

I free motion quilted with Aurifil 50wt Yellow (#2135), beginning in the center with a daisy, then cursive l's (in increasingly larger sizes) in each yellow log.

I used corner triangles for my label and to use for a hanging rod and machine bound with Kona black. Keeping with my system of backing the quilts with a fat quarter from my stash, I picked this bug print since the front reminded me of a bumble bee.

I'll have to write in more about the 100 Day Project and the Improv Log Cabin series on my label, but the essentials are there, name and date completed.

You can see the other quilts in the series here: