|by Christopher Thompson|

Show of hands, how many of you have tried improvisational quilting before? It’s somewhat scary and overwhelming, but not today! We’re going to flex our improvisational quilting muscles the planned way!

Get your rotary cutter ready because we’re going to burn lots of calories!

Your gym bag should contain the following (your supplies):

Improv Quilting, the Planned Way
(1) Charm Pack (we used Pacific by Elizabeth Hartman for Robert Kaufman)
(1) Half Yard for Border, Backing, and Binding (we used Kona Solids in Navy)
Batting (we used Quilter’s Dream)
Matching Thread for Piecing and Quilting (we used Aurifil in White and Navy)
Rotary Cutter and Mat
Sewing Machine

The planned improvisational quilting method uses a basic quilt block, such as a nine-patch and once joined, we slice and dice for improv-y goodness!

For our exercise, we used (1) medium print, (2) small prints, (1) contrasting solid, and (1) coordinating solid.

Piecing (otherwise known as the warm up):

1. Sew your squares together in rows. Chain piecing is a quick and easy method to use too.


TIPS/TRICKS: Press open your seams to reduce bulk!

2. Starting with the bottom row, sew it together with the middle row. Use up to (4) pins to secure the rows in place. Make sure to match your seams by nesting them together.


TIPS/TRICKS: If your edges do not align, it’s okay, that’s part of the fun!

Slicing and Dicing (can you feel the calories burning? c’mon, it’s fun!):

1. Start by cutting strips that are 2 ½” and 4 ½” wide.


TIPS/TRICKS: Avoid cutting near the seams! You’ll want the room to play.

2. Find a layout you love. Mix and match for more diversity and interest.


3. Sew the pieces you cut together. Press seams open.


4. Trimming as little as possible, even out your edges.

5. Sew your two sections together. Use up to (4) pins to secure the sections in place.

6. Trim if needed. Ours came out to 12” x 12”.

Finishing (the cool down):

1. Add a 2 ½” border from one of your matching solids. We love how some of the blocks float into the border, making it look seamless.


2. Add batting and backing.
3. Quilt as desired
4. Bind as desired.

TIPS/TRICKS: Sew together (9) 12” x 12” planned improvisational blocks for a lap quilt.

How fun would it be to cut up other basic quilting blocks like the pineapple, log cabin, churn dash, and so. The possibilities are endless. You’ll be an improvisational quilting star in no time!

Don’t forget to tag us: @thesewingparty!

Hailing from a very small town in Southern Virginia, Christopher has lived in several cities over the years from Atlanta to San Francisco and now NYC. He grew up in a traditional quilting family and before he could walk and talk, was playing under a quilt frame. As the years passed, Christopher continued tinkering with crafts, quilting, and other odds-and-ends creative endeavors. He purchased his first grown up sewing machine and has been working late nights and weekends to create interesting quilts inspired by the world around him–art, music, fashion, and of course, there’s a nod to his traditional roots thrown in there too!

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    Love this! I just got 2 Tula Pink charm packs to make 9 squares! Hmm I may get another pack and make it bigger.

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