Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Eventually, you'll hear more about this photo and why I chose it for my April Mighty Lucky Quilting Club challenge, Using a Personal Photo as Inspiration for Piecing. But for now - I have had a few inquiries about my process as I've been posting progress photos over on Instagram, so will share a bit of that today. 

Honestly, I'm still new enough at improv that I rarely know exactly where I'm going with it. But with this piece, it at least made sense to start with what seemed the trickiest part - the dome of that Duomo - a cathedral in Florence, Italy. Often when I work in improv, several 'sections' are created, then they are puzzled together, so that was my starting plan here.

I used a technique I learned in this basic tutorial for free-hand curves, an 'overlap' technique to cut and join the two pieces indicated below. There's really no specifics - I just glanced at the photo, then cut a similar curve. I stitched, pressed, cut a new piece, and continued on to finish the dome. If things needed trimmed and reshaped as I went, that's what I did. Next were several strips of blue 'sky,' each with a bit of detail from the top of the dome.

Once I got the dome and sky pieced, I worked on the base as well as the surrounding buildings, keeping them pretty simple. Piecing like this isn't straight-forward for me. There's always fiddling to see what will give me the look I'm after. So I keep my seam-ripper handy, to tweak things as needed, sometimes it's as little as opening a seam end to add another element.

I realized pretty quickly that my scale was larger than I'd intended, considering I'm doing all of the Mighty Lucky challenge pieces at 17" square. So I decided to 'crop' my photo, knowing that would eliminate some of the detail I might otherwise have included. It was at that point that I decided adding more detail with the quilting was the way to go - maybe not quite the original challenge, but it's improv, and that's the way it happens sometimes.

So now the top is done, and I'll be quilting for a while now. . . first time free-motion quilting on my Juki! Hopefully in a few days I'll have a finished work to show you! Meanwhile, if you have any questions about what I've done so far, feel free to ask!


  1. Improv with intent like this can be very tricky, and I really like the way you ended up with a cropped in view of your inspiration image. I find describing the trial and error and seam ripping process of improv quite challenging, and I can definitely relate and follow along with your process here. Sometimes diving in and trying something is the only way to go.

  2. It's been fun watching this evolve!

  3. I love the level of detail and scale you settled on. I think it will end up being an even more pleasing composition to the eye than the if you had kept closer to the inspiration photo. Thanks for sharing your process.

  4. I think it is coming along fantastically! Love that you are quilting details and not necessarily feeling the need to piece all those bits!

  5. I love this - not only because it's one of my fave places in the world but I love the look of the less detailed pricing and what your quilting is bringing! Great work!

  6. Thank goodness for a seam ripper! Debbie, this is wonderful...I am so excited to see it finished. Good luck with the FMQ! Go with it, have fun and relax!