Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Inspiring Improv

I'd been following Nicholas/@quiltsfromtheattic over on Instagram for a while and admiring his work long before I heard he had a book coming out. A lover of improvisational quilting, like myself, I was pleased when I was able to pick up a preview copy of his Inspiring Improv at QuiltCon. I was immediately a fan.

"Warholian Cabbage" - Photos of book projects courtesy of @luckyspool.

One of the great things about Nicholas’ book is that it’s technique-based, with each being so well-explained, with plenty of diagrams. The focus is on six techniques - curves, inserts, rings, slabs, stacks, and triangles - all key skills to have in your improv toolkit.


So you can explore from there on your own, or choose one of 12 quilt projects as an opportunity for guided improv. Nicholas’ designs highlight how the various techniques can be combined, which is cool. All very good stuff!


So obviously, when Nicholas asked if I’d like to join his Inspiring Improv Instagram Tour, I was more than pleased and said YES immediately.

The technique I chose to dabble with for the tour was Slabs, which are so great and highly versatile. They are so conducive to scraps, and as Nicholas says, “the possibilities are endless.” Though Nicholas uses the slab technique in several of the quilts in his book [such as the three quilts shown above], I also enjoy using it more randomly… basically creating with very little forethought, making slabs and putting several together just to see what evolves as I go.

For my current project, I chose to use scraps in blue, gray, tan, & gray, including some low-volume prints and a mix of substrates. Minimalism isn’t my first inclination when building a design like this, but it’s always a lot of fun. “There are no hard and fast rules, so expect some trial and error.” Those are Nicholas’ words, but I echo them whole-heartedly.

So whether you’re new at improv, or it’s your primary sewing language, you’ll find inspiration in Inspiring Improv. From planning to piecing to puzzling it all together, Nicholas’ book really is a comprehensive primer on creating improvisationally.

Throughout the tour, you'll get a really good glimpse of the techniques, so I'm just going to list the round-up of makers here so we can all find them easily over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, I'll be working on finishing up my work-in-progress!

July 15 ~ Mathew Boudreaux/@misterdomestic
July 16 ~ Debbie Jeske/@aquilterstable
July 17 ~ Jo Avery/@mybearpaw
July 18 ~ Karen Lewis/@karenlewistextiles
July 19 ~ Kate Basti/@katebasti
July 20 ~ Latifah Saafir/@latifahsaafirstudios
July 21 ~ Chris English/@afullenglish
July 22 ~ Anne Marshall/@madewithmadness
July 23 ~ Rebecca Bryan/@bryanhousequilts
July 24 ~ Katy Jones/@imagingermonkey
July 25 ~ Nydia Kehnle/@nydiak
July 26 ~ Nicole Daksiewicz/@modernhandcraft
July 27 ~ Lucy Brennan/@charmaboutyou
July 28 ~ Sarah Thomas/@sariditty


  1. I am - as usual - amazed about what you can create from a few "scraps". That last picture is just wow. And I will be delighted all over when I see it again in your future posts :) xo Melanie

  2. It is a great, great Book, I bought it last week.
    Love your new beginning! Even if I don't often post a comment, I follow you with great interest.

  3. Another great book to have! I think the slab method can make anyone an improv quilter...and I love that there are no hard and fast rules! You can always add more pieces or cut it up over and over!

  4. It looks like an interesting book ! I'll try to get my hands on it ... I love what you made so far !

  5. I love the result. The color combinations you use are great!

  6. This looks great; it just shows you don't need a pattern to make a great quilt. I love the fabrics.