Tutorial -Improv Collaborative block with Leah Day!!!

I am making a improv block in this tutorial. I have made a few predetermined decisions before I started this block or mini quilt. I wanted it to be a wonky log cabin style with inserts of thin orange fabrics that are about 1 1/4″. It also will be a square 15 inch block that will be sent off as a collaboration with Leah Day!!! She is very inspirational and has tons of information on her blog about quilting and piecing. Her blog is here. She will be a guest on my podcast later this week, so more information about her and her business will be on show notes when it airs. She will post a podcast where she interviews me and will reveal how she free motion quilted this mini quilt in a few weeks.

A few tips, make your pieces way oversized and trim down to desired size. When you freehand cut curves make them gentle and not too drastic-see first pic in the post. I have to slow down when piecing  for a smooth curved seam.

I started with a blue rectangle and then free hand cut a curve. Then I sewed the orange strip. Note: I sewed straight orange pieces to the curved cuts in this quilt to accent the wonky feel of the block. More detailed tutorial on curves will be another post in the future.


The pieces are trimmed to be wonky and sometimes I made the seams wonky to add to the effect of it not being square. Add next round of color and trim it as you go, in a log cabin style. I prefer to add the next round with the strips added to be on the side of the previous rows seams. 2017-02-17-07-11-40

Now I make some decisions as I go and take a couple of risks, like the next one!2017-02-17-07-13-242017-02-17-07-13-572017-02-17-07-17-472017-02-20-09-56-06

Remember I said to make pieces oversized and trim down? Ok, I decided not to use the dark fabric but it shows that this could still be used if trimmed down. 2017-02-20-10-47-16

In this picture I am making more decisions on placement of my color of the oversize strips in the last round. I just keep moving it around till I like it! 2017-02-20-11-23-41

Some final thoughts: I learned how to make improv blocks by jumping into the deep end of the pool…. I just grabbed some fabric and tried it. I thought whats the worst thing that could happen, I may throw out a few pieces of fabric? I was ok with that as an option. However, my first attempt worked out and I kept practicing.  If the curves are new to you then start with strips of fabric and keep building up your quilt till you like it. Then, try free hand curves later when you have more confidence.

Final step:  Square it up  and you will have a block or mini quilt !

I can’t wait to see what Leah does with this!!!





  1. What fun! I’ve got to try this. I just got a Sweet 16 and am trying to do some pieces with more open space to quilt this is perfect!


  2. This is excellent! I love improv piecing because I always set myself the rule – you cannot change it once it’s arranged. So often with traditional piecing I fiddle and fiddle and fiddle a quilt to death. Whenever I do improv quilting I completely relinquish control. It’s honestly liberating! I can’t wait to quilt your beautiful little block!


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