When I first started exploring the world of quilting, I was immediately drawn to all of the "improv" quilts I was seeing! From my understanding, an improv quilt is one that is pieced without a pattern, and without much of a plan. I have seen some of the most incredible improv quilts across the quiltiverse, I've enjoyed creating a few improv wall hangings, including one that I made recently for my daughter's nursery!
I'm sure everyone has a different process or "method" for how to go about creating an improv quilt, and I thought I would share my thoughts in case you are interested in making an improv quilt and you are unsure of where to begin!
1. I like to start by choosing fabric. This is a great way to use up scraps! I like to choose one dark color, one light color, and then a few other colors that are between the light and dark. Having some variation in color allows some shapes and designs to really pop!
2. Next I start cutting and sewing pieces together. This is the fun part! Sometimes I use a rotary cutter and rulers, other times I just use scissors to make the lines a little less crisp. It really just depends on the look you are going for. In this last wall hanging I made I used a ruler and kept the lines pretty even and straight. This is a time to sew strips together, make HSTs, try curves, etc!
3. As I create several little "units" of improv pieces, I like to start laying them out to see how they can come together. For this quilt, I had an idea of how big I wanted it to be, so I used a pieces of cardboard to lay out my little units to see how they were working together. I took some pieces out, cut them up and made them smaller, added more fabric to make them bigger, etc.
4. Once I had a layout that I liked, I started trimming the pieces since I was going for a more "clean" look. I have also made improv pieces where I did not trim the pieces and by the end it had a fun "wonky" look to it! It's really your preference!
5. For this wall hanging, I wanted it to have a light pink background, so once I had all the pieces trimmed and I had an idea of where I wanted all the pieces to go, I started sewing them together using light pink fabric to "fill in" between my little improv "units". This is where you can really embrace lines and points not being perfect and just enjoy the process of watching it all come together.
6. Once the top is all sewn together how you like it, you can finish your quilt however you wish! I wanted to try cutting this one into an "arch" shape at the top to tie in the yellow curve in the design as well as reflect the "arch" that is on the opposite wall of my daughter's nursery.
I hope I gave you some ideas for how to make your own improv quilt! There is no right or wrong way to go about improv, this just happens to be one way to think through it! Tag me if you make one using #IntheLightQuilts on Instagram!