Thursday, October 13, 2022

Artful Improv quilt top done!

Cindy Grisdela is a quilt artist and teacher who has also written two books about improv quilting. She was the speaker at our recent guild meeting, and also taught two different workshops. I was lucky enough to take part in her "Artful Improv" class, and today I am happy to share my finished quilt top from that class.

We learned about several different improv techniques that Cindy uses regularly including improv blocks, angled stripes and improv curves. At the end of that first day, I had this collection on parts up on my design wall.

The next day I was very frustrated and unsure of how to proceed. I decided to keep making more parts, adding them to the wall and doing some rearranging. This was my design wall at the end of day 2.

After making one more set of angled stripe blocks, it was time to start puzzling everything together. I had to trim down some blocks to make them fit, and others got strips added to make them larger. Here's what I had at the end of day 3.

Artful Improv #1, 26" x 31"

I was happy with the piece so far, and could have stopped there and called it a finished top. Instead, I decided to add borders to two sides utilizing two more techniques from Cindy's class, inset strips and curved stripe borders. I like the way they make the quilt even more asymmetrical, but I'm not sure they fit in with the overall piece. They feel like unnecessary additions to the quilt rather than being fully integrated with the rest of the design.

Artful Improv #1A, 29" x 34"

I'm not sure if those two borders will stay on the quilt or not. There's a very good chance that I will take them off, but for now that decision is on hold.

I found this quote on 
Cindy's website about a 7-day workshop she took with Michael James: "Taking a class that pushes you out of your comfort zone is a great way to grow as an artist." This improv class was definitely way out of my comfort zone, and I struggled at times, but pushed through it and am happy with the result. I look forward to playing with Cindy's ideas even further in the near future.

The quilt above is one of my favorites that Cindy shared with us in her class. You can read more about Cindy Grisdela's quilts, books and classes at her website HERE. The Artful Improv class is available as either a workshop for a group (info HERE) or as an on-line class that you can take on your own time (HERE.) Either way, I encourage you to explore Cindy's techniques to make your own improv quilts.

Linking up with:
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More

Happy quilting!

Julie in GA


  1. Congratulations on finishing your improv piece and not letting it become a UFO. I have struggled with improv the few times I have tried it. Part of my brain wants to straighten everything and square the blocks up even as I sew them. I also don't work in solids much, but I really like the "A Little Citrus" quilt. Good for you for getting outside your comfort zone.

  2. I wonder -- maybe put the curved piece on the left border and omit the matchstick piece on the bottom? I tend to view quilts left to right and the long curved border is like the spine of a book. Overall, it looks great. (Now, how ill you quilt it? LOL.)

  3. Julie, I can say so many things about your fabulous flimsy, such as it is so fresh and modern or it pops and sparkles or it looks fantastic and the colors play so nicely with each other. And all of them are true. But above all - I can guarantee that you made Cindy proud. Your work is the the best advertisement of her workshop!!!

  4. What a lovely improv quilt. I have a few started- will get back to them some day...

  5. This is AMAZING!!!! I love how it all came together. and even the frustration. I think it causes you to grow. for me I LOVE those outer borders. That grey on the right really ( to me) draws the other colors out, and gives you reason to look all around the quilt... and the bottom one... well I just like the wonkiness of it!! What a beautiful piece of art!!!

  6. I love your improv piece, Julie! I'm not usually big on taking project based workshops but I am very intrigued by the idea of improvisationally pieced curved seams, and yours look great. I love your color palette for the project, as well as your arrangement of the blocks.

  7. Your color palette from the improv class was so vibrant and beautiful. I'm curious what you decide about the borders. I agree that I really like how they make the design more asymmetric.


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