On May 6th we had the great opportunity to be the “special guests” of the joint Zoom meeting of Modern Fusion and Beyond Borders, two groups of the Individual Members Coalition of the Modern Quilt Guild. We talked about our story, a beautiful opportunity to present Quilt Improv Studio in a collective form, with the participation of some of our game participants who are also MQG Individual Members. You can read here what we said. Enjoy!


What happens when three quilters passionate for improv get in contact, even if from remote?

We live in 3 different cities : Paola lives in Trieste, Giovanna in Venice and Carla in Rome, 400 miles of total distance so Internet, Zoom and chat are the only ways to keep in touch. We have been using social networks for many years. We like the idea of a virtual community that breaks down distances and barriers. In 2019 we started to follow each other on our Instagram pages.

In January 2020 Giovanna and Paola had some common projects, such as to travel to Prague Patchwork Meeting and the idea to organize an exhibit of improv quilting in Trieste. We were, and we still remain, two improv quilters that work with a very different style, so we decided to play together in a kind of challenge between us. We decided to use two common prompts: our quilts had to have the same color palette and the same size, in order to see where our different creativity would have led us. We chose to work with the “Kona cotton of the year” that, at that time, was a green called “Enchanted”.

One of the characteristics of improv patchwork is that everybody is free to work as she likes and that, even if we are starting from the same point, the results will be totally different. And we like this idea! To see beauty in differences, to see the creativity of each other, still with something in common that builds a connection.

So, we started working on the quilts and we posted some sneak peeks on Instagram.

But suddenly, when our works were finished, the Pandemic began and, in a few days, the entire world was in lockdown. Everyone knows the fears and sensations we experienced in those days. All our dreams and plans were cancelled within days. After a few days, during a Zoom meeting where Paola was talking about improv, we saw and “met” virtually Carla on the screen. During the meeting we were the three people that interacted the most so our conversation continued in the evening on a chat, finding a lot of common points of view. Day after day many ideas began to come out, we were looking for something to distract us from worries, to spend time at home doing what we love most: sewing. After an initial moment of confusion, we decided to react. So, we took the initial idea of sewing using the same input, the same palette, to challenge the three of us.

Then, since we were using Instagram, one day we asked ourselves: why not share our game and invite everyone who wants to join? It would be lovely to see the beauty created by the heterogeneity of the works made by more people than just the three of us. In a few weeks we created our virtual project, we chose a name, (we chose the word “Studio” with the double meaning: a way to learn and a virtual place where to meet). We built from scratch a website, we wrote articles, we took pictures, we opened an Instagram account to be dedicated to a collective, and we made our first post in June. We simply wrote: “Orange summer challenge is coming, collect all your orange fabrics and play with us”.  We were glad and surprised when people from all over the world started to play with us; after the initial period, most of them continued to play almost every challenge; now we consider them friends. With the end of the restrictions due to Covid we managed to organize the exhibition we initially wanted to do in Trieste, we had the chance to met some of our participants, such as to see Maria Paz from Chile while we were in France and others in the Italian biennial textile show Verona Tessile! Recently we met some of the Italian participants during an “improv retreat” we organized near Venice: it was really exciting to get to know them in person and to sew together with the same prompt!

Giovanna, Maria Paz, Paola

We have been carrying out this no-profit project for 3 years now, and the seventh Challenge, “Dualism” is currently taking place on Instagram. We are not connected as a group to sponsors, shops or associations. Our games don’t have winners, prizes, or giveaways. Everybody manages their timeline of work (no stress!): we only ask to respect the deadline to post on Instagram all the pictures of the finished quilts.

We want to give space and visibility to anyone who loves or wants to approach improv patchwork and to create a sense of community.

Our participants know it, they are very motivated and determined and we see that some of them enter their works in local or global competitions with good results! Others motivate us to continue through their messages. This is really satisfying and gratifies us for all the work we do with passion.

That’s all… for the moment!

Giovanna, Carla and Paola

Here we are again! 

While waiting for our new challenge, we found that someone of you discovered our first game and decided to try it! What a wonderful idea, our games are on our site and they can always be played! 

By the way… this is the moment to present our new game!

After many shades of orange and blue, we thought to play with something drastic, with a high graphic visual impact: black and white. We know this is a combination that one may love or hate, but this is what we want to do here: to stop and to think how to go beyond our usual comfort zones, to try something new or to improve our skills.

So many are the possibilities, that there will not be rules limiting the design elements to be used: you will be free to choose your improvisation area! Sewing in black and white is a great occasion to focus on mark making, to experiment with rhythm, and to think about composition. We suggest trying many different layouts on your design wall and to take several pictures that you can post on Instagram to continue in our intent of sharing and exchange.

We want you to know that we introduced a difference compared to the other games. It concerns the size of the quilt: it will have a constraint only for the minimum (you can participate with a square mini quilt of 24”x24”), but the maximum will be open to your choice: a new feature that allows different purposes for the final work!

As for the previous game, some rules will be chosen together with quilters interested to participate. In the next days two polls will be published in the Instagram stories of @quiltimprovstudio profile: stay tuned, and express your preference soon to decide how to create your challenge!

To conclude, here below you can find some links to start looking for inspiration:

  • Giovanna has collected examples of black and white improv quilts in her Pinterest board at this link: https://www.pinterest.it/jonikquilts/blackwhite/ 
  • If you don’t have a Pinterest account, some selected sources are collected here below:





We think this video-tutorial by Rebecca Bryan on improvised curves and shapes is very interesting, because she uses black and white fabric underlining the construction of the shapes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=6wcvHMB6tP0


After the polls, you will find all the related info on our dedicated challenge page .

Enjoy, stay safe and sew with us!


Giovanna, Carla and Paola


You know that our virtual “studio” wants to be a meeting place to learn or to practice together, by sharing our personal experiences. Thus, we asked a few questions to the first participants of the Blue Improv Repetition challenge, who surprised us by finishing the game in a very short time.

The questions we asked are focused on the various stages of production and on personal preferences of the creative process. We started with the choice of the palette: having a color already defined, how did you decide to add the others?

@quilter_man58 started with a precise idea of ​​what he wanted to realize: “distant galaxies”. Thus, he was guided by the title and he chose the colors present in the universe: yellow, red, orange, white and black, all present in the planets, in the sun, in the Milky Way..

@patchbri pulled out all the blues she had, and she was amazed by how many they were!

@silviafic8 immediately thought of the yellow fabric she wanted to use. It was a little piece of yellow she was saving for something special, because she likes it so much”

@blabshandgemacht, who currently lives in a country far from her own, had a limited amount of fabric with her, so she used the scraps she had decided to bring with her last summer: everything she had in blue, her favorite color. That, together with ripped shirts and leftovers from other projects, made a nice selection of blues for this little quilt.

@morphea80 doesn’t use blue very often in her quilting projects. But blue it had to be this time. Luckily she had some greyish blue in her stash. She added some green, dark red, yellow and white to it, just because this color combination reminded her of a crisp sunny autumn day.

@nensipamela said that blue and its derivatives inspire her a lot in this period: even if it is not her first color choice (she likes more purple derivatives), nevertheless she has accumulated a series of fabrics in shades of blue and teal that were just waiting to come out of their box. So it was easy for her to draw on these colors, perhaps a bit randomly, but trying to make a mix that is pleasing to the eye.

@aquilterstable chose her palette based on her exploration of “Classic Blue”: the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year! She described this idea well in an article on her blog (you can find it at this link ). Even if she considered adding other colors, she decided to stick with shades of blue, from lighter to darker than the Classic Blue.

The blue palette has always been one of @mariurbezg’s favourites. So, when she saw that the new game would be around blue fabrics, she decided immediately to participate, but she needed another colour to give more light to the quilt. She choose a bright fuchsia for that. 

From these first answers we already understand the variety and freedom that improv patchwork allows: you can use your favorite colors, work with what you have available by adding fabrics not strictly made to become a quilt, and you can also invent an unconventional blue.

The second parameter of the challenge was to use a shape of own choice, repeating and modifying it as desired. Also in this case we can proceed in different ways, let’s find out how our friends have designed their work in this context: you will see how varied are the ways for each one to construct their own vision!

@quilter_man58, for the shape choice, took inspiration from the stars and from all the shapes present in the cosmos, with their own deformations due to explosions, collisions and mergers.

@patchbri started sketching, and so she came up with the letter A, the initial of the names of her grandchildren. She continued doing more of it, until she achieved what she wanted to accomplish.

@silviafic8 first decided that the shape to be repeated was the stripe. When deciding on the layout, she thought that placing them horizontally or vertically would be obvious, so she stitched them diagonally. Her composition resulted from making 4 blocks in the same way.

@blabshandgemacht once saw a very geometrical pattern in the background of a video. Inspired by that, she sketched a few patterns out of her mind, so that it could work for a quilt in the future. It happened to be rectangles, only in many different sizes. And this work matched the criteria of the game. 

@morphea80 told us that, since some of the fabrics were already cut in strips, she decided to use this form to play with. As always, when sewing improv, she didn’t have a plan: her choice was rather focused on the technique to work with. Here she started with two bigger pieces of fabrics sewn together with a strip of different color. Then she cut this block once, turned around one piece by 180 degrees and joined both pieces, again with a contrasting strip in between. She repeated this process a couple of times.

For @nensipamela the choice of the shape to be repeated was the most difficult part. A lot of them came into her mind, but by the time she went to the cutting mat, none of them helped her. She started cutting and assembling, initially forming small blocks which she cut several times. The blocks that came out became the shape to be repeated. The repetition process was also an improv process… at a certain point the piece seemed finished to her, and so she finished her quilt.

@aquilterstable loves improvisational stripes: she was inspired to use them again after finishing her recent “Vista Toscana.” She continued to explore the concept of stripes ‘wrapping around’ another segment of stripes. She repeated the wrapping concept multiple times while playing with different scales.

@mariurbezg started playing with curves: she always loves them. She decided that she should work with ellipses, even if her first idea was for circles. In the end she was very happy with this change.

The last question was aimed at knowing the preferences on the various stages of creating a quilt. Even if it’s a hobby, or a job for someone, it’s not always fun. There are things we love to do and to enjoy, or to relax with, and others we would like to avoid. Let’s see what they replied about it:

@quilter_man58 has no moments he loves less in the creative process, but the ones he appreciates because they gratify him most, are the construction of the shapes and the quilting.

For @patchbri it is always difficult to find what to do, where to start, and how to interpret the starting points. Once she’ve found this, it’s relatively easy to get on with the work.

@silviafic8 mainly likes to imagine, to think how the result could be, after choosing the fabrics. She likes to do improv patchwork, but she also thinks about the meaning to give to her work. In reality, it may happen that in the implementation phase there is something different than the initial idea. What she loves less is cutting and sewing fabrics.

@blabshandgemacht really enjoys going through her fabrics and choosing the colors, especially how they are nicely playing together. She did not like the size of the quilt since she didn’t see the functionality of such a small piece. This is why she called it “UND NUN” (and now) because she doesn’t know what to use it for, other than looking at it (but enjoying it).

For @nensipamela the favorite part of the creative process is choosing the palette. Usually she starts from a color that inspires her in that moment, and from which she would like to be surrounded. In recent years she has been lucky to have visited some Nordic countries, which are influencing her, and transporting her towards a choice of cold and bright colors. The part she feels less comfortable with in the creative process is being able to match the chosen color to a shape that can enhance it.

Figuring it out the result, as long as she goes on, is especially fun for @aquilterstable: the “building” part of the process is her preferred part. Sometimes she gets ‘stuck’ in the process, and she struggles with that, thinking about the possibilities for days. But in the end that struggle leads her forward.

Quilting always plays a particular role in the overall work: and we are all different about it. See below!

@morphea80 told us that the part she likes most is choosing the technique before starting to sew; and then, she loves the piecing. She doesn’t enjoy quilting that much, because she easily gets bored with it. But with a mini quilt the amount of quilting is okay!

@mariurbezg had some problems piecing the tighter curves and that was the part she enjoyed less, but at the end she could manage them. On the other hand, her favourite part was quilting. It’s always nice to work with small quilts where you have more freedom to select a complicated pattern for the quilting. 

Blue Improv repetition continues, and you can send pictures of your works until January 10th, 2021. A nice way to spend the coming Season holidays at home!

We want to conclude by saying thanks to our friends who have already finished their quilt, for the availability in answering our questions, thus helping us to get to know each other, to grow as a group. A spontaneous, free and open group, united by the same passion, the desire to try, to get involved. Even if we are in a particular period, which increases distances, it seems precious to us to have opportunities to share these little moments, even if only in virtual mode.

See you soon!

Giovanna, Carla and Paola.


The theme of repetition reminded me of a neat quilt. With variations in color and block sizes that help give liveliness to a static pattern. What can happen in the improv patchwork since there are no precise measurements or perfect cuts to use?

Deformation, similitude takes over, but not equality (which is unlikely to be done freehand). Color repetition can help, but if color is not used systematically in the various blocks what will be the result? These are the first considerations and questions I asked myself before starting the Blue Improv repetition game. I decided that I would try to make an “improv” quilt without intention, helping me with an additional parameter ( in addition to those given by color and shape) namely: time limit, trying to work quickly, acting on instinct without a predefined initial idea. This is something unusual for me as I usually make decisions step by step and take a lot of time especially when defining the composition on the design wall. But since it’s a game, let’s play and experiment.


I then chose the palette and the basic shape, the rectangle. In short succession I cut some strips, sewn, assembled, cut out and in a short time I finished my top. Only there I stopped to look at it, to see the result in its entirety. The final step was to choose a title.  (Paola told us her adventures with titles in an article  in this blog.)

Why give a title? To identify him? To give meaning? Both I would say. So when you have a clear idea to convey, it’s usually a pretty easy job. But in this specific case, when you start without initial ideas, how can you choose a title? When you look at an image, instinctively, the brain tries to recognize a “something”, a known form, or that in some way can be associated with a definable thing. The first thing that came to mind was a nice Scottish tartan fabric so “Improv tartan” seemed to be a fitting title. But I was not satisfied with the first impression and I also wanted to ask my husband and my children. The question was: what is it? What does it bring to your mind? I felt a bit like the Little Prince’s aviator when as a child he showed the drawing of the boa that had eaten the elephant and adults mistake it for a hat. The answers were: a hashtag, a video game, a cage. Interesting I would say! Everyone has elaborated the image in his own way, based on knowledge, experience, preferences. Perception, psychology, neurology blend together and transmit a different result for each of us, prompted by something that was born by chance and does not actually have a precise meaning. I find it fascinating! Who knows what answers I would have by asking more people? So, in addition to the fact that I stumbled upon a topic to investigate, neuroscience, I found the title for my quilt: “Perceptions”

I could have used the famous: “Untitled”, but I don’t like it, it leaves a void and creates a kind of detachment between the author and the viewer even if it can always be a way of saying: “you choose, it’s what you think!” Happy sewing to you!

As you probably know, one of our goals is to have fun together while improving some skills, technique or ability, to create a personal style and to reunite improv quilters that want to participate in these initiatives.  During one of our recent virtual meetings we started to talk about “shapes” and “repetition” (Paola loves to use repetition in her quilts, Carla wrote a lively article about the magic of the kaleidoscope that changes shapes every moment). Hence the idea for the second Quilt Improv Studio game. What about playing with a shape? Rotating, enlarging and reducing it? Or any other idea you can think of, with your selected shape. Repetition is an element of design, a recurring feature in many forms of art, in photography and in both traditional and modern patchwork. It is used to give a rhythm, and it is a way to create unity. How will we use it in improv quilting? There are many possibilities to express our creativity and we hope you will play with us also this time!

Now that you know that the focus of our new game will be: “Improv repetition” you can start to think about it; in the next few days we will propose to you some polls on our Instagram stories in order to decide together other aspects of the game (yes, we like to do things in a collaborative mode).
Thus… look at @quiltimprovstudio IG “stories”: polls will be published there starting from October 1st.  

The game shall not have many rules: you will find them on our site once the polls are finished. You know that what we like (and has also been appreciated by the previous participants) is the fact that we share our pictures and thoughts while working. Remember that you can do your mini quilt following your own rhythm and feeling free to make posts when you want.

Curiosity, study and research are the base of the knowledge development, so we collected some articles on the subject that we are happy to share with you. You can also look at your books, magazines or other sources and let us know!

Be ready, fun is starting soon!

link: visual communicaton design-principle-of-repetition-pattern

link: the quilt show-design-to-quilt-principles-of-design-pattern-repetition week 35

link: the quilt show-design-to-quilt-principles-of-design-pattern-repetition-week-36  

link: Sherri Lynn Wood blog-Repetition, Improv, and Trance Quilt Making