On the occasion of the launch of our last game, Improv Dualism, we asked with an Instagram poll what improv patchwork means for you. In the replies, many definitions expressed positive feelings we recognized ourselves with. As the word cloud created with your responses shows, the most used word was freedom!

Image created with the support of wordart.com 

Our views on improv have changed during time, also thanks to the experience shared with you. Our recent thoughts are collected here.

Carla says: “After many years as a traditional quilter I became an improv quilter. This means for me to feel free. I love to start with an idea, to choose colors and then the shapes. I agree with people that say that our works evolve… with our mind. It doesn’t care how we go on or what tools we use… improv means that all the possibilities to change are open till the end. It doesn’t mean we don’t know where we are going. On the contrary, we check our work every now and then, searching for consistency, and we keep ourselves ready to change things (even if they are almost fully done) if we are not satisfied yet. What we care most about is that people understand that improv doesn’t mean work made in a hurry or carelessly: it’s the opposite! It is a free process full of hard steps. I’m proud to define myself as an Improv quilter.”

Giovanna adds: “I believe that the improv, born from the desire for freedom and to get out of the traditional schemes (no rules, no rulers, shapes that are not necessarily precise, etc.) has become, over time, a way to express and experiment with one’s personal creativity, and has therefore been divided into several styles which, at the moment, do not have precise definitions. Thus, the improv has become a large container with a thousand variations. What do they have in common?  I believe that the fundamental thing for a quilt to be considered improv is the “way” in which it is made. It is a process made up of decisions taken gradually, along a path that takes various directions before reaching the end. An “on the go” quilt construction.
Of secondary importance and entirely personal, for me, are the decisions about which tools to use, whether to work with or without intention, whether to establish limits or rules, whether to follow design principles.  What we see in the hashtag #improvquilting are many different types of quilts.  Sometimes attributable to styles created by well-known artists in the sector but most often the result of experiments by individual quilters who are creating or trying to find their personal improv style.  An interesting style in continuous movement and evolution!

Paola concludes as follows: “Improv goes well beyond simply noticing the presence of wonky shapes. I believe that improv is a distributed design compositional technique, allowing emergence and transformation more than other compositional “ab initio” creative methods. It is not easy to stick to an improvisational experience during the whole process (for example, if one starts to follow intermediate photos up to finalizing execution adherent to such photos). I feel that there are still many ways to talk of improv, so that it’s difficult to put it into one word. My preferred practice (as promoted also by @quiltimprovstudio) is to consider improv an opportunity for continuous design practice (each gesture, a mini design act), to learn how the eye responds to experimented effects, for horizontal sharing. Creativity can be harnessed in specific modes, with its own dignity, different from other creative procedures. Jazz music earned distinction for its improvisational moments, ritualized in solo steps rotated among musicians in the band, if not going up to collective improvisation. I hope that our discussion and games keep the improv definition open, alive and kicking!”

You can join the game Improv Dualism at any time, until the deadline for quilt completion of July 2nd. In the meanwhile, you can follow the progress of game participants looking at the hashtag #qisdualism and, to find your reason to try, you can pick your preferred definition of improv among the ones expressed by our game participants:

  • freedom
  • imagination
  • discovery
  • no rules or rulers
  • the adventure
  • design on the fly
  • to do what you want
  • …be surprised with the result
  • playing with a set scheme
  • letting the moment guide the decision
  • using small scraps
  • endless options to choose from
  • freedom to play
  • the happy accidents!
  • to be surprised with the result
  • …making it up as I go
  • …nobody can say it’s wrong
  • endless options to choose from…
  • getting lost in creating
  • no stress
  • the unexpectedness of the process
  • to explore and try new ideas
  • the anticipation… see it evolve
  • the concentration
  • cutting without measuring
  • mixing and combining shapes
  • not knowing where it’ll end up
  • it makes me feel creative
  • I can use what I have
  • you can follow your intuition


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

During this year 2022 we made game proposals that were more experimental than the earlier ones.

How many can be the inspiration sources for an improv quilt? Infinite!

In the last game, Pop Improv Challenge, we asked you to use bright and strong colors, and to look at Pop Art aesthetics. Your mini quilts based on this prompt were great!

Let’s see how game participants viewed this challenge.

@auroraa1714 , before the challenge, didn’t like bright colors! She normally used colors that calm or convene nicely together. She said: “I had to search for scraps that were not nice for me, fabric or scraps that were there for a long time because they were too bright or with a strange design. I had a lot of fun looking at the fabrics in a different way!”

@amok18287 said: “I was nervous at first picking out such strong colors and tried not to think about the color wheel, complementary colors or rules. As the project developed I was pleasantly surprised to see how the colors bounced off each other instead of fighting against each other. At the same time, I limited the palette, there are no greens in my composition. I was worried too many colors would lessen the impact. I can definitely say that I am braver with color choices as a result of the Pop Improv game.”

Also for @aquilterstable the suggestion of a bright – even fluorescent palette – for the latest QIS challenge was a stretch. She explained: “I’d never used fluorescents before, and combining them with Rich Red felt unique, but was definitely fun to work with. The challenge was a good reminder to not be afraid of trying new things.”

@bettyoquilts, instead, had frequently used bits, or pops, of strong colors in her previous works. For her Nine Patch quilt made during the game, she proceeded in this way: “I stayed quite true to using equal amounts of all of the loud colors. I found that including a couple of shades of several fabrics provided a needed harmony: this would be lacking, if all nine individual fabrics were different hues.” 

Also @teajurin confirmed that bright colors cannot be thrown there randomly. In case of strong contrast, there is still need for harmony, and the amount of hues shall be limited, otherwise you risk having chaos. In her quilt titled SuperPOWer, she adopted an explosion of colors, and she really had fun in joining absurd colors to give an exaggerated and humorous effect.

Very strong colors have always been a passion for @dove_ti_porta_il_filo, even if she typically used them together with some neutral, to get a balanced effect. The request of this game was more extreme: it was required to dare! Now, she felt free to use only brights without any negative space. Thus, she rather applied the rule of balance to the composition scheme.

So, what about composition choice?

@therollingcat_ had already investigated pop art when @quiltimprovstudio announced this new challenge. She came across Sister Corita Kent, who mainly used screen printing, where she paired splashes of color and words, usually in her own harsh, angular handwriting, to express religious or universal themes, such as the “Love is hard work” screen print: an airy set of slightly curved stripes in primary and secondary colors, with the writing in black. A cheerful, lively, thought-provoking poster so famous that around the 1970s the US Postal service made a stamp out of it. The challenge #qispopimprov became an occasion to celebrate it again.

Other inspiration sources?

@quiltcreation discovered David Hockney’s work. And fell in love with his creativity and colors!

@patchbri caught this occasion to make a screen print style portrait, as she wished for a long time.

@mari.quilt put her square block on her design wall and let it marinate, until the a-ha moment arrived: her stripe of squares became “Comics pop”!

@aquilterstable, while creating her piece, was looking for a design feature for her improv forks, a key element of her plan. Her friend, Louise @imfeelincrafty, suggested that including a shadow or an outline might improve things, and that definitely did!

@arttextiles decided to use purely color and shape and not to be so influenced by the pop artists of that era, in their interpretation of basic everyday objects, or the onomatopoeia of the Marvel Comics. She kept the embroidered words low key, so as not to distract from the overall impact of the design.

@densyendehimmel found that the last challenge was perfect for her, since she always uses bright colors. But she struggled a bit with the combination of pop art and improv. One is a repetition of pattern and the other one is no pattern! She found a solution at last… and had great fun doing it.

What remains, after this challenge? @kathycookquilts feels that it was a fun diversion for her. Such high impact! And she added: “I’ll definitely try some of this also in the future.”

We thank you for your participation in our games, and for sharing the results of your creative juices: good examples for all of us to learn!
We invite you to review all the work in progress at #qispopimprov Instagram page, and the improv quilts completed by the participants in the @quiltimprovstudio gallery.

We wish you a good end of the year 2022, see you in the new year 2023!

Last week we had the opportunity to visit the European Patchwork Meeting (EPM) in France, we want to tell you something about this incredible experience! 

Let’s see together the most relevant aspects of this event:


It was a great occasion to meet Quilt Improv studio’s friends and to know new people from around the world. We could see in person Maria Paz Avalos, a participant of our games from Chile, and to see her quilts made for Chile Quilting exhibit! It was a pleasure to meet her after two years of social media contacts.
We rejoiced with Mattea Jurin when her work “Big girls don’t cry”, selected for the EPM international challenge Once Upon a Thread, was announced to have won a prize and a blue ribbon during the award ceremony!
We shared fun and shopping time with Pamela Nensi, another quilter who participated to Quilt Improv Studio games in the past, and we selected some nice gifts for our friend Carla @falcolupo! We met many other people we knew, while walking between exhibits.


We met Cecilia Koppmann, an outstanding Argentine author of quilts made with colors typical of her culture: an incredible use of black combined with bright and intense colors, and with expressive variations of value!
We had a lovely chat with Carolina Oneto, talking about our common love for solids and discussing strategies to fill our stash with several types of colored fabric.
We could admire the real colors of quilts  we saw only in books or on the web, such as the improv works by Cindy Grisdela, and we expressed her our admiration for her amazing free motion quilting skill!

QUILTS (obviously)

More than 30 exhibitions of international artists, more than 1000 works of art, you can find traditional, contemporary, modern, improvised art, fiber art or whatever can be made with fabrics and thread, and you sure find something that you love.
We, Giovanna and Paola, being SAQA members, volunteered welcoming guests at the Wide Horizons stand, since we had two quilts made by us in the show. This was a wonderful opportunity to talk about techniques and quilts in the show with visitors from several countries, such that we often had to switch language, rehearsing quilting terms used in different idioms.


Only few words to describe this French region: it seems to live in a dream, surrounded by fairy tale houses made of gingerbread!

This has been a new and eye-opening experience. Now we are full of ideas for our next improv projects. We hope that such events are inspiring also for you!

Hi quilters! Our current improv game dedicated to “pop” colors and effects is ongoing, and all of you are welcome to join participants who have already started challenging themselves with such a theme. You can see their progress on Instagram, in the page dedicated to the game, under the hashtag #qispopimprov.

While you are thinking what to sew next, we would like to mention quilting events that are coming soon, as a feast for the eyes, and as a possible inspiration source!

Next week the doors will open for the wide quilting festival hosted in France, Alsace: the European Patchwork Meeting (EPM).

Some Quilt Improv Studio participants will travel to Alsace, and some of their quilts, made for galleries part of EPM, will be in the exhibits! 

Paola and Giovanna are visiting the festival on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th in September 2022; their quilts “East” and “Chaos” will be part of the Wide Horizons SAQA Exhibit in ESPACE DES TISSERANDS, Place des Tisserands 68160 in Ste-Marie-aux-Mines.

Maria Paz Avalos will fly to Europe to have her work “Bordar, cantar, amar”, and her contribution within the group quilt “Faces”, included in Chile Quilting exhibit, at ESPACE RAYMOND HESTIN, 47 Rue du Général de Gaulle, 68660 Rombach-le-Franc. 

Mattea Jurin will be present in person and with her work “Big girls don’t cry”, selected for the EPM international challenge Once Upon a Thread, in PAVILLON OSMONT, 8 Rue Osmont, 68160 Ste-Marie-aux-Mines. Award ceremony for the international challenge will take place on Friday, September 16th at 2.30 P.M. 

Also Pamela Nensi, another quilter who participated to Quilt Improv Studio games in the past, will travel to France in this occasion.

And you? What are your plans?

Keep an eye on Quilt Improv Studio stories on Instagram: more details on our agenda, and the possibilities to meet us there, will follow soon! 

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