When I take my daily walk, I often think about my quilting process. I usually go towards the sea, to look at the horizon from a deck. The reflections on the waves and the colors changing every hour are a source of inspiration.

I’ve recently attended a course by Irene Roderick named “Coreographing your dance”, and I considered to dedicate the title of the quilt I’m working on, to the feelings I have during these roundabouts. So, my title for the current work could be something like “To the sea”. But I prefer that my titles be short! So, since my hometown Trieste is at the eastern boundary of Italy, I could call it East. Yes: “East” is short enough.

Giovanna and myself have already written some articles about the way we choose our titles; in the next section, Carla @falcolupo describes her approach.

Names, names, names!

“When I start a new project, basic prompt is usually focused on the colors to be used: palette creation, work features. As soon as a composition starts to take shape on the design wall, the question marks pop out. If I don’ have already a planned intent, it is the work, who starts to talk to me: it whistles in my mind a concept or a feeling to express.

Choosing a title is very important for my works, especially if they are abstract improvisations: it is a way to express a point of view, to send my thoughts on air, to make statements… or simply to keep a reminder of my feelings of that moment.

My last work is Earthquake, generated by the need to give a purpose to all my scraps from Blue Improv Repetition challenge. Tiny pieces gathered on the design wall: they initially gave me the feeling of a sea, of a sky… Then, I started to see houses, crumbling walls… and the image of an earthquake became frozen on the page. But you can see whatever you wish: let’s keep free the effects of improvisation!”

Silvia @silviafic8 replied to our questions on how we feel about our quilts and their names. She wrote us the following story.

Sometimes my quilts have no title.

“When I start a quilt, sometimes I know its title since the beginning.
Fabric color may evoke an object, a landscape, a combination with the shapes.

My quilts don’t have always a title: especially improv works, where I go for abstraction, and the result may suggest some emotions.
I don’t like to define an interpretation, to necessarily attach a meaning to the colored panel. When I look at a work of art, its capability to emotionally inspire me is more important than knowing the underlying subject.

With my quilts, I feel the same. Emotions are so subjective, that reading background information about the artist and its work process will not influence my emotion, but it will only add on my know-how. I consider this valid also for other forms of art: music can touch my heart, even if I don’t know the story of the artist.

A work may have a name, a title, but for me it’s not necessary. Well, my quilts are not work of art… When I make a quilt for a game, I like to call it as the game: orangesummerimprov , blueimprovrepetition, and to feel the fun of it.

A viewer may, today, see a landscape in my work, and tomorrow something else, due to a different mood of the day. Why putting a constraint to the visions of a viewer by means of assigning a title? My hope is that my quilt – or at least some of them – raise emotions in the viewer.”   

Do you have a story about the events linked to your quilts, or a comment about one of the themes addressed in Quilt Improv Studio pages and discussion?

You can write it to us! Send a Direct Message to @quiltimprovstudio, or write a mail to infoATquiltimprov.art! Your message can prompt a conversation, and our pages are aimed to become a place for discussions to be shared!  

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


Blue Improv Repetition challenge is completed, and it’s time to wrap up!

As we did for the previous game, we decided to ask some questions to quilters who have finished their work within January 10th.

When we proposed a game based on repetitions, we wondered if this was way too obvious a topic, since repetitions are a classical design element. Maybe some other constraint should be added, to make the challenge more original? Or rather we should leave the rest open, giving room for free choice?

According to @vazquezurbez, there was a good balance: “It’s a great opportunity to make a small work following a few rules, but at the same time that allows to play with enormous freedom.”

We were surprised by the replies of participants: the few elements indicated (blue, improv, repeat), contained at least something new for many players.

For @anje_loskut “this was the first time to participate in such a game with repetitions.

@auroraa1714 also said: “This was my first time… ok, you do a quilt with triangles or squares… but it is not the same”.

@victorianelson2263 added: “I have made improv quilts before, but never before with strictly a single shape repetition. I liked the limitations of color and shape, as a way to explore other elements of the quilt improv experience.”

@margaret_stamford introduced something new in the following way: “I’ve already made some quilts using repetition techniques. This was the first time I’ve combined piecing and raw edged appliqué to achieve what I could not with just piecing: notice how some of the repeats float into adjoining blocks.”

@therollingcat_ wrote: “When this challenge was launched, I had already worked with both curves and repetitions, but not together. So curves it was, and such fun! I also took the opportunity to add hand quilting made in contrasting woolen thread. This was a new experiment too.

@hbeecook explained: “I have repeated shapes before, but never so mindfully. I found the prompt an excellent way to bring a focus to my improv!”

@Pieladyquilts is an expert of one-shape repetitions in her quilts. Still, she said: “I joined this time because I find it helpful for me creatively to have some limitations. Having the prompt of blue, with repetition, gave me lots of ideas.”

@buttermilk_hill summarised things well: when adding improv, “those two design elements are a great combination. The repetition provides structure for the idea, and improv sets up creative flow.”
@vazquezurbez also noticed that “repetitions give a sense of balance in the quilt.”

Sometimes we wonder if the three months timespan is appropriate for participants’ involvement in such games. 

@sakura.quilting was an early starter, and, after a while, she decided to wait: “It’s better to leave the unfinished project in the design wall for weeks, when not resolving doubts, and going back to it when you feel more certain about the way to continue.

@margaret_stamford worked with a much more tight schedule: “This quilt was made over four days prior to the deadline, so there was no time to refine my idea. One thing I learned from this exercise was to trust my initial responses from conception to completion when time was an issue.”

Whenever we share our improvisation results, this is always appreciated. @hbeecook wrote: “the group gives me so much inspiration and has helped me grow as a quilter. I love that it is an international project and connects us from so far away.”

Also for @therollingcat_ “it’s so refreshing to see how different quilters from around the world respond, and the resulting gallery is a real treat!”

The things we learn while doing an exercise are so personal and different for each of us.

@alsterdeeluxe wrote: “I learnt so many things! Mish mashing everything together doesn’t just work, you need to be much more selective and considered. And more is not always better. I took away maybe half of what I made before piecing the final version.”

@theeightchild explained: “Every time I quilt, I learn more about what makes a good composition and further develop my own eye for what speaks to me. I also learned some of the nuances of my walking foot.”

@victorianelson2263 said: “I have only done a few challenges previously. I feel like I learn something new with each quilt that I make, and a challenge helps me to try an exploration that I would otherwise not do. Blue is not my usual color but I enjoyed using blue, so that was a lesson I will repeat again.”  

@quiltergardener found that “improvising a shape several times is a good way to see how you can make that shape irregular and more interesting. When many of the irregular shapes are together, the effect is very pleasing to the eye. Triangles, squares, rectangles, drunkard’s path — every traditional block, when improvised and repeated, is more exciting.”

@karinkory added: “I learnt during the experience that the repetitions are a great way to bring calm to the quilt and also make it more interesting.” 

We are happy to facilitate diffusion of improv: 

@alsterdeeluxe revealed: “This is the first improv quilt I have ever tried; I’ve never used repetition before as a means of generating pieces. I think this is what drew me to the challenge, as I was interested in interpreting repetition as iteration.”

Also @astudillorosales said: “It is the first time that I venture myself into this: in this game I learnt to loose patterns away.  That’s the fun of it, because you don’t know what will be the final result. It made me very happy to realise that the fun is there waiting for me. If it doesn’t fit, you can improv. I will definitely keep getting fun.”

@auroraa1714 added: “Everytime that you improvise you learn that you should improvise more… let yourselves create!”

@buttermilk_hill underlined: “I learned -again- that improv is my favourite way of making”. 

We agree!!!

But… what is improv for us?

@sakura.quilting shared her views: “First, improv doesn’t mean wonky. Accuracy is always a must in my way of liberated quiltmaking. Second, changing the originally chosen fabrics is welcome, to use more scraps and to adjust to better results.” 

@alsterdeeluxe mentioned something on this topic, too: “I originally chose fabrics thinking that improv meant the same as scrappy, so I was just trying to use up random fabrics that I have that were donated, or ones I didn’t think I could use in other projects. But in the end I used this as a constraint and did what I could, including using the back of the prints I chose.”

We asked participants what they would have changed inside their work, if given an opportunity to do it again:
“I would do the quilting differently. I might also add some additional larger squares in the composition to make it calmer (@victorianelson2263).”

If I had the possibility to make this quilt again, probably I would use just one colour for the quilting thread. A simpler work for a better result (@sakura.quilting).

I would choose a finer color gradation and, for the squares I wanted as the repeating element, I would choose a stronger contrast (@karinkory).

If I made this quilt again I would select my blues more carefully. I just used what was in my scraps and I don’t think some of the pairings were as successful as they could have been. That being said, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in using scraps! (@hbeecook)

“That dark blue square in the centre… It didn’t look that way prior to piecing. Luckily, the quilting helps to draw the eye away just a bit (@theeightchild).” 

All the works have a meaning of their own, as they are right now. Desire to change may appear only inside the mind of the owner: we didn’t notice those elements mentioned as worth to be adjusted! 

May these reflections just become a suggestion for future things to try?
@Pieladyquilts  sees it this way: “I made this quilt with hand dyed fabric. I’d love to try it again with solids to see how it would change the effect.”

Also @quiltergardener gathered ideas: “I played with quilting the negative space to complement my repeating shape, the snowball. I would like to do more of that in the future.”

@maria_dlugosch wrote: “I have tried new rulers and will certainly use them again, they have been a success. This quilt will be added to my quilt pattern collection.”

@hbeecook confirmed: “I would definitely try repetition again — I’m exploring other shapes to use for a future quilt.”

More comments from quilters who joined us, and finished early, have been told in a previous article at this link.

There are also other stories, from quilters who initially started the game and then found a different route. @gigi.v13 completed the top and decided to postpone the quilting phase to another moment; after the deadline more works continued to arrive, such as those of @beckymcneillartanddesign and @patchwerrk; @mari.quilt kept the blue plus repetition concept and, instead of using improv, turned to a quilt based on a pattern (a drawing made for the diary cover of the quilter’s daughter found its place into the fabric scheme!).
We invite you to appreciate the beauty of their works in the #blueimprovrepetition page and in the authors’ Instagram pages. 

We’re happy and grateful that the elements of the game prompt are used by participants, even if the process takes a different destination!


Thanks to everybody who joined the Blue Improv Repetition game.

You can review all improv quilts completed by the participants in the @quiltimprovstudio gallery.

See you soon with a new challenge!

Sometimes the stories are circular and repeated: they pass through trial and error, beta testing, until a final version is achieved.

This is the case of our quilting on-line games! 

Now we will tell more about their background.

At the beginning of the current year, when Giovanna and myself started to be in contact on the web, we were considering the creation of something to be put into a common project. What if each of us compose an improvised quilt, by using the same colours and the same size? How different would be the results? How would our couple of works appear, if placed one by one aside, in a possible future showcase?

Giovanna proposed that we build a palette based on the Kona cotton colour of the year 2020, a dark green having the wonderful name: “Enchanted”, and I added the thought to combine some split-complementary colours, as described by Boulder Modern Quilt Guild at this link.

Spring was near to come, and we spent weeks sending to each other the photos of a possible colour choice! When everything was ready, we discovered to have purchased our common fabric stash just in time: the world had entered in a turmoil, and the supply shortage (caused by many shops closing down) was just one of many troubles!

Creativity helps to feel better, quilting ideas overlapped to each other, and this plan underwent a transformation several times.
I used the selected colours three times, before settling on a work that I felt to be green enough.
We met Carla @falcolupo, and this raised our wish to expand the network of contacts focused on improv!
Showcase plans transformed into our virtual project Quilt Improv Studio. A typical example of planning that changes on the road, because we are improv inside!
Carla’s input to the quilting game prompts became the start of our first Quilt Improv Studio challenge: she proposed that orange colour be used for common works on mini quilts, and that game became open to everybody!
Second open challenge on Blue Improv Repetition is still ongoing (you may share your work until January 10th).

In the meanwhile, we have completed our old project with the enchanted green fabric. During the year our plan has changed many times, but at the end we returned to our original idea: once we decided on the palette and the measures, we completed our two quilts without making comparisons.

In the next few days you will find out what we have realized: follow us on Instagram as @jonikquilts and @thecultofquilt  to see our “different but equal” green quilts!

Some days ago Pantone  and Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton released their 2021 Colors of the year. 
Could they be a starting point for organizing Quilt Improv studio’s new challenge? We will see: new year is coming soon!

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.