Lu Summers’ Quilt Improv

I was excited when I was asked to be part of the blog hop for Lu Summer‘ new book Quilt Improv.  It’s a delightfully colorful and playful book that focuses on Improvisational piecing of all types.  And it’s extra fun to offer a copy of Lu’s Book to one lucky winner.

I’m not going to lie…Improv piecing is difficult for me.  I know, I know…it should be easier because there is no stress about matching points.  It is freeing.  But for a type A personality like me, I find myself a bit at sea sometimes.  So a book like this is a perfect guiding point for me.  It is full of plenty of eye candy and ideas.
So I decided to tackle a project inspired by one of Lu’s Quilts, Farm Building.
I was really drawn to the use of mixed solids improv pieced in particular.  Lu has a helpful sketch too that was a good jumping point for me to design my own quilt.
I started with purples…all solids (I set my beloved prints aside) and worked with tiny strips of fabric cut with very slight angles.
raw materials of purple solids
I am probably the most rigid improv quilter out there, so I couldn’t let go of all control and just throw together the fabrics.  I wanted balance with lights and darks, and that takes some thought for me.
Purple Strips
Then I moved onto oranges…
Starting to layout the blocks
and then realized I had a beautiful Heather Bailey fabric that tied together my current colors and needed some more.
Palette inspired by Heather Bailey print
So then greens came in and lastly creams.  I deviated from Lu’s design by only using heavily pieced sections and not dividing it up with solids.  It was just a personal preference of mine and how I felt my piece had the most balance.
Piecing together
Quilting was a big decision for me, but with the help of pals on IG I got some ideas percolating.  I ultimately decided on straight line improv quilting that was “perpendicular”  to the piecing of each section.  I quilted each section separately with a matching top thread.
Improv Quilting
I didn’t want to lose the detail and interest of the piecing, and I think that this quilting is true to the nature of the piecing.  Although admittedly once again, I was pretty planned in my “improv” quilting.  Hey, you can’t change overnight!
Quilt Detail
I bound it in the perfectly matching random polka dot which I love for adding a new shape (circles) to the visual of the quilt while also keeping all the colors pulled together.
Close up Quilting and Binding
It’s a small quilt for me at around 36″ x 45″, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the piecing with too many sections.  This way I can focus on each color and the subcolors. It will either be a wall hanging or a baby quilt.  I haven’t decided where this one should end up.  Suggestions?!
Finished Quilt 36" x 45"

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162 thoughts on “Lu Summers’ Quilt Improv

  1. I too struggle with the idea of improv quilting. I am a mathematician at heart and love symmetry. I have trouble getting out of my symmetrical world into an asymmetrical one. Improv would be a giant leap. But one cannot grow without trying new things.

  2. I am really liking imporve quilting and modern quilting no rules, and since I send out my quilts for quilting, using the technicques of improve and modern will allow me to quilt my own. Great job even it you were in control. I love it.

  3. This book sounds like a dream for me, I'm rubbish at trying to improvise or make stuff up for myself, I'm a pattern or nothing girl. This book could be my saviour!

  4. You've done an amazing job and I think what you did was what Lu intended, rather than following her pattern, you made it your own! I think improv piecing probably takes some practice, I'm quite a planner too!

  5. Congratulations on your controlled improv work!! (You sound like me…I really, really want to go free-style but how much risk can a girl take?) It is perfect that you found the backing material. Really a great finish!

  6. My only improv experience is wonky log cabins. I love those and would like to try some other things. Would love to win the book for inspiration and guidance. Thanks for the chance! Love your quilt, all solids was a good choice.

  7. I think this quilt is very cool, and I immediately see so many variations you could do on it! The same style could be used with a monochromatic color scheme on a large quilt and be stunning, I think. Maybe it's something I'll have to try out. Thanks for the chance to win. Oh, and I think a baby quilt — the vibrant colors would be great for a special little one.

  8. Wow, love the colors. And I haven't done any improv quilting it actually sort of scares me, so it would be nice to have a starting point and ideas in a book. Thanks for the chance to win.

  9. Love the quilt you made! When I am babysitting the cutest little 3year old, she is always playing with my scraps, and putting them up on my small design boards. Last time we pieced them together- improvised piecing! We both loved the outcome, a small pillow for her doll. 🙂

  10. I just made an improv quilt and my husband looked at it and said "yup, you're an engineer". All of it was right angles, and every non matching seam is at least 1" from another seam. Someday I might learn…

  11. I've never made an improv quilt–I guess I'm just not an improv sort of person. But, I really want to be. I like your idea of easing in to it. That strategy might work for me as well. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.

  12. Oh my gosh, you sound just like me. I have been thinking about this book and you may have just sealed the deal. Your quilt is beautiful even if you don't think it was completely improv!

  13. I really like your improv quilt & like you, I'm not very comfortable with the whole improv thing but it is something I'd love to learn. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Lu's great book.

  14. I love your quilt and I am sure anyone including me would love to win your quilt. I also would love to do something I haven't done before. Love all your projects.

  15. Your quilt is beautiful! Improv quilting is something I'm just starting to play with so this book would be a great tool. The book looks amazing! Thanks for the chance to win and for all you do on your blog!!

  16. This almost type A personality is challenged by improv piecing so I think you jumped off the diving board and did an excellent job. The problem with a wall hanging is you can't see the backing that goes so lovely with the front. Great finish.

  17. Angela, I took an improv class at QuiltCon with the wonderful Valori Wells. Her first instruction was to put away the rulers. SCARY! But once I got going, I loved it. Of course, when I got home I fell back into my old habits. 🙂 I do want to spend some time this winter working in improv, so this book would be just the inspiration I need!

  18. I love your choice of colors. I need this book as I would like to try improv piecing. I am like you. I want all my points to match but I see these quilts and love them.

  19. Your improv quilt is gorgeous! I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one who has to plan and control everything 🙂 I guess the book would be a great help to me, too! Thanks for a chance to win.

  20. It sounds like it should be easy and fun to break the rules and do what you want, but improv does not come easy to me. I like the look of other quilters' improv work, but am struggling to find my own way to accomplish it.

  21. You did a great job on your quilt. How about making it a table topper or wall hanging? Quilting Improv sounds intriguing. Might be just the thing to get me out of my "box".

  22. Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.
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  23. I completely identify with you on your quilting and hard to be open to improv. I see it and love it, but I don't imagine myself doing it. And look what you did! Inspiring. I love it. Great great job.

  24. I totally understand you being at sea sometimes with improv quilting. I'm totally with you and haven't even attempted it myself – YET! This would be a perfect book for me to give it a try. Thank you for having the courage to not only it a whirl but also to blog about it. You are a champ. Thanks for hosting the giveaway, too.

  25. love it how you improv'd on Lucie's improv – exactly what she would want you to do. looks great too. i love Lucie's book. i look at the pages that Amazon displays repeatedly, and i covet covet covet it!

  26. Hope it's not too late to toss my name into the hat. I, too, am a very rigid quilter, so I'd love to learn from Ms. Summers. P.S. Your quilt is sensational!!

  27. So fun to see your process…also to see so many good reviews of this book…it has enticed me from Amazon for a while now… I will have to "add to cart" somewhere soon I can tell! (unless I win one, of course!) 🙂

  28. Your quilt turned out great. I find improve hard to do but I love the effect and have been using it more often – practise makes it easier to do. I would love to have this book in my quilt library. Thanks for the chance!

  29. Sometimes I cannot tell if a quilt is an improv quilt or not. I have seen many quilts that look like improv quilts, but turn out not to be and some that I didn't think were improv quilts and they turned out to be. So, I have come to the conclusion, it really doesn't matter and your quilt is nice.

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