I have to admit, I created this tutorial with the intention of only doing one block, creating a 24″ mini quilt. But much like your favorite Pumpkin Spice treat, once I started going I couldn’t stop! As a result, I have fabric requirements for both sizes:
You’ll want to use 100% quality quilting cotton for this project. I’m assuming that all fabric is 45″ wide.
Mini Quilt (24″ Square)
To create the mini 24″ quilt top, you’ll need 1/2 yard of the following:
To create the mini quilt, simply divide the numbers in the following tutorial by 4 to get the appropriate amount of blocks! (Ex: if something requires 16 blocks, you’ll only need 4)
Lap Quilt (48″ Square)
To create the 48″ lap quilt top, you’ll need 1/2 yard of the following:
How Improv Works
If you’re not familiar with Improv Quilting, you’re about to be! Improv is a hotly debated quilting topic with lots of different opinions…some say the it doesn’t use rulers, some say that it doesn’t use any pre-planning, some say that you must choose everything blindly…I think, as the name states, it’s less about rules and more about guidelines. Feel free to Google it to see what you think it is!
To me, Improv is non-traditional piecing. Sometimes it uses rulers, sometimes it doesn’t…it all just depends on what you’re trying to achieve. I feel most stretched by Improv Quilting when I force myself to not use rulers, so that’s the challenge I gave myself for this pattern! It’s free and it’s fun, and it lets interesting things happen. I say you make up the rules for yourself and go from there.
I thought it would be cool to represent different tastes and styles of coffee, cups and mugs, complete with bubbles, cream, and those gorgeous foam decorations that you sometimes get!
Lets Get Sewing!
We’ll be assuming a scant 1/4″ seam throughout this project, unless noted otherwise.
To get started, you are going to cut a total of Sixteen 15″ squares. That should be two 15″ squares from each fabric.
Next, you’re going to make eight sets of blocks. Try to pair up fabrics with high contrast. This may take some arranging and rearranging, but keep in mind that it’s going to get a little more random as we go, so don’t sweat it!
Cutting & Sewing Curves
Put one set on your cutting mat, make sure their raw edges are as lined up as possible (don’t get crazy with these, it’ll all getting trimmed down in the end).
Then, without cutting yet, trace the general curve that you want to get from your cut. This can be creative! I did basic 1/4 circles, things that were closer to square corners, wiggles…anything goes. Just have fun!
Then make that first cut through both layers.
You’ll notice that you just created two identical pieces. You’re going to pair 1 quarter circle with the contrasting edge and visa versa!
Now it’s time to whip out the Elmer’s Glue (my favorite quilting tool. Ever.)!
If you haven’t sewn curves before, make sure to check out my curved piecing tutorial that will explain what you’re doing and remove all fear!
I like to glue baste my curves, but you can baste or pin the curves together and stitch!
Press your seams in whatever direction lays the nicest. this may vary depending on how you’ve made your cuts.
Now it’s time to repeat what you just did 15 times! You’ll end up with 16 rather lovely curved blocks before you move to the next step.
Now that all your blocks are pressed and in a sweet little pile, we’re going to cut them again! As before, make pairs of blocks. This time we want to make sure that we don’t repeat the same fabric twice in each set. Go for contrast, but the main thing is not having the same fabrics twice.
You’re going to repeat what you did before, only this time you’ll be creating a second quarter circle inside the first:
Place one set of blocks on top of your cutting mat. Lay them one of top of the other. Make a practice cut over the are to make sure you get the cut you want. Then cut your quarter circle! Swap the quarter circles for the contrasting outside edges, baste (or pin) and stitch together for one complete block.
Note: You might have to force your fabric to iron flat depending on how harsh your curves are. I found it helpful to iron once and then spray with Best Press and then iron again with the bias of the fabric. This got me the most give and the flattest blocks!
Repeat for a total of 16 blocks. THEN you can start laying out these wonky donkeys to see how it’ll all come together. I liked breaking mine into four quarters of the quilt, with four blocks in each quarter. This helped keep things manageable for me.
No, I didn’t forget something! DO NOT trim yet! There’s beautiful, serendipitous things that can happen if you resist the urge to trim.
Piecing Blocks Together
See this glorious matching seam?! That’s why we don’t trim yet. It gives us room to make these matches without sacrificing the size of our blocks. You can see how I got these perfectly matching seams (and how you can too) in my tutorial called Finding the Perfect Match!
The reason I wanted to take the time to match some of these seams was because if there is some thought to the placement of the curves, it create a cohesive piece that makes sense in your mind. So, as long as one seam continued onto the next within a set of blocks, I felt good about the picture I was creating!
Now, back to sewing the quilt top together. Remember, we’ll just tackle one quarter at a time (thats one set of four blocks). For mini quilt makers, that’s your whole quilt!
Stitch together the top left/right blocks. Then stitch together the bottom left/right blocks. You can choose to use my seam matching method, or just make it random. I did both depending on how the blocks were coming together.
Press to whatever side seems to lay best.
Now, stitch together the top section and bottom section. Press.
If you’re working on a mini quilt, you’re ready to square up, quilt, and bind! For the rest of us…
We are nearing the end! Can you taste the Pumpkin Spice yet!?
Completing the Quilt Top
Now that all four quarters of your quilt are nice and flat, it’s time to square them up!
In order to get a square block, I had to use a ruler at this point, so I gave myself a new challenge; I stacked my quarters and trimmed them all at the same time. Sometimes flying blind is so freeing!
May I just say that I could breathe again once all these blocks were squared up?!
Now that everything is nice and square, go ahead and stitch the top quarters together, the bottom quarters together and press. Then stitch the top and bottom halves together and press!
You’re DONE! Now you can quilt this little cutie up!
I chose to quilt mine with my BERNINA #55 foot, it’s a really easy way to get that gentle wave pattern on your home sewing machine…even for a larger quilt!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial as much as I have! Thanks to Timeless Treasures for ANOTHER great fabric selection-until next time!