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While browsing pinterest today, I found a link to a tutorial for an improv block.  Maybe you've seen it, it is done with the stack & whack method and reshuffling the fabrics.. the quilter made a really cute quilt from it, but my question is..

If there is a pattern, is it still an improv block?

(I am absolutely not intending to cause drama or criticism, just throwing an honest question out there to quilt-blog-land.. I know "improv" is "modern" but has the word taken on a new meaning while I was off line and busy sewing quilts?)


  1. Sometimes a pattern is more of a method to make a block/quilt similar to mine; you could call this "improv". But... please note that the original idea, that sparked the creativity came from the pattern/method. It is hard to label this stuff.

  2. I think it's also called capitalism!

  3. I don't think so. Can't be improv it there is a pattern. Now, if there is a tutorial on the method used to create the improvy goodness, that's a different story. To me, a pattern tells me exactly how much fabric I'll need, the measurements to cut, a cutting guide, and instructions so that I, too can create a quilt just like the one pictured.

  4. I think this one falls under the category of "LIBERATED AMISH" HUH????If you are liberated you are not amish and vice versa. The Amish are very strict with their rules they dont use prints they make one mistake on purpose etc. And when I see people twisting stuff like that to make a point of freedom and make money Im relly off...I dont mean to be dramatic either but I remember when quilting was not for profit and everyone shared patterns without giving it a thought. If it is improv or "LIBERATED" it is what u want it to be !

  5. OH one more thought most patterns are online for free just go to

  6. Thanks to everybody who weighed in with their opinions..
    I agree with Elaine that one's interpretation of someone else's quilt can involve improvisation. But if the tutorial gives a layout of the pieces, instructing or implying that you need to sew A to B and then C, is the method of construction really improvisational?

    Or has the term "improv" in the modern quilting movement come to mean something other than "improvisation"?

    I will continue to ponder this..


    p.s. also, if you know what the block will look like before you start, how can it be improv?

  7. I have been quilting since 1985 and the first time I eard of Improvisational quilts was from Nancy Crow .

    She calls improv intuitive nontraditional composition without benefit of "pre-planning" and "intellectualizing."

  8. Sounds like Karla Alexander's book Stack the Deck form 2002 - not "Improv" IMHO.

  9. An oxymoron, indeed. But, it could still turn out to be a great quilt.

  10. I used a stack-and-whack method for some placemats, but it was definitely from a pattern and I would not consider it to be "improv". A close-by quilt store has a modern block quilt featured and posted on their blog: which I often think of as whacky - but fun.


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