Planned Improv

Okay, so I know that “improv” stands for improvisational, and I do realize that “planned improv” is therefor an oxymoron, but there isn’t a better way to describe this block.

For the most recent round of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee, I wanted to do a scattered, “confetti style” quilt block. It has the look of being random, but I still wanted to plan out where the pieced went so they were scattered throughout the block.

planned improv quilt block

I did make the first one in a true improvisational style, but I found myself frustrated.

planned improv quilt block

Because the pieces still needed to fit within the confines of a 12-inch block, I found it necessary to stop and measure after each piece.

planned improv quilt block

So, with every little bit of “confetti”, I would cut, sew, trim, measure for the next piece, and so on …

planned improv quilt block

After that first one, I made a cutting diagram so that I could just cut out all the pieces at once and then put them together.

planned improv quilt block

The beauty of this method is that the sub-units are interchangeable. Thus, each block really is different, even though the pieces used to construct each one are the same size.

planned improv quilt block

It’s fantastic because it allows an improvisational look to be achieved even by more structured minds that get easily frustrated without a plan.

planned improv quilt block

I’m wondering if there might be any interest in me writing up my cutting list and piecing diagrams. I might do it anyway.

You can see, with the blocks all together, how there are no two alike. I placed the longest thin piece horizontally on the left side of each block so you could compare, but the blocks could be rotated for a different look.

planned improv quilt block


Apparently, I need to work on “letting go” sometimes with my quilting, but for now, I’m going with planned improv!

5 replies
  1. Michele
    Michele says:

    It would be wonderful if you posted the different sizes. I like the look of ‘improv’ but find it too much work to keeping dinking around with each piece to make them all work together.

  2. kate C.
    kate C. says:

    I want to make a confetti quilt sometime too – might have to use your idea of interchangeable blocks. I think my mind is a bit too structured for easy improv too.

  3. Jake
    Jake says:

    I’d love the cutting diagram. I’m linear like you and all that cut piece measure iron piece cut check measure….it’s just too darn much!

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