I absolutely could not resist this orphaned quilt block, lying all alone in a Fort Worth, Texas antique store just waiting to be loved. It’s oldness. It’s scrappyness. It all appealed to me – imagining the person who made it was just using up what they had. Maybe it was leftover from a larger project. Who knows? I snatched it up and thought about it for a few months.

Then, it hit me! 💡I would use it as practice for improv! Now, it’s always a little scary cutting into a perfectly nice quilt block. I mean, you never know if what you create will look worse than what it was before.

Such is the nature of improv piecing and quilting: you don’t know what the end result will look like. 

But not knowing the end result is the fun of improv! 

Here, I started with this delicate old block. I loved the misfit colors and fabrics put together. 

Next, I rummaged through my fabric stash to find colors to help things pop and add texture and balance.

It’s important to note, and you can see in my fabric pull, that I am not concerned with the pattern on the fabrics. It’s all about color. It seemed to me the maker of the original block likely didn’t care about either.

Then, I started slicing. I’m not going to lie, it was a little scary. I just took my rotary cutter, and rolled it inbetween the vertical seems of the nine patch. I did not use the ruler. You can see the cuts are not straight. That is what I love about it. That is what gives improv its movement. 

Next, I auditioned fabrics in between each section I cut. I cut slivers of each and stitched them right in.

And so it began. I kept slicing and dicing and slicing and dicing until it would have been difficult to go on for so many tight seams. It slowly began to morph into something completely different. 

Check out the YouTube video below I made all about it, and see more of the progress in action. 

In the end, I came up with a very interesting looking block with a unique shape. The real fun is determining which way is up and which way is down. 

Which orientation do you like?