Easy Introduction to Improv Quilting with Precuts
What Is Improv Quilting with Precuts
Charms and Jelly Roll precuts make this beautiful, modern improv quilt quick to master. This easy introduction to improv quilting with precuts is a modern approach to quilting that will quickly invigorate your quilting enthusiasm. With this beginner’s approach, you will learn how to get started and then you can decide where to go from there. It’s easy to plan, easy to cut using precuts, and easy to sew. Even better is the striking quilt top you’ll create! This easy improv quilting method will have you putting a quilt top together before you know it.
While some improvisational quilting can be quite intricate, it doesn’t have to be. Follow these steps outlined below and you’ll be sewing improv blocks before you know it. There are plenty of photos to help you follow along. This easy introduction to improv quilting with precuts tutorial allows you to make a lot of personal design choices.
What is Modern Improvisational Quilting
Modern quilts are defined by multiple characteristics. There are two primary modern aspects to this quilt. First is the fabric selection. The high contrast black and white geometric prints are bold and create a striking design within the quilt. The vivid color added with a single fabric adds a dynamic contrast to make the whole quilt top pop.
Second is the improvisational piecing used with the 5” precut squares. There is no specific pattern. There is no right or wrong. You choose the angles to cut and design just what you want. This easy introduction to improv quilting with precuts gives you a lot of freedom making these blocks that allows for your personal touch. So have fun with it and enjoy the experience!
Beginner Friendly Modern Improv Quilting with Precuts
Easy Improv Quilt Pattern for Precuts
This simple block is a breeze to cut and sews together quickly. Requiring one black-on-white charm pack, eleven 2 ½” white-on-black jelly roll strips and 1/2 yard of your favorite contrast fabric, this quilt can go together in a matter of hours.
This modern improv block is designed for a bold pairing of fabrics. It will also look great with so many other styles of fabrics. What a great way to showcase some of your favorite prints. So many choices to consider!
What Are High Contrast Quilts & Fabrics
High contrast fabrics are opposite of low volume. The recent low volume quilts I made are very subtle and are almost monochromatic. Whereas the high contrasting black and white fabrics in this quilt stand out dramatically. The difference is the scheme of just black and white. With various geometric prints and graphics, each fabric has a huge contrast. There’s no gray area here. Just bold designs.
Add Some Contrast to Your Quilt
High contrast fabrics make a huge visible impact and are great attention getters. Black and white are perfect contrasts to work with when you want a very modern look to your quilts. While white fabrics call out to be looked at, black fabrics recede into the background letting the surrounding fabrics steal the show. This is a perfect combination for a spectacular quilt.
Choosing High Contrast Fabrics
There are three color components to this quilt. First are the white charm squares with small black prints that make up the focus of this block. Then the two black border strips with small white patterns, offset the much lighter charm square beautifully. Now add the third component of a bright, bold color to bring it all together. This lively spot of color scattered sporadically draws plenty of attention.
Easy Introduction to Improv Quilting with Precuts Tutorial
There are lots of pictures in this easy introduction to improv quilting with precuts tutorial showing how to make these quilt blocks. While there are multiple steps, it really is a simple construction. Please read through the direction first so you will better understand the process. Most of all, have fun making this quilt!
Fabric Requirements for a 50” x 50” Quilt with Single Side Border.
- 1 pack of black-on-white 5” charms, or an assortment of 42 back-on-white 5” squares.
- 11- 2 ½” white-on-black jelly roll strips, or 2 ½” x WOF (width of fabric) strips
- 2/3 yard bold, contrast fabric, sometimes referred to in these instructions as turquoise accents
- 1/2 yard side border fabric to compliment the contrast fabric
- 1/3 yard binding fabric
Note: All seams are sewn with ¼” seam allowances
Pairing Up Your Charm Squares
Divide charm pack blocks by specific fabrics into six piles of 6 or 8 pieces each. This may vary according to how many different fabrics you have in your charm pack. My pack had twelve different fabrics, with three or four pieces of each which is why the above mix worked here. Ultimately, as long as you have six stacks of charms, you’re good to go. Arrange each pile by alternating fabric squares on top of each other so no two fabrics are stacked together.
Cutting Charm Squares
Starting with your first pile of 6 or 8 charm squares, cut the entire stack diagonally from one side to the opposite side. Repeat this process for each of the remaining 5 piles. Keep stacks together so they don’t get mixed up with others that are cut at different angles.
If you cut your blocks with varying sharper or wider angles, you’ll have a much more modern look. You’ll notice that my angles vary quite a bit to add as much interest as possible.
Cutting Contrasting Insert Strips and Cornerstones
Cut six strips of turquoise insert fabric 1” x WOF. The wider the charm square angles are cut, the longer the fabric strip will need to be per square. Be prepared to cut a seventh strip if necessary. Don’t cut the 1” strip into smaller sections right now. Sew the charm squares on first so you get the correct angle on each one.
Sewing Improv Accent Strips into Charm Squares
Prepare to sew one narrow 1” accent strip to your first stack of cut charm squares. Place the narrow strip on your work surface right side up. Take the top piece from the right-side stack of your charm square pile and place it face down on top of the accent strip.
Line up the cut diagonal edge on the narrow strip leaving ½” – ¾” space between charms, keeping right sides together. Sew and press seam towards the block before cutting charms apart.
Trimming the Improv Accent Strips
Use a small square ruler to trim the narrow accent strip even with the charm edges. Place ruler across the top of the charm and trim the narrow accent strip evenly with the square. The narrow strip will be cut at an angle since it’s sewn at an angle. Once the tops are all trimmed, turn the charms around and trim the bottom ends even, too.
Completing Your Improv Charm Square
With the accent strip trimmed on both ends, you’re ready to complete your improv square. Stack the pieces you just finished sewing next to the pile of matching pieces to complete your improv square. Be certain to keep them in alternating order. Then turn the matching stack face down. This will make sewing much easier and quicker. Simply grab one from each pile, align them together with angled points peeking out and sew.
Remember, the charm squares are alternated with two different fabrics. Double check that you are not sewing two pieces of the same fabric together.
This Bit of Precision Will Make the Difference
Take a close look at how the two pieces are placed before they are sewn. Since we are not working with squares, the seams will not be square either. Notice how the angled point on each end of the seam slightly extends beyond the straight edge it’s being sewn to. This ¼” overhanging point is what will make your finished square the right size. The best part is the ¼” angled point makes a perfect spot to start your ¼” seam. It falls into place very easily.
Chain stitch all the blocks in the stack together making sure the ¼” angled points are lined up correctly. Once complete, snip them apart and press. The seams should both be pressed to the same side, which will make sewing your blocks together much easier.
Create individual piles of all your improv charm squares by fabric. Keep the groups of same fabrics together within each pile. Once the borders are cut, they will be sewn to these improv squares.
Cutting Border Strips
Cut 8 border strips of 2 ½” x 5” lengths from each of the 11 jelly roll pieces. There will be a total of 88 border strips cut but you will only need to attach 84 to the improv charm blocks. This will give you a few extra to avoid duplications.
Create a pile of black border strips, alternating between the six different strips so that no two fabrics are together. This way, each improv charm square of the same print will get alternating border strips. The idea is to keep the blocks mixed up with different fabrics for an overall random look to your quilt top.
Prepare to Sew and Assemble Finished Blocks
For easy assembly, put your pile of improv charm squares, right side up, close to your sewing machine. Next to that pile, place your border strips, wrong side up for easier placement. Then place all 42 of your 2 ½” x 2 ½” cornerstone blocks in a pile wrong side up.
Attaching Border Strips Using the Chain Stitching Method
Pull an improv charm square first, laying it right side up. Place a border piece right side down on top of the square and sew seam with right sides together.
Note: You may choose to turn your improv charm squares in different directions or keep them all angled the same when you are sewing on the borders. The blocks will be turned in multiple directions when assembled and will be mixed up anyway. You choose what works easiest for you.
Now create the second border unit for sewing. You will take the black border strip from the same pile as above and place it right side up. On top of this border piece, you will sew a 2 ½” x 2 ½” cornerstone block with right sides together. When the final seam is sewn in the next step, the turquoise square should connect both border strips like an ‘L’ along two sides.
Complete the assembly of both units together sewing an improv charm block first, followed by a border with a cornerstone block.
Separate Units and Press Seams
When complete, cut units apart between the border sewn to the 2 ½” x 2 ½” cornerstone and the border sewn to the charm square. This pair will make up a finished block. Keeping them attached will make the final seam much quicker since they are already placed together.
Press the seams towards the borders on each set. This will allow the seams to nest into each other where they will meet. Pile them into one stack with right sides up.
Sew Blocks and Press Seams
Take the first pressed block assembly unit off the pile. Turn the turquoise cornerstone border strip on top of the improve charm square, with right sides together. Next, line up the seams where the borders meet, nesting the seams together and sew along the length of the block. Again, using the chain sewing method, continue sewing all the blocks together.
Cut blocks apart and press the seams towards the border strip. All 42 blocks are finished and ready to be laid out for your quilt. Play with how you’d like to lay them out. This is a random layout, so do what feels right to you.
Laying Out Your Quilt
These are four different layouts I’ve tried so far using only a dozen blocks. I haven’t decided on which will win out but will have the finished quilt top ready to be unveiled next week. I can’t wait to add the single side border to bring the color out. It’s going to be a striking quilt top.
Cutting the Borders
From the contrast fabric, cut four pieces measuring 1 ½” x WOF. Cut one length to measure 40” long for the bottom border. Join the remaining three lengths at the narrow ends to make a single long strip. Cut two lengths measuring 50” long for the side border.
From the side border fabric, cut two pieces measuring 6” x WOF. Join both lengths together at the short ends to make a long strip. Cut a length measuring 6” x 50” for the side border. Then cut three lengths measuring 2 ½” x WOF. Cut one strip measuring 40“ long for the bottom border. Join short ends of the remaining two strips together and sew into a long strip. Cut a strip measuring 50” long for the side border
Assembling the Borders
Preassemble each border section individually, press seams to the outside and then attach to the quilt top.
Beginning with the narrow, bottom border, sew the 40” length of 1 ½” accent fabric to the 40” length of 2 ½” border fabric. Press seam towards the border fabric which will be the outside edge.
Next, sew the two remaining 1 ½” x 50” lengths of contrast fabric to each side of the 2 ½” border fabric. The 6” x 50” length of border fabric is then sewn to one side of contrast fabric. Press seams towards the 6″ border fabric which will be the outside edge.
Final Quilt Top Assembly
Each border section is sewn to the quilt top as pictured above. The narrow border is sewn to the bottom of the quilt with the border fabric to the outside edge. Then the wider, side border is sewn to the right edge of the quilt top.
Press the final seams to the outside edge and your quilt is ready for quilting and binding.
Add An Improv Quilt Back To Your New Quilt
What is Quilt Backing will give you plenty of quilt back ideas to add even more interest to your new quilt!
Enjoy this easy introduction to improv quilting with precuts tutorial and send pictures of your creations.