The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters – a review + giveaway


Hello, hello! I’m pleased to be participating in the blog tour for Sherri Lynn Wood’s amazing book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. Mine is an unexpected stop on the tour, as I didn’t get my act together to respond in time to make the schedule, but I couldn’t not tell you about this book. It really is amazing!

What sets it apart for me is unlike other quilting books which provide a pattern to replicate the quilt shown, Sherri’s book provides only a score, with guidelines rather than specific steps. Your quilt may end up looking similar to the one she’s shown for that score, or it may look completely different, depending on how each individual interprets the score. It also leaves plenty of room for experimentation, so you might make the same score more than once and still end up with completely different quilts. A wonderful aspect of this book is seeing how quilts from a particular score can vary – Sherri put out a call for people to create quilts from the various scores and included several test quilts in each chapter, and it’s so interesting to see the variations.


I was really intrigued when Sherri asked me to try out a score. I love improv quilting, but find patterns written to replicate an improv quilt to be challenging. I decided to give this one a try simply because it wasn’t a pattern. I got to test the Floating Squares score, which is the first score in the book. And indeed, it was so fun that I made three variations! (this one shown here was included in the book, and I previously blogged about my Cascading Pools quilt here) I love that from the get go I had a place to start (sometimes it can be hard to know how to start, especially with an improv quilt) – in this case, I knew that I’d be using squares from three different fabrics.

(unfortunately this one doesn’t photograph very well, but it’s really beautiful in person, and since the majority is made up of Nani Iro double gauze, it’s also incredibly soft!)

I liked that limits were set but love that Sherri encourages you to adjust your limitations if they’re not working for you. When I ran out of one of my main fabrics, I felt free to grab another that seemed similar and continue on working with that one.


Sometimes I feel like I fall back on my favorite way of sewing fabrics together – that place where I’m most comfortable – and I love that this book gives you a little push out of your comfort zone. I think it’s ideal for those new to improv and for those who feel quite comfortable with improv. I think the framework and structure for each score would appeal to those who are just starting out with improv, while the variety in scores, the variety of types of improv and the permission and encouragement to veer off course would appeal to those who want to push themselves a bit. I know that I’m inspired to try out Sherri’s Bias Strip Petals scores – something I’ve certainly never experimented with before.

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Ok, ok! You definitely need a copy of this book! Want to try winning a copy? Please leave a comment here to be entered. If you’d like, I’d love to know how you feel about improv quilting – do you feel comfortable sewing this way? is it intimidating? why? I’d love to hear your thoughts! US only, please, per the publisher. I will select a winner on Friday afternoon.

Update! A winner has been selected! selected comment #166,

jill gm says:

this is the second post that I’ve read highlighting this book and I’m really excited to read through it for inspiration. thus far, I’ve only experimented with improv for small personal projects but I’ve been gearing up for quilt-sized experimentation. unless I have something specific in mind, I find that it can be difficult to know where to start. it sounds like her approach could be just the kick in the pants that I need. thanks for sharing.

Congratulations Jill! Look for an email from me shortly!

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Follow along with the rest of the blog tour! (and of course catch up with Sherri on her blog, Daintytime)

May 2: Sew Mama Sew – Score for Floating Squares Gallery
May 4 STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery
May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery
May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend
May 8: Wise Craft Handmade – Score for Get Your Curve On Gallery
May 11: Studio Notes – Test Quilter Penny Gold
May 13: Quiltville – Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery
May 15: Peppermint Pinwheels – Test Quilter Stacey Sharman
May 18: Quirky Quilts – Test Quilter Kim McPeake
May 20: PoppyPrintCreates – Score for Patchwork Doodle Gallery
May 22: The Last Piece – Test Quilter Sara Fielke
May 25: Cauchy Complete – Score for Layered Curves Gallery
May 26: Diary of a Quilter – Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery
May 28: Getting Stitched on the Farm –Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery
May 29: Spoonflower – Score for Showing Up Gallery
May 30: Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson

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