Improv-piecing Pillows

A few months ago, I started getting Paint Brush Studio (PBS) Fabrics as part of their Sew-cial Network. I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with these fabrics! I’m not getting paid to say this–seriously, I just love the feel and quality. Check out their collections online here and then find where to buy some for yourself from your local quilt shop on their locator.

My latest project was using their Urban Jungle collection by Fernanda Martinez. It’s FABULOUS.

I started out with 2.5″ strips, thinking I’d arrange them similar to a pattern by Suzy Quilts.

Maypole pattern by Suzy Quilts

The improvised piecing finished at over 25″ square…much bigger than a conventional pillow. But didn’t want to lose any of the fun intersections by cutting it down. So I left the project to sit for a few days.

When I came back, I decided I just needed to dive deeper into the process and SLICE IT UP.

My arrangement using Urban Jungle prints

I cut the top into 4 separate sections, rearranged them, pieced them back together, added a few more strips to each piece, and made 3 perfectly unique 16″ pillow squares.

I added a solid back, lined with a piece of heavy duty twill to strengthen the seams, added a zipper, stuffed with poly-fil, and voila!


Have you ever taken a pattern and completely dissected it to make something unique? If you haven’t done any improv piecing, give it a try! I could never have designed this into a set pattern but am SO happy with the end result. It felt much more like a true creative experience. I had to work through various possibilities, decide which arrangement had the best balance and best angles. I had to rework a few sections, cut more fabric to add in other sections, and then finally trim to fit for the right size of pillow. In the end, I feel a much deeper satisfaction with this project than with any other finish. I could never make them again in this exact arrangement, and I don’t feel the need to try. I discovered there is so much fulfillment in the PROCESS of creating as much as having an end product.

So, I challenge everyone to take some time and do some IMPROV. Take your scraps and just start putting them together. Or make a larger pieced pattern and chop it up, rearrange it, and find out what you can create! Then come back here and share it with me. I’d love to see how you integrate improv into your sewing and quilting adventures.

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