Improv ala Sherri Lynn Wood

Improv ala Sherri Lynn Wood : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I’ve managed to find a bit of free time over the last week (why is Summer always busier than I anticipate?), and I used it to finally crack into Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook. It seems like forever ago that I was relaxing at the pool flipping through this book after QuiltCon…only 4 months though.

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood : Fresh Lemons Quilts

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is on my all-time-favorite-most-beautifully-photographed-books list. There is just so much content (174 pages!) and fuel for creativity in here. I’ll be honest, I’m a picture person and I usually don’t read everything in a quilting book. But I sat down with this one and it’s been so interesting. I actually keep it on my coffee table!

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I knew the first project I wanted to try to tackle in this book was one of the curve quilts. I went through a bit of color-paralysis but decided on some monochromatic segments. Mostly solids with a few coordinating, low volume prints mixed in.

Improv ala Sherri Lynn Wood : Fresh Lemons Quilts

It was a somewhat messy, but totally freeing process. VERY fun. It did not take too many hours to finish these segments.

Improv ala Sherri Lynn Wood : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I need to make more. Should I add more colors? Stick with this palette? Now is when I begin to over think it. I’m a bit nervous about how it’s all going to go together, but the instructions have over 10 pictures so I think it should go well. I’ll share more as I create!

+++ Update! +++

There are a couple supplemental resources for those of you working with this awesome book. First, the Test Quilt Galleries ~ 165 quilts made by testers during the book writing process. Amazing!

Second, the Improv Handbook Facebook page. This is a space where Sherri Lynn Wood and other quilters actively share their process.

I hope you are inspired!



  1. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    I love your projects – and have just ordered the book! Thanks for keeping my quilting ‘young’…especially since I am not! lol! 🙂

  2. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    You are so brave! So far I’ve flipped pages over & over the projects in my book, wearing it out! You’ve motivated me to just jump in and start with a minimal project. I always think I need ALL the fabric to start. How about adding yellows then you could blend in greens or oranges (either way) from there. White or black would look good too.

  3. Reply

    Alice in WV

    July 2, 2015

    “I can’t wait for school to be out so we have more time!” Followed immediately by, “I can’t wait for school to start so we have more time!” Lather, rinse, repeat.

  4. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    I agree! It is such a terrific book. I love how it keeps improv original for each quilter while giving lots of support and ideas. Sherri Lynn Wood knocked it out of the park!

  5. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    I am intrigued but mildly intimidated by improv quilts, that said I think they are lovely. The colors you’ve chosen for yours are marvelous don’t change a thing 🙂

  6. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    Beautiful! I think Sherri would tell you that it was time to make some commitments and sew some pieces together. That’s what she said at about this point in the process at our workshop!

  7. Reply

    Sherri ~ daintytime

    July 2, 2015

    Definitely say yes to unexpected and even “ugly” colors into the sections to spice things up and create a contrast. Make relationships and then commit to them one step at a time because it is impossible to see the finished outcome. As you do this the path will begin to come clear. ALWAYS affirm and build on every commitment. Try not to Yes But your decisions and you shall go far! Planning is fruitless instead shoot for flow. Yes it’s messy and that’s a great thing! Have fun! I’m so happy you jumped right in 🙂

  8. Reply

    Sherri ~ daintytime

    July 2, 2015

    Oh and don’t be afraid to cut into the curve units – they do not need to be used whole. When you layer them and cut new curves into them you will be left with unexpected curve remainders that can be used elsewhere in the composition. That’s the fun part.

  9. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    My instinct would be to keep to those two colorways–more blue than red.

    Although I like her book, I guess I’m not a “true” improv person. I like making improv parts, but I don’t like to commit too early. I like to see all my options before I commit.

    • Reply

      Sherri ~ Daintytime

      July 3, 2015

      Ha impossible Claire! that’s the whole point with curves. It’s absolutely impossible to make all the parts fit together before you commit. Can’t be done that’s the most wonderful thing about curves. How unexpected they are – they don’t call them curve balls for nothing! When you have to see all your options first then you are living in a very controlled world – this may feel safe but it can also be quite boring and predictable – there’s no room for delightful surprise – in life and in quilts. Jump in and try finding flow instead of holding onto a plan.

  10. Reply

    Vickie in Bellingham, WA

    July 2, 2015

    I think , I think….I think you need to make lots more to tell…LOL . I like the colors. I think I tend to use large florals and plaids with just a few solids so for me it is different. ohhhhhhh maybe do some more solids and find a floral background and make it snakey around on it! Yesssssss I would like that !!! but hey its your quilt and whatever you do, it will be beautiful 🙂 I just love to throw around my uninhibited thought process !! go forth and HAVE FUN

  11. Reply

    Little Black Cat Quilting

    July 2, 2015

    So cool!! I love your color choices so far, looking forward to following your progress on this one! 🙂

  12. Reply

    Cathy Loh2o

    July 2, 2015

    I actually have been reading this book and that’s the project I want to start with so I am so excited to see that you are doing it. And, we are redecorating our house with blues/coral/grays and I can’t wait to see where you go next with your quilt. Your selections look great!

  13. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    oh, looks great so far, have fun sewing it bigger 🙂

  14. Reply

    JoAnne A

    July 2, 2015

    I was fortunate to take her workshop in Portland ME last month. The key to her improv strategies is to not over think this, just allow yourself to succumb to the process. Enjoy the flow!

  15. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    Have fun and enjoy.Happy sewing!

  16. Reply


    July 2, 2015

    I have this fabulous book in front of me, and I’m drooling over all the projects I want to try! Improv does not come easy to me, so I can hardly wait to try these curves too! Yours are looking fabulous, and I love the colours you are using.

  17. Reply

    Diane B

    July 2, 2015

    Faith, some cacti tones would spice it up; I only read about Improv quilting but I guess we all really do it anyway by tossing in various tones, etc to see what we might not be seeing or what seems to be missing. Thanks for sharing, and good to hear you jumped right in. 4 months isn’t that long:)

  18. Reply

    Barbara O.

    July 3, 2015

    I got the book, too and my fingers are itching for the curved projects, four weeks to go until summer break. 🙂
    I think your palette is perfect for this project, and your curved pieces have turned out fabulous! I’d rather not add any other colour. Happy sewing!

  19. Reply

    Anne Beier

    July 3, 2015

    I have no doubt that this quilt will be a beauty when you are finished with it.
    I might add a pop of yellow.

  20. Reply


    July 4, 2015

    I love your palette as is. I think you have enough going on with the movement your curves create to keep it interesting – especially once you add in the quilting. I keep thinking of the beach at sunset when I look at what you’ve got so far. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  21. Reply

    Rebecca Grace

    July 4, 2015

    This looks like a great project for you, Faith! I know that whatever you decide to do with the color palette for the rest of the quilt will be fantastic. Do you use any of the specialty curved rulers for this quilt, or is there some other method? It sounds scary to me to be improv piecing and then somehow try to have curved seams fitting together?

  22. Reply


    July 5, 2015

    I love this book too and just started a project from it that i hope to keep working on little by little between other things. I’m doing the floating squares, but the one you started is the next one on my list. Will be looking forward to seeing your progress.

  23. Reply

    Margie M

    July 7, 2015

    I like what you have done so far, you have some great curves flowing there. Would love to see you put some rich purples into the mix and see how well the three palettes play together. Improv piecing is so freeing, I think you already have the start of something destined to be a winner. Just have fun and enjoy.

  24. Reply


    July 14, 2015

    This is going to be gorgeous! The only color I might add would be creamy yellow. I am too chicken to try curves, but maybe one day . . .