Sixty Seconds Quilt

I thought I would share another quilt from my book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design today.  I named this quilt Sixty Seconds because I based my design on the traditional hourglass block.  I divided up the space a little bit differently though.  My hourglasses are asymmetrical, improvisationally sketched.  I decided to add lines for the sand falling through the hourglass just for fun.  I tried to find all white prints and black prints that had speckled types of designs on them that suggested sand.  I had to go on quite a hunt to find them all!  I folded the quilt back in this picture because I love this backing for this particular quilt so I wanted to make sure it showed. I just feel like it fits the mood of the quilt nicely.

I decided to lay my blocks out with a lot of negative space so that the layout was also an hourglass shape. Here in New England, there are lots of barns with X shaped supports on their doors and I thought it would be great to get a picture of the quilt on a barn with such a door.  This one was perfect, with two doors and a nice plain wall for hanging!

Here’s a little detail so you can see some of the prints and the quilting. I quilted in an regular irregular grid where the lines were all spaced either an 1/2″ apart or 1″ apart.

Debbie from A Quilter’s Table recently reviewed my book and made a table runner using this block pattern as the basis of the design. Then, she added her own spin. Check it out!


Improv Paper Piecing is Shipping!

My copies of Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design just appeared at my door step this afternoon!  They are arriving at shops who pre-ordered right now as well.  I am really looking forward to sharing the ideas and designs from the book with you in the upcoming weeks. I also have a great giveaway coming up to help celebrate!

To start things off, I thought I would share my favorite shot from the book.  And it gives you a little sneak peek of a bunch of the quilts too! I had this picture in mind but I couldn’t find a good spot to take it, where the grass was nice and tall.  I mentioned it to a local friend of mine and she said that she would look as she ran through town.  Two days later, she sent me a text suggesting this location and it was perfect!  The yellow flowers were a bonus.

My book is technique based, presented in a workshop style approach.  My hope is that by explaining my design method, and offering lots of exercises and prompts, I will encourage you to create your own designs.  I incorporate an improvisational approach to design–embracing the irregular, the asymmetrical, the unexpected, with the paper piecing technique.  Why?  Because paper piecing allows you to repeat these improvisational designs and harness the power of repetition!  It combines the aesthetic I love with the technique I prefer–it’s the perfect pairing.

All my exercises are illustrated with quilt patterns that I will share in the days to come!

I have copies of my book ready to ship in my Etsy shop and will be happy to sign them for you.

Letting the Cat out of the Bag!

Yesterday, the QuiltCon 2017 course catalog was released! I already told you that I was going to be teaching there…so that isn’t the secret. But because the catalog is out, I get to spill the beans on some top secret sewing a little earlier than normal! I am working on a second book with Lucky Spool and will have the opportunity to teach from it for the first time at QuiltCon! We are working hard to get the book ready for Feb. 2017 because I wanted to teach this class at QuiltCon so desperately. It’s going to be so much fun!


The book is called Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design.  I can’t fill you in on all the details right now but I can tell you that it is all about approaching your paper pieced block designs improvisationally.  You will design and sew your own block and work on a quilt layout based on one of the three approaches shared in my book.  I have used this design method for some of my favorite quilts in recent years and have refined it in this book and can’t wait to share. You should have a basic knowledge of paper piecing when you sign up for the class, an open mind, and it will be great!  It’s course 621 on Saturday from 9-5.


I am also teaching two other classes, that I am equally excited about.


One is course 620 Paper Pieced Block Design with EQ7.  I will guide you through the steps involved in drawing up this fun paintbrush block, exporting the image, coloring it, grouping the pattern pieces and printing them as a PDF.  You can use these skills when you get home to make your own designs.  For this course, you need to come with EQ7 installed on your laptop.

Crazy Eights by Amy Friend from Intentional Piecing

And finally, I’ll be teaching from my first book, Intentional Piecing, on Thursday.  It’s course 733 titled Fussy Cut Foundation Pieced Stripes with the Crazy Eights Quilt.  I think of this type of paper piecing as large scale paper piecing–piecing big sections with big pieces of fabric.  It’s often trickier than paper piecing with small pieces and I am going to share my tips and tricks and hopefully get you to fall in love with stripes, fussy cutting, and foundation piecing all at once.

The course catalog is available right here. MQG membership can register beginning June 25th and open membership opens July 1st. I hope I will see you there! Feel free to contact me with questions. Can’t wait to meet you!

Puddling Quilt Completed

Puddling detail by Amy Friend

I’ve just finished up my Puddling Quilt. I had a great time making it. I have been asked if I have a hard time working improvisationally since I normally share precise paper piecing here on my blog.  The answer is no. I love working both ways. In fact, when I paper piece, I rarely precut. I just hand cut my pieces as I go. I also rarely use a ruler to cut my seam allowances. I hand cut.  I can just hear people gasping now.  But I can cut a straight line and eyeball a 1/4″ pretty well and I find it so much more fun to simply grab my scissors–it’s more liberating than a ruler and rotary cutter! Improv also lets me grab my scissors and go.

Puddling by Amy Friend

Also, I studied art all through highschool and college. I think that if you have a background in studio art, you have to learn to let go of a certain degree of expectation at the beginning of any creative process.  Really, the process of creating a painting or drawing is always improv with intent, isn’t it?  You have an idea or plan of where you are going when you start but so many things can effect the final outcome; it might be your skill level, it might be the series of choices you make along the way, it might be the watercolor that spread a bit farther then you intended, the light changing, or your model moving, etc.

I can clearly remember my figure drawing class in college.  We would have a set and limited time to sketch from the model after which we would have to hang our drawings up for criticism from the class and the professor.  The stress!  Not only was there the pressure of a ticking clock but also of what others would say. I think it made me realize the wide range of reactions to one single piece of art and how everyone’s opinions are really their own.  It helped me accept the fact that others might not always like my end product and I am ok with that as long as I do!

Here is a view of the completed quilt. I decided not to square up the edges. I would have lost the cute little kick out to the side on the lower left and the wave of the bottom edge.

Puddling by Amy Friend

I had to share this picture of the quilt caught in the breeze too. I always love to capture a quilt in motion.

Puddling by Amy Friend

I used the Windham wide text print for my backing. I thought it was perfect for this quilt and I loved not having to piece it!  It was a recent purchase from Massdrop.  While it is not a current drop, you can request that they offer it again and they might (see the link on my sidebar).

Puddling Detail by Amy Friend

I decided to go with fairly dense organic straight line quilting. I tried to let the degree of straightness in my piecing dictate the quilting.  Where the piecing waves, so do the quilted lines.  I stitched grey lines spaced about 1/2″ apart and then went in and added three shades of Aurifil in pink, gold and jade fairly randomly.  The colors were a great match for the solids that I used. These are all Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids except for the Putting Green by RJR.

Puddling detail by Amy Friend

The quilting in the arcs was more challenging. In order to work with the curve of the piecing, it meant varying the spacing between the lines. Often, the lines started out spaced 3/4-1″ apart and then got as close as 1/4″ where there width of the arc was narrow.

Puddling detail by Amy Friend

The quilt has fantastic texture and I do love the subtle interest added by the thread color.  It isn’t noticeable if you are standing back or looking at an image of the whole quilt so it is a discovery you make upon closer examination.

The finished quilt measures approximately 46″ x 70.”

It would be remiss of me to not credit Sherri Lynn Wood for her inspiration.  Working on my Scrambled quilt for her book last year reminded me of how much I like improvisational quilting.

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Improv Handbook Blog Hop


Welcome to the Improve Handbook Blog Hop! Sherri Lynn Wood’s new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters; A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously, has just started shipping. I had the pleasure of meeting Sherri this past weekend when she visited my guild to teach her Bias Strip Curves class. You can read about that experience in my earlier post.


The book is full of beautiful photographs by Sara Remington–including the cover shot and the picture of Sherri (both above). The staging is sparse, putting the quilts on center stage.

I really like the way Sherri speaks about improvisation. I appreciate technique and skill and respect those who exhibit both in their work. She suggests that improv has it’s own set of techniques and skills. I think those who have never tried improv might be quick to disagree with that statement but if you have given it a go, you will know that there is much technique and skill involved in putting away that ruler. She speaks to that and provides hints and tips for fixing problem areas in your work such as puckers and pulls and how to avoid them or work with them. I also like that Sherri states that the maker is the most important part of improvisation. You have to know yourself and your likes and dislikes, feel your emotions, etc. I think working on a improv piece is just that for me. I love to work intuitively and make decisions as I go.  I also feel like my decisions are more visible in improv than they are in other types of sewing. You kind of bare your soul.

Sherri’s book contains 10 scores. She uses scores as a vehicle for teaching improvisation. I see her scores as guidelines, broad rules to follow that start you on your way to improv. The rules can be interpreted differently by different individuals, as you will see if you look at the many test quilts that were made for this book. I think these scores make improv much less intimidating to beginners. Most people who sew are used to patterns and following directions. Sherri has provided you with direction enough to make you feel comfortable, with room enough for you add yourself into the equation, in fact, you are forced to.  You have to make decisions because the answers are not all there.

More than a year ago now, I received an email from Sherri asking me to consider making a quilt using one of her scores for her upcoming book. She asked me to work with the Layered Curve score which, broadly speaking, had me collect fabric, handcut curves, and reassemble, all without a ruler.  I was really pleased when she chose my quilt for the book. I thought I would walk you through my process today.


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The blocks above were my first attempt in following the score.

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Then I layered them and cut more curves.  I quickly decided that I didn’t like the direction that I was heading in.  The quilt was way too busy for my taste and the curves were not elegant enough or balanced.

I decided to start again with a set of solids in a very limited range and, in addition to the score, set another rule for myself. I would cut an inner 1/4 circle type curve in the corner of each section.

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I realized that I didn’t have any photographs of my finished quilt this winter and Sherri’s book was due out in February.  In an attempt to get ready for the blog hop, I actually had to borrow snow shoes to walk over the several feet of snow in our Massachusetts yard to get pictures.  Who knew that the publishing would be delayed?  I could have taken them without storm interference but you had better believe that I am sharing the snowy pictures after that monumental effort!  Plus, it’s more amusing.

Scrambled by Amy Friend

This is my final quilt. I named it Scrambled.  Sherri refers to the 1/4 circle shape I employed as a yolk like shape.  It definitely is that though it wasn’t my intent and the name of the quilt came later.  The curves in this quilt feel much more elegant and calmer.  It’s more “me” if you will than my first attempt.  I allowed the quilt to remain in it’s wavy, non squared up shape which I like as well.

Scrambled by Amy Friend

The quilt top posted here did not follow a score in Sherri’s book but I think it was informed by the skills I learned when working with the Layered Curve score. It gave me the confidence to attempt such a large improv piece. I also stuck to what I knew I liked best from this experience-mostly solids (though I included one print) and again I made rules, or scores, for myself which I explained in that post.

This book is a great springboard to improv piecing. I hope you will visit the other blogs on the hop to see some of the other beautiful quilts that were included in the book and all the test quilts as well.

May 1: STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery

May 1: Sew Mama Sew – Score for Floating Squares Gallery

May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery

May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend

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 26Diary 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 30Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson

The publisher, STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, is offering one copy of this book to a resident of the US or Canada.  Please enter below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bias Strip Curves Workshop

Sherri Lynn Wood

Today, my quilt guild hosted Sherri Lynn Wood, the author of The Improv Handbook for a full day workshop. She taught the Bias Strip Curves score from that book.  Sherri was a pleasure and very attentive and willing to help all of her students.  This is an advanced piecing technique where we attached bias cut strips to a center shape.  It’s also improvisational and was done ruler free!

Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild at Sherri Lynn Wood Workshop

Here is our guild, shortly after lunch.  We had each sewn about 2 pieces and spread them out to talk about the next step, composition.  Sherri’s class was nicely broken up into chunks of direction and discussion.

Sherri Lynn Wood

By the time we left class, almost all of us had taken steps to join some of our pieces together at Sherri’s urging. Some participants had nearly finished quilt tops.

Bias Strip Curves score by Sherri Lynn Wood, piece by Amy Friend

This was the status of my piece at the end of the class.  I am not 100% sure where I am heading next but I think I might applique this shape to a background and then add a few appliqued elements above it, prompted by a suggestion made by Sherri.

The class was a lot of fun and I would recommend it if your guild is considering inviting Sherri!

Visit my blog on May 6th for a chance to win a copy of this book!


Puddling Quilt Top

Puddling Detail by Amy Friend

I have been working on an improvisational quilt top on and off for the last few weeks as a fun “free time” project.  I enjoyed making my Improv Fans mini and this started as a take off on that idea. I changed a few things. My palette is all new and this time I added one print. Also, I started with a solid center and then built outward with my fans. Each piece in the fan was cut at a curve this time.

Puddling by Amy Friend

After some thought, I decided to make strips with patchwork bottoms coming from the improv fan portion. Everything was handcut; no rulers or rotary cutters. I just used scissors. I have never done anything improvisational on such a large scale before. It definitely is trickier bigger, in my opinion, but I think it worked out pretty well. I am going to wait to square it up any more until after I quilt. I am still coming up with a plan but I think that there will be some straight lines and some curved ones too.

I am calling it Puddling because it looks like the colors are dripping and forming puddles. Sorry for the lower quality indoor pictures but I don’t want to hang this outside and allow it to stretch any until I quilt it!


A Sense of Place Mini

Plum Island mini by Amy Friend

My guild, the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild, is participating in a mini quilt swap with the Northampton MQG.  The theme is “A Sense of Place.”  I am a New England girl through and through and love the ocean. I don’t necessarily care to go in the water or on the water and I don’t love it in the middle of the summer with all the tourists either.  But off season, it’s bliss.
Plum Island mini by Amy Friend

I attempted to capture the feeling of my favorite beach, Plum Island.  The linen seemed perfect for the sand and I had quite an assortment of blues in my stash to choose from for the ocean and sky.  I scissor cut the curves. It was all improvisationally pieced.  I used a rotary cutter just once to make the horizon line perfectly straight.

Plum Island mini by Amy Friend

I started quilting at the bottom. I stitched the wavy lines using my walking foot and then switched to my free motion quilting foot to make all the tiny pebbles on the beach where the tide had washed them up in groups.

Plum Island mini by Amy Friend

The ocean was quilted with wavy lines that became less wavy and spaced closer together as they approached the horizon line. It was my attempt at a bit of perspective.

Plum Island mini by Amy Friend

I used ombre fabric for the sky and inserted a wisp of a cloud. I quilted the sky to suggest a little breeze blowing the cloud away.

I used two different Aurifil threads for my quilting from the Pat Bravo collection.  They were such a perfect match. I’m so glad that I picked them up at Massdrop!

The finished mini measures 17 1/2″ x 21 1/2″.  I could have sworn that the rules were 22″ x 22″ but wouldn’t you know, I just checked and they are 20″ x 20.” I am hoping my inch and a half can be overlooked but otherwise, I will keep it!


Oakshott Colourshott Diamond Runner

Oakshott Colourshott Diamond Runner by Amy Friend

I’ve had so much fun with this project! Every time I get to work with Oakshott, it is such a gift. The fabrics are so deep and beautiful and they have this amazing sheen that just sets them apart from regular quilting cottons. This always makes me hesitant to make the first cut because I want to make sure I am going to like the outcome. It took me awhile to mull over what I wanted to do with the 10″ squares of Oakshott Colourshott but I think the time spent thinking was worth it. I love the finished runner.

Oakshott Colourshott Diamond Runner by Amy FriendI used a paper pieced block of my own design to make diamonds that appear to be improv pieced.  Why paper piece then instead of improv piecing?  Well, that’s a good question. I certainly could have done it that way but I sort of wanted each diamond to be broken up the same way to create a bit of a pattern in my design.  Also, because I had mapped out how I was breaking up each diamond, I was able to cut way back on fabric waste.  When I improv piece, I waste a lot fabric and I wasn’t going to waste any of my Oakshott!

Oakshott Colourshott Diamond Runner by Amy Friend

I asked for quilting suggestions on Instagram. I knew I wanted to densely quilt in the Kona Putty background sections. I was thinking of simple straight line quilting at the time.  I have Jess to thank for suggesting this quilting design that mimics the piecing. I used my free motion quilting foot and straight line quilted as straight as I could to create triangular sections filled with matchstick quilting.  She had such a great idea…thanks Jess!

Oakshott Colourshott Diamond Runner by Amy Friend

I bound the runner with an Anna Maria Horner print that is two tone in the pinkishy plum colors that are prevalent in this Oakshott collection.

If you are looking to purchase Oakshott, you can get on the mailing list to be notified of sales, etc. by going here. One of my sponsors, Marmalade Fabrics, also offers a collection of Oakshott Fabrics in her shop.

I have been asked if I will provide a pattern for this design and yes, I will, as soon as I can get it all together.


Oakshott Colourshott Diamonds


After I finished my daughters slippery satin and lace First Communion dress and all my market sewing obligations, I decided it was time for a little fun with this bundle of Oakshott-Colourshott.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I couldn’t decide on a plan but now I have!

Oakshott improv diamonds

I decided to make diamond shapes with an improv pieced look.  However, they are paper pieced.  One of the Colourshotts was a near match with Kona Putty so I am using that as my background fabric.  I am going to make these until my Oakshott runs out! I should have enough for at least a decent sized table runner.


Wacky Web Improv Pillow Tutorial

Wacky Web Improv Pillow

I hope you will join me on the Sizzix blog today where I am sharing a tutorial for this Wacky Web Improv Pillow.  I created this pillow inspired by Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s recent talk at our Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild meeting.  I pieced together my scraps in an improv manner to create “made fabric” as Victoria calls it. I then used my made fabric to cut Wacky Web shapes with the Sizzix Wacky Web die.  I decided to go for a fall feel and used my Anna Maria Horner scraps and linen.


The Back

A couple of you pointed out that I neglected to show a full view of the back of my courthouse steps quilt. You would think that with all those photos, I would have taken one of the back! I didn’t though. I snapped a quilt picture beside our barn.

I am starting to put together a mini Scalloped Dresden Bag (see my tutorials) for a private swap with Kerry. She requested a mid to dark grey for the body of the bag so I pulled the grey crossweave that you can see in the background a stack of prints and solids in some of her favorite colors. I’ll wait to see what Kerry thinks before continuing. Is it too dark for you Kerry?

DQS 9 Complete

I finished my DQS9! This quilt is brighter and bolder than anything you normally see here at During Quiet Time.

I would love to tell you how I arrived at this design but I am afraid of sharing too much information about my partner’s likes and dislikes and inspirational mosaic since this is a secret swap.

I can’t mail until August 15th but you had better believe that I will bring it to the post office that day! As soon as it is received, I will be more chatty.