Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Hive 4 - June Tutorial - Improv Block

 You Don't Have to Know, Just Sew

My block is in memory of my daughter, Melanie Ham, who at 36 died of a rare cancer.  She was an online content creator and left us many videos that now take on so much more meaning.  Before getting into the block specifics, I would like to invite you to watch a video that Melanie did that was a VLOG style video but I’ve renamed it, “You don’t have to know, just sew”.  It tells the story of how when she needed inspiration, sort of stuck, not sure what to do next and so she just found some fabric and started sewing.  I hope you will be inspired and see the heart of my sweet girl as she shares her passion for this craft and others in her community.

Over these months of immense grief, I’ve found that I needed something to just sew.  An easy block, repeatable, fun to play with fabric and just not having to think much, just sew.  In those early days after her loss, I ran across a gal running a Sew A Long where each block tells a story.  I was intrigued by the idea and signed up.  It’s run by During Quiet Time and is called Mosaic Story Sew A Long.  Even if you don’t do the SAL, the block pattern is only $4.50 and is super fun to use up scraps.  I wanted to use that block, but since it is Amy’s pattern, I decided on something else.

Melanie and I shared a passion for beautiful, vibrant, rich, saturated color type prints and some of our favorites are Anna Maria Hornier, Amy Butler, Tula Pink, and many of the artists in Conservatory Craft and many others.  We had the opportunity to go to Anna Maria Horner’s Craft South Retreat several years ago and it was just an amazing, wonderful time together and connecting with other quilters around beautiful fabric.  I cherish those days…The block for June, follows a video tutorial by Melanie on an improvisational block constructed in a “log cabin” style method and of course I want to see your beautiful, lush, rich, saturated prints!

Easy Improv Quilt Block Tutorial


Here are the details for my block:

Color, Color, Color – rich, vibrant, deeper hues – think plum or aubergine – not purple, turquoise – not blue or green, goldenrod – not yellow, tangerine – not orange, raspberry – not pink.

Prefer no Grey, Black or Navy unless it is part of the vibrant print – I want to see color and prints!

Prefer no Kaffe Fasset (while it is very vibrant/the style is very distinct and not sure it will blend as well), no Batik and no novelty. Here is a sample fabric pull:

Start your center square with an inspiration fabric at least 3 inches square or rectangle.  Pull colors out of that print to drive which strips you pick and where you place them as you build out the block from one piece to the next.  Use the fabric to inspire other choices for the strips as you build your improv block.  Press seams to the outside of the block.

Make the strip you use on the outer most round of strips at least 2” wide but feel free to use large wide strips and fewer fabrics.  Having wider strips on the outer ring allows enough space for trimming and seaming the blocks together.  Goal is to see all the beautiful prints! 

Block size is 15.5” square. I did not use a square ruler, just measured about 15.5” per side with my regular 8x24 ruler.


Follow the instructions for constructing the block in the video. Please have one angle cut per block. Piecing 2 fabrics together to have enough length works well if you don't have longer strips. As I did here with the red dot and cone print on the angle.

Here are some pics of a second block as I constructed it.

Any scraps you want to send along would be awesome and if there was anything specific you think of in listening to my daughters “You don’t have to know, just sew” – I would love to hear it!


Most of all – be inspired.


You can give your block a quick press. Thank you for making this for me. Reach out if you have any questions and I can’t wait to see all your gorgeous vibrant prints!



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