It’s the last day of the blog tour for my new book, Artful Improv: Explore Color Recipes, Building Blocks & Free Motion Quilting and it’s my turn!

Cornflower Blues - Cindy Grisdela

Cornflower Blues – Cindy Grisdela

My central message for Artful Improv is the first line of the book: “I’m convinced that everyone has the ability to create.” Sometimes that ability seems like it’s lost in the busyness of life, but it’s there waiting for you when you are ready to tap into it.

Box of Marbles - Cindy Grisdela

Box of Marbles – Cindy Grisdela

It is my hope that this book is like having a trusted friend or teacher by your side as you explore your own creativity. It offers friendly guidance as you work through exercises to come up with original work that reflects your own tastes, experiences, and personality. There are chapters on design principles and color choice that are easy to apply to your own work, plus ideas for using negative space, quilting your quilt, and ideas for finishing it to present as art. Whether you’re a novice quilter or an experienced artist, you’ll find something to make your next quilt better.

I’ve been out teaching and lecturing to several groups over the past couple of weeks and I’m so excited with the number of people who have picked up a copy of the book, flipped through it and said: “I think I could do this!” Yes!! You absolutely can.

One of my favorite chapters in the book is “Working Improvisationally.” There are tips about using a design wall to audition your designs and an exercise called “What If?” where I walk you through the creation of one of my quilts–“A Little Citrus” below. And then there’s the “Questions to Ask” section, which gives you guidance on how to look at your composition with a critical eye to determine when it’s finished.

A Little Citrus - Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts

“A Little Citrus” 2015 Cindy Grisdela


I am tremendously grateful to all the bloggers who participated in the tour and to all of their readers who left comments for an opportunity to win a copy of the book. I’ve read every comment and appreciate the time all of you took to post them!

You still have a chance to win a copy of Artful Improv–generously donated by C&T Publishing. US winners will receive a hard copy, and international winners will get the eBook.The giveaway winners will be chosen after the Tour closes at midnight EDT tonight, October 19, 2016, so if you haven’t had a chance to get to all the blogs on the tour, there’s still time to enter and win! You need to comment to be entered. Each blogger will be using a random number generator to select the winner on her blog.

I’d love to know in the comments today what your favorite improv technique is, or if you haven’t tried it yet, what you’re most interested in learning more about. Good luck!

Here’s the full schedule:

October 10: C&T Publishing
October 11: Maria Shell
October 12: Rayna Gillman
October 13: Yvonne Fuchs
October 17: Heather Kojan
October 18: Generation Q Magazine
October 19: Cindy Grisdela
You can also purchase a signed copy of the book from my website here or a regular copy directly from C&T here.  Amazon is showing the book available Nov. 1




  1. patty on October 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I have improv piecing since 2009 and have developed my own method for making stripe sets. It is my go to technique when designing a new piece.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 10:32 am

      That sounds great Patty–I love strip sets too.

  2. Kris on October 19, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I love improv and can’t wait to get my hands on your book.

    My favorite technique right now is freehand cut drunkards path blocks. I start with 4 layers of fabric and then cut and swap to the back, sew and cut again. I also enjoy slashing randomly and inserting another color.

    Improv to me is like painting with fabric.
    (Did I mention I love it?!)

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Wow–that sounds like great fun, Kris–thanks for sharing!

  3. Beverley Longford on October 19, 2016 at 10:34 am

    I will be purchasing this book, I have not done much improv and so often when I look at some improv quilts I just have a feeling of chaos unless they are very simple in their design. Your designs have a lot more structure in their composition that appeals to me. Of course colour always grabs me. Bev

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 11:20 am

      I like a little structure too, Bev–I hope you’ll enjoy the book!

  4. Lois on October 19, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I’m just learning improv piecing, which is not easy. I don’t have a favorite technique, yet. I’ve loved learning to cut and reset everything back together again.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Good for you, Lois–I hope the book will give you some new improv insights to take you forward.

  5. Allison on October 19, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I am pretty good at strip improv piecing but I would like to improve my curvy line piecing! This book is on my list for the hubbie to purchase for me for Christmas!!! Really looking forward to seeing your quilting techniques! Thanks for a wonderful blog hop – I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions and thanks for all the shared insights!!!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Thanks Allison–Artful Improv will make a great gift! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog tour–it’s been fun reading everyone’s different takes on the book.

  6. Nancy Sopp on October 19, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I learned improv from Rayna Gilman, who came to Anchorage and led a workshop, and it is my favorite way to piece. Your book will take me further into various techniques. I’m especially struck by your use of color and I want to know more about that. I have really enjoyed the blog tour.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Nancy–there’s great section on using color in the book. Rayna is a wonderful teacher and I think it’s great you learned from her.

  7. Gill on October 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

    I’ve loved all the quilts that I’ve seen on this tour! I would love to try any of them, I find it hard not to stitch straight and regular blocks – I would love to be freer!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Gil–Artful Improv will definitely help you introduce some improv into your life!

  8. la tulipe on October 19, 2016 at 11:36 am

    l like to play with stripes, regular or not regular. And then to cut what I did, and to sew, and to cut, and to sew…. It’s more difficult to play with colors. And I would like to play out my comfort zone. Your book will help me, I hope 🙂 If I don’t win, it will be a perfect Christmas gift! I know how a huge work it is to make a book. I admire you!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Stripes are great fun, Annie–I think Artful Improv will be a good guide to help you out of your comfort zone. Thanks!

  9. Elaine Millar on October 19, 2016 at 11:53 am

    My favorite improv technique is cutting without a ruler. I like to sketch a basic design and then use it as referne and free hand cut. Totally fun. This book looks awesome! TFS all the wonderful samples and blo reviews.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      I agree–cutting without a ruler is great fun, Elaine! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog tour.

  10. Laura on October 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I like to take an uneven piece of fabric and improv around the block log cabin style. Like to vary the strip size, add angles and sometime add curves. Often do this for fun and just to play. These make great mug rugs/hot mats. have not experimented much with triangles but hope to do so. I am particularly interested in the design aspect of your book as then I could put many of my experiments together in a larger work.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      That sounds like a lot of fun, Laura! I’m sure the design section of Artful Improv can give you some ideas to put your smaller elements into a larger piece.

  11. Susan Zakanycz on October 19, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    My favorite technique is cut , sew, cut and sew again! Such fun!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      That’s it in a nutshell, Susan!

  12. Jean on October 19, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve enjoyed following your blog tour, and the quilt talk and gorgeous quilts has been excellent inspiration. I don’t know if I’d call any of my improv piecing a technique yet, but I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with the different processes. Congratulations on your book — I am excited to read it.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Jean!

  13. Anneli on October 19, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Your book looks so interesting! I love to cut without ruler and would love to learn about designing!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks Anneli–I like no ruler cutting too and there’s lots of design inspiration in the book.

  14. Lana Manis on October 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I’d love to win your book! I’m new to improv piecing, but I am interested in reading more in your book about using a design wall… which I think would be very helpful to use.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Yes, Lana–a design wall is very helpful in the improv process!

  15. LeAnn on October 19, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I have been following you for a while and am very interested in your design and presentation concepts. Really looking forward to getting my hands on your book and advancing my journey in textile art.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks LeAnn–I hope that Artful Improv is just the thing to advance your journey!

  16. Sharon on October 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve done some improv piecing. I took a class with Gwen Marston and learned some techniques. I really like the slash and insert, and I want to play more with curves. I’d love to learn more about the design aspect. Too many improv quilts don’t seem to be cohesive to me. I think the hardest part is knowing when something is “done”! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of your book! If I don’t win one, it’ll be on my birthday list for sure!

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks Sharon–Gwen Marston is one of my inspirations for sure! Tips to help you know when an improv piece is finished is one of the things I address in Artful Improv.

  17. Maryann on October 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    My favorite improv technique is spikey triangles.

    • Cindy on October 19, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      I love spikey triangles too, Maryann!

  18. Meredith on October 19, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I have not yet tried more than a couple of improv techniques, but I had a surprising amount of fun making crumb blocks for a quilt top I put together a couple of weeks ago! I thank you for the chance to win a copy…but even if I don’t win one, I’ll own one as soon as I can! I really look forward to learning more and experimenting!

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

      Making crumb blocks is a good way to get into the improv process, Meredith. Thanks for your comment!

  19. Pat T. on October 19, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Congratulations, Cindy, on a fun blog tour, and on a book that I’m especially excited about getting my hands on!! (Just the right book for where I am in my quilt-development!)
    Cindy, your wonderful quilts are SO calling to me!! I’m drawn to the artful beauty of your improv piecing!
    I have enjoyed my own kind of improv, but have a problem leaving my rulers alone!…
    (Just need to do more of it… I really want/need to get into curves!)
    My usual improv “technique”???… Well, first of all, more of a “mind-set”, I remain flexible… I don’t lock myself into a pattern, even if it’s my own. (I do love to design my own quilts, and even if I start out with a plan on paper, I can [and often do] change things up as I see the work developing… )
    More like a painter creating on canvas, I’ll add and remove bits and pieces of color, texture, pattern, as the work calls for it (cutting, sewing, cutting, sewing)… I find that I HAVE to have the work up on a design wall… I need to look at it, think about it, move parts around (adding, replacing, removing)…
    l love my kind of improv, but it’s not a fast process! (And, I’ll have 2 or 3 projects at a time, in various stages, up on design walls!)
    (SO much faster, to follow someone else’s pattern, with no big changes… But it’s not as much fun!!)
    *Thank you!!*
    Pat T.

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

      That sounds like a fun process, Pat!

  20. Diane on October 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    My favorite improv technique is to mix curves with straight line piecing.

  21. Tamie on October 19, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    This has been a great tour and your book looks exciting. I keep exposing myself to various ways of improv and figure that one day I will become more comfortable with it. I certainly love the results.

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Tamie–it’s good to keep experimenting with improv and before long it will be much more comfortable.

  22. DeborahGun on October 19, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    It has been a fun blog tour – thank you! My only improv technique so far is wonky log cabins, so I would love to learn more!

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:25 am

      I’m glad you liked the blog tour, Deborah! Wonky log cabins are favorites of mine too.

  23. Nancy G. on October 19, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    My favorite improv is making funky, log cabin style blocks. I can use small pieces in the center and all sizes of strips going round. This book looks like it has topics I can get into. Thanks for a chance to win a copy!

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

      That is absolutely true, Nancy–thanks!

  24. Chris on October 19, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    This looks like a really fun book especially on a cold winter night when I can’t motivate myself for anything. I love strip sets but I also love crazy spiral circles these days. I’m getting older.

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

      What a great idea, Chris! Thank you.

  25. Christine Kamon on October 20, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I have been following you on Pinterest. I love quiltmaking with improv approach. It always takes a big gulp for me to get started but then it is hard to stop. I can’t wait to see your book!

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Improv can be like that, Christine–a little bit tough to start, but fun once you get into it!

  26. Martina on October 20, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I love improv piecing, it is so much fun. And of course I´d love to win the book – however I am from Germany and therefore do not know if that is possible.
    Have success with the book. Greetings from abroad,

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Thank you Martina–if you win the drawing, C&T Publishing will send you an eBook!

  27. knittingdancer on October 20, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I haven’t tried improv quilting but reading all of these blog posts this week has been very interesting. I think I may try improv quilting in the very near future.

    • Cindy on October 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

      That sounds great–I hope you will give it a try and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog tour.

  28. Diane on October 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Cindy – A few years ago I started using Improvisational piecing to make quilts. It is so exciting to group a few fabrics together, begin random cutting and start piecing! Your quilts offer another level of skill with the quilting techniques that you choose. I have been away from my fabrics and machine for this past year while receiving treatment for myeloma cancer. I am in partial remission and would love to rekindle the creative process that I have enjoyed in the past. Your new book looks like it would provide wonderful inspiration. Thanks!

  29. Linda on October 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I’m still exploring improv piecing. I love the idea of randomly putting pieces together and know it isn’t that simple. Looking for a framework to play within.

    • Cindy on October 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Improv piecing can start out fairly randomly, Linda, but I hope Artful Improv will give some guidance about intentionally creating better designs.

  30. Nann on October 21, 2016 at 9:25 am

    I’ve enjoyed meeting you, Cindy, and the other bloggers who have been stops on the tour this week. I participate in the monthly Block Lotto which often features improv blocks. One online group had a “bag of blocks” swap in which participants exchanged un-set blocks. The challenge was to set the blocks and add borders, then return the quilt top to the blocks’ owner. That provided a great exercise in creativity.

    • Cindy on October 21, 2016 at 10:02 am

      That sounds like a fun exercise, Nann! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog tour.