I’ve been playing with oversized freehand cut curves for the last several years–cutting the curves without patterns or templates, using my rotary cutter as a drawing tool. The blocks are created individually, with each curve cut on its own.

Then I add fun elements like insets, wonky triangles, confetti pops, skinny lines, and “fried egg” curves.

Below are some of the quilts I’ve made using this technique.

Twist and Shout – Cindy Grisdela

Fireflies – Cindy Grisdela

Recently I started asking myself “what if?”–my favorite design question that often leads me down interesting rabbit holes.

What if I added in another element to the design, like stripes?

I made some large Angled Stripe blocks using 10″ x 12″ rectangles and put them on the design wall with some new freehand curve blocks.

Blue/Green Curves and Stripes – Cindy Grisdela

I decided on a cool blue/green color palette with small pops of red purple and elements of black and white. I’m just using insets, skinny lines, and wonky triangles this time–no confetti pops because of the stripes–unless you count the small purple squares surrounded by turquoise as confetti pops.

The initial idea made me happy, but I wanted the top to be bigger, so it was back to the sewing machine.

Blue/Green Curves and Stripes in process – Cindy Grisdela

This version did NOT make me happy! It just seemed too chaotic and there was no place for the eye to rest.

One thing I really wanted to explore with this one was having the curved blocks all different sizes and emphasize them not meeting in the centers. This process often ends up with blocks that are a variety of sizes, and I wanted to embrace that imperfection. But the busyness of this version didn’t give any room for that.

I spent much, much longer on piecing this top than I had expected (the joys of Improv) and there were several days when I just needed to do something else.

Blue/green Curves and Stripes Top – Cindy Grisdela

It finally came to me what I needed to do–add in some plainer curved blocks with much less information in them. You can see them in the upper left, lower left and right, and to the right of center. Just one curved cut plus a black and white inset.

This feels better to me. And that’s what Improv design is all about, I think. Auditioning lines, colors and shapes and arranging and rearranging them on the design wall until the result makes your heart sing. It’s important to learn to listen to, and then trust, the small creative voice inside of you that says–that’s it!

I haven’t decided how to quilt this one yet–and I may still make some changes, but so far I’m happier with it.

If you’d like to join me on the freehand curve journey, I’ll be teaching Fabulous Freehand Curves at Hudson River Valley workshops in upstate New York this summer–August 13 -19, 2023. 5 days of freehand curves–plus confetti pops, wonky triangles, insets, and stripes to spice things up! Visit https://www.artworkshops.com/workshop/fabulous-freehand-curves-with-cindy-grisdela/ for more information and to register.

I hope you’ll join me!


  1. Kim on April 14, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    I just love your work and this one especially.

    • Cindy on April 14, 2023 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks so much, Kim–I appreciate that!


  2. Gayle Ashworth on April 14, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    I love the idea of freehand curves but I am unsure how to cut the outer and inner curves. I know that the one cut doesn’t work. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Cindy on April 16, 2023 at 7:58 am

      Gayle, I cut my curves with two fabrics stacked on top of each other right sides up. Because it’s an Improv process, I cut the initial squares about 2″-3″ larger than I want the finished block to be so I can square things up when I’m finished.

      I hope this helps!


  3. Marcy George on April 15, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    This colorway is not my usual, and I do love it! I took your class in February, and have been going strong ever since. Every palette seems to work, and I also find that I change my design a lot on the design wall before I start sewing. Just love the freedom of the process! Thanks!

    • Cindy on April 16, 2023 at 7:55 am

      That’s great, Marcy–I’m so glad to hear of your progress!