Butterfly Blossom

Before & After Pics of UFO
Last January 2015, we had our 2nd UFO Exchange and I came home with this large pieced quilt top that featured two fun prints that really spoke to me.  It was evident that the previous maker took great time and effort into piecing the blocks, causing me great inner conflict as I cut out all those squares.  The Kaffe fan print breathed new life into a baby quilt using Christine Barnes' "Lustrous Squares" pattern.  But I also had great plans for that fabulous butterfly print...

I had recently borrowed Sherri Lynn Wood's "The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters:  A Guide for Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously" book from a quilting friend, and was ready to try some improvisational piecing.  I began by raiding my scrap bin for any solid in colors that could be found within the butterfly print. They were sorted into 4 piles:  magenta/red-violets, oranges/yellows, chartreuses/limes and teals.  A few additional cuts from yardage was used to supplement value and color variety.  Lastly, color swatches were cut out from the buttterfly print and added to their corresponding fabric piles.  
Fabric Pull of Solids/Scraps and Matching Swatches of Butterfly Print
Once my swatches were all organized into these four piles, I began to sew bits and pieces together, and then those bits and pieces together, into larger and larger "chunks."  Once I reached a certain sized "chunk," I set it aside and began again until I had exhausted nearly all the fabric!  I trimmed up the blocks a bit and was left with 12 large slabs:  1 magenta, 1 orange, 2 yellow, 3 green, 3 teal and 1 purple.  I love creating color gradients and played around with possibly layouts as well as auditioned background fabrics.  The design wall came in very handy as I tried a variety of configurations...and really liked the on point rows, featuring a different colorway in each layer.  I had several yards of one rich, vibrant blue solid, and just loved how my newly pieced slabs popped when placed on top!  
Improv Pieced Blocks to Quilt Top
When it came time to add the Set-In triangles to each row to achieve the on-point design, I noticed a strong correlation between my declining momentum & confidence, and seeing the blue yardage start to dramatically dwindle!  And so, I packed up my partially pieced rows and what little yardage remained for a much needed "time out."  Six plus months lapsed, and with the start of the new year, I began to take inventory of my UFOs when I uncovered this project.  Despite my best efforts calculate the exact dimensions needed, I slowly proceeded to carefully, yet improvisationally carve out units needed to complete each row and just crossed my fingers that it would all work out.  I breathed a sigh of relief, as I cut out the last two units needed for the corners!  Even more miraculous was the fact that there was enough yardage remaining to frame the three leftover improv pieced "chunks" for use in my quilt back:  A true quilting miracle!!
Quilt Back Featuring 3 Remaining Improv Pieced "Chunks"
I managed to pin-baste my quilt top, batting and backing but had to put the quilting on the back burner to tackle some looming quilting deadlines on other projects.  This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision as I fast forward to March when I learned that my Midnight Mystery Quilt Along quilt top was drawn to win free edge to edge customized quilting, compliments of Jan Briggs of Quilting Among the Groves.  Unfortunately, I had already started to quilt my Midnight Mystery quilt top, but luckily the prize quilting could be transferred to another quilt top of equal or smaller size and my Improv pieced quilt top fit the bill!

I will confess that I was a little apprehensive about entrusting my quilt top to a complete "stranger." Up until now, I have quilted all but one of my quilt tops--and the other one was taken to one of my local quilt shops where I knew the quilter well and was able to do some in person consultation.  Any initial anxiety on my end was soon alleviated after a few email exchanges with Jan to discuss quilting designs and thread selection.  It was pretty evident that Jan took great pride in his quilting, was a total professional and was soon no longer a complete stranger!  He drew inspiration from my quilt top in addition to recently attending a quilt show, and drafted up three different sketches for my consideration.  I was in awe of all three design proposals, as they all looked modern and just fabulous!!  I had some difficulty deciding which was my favorite and knew that there simply was no wrong choice!  Excited about Jan's vision, I went to work removing all the safety basting pins (which I had to remind myself was much easier and faster than quilting the top myself!!) and preparing my top, backing and batting to send off for him to work his quilting magic!  He was great about letting me know that my quilt top had arrived safely and event sent me a sneak peak/in-progress teaser pic!  Soon thereafter, he emailed me to let me know the quilting was completed and my quilt was en route back to me!!  As soon as the package arrived, I eagerly opened it up and...absolutely LOVED it!!  The customized quilting drew my eyes and hands from section to section of gorgeous quilted texture!!  It was such a dynamic design with so much interest, movement and detail!!  One final detail to note in my rave review, was the personalized hand-written note that Jan included on an orange-shaped, hand-crafted card!  From start to finish, all my interactions with Jan have been very positive and I highly recommend Jan's top-notch quilting services!!
Detail Shots of Quilting by Jan of Quilting Among the Groves
Just a few days after receiving my quilt top in the mail, I went to work trimming up the edges and binding it in a bright lime striped batik!!  I did not have any recipient in mind when making this quilt, but I am seriously thinking of keeping this beauty near and dear!!
A New Quilt for Moi!?!
During the photo shoot, Susie Q and Panda made it clear that they highly approved of this new quilt, as they kept sneaking into the shot.  
Susie Q & Panda Give This Quilt 4 Paws Up!!
Many thanks to Cheryl Bricky for organizing the fun and rewarding "Midnight Mystery Quilt Along" and lining up an impressive list of sponsors offering wonderful incentive prizes, Jan Briggs for his superb quilting and Doug, Susie Q & Panda for helping to photograph this beauty!!
Butterfly Blossom, Finishes 50" x 60"


  1. Mel, I am so glad that I could be a part of this little quilts journey. I love the concept of swapping WIP, and creating something new from them. I fully understand your apprehension with entrusting your lovely to a complete stranger. I think we creatives often have a vision of the project through to the end, and inviting someone else in to play might distort that vision. I'm glad to have met you through this process and look forward to following along with your further adventures.

    1. Thanks again Jan! The UFO exchange is lots of fun and I am amazed at all the lovely quilts that have found a new life as a result...including this beauty!! And I just love your quilting...it is just fabulous!! Thank you for being a big part of this quilt's adventure!!


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