Day 1 of My Journey Through Our 1st Mystery QAL

I’ve been very busy working behind the scenes to create my art piece for the Mystery QAL Tracy and I are hosting. I had the privilege of selecting the main fabric we all need to use in our projects. From the moment I made that decision my mind had been spinning with all the possible options:

  • Should I follow a pattern or
  • Create an improv art piece
  • What other fabrics should I include?

Thankfully I had several months to make my decision.

My heart beats fastest when I create improv art pieces so it seemed only natural to choose that path. One of my favorite improv artists is Cindy Grisdela. She wrote a book called Artful Improv: Explore Color Recipes, Building Blocks & Free-Motion Quilting. I began my Mystery QAL journey by using her book as my inspiration.

Mystery QAL_Inspiration

My first task was to begin pulling fabrics from my inventory to be used as companions to the mandatory fabric Fluffer Nutter You Be You.

Fluffer Nutter You Be You
Fluffer Nutter You Be You

These are the fabrics I initially chose


They would ultimately become the building blocks for my piece.

Day One

With Cindy’s book open on my table, I began the process of converting my fabrics into art pieces. First up was the creation of angled strips. Beginning on page 43 Cindy walks her reader through the steps needed to create them. I’ve made these strips before but I thought it would be a fun and educational lesson.

After creating several sets I began auditioning them, turning and moving them in every direction to decide whether I would stitch them together into one or more units. This is one of the arrangements I tried.

Mystery QAL Day 1 Angled Strips, What If’s?

Ultimately I decided to stitch two sections together, creating three new blocks. Those three units were then manipulated even further by slicing them and adding strips of blue fabric. I also decided to surround each of them with a border. The photo below shows my three building blocks with their added blue strips. It also shows the three fabrics I was auditioning as potential backgrounds.

Mystery QAL Day 1 End of Day

Also in that photo you will see that I had cut up one of my angled pieces into strips. My hope was to use those small segments to create other blocks. The strips are just resting on fabric for the time being.

I accomplished a lot the first day. There was, however, so much more to achieve. One has to admit, when they are exhausted, that it is time to call it a day. I had definitely reached that point. So with that, Day One had come to an end.

Day Two

The next chapter in Cindy’s book teaches the reader how to make Improv Circles. I had never attempted to make these before. From her photos they appeared to be fairly easy to tackle. I thought their unusual flowing lines could make an interesting addition to my evolving piece so why not try them.

To create my improv circles I stacked two different 5″ x 5″ fabric squares on top of one another. I then cut a curved line extending from the bottom right corner over to the top left corner. Next I shuffled the top right section to the bottom of the stack and the bottom right section to the top of the stack. The fun part was stitching the curved edges together. The photo below shows my improv circles before they were stitched.

Mystery QAL Day 2 Improv Circles

After stitching the groupings of two pieces together I then shuffled the stacks one more time. This second shuffle allowed me to create pairs of differently colored fabrics. All-in-all the process was very easy and it created really cool blocks. I’m absolutely certain I’ll be making more of them in the future.

On page 51 Cindy’s book teaches you how to make Improv Blocks. I am not a newcomer to this technique. I’ve used it so many times to create interesting blocks. While I didn’t need to follow her instructions I did decide to make improv blocks to add to my arsenal. Shown below are just two of them.

By the end of Day Two I had made all kinds of progress. I was so happy with the direction my piece was going. Since I was having so much fun it was really hard to quit. The attention I had paid to the process though had worn me out. Once I get tired it’s hard to keep my focus. The best thing to do is to surrender to my craving for more and call it a day.

Here’s a look at my design wall at the end of Day Two.

Mystery QAL Day Three Design Wall

On the wall you can see my three angled strip blocks, my three improv circles blocks and four improv square blocks.

This brings to a close my first installment in my Mystery QAL adventure. I hope that you have found this to be an interesting, educational and entertaining update? If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them. I love hearing from my readers.

Thanks so much for visiting today! Talk with soon! 🙂


19 thoughts on “Day 1 of My Journey Through Our 1st Mystery QAL

  1. Cindy this is GREAT! I am going to have to get that book:. You make it look so easy. I haven’t done much improv quilting, but your oranges and blues are inspiring. I love the MYSTERY fabric peeking through as well❤️❤️❤️

    1. She does a fine job presenting her techniques. Nothing over the top complicated. Love seeing her photos as well. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. I really like the oranges and blues too! We make a great team! ♥️💃

  2. Hi Cindy,
    What great results after two days of work! I am just drawn to that fabric, the darker blue with narrow strips going in different directions. I love how the fabric itself mimics what the strips are doing in your pieces. I know you have wanted to try out this author’s suggestions for a bit – do you find it worth the wait? Are you happy with your two days of fun and learning? I think you should be. ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. Roseanne, most definitely! I have admired her work for some time. I can very easily identify with her style. I’m so glad that you like what you see so far. I can’t wait for you to see the rest. As always, thanks so much for visiting and for sharing your thoughts! ❤️💃

  3. Hi Cindy! This looks fun and is coming along very nicely! Some cool fabric selections too…I am particularly drawn to the print on the bottom of one of the square blocks that looks like leaves or feathers.

    1. Warm Greetings to you! I am having a grand time playing with my fabrics! Such a privilege. The fabric you are speaking of is one of my favorites too! I just love having it in my inventory. I am thrilled that you have taken the time to read my post and share your thoughts! Have a grand day! 💃

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