Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously presents a new approach to modern quilting. Ten frameworks or “scores” guide quilters to create innovative, improvised modern quilts.

Hundreds of quilters submitted “test quilts” for the book, and Sherri asked participants to evaluate their experience and outcome using the framework/scores process. Sherri writes, “Only 22 of the test quilts were included in the book, but I hope you agree that all of them are worthy examples of the scores, each in their own way. The efforts and critical feedback of the test quilters definitively shaped the content of the ten scores, or flexible patterns, included in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.” The 22 example quilts are interspersed with Sherri’s beautiful work, featuring mostly solids and her fabulous collection of vintage 70’s prints.

From the publisher:

    Forget step-by-step instructions and copycat designs. In The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, Sherri Lynn Wood presents a flexible approach to quilting that breaks free of old paradigms. Instead of traditional instructions, she presents 10 frameworks (or scores) that create a guiding, but not limiting, structure. To help quilters gain confidence, Wood also offers detailed lessons for stitching techniques key to improvisation, design and spontaneity exercises, and lessons on color. Every quilt made from one of Wood’s scores will have common threads, but each one will look different because it reflects the maker’s unique interpretation. Featured throughout the book are Wood’s own quilts and a gallery of contributor works chosen from among the hundreds submitted when she invited volunteers to test her scores during the making of this groundbreaking work.

One of the ten frameworks or scores is for Floating Squares. Sherri writes, “The Score For Strings encourages us to find the right balance of freedom and control so that improvisation will flow. Too many limits are restrictive for some. Too few limits will overwhelm others.” You can see some of the many test quilts for this score in the exclusive Floating Squares test quilt gallery. This is just one example of how Sherri’s guidance supports quilters as they develop related– but totally individual– quilt interpretations.

Sherri has her Top 10 Reasons to Sew Ruler Free below. Do you ever sew ruler free? Do you feel total freedom or completely nervous when you slice into your fabric?! In addition to her top-notch advice, Sherri and STC Craft are also offering a free giveaway copy of Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously. (U.S. residents only, please.) Comment below with your thoughts on scores or frameworks for improvisation, going ruler free or info on your latest modern quilting.

Top 10 Reasons to Sew Ruler Free

Set aside your rulers and templates as you work through the project scores in this book. All of the cutting you’ll do for the projects will be by your own hand, guided by expression rather than a ruler. While it may sound scary, it really does make sense when you’re improvising. Here are my top ten reasons to go ruler-free.

    1. Precise measurement slows you down and vectors energy away from improvisational flow.

    2. Ruler-free supports spontaneity and creative play.

    3. Ruler-made lines always communicate the same thing. They never vary in expression.

    4. Ruler-free nurtures authenticity in your work since your “signature” will be revealed in the way you cut, just as it is when you draw.

    5. Your hand-eye coordination will improve. Let go of the crutch and soon enough you will be able to cut perfectly straight 1″ (2.5 cm) strips without a ruler if you want to.

    6. There are more opportunities for happy accidents. Responding to imperfections and/or letting them stand adds beauty and interest to your quilts.

    7. Patchwork construction becomes less familiar without the habit of templates to depend on, leading to a deeper understanding of how patterns work.

    8. It supports flexible patterning since no two sections will be exactly alike.

    9. You become the measure of things and will grow to trust your own authority. Get used to being the ruler instead of depending on one.

    10. You won’t need one to make your pieces fit together and lie flat. And you’ll soon learn how!

The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters includes an entire section of exclusive and innovative ruler-free patchwork techniques, including approximate measuring, strip piecing, wedge-curve strip piecing, bias-strip piecing on the curve, layered-curves, darting, natural shaping and fitting.


Don’t miss other stops on the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously book tour, and find more from Sherri Lynn Wood at Daintytime.

May 4: STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery
May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery
May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend
May 8: Wise Craft Handmade – Score for Get Your Curve On Gallery
May 11: Studio Notes – Test Quilter Penny Gold
May 13: Quiltville – Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery
May 15: Peppermint Pinwheels – Test Quilter Stacey Sharman
May 18: Quirky Quilts – Test Quilter Kim McPeake
May 20: PoppyPrintCreates – Score for Patchwork Doodle Gallery
May 22: The Last Piece – Test Quilter Sara Fielke
May 25: Cauchy Complete – Score for Layered Curves Gallery
May 26: Diary of a Quilter – Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery
May 28: Getting Stitched on the Farm – Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery
May 29: Spoonflower – Score for Showing Up Gallery
May 30: Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson