This month’s queen bee in Stash Bee’s Hive 3 is Michelle from Factotum of Arts. Michelle requested some improv blocks to go in her Looking through the Shattered Looking Glass quilt. Click on the link to see a wonderful post about inspiration for quilt design and scroll down to see her lovely Looking Glass design.

I confess that I started these blocks in a bit of chaos. I fretted about whether to organize or just dive into the blocks.

Starting @ml_wilkie 's @stashbee blocks even though i should probably tidy and organize my sewing table first.

The blocks won. I dove.

Stashbee Hive 3 Block 2

I really liked the bit of movement that the diagonal brought to the first block I put together.


So I included two diagonals to the second block. I put the diagonals at opposing angles, hoping to add interest and keep the viewer’s eye moving around the block instead of along a line or just in one direction.


One of the earlier pictures shows a piece of leaf-like fabric with red in it staged near the middle of the block. Michelle’s design has green improv blocks bordering red/orange/yellow blocks. I absolutely love that fabric and wanted to include it despite how much the red stands out against the green. I thought putting that beloved fabric at the edge would mean she can use this block in the transition area from green to red/yellow/orange.

Care to see the backs?


All those seams are pressed open.

I was a little worried about pressing seams open when the finished white space is only 1/4″ wide. That means there ends up being 1/4″ from one side pressed back over the entire 1/4″ that was pressed from the other side. I thought it would be funky, but it was no trouble at all.


The left block squares up around 10.5″ and the right is roughly 11″x14″. I’m making an angel block for another bee member who has a big move this month, so I hope to have a later installment called Looking Glass: Red, Orange, and Yellow. Michelle asked for 6.5″ or 12″ blocks, but I hope these end up being useful. I found it challenging to improv my way into a specific size with the white framing, but I’ll work harder on that for the next round!

The tutorial for this block can be found on the Stash Bee blog.


  1. Daisy

    Wonderful,  Michelle! I feel like I should clarify for folks that if you simply trim the blocks down without being careful, you run the risk of not having a colored shape on the edge that is big enough to attach the white sashing. There’s got to be about 3/4″ of the color fabric on the edge – smaller than that and the color risks getting eaten up by the white. So that’s why I left them as is. I’m glad it works for you! (And I hope it helps others who are still putting their blocks together – be sure to consider the quarter inch that Michelle needs once we send her our blocks!)

  2. Julie

    They both look great – I have never tried anything improv before, so I am impressed when others do. Love that wine glass in the top photo – always a help when deliberating over fabric choices:)

  3. Margaret

    Love these blocks! I have never done improv before but love the effect and you’ve done a fabulous job on these. The diagonals really make them come to life. Great job!

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