The first thing you need to decide is how big you want your blocks to be. I use a 12.5 inch square ruler, and I find it makes things much easier. If you would rather use a regular quilting ruler, that's fine too!
Get all of your fabric ready and divided in whatever way works for you. I have my scrap baskets divided into cool, warm, and neutrals. I also don't distinguish between scraps and strings. They all go in together, and you'll love using both with improv piecing.
Start by sewing two pieces of fabric together. It's helpful if the sides you're sewing are similar in length, but not necessary. When you're finished sewing, just take your scissors and trim the excess.
Add another piece to any side you choose. I always try not to sew around the first piece in a regular way, so that it doesn't end up looking too much like a log cabin block.
If you don't come across a piece that is long enough to cover the side, or if you just want some variety, piece a couple of scraps together to make them long enough. As your sides get longer, you will have to piece smaller scraps to get enough length. Try to avoid sewing too many long strips on the sides or your block might end up looking like a log cabin instead of an improv block.
I don't press my block until the end when I'm sewing like this, but you can if you choose. Continue adding to your sides until you have a block that is about 3-4 inches bigger than your square template.
I know you're wondering why you are making blocks that are too big, but just trust me. The part that will make your blocks really special is coming up.
Give your block a press and take it to your cutting mat. Line up your template along one edge of your block. Check our those extra side strips! Cut them off with care and don't throw them away. You'll need them later!
I know when I look at quilts that are improv pieced I'm always impressed by the tiny little strips and fabric bits that seem so perfectly placed within the blocks. Well, you can get those neat little pieces without actually sewing teeny tiny pieces. We're going to use those fabulous little trimmed strips in your next blocks! One or two of those strips can really add a lot of interest to a block full of bigger pieces.
If you really get on a roll, you can always make a really big improv block and cut several blocks from it! This also gives you the freedom to use pieces that are a little bigger, because there is a good chance that they will get cut when you cut your blocks out.
You can do improv piecing with a planned color palette as well! If you choose to use scraps though, just remember that the beauty of a scrap quilt isn't fully realized until all of the blocks are together. In my opinion, that's when scrap quilts really show their wow factor!
I really encourage you to try some improv piecing. Once you get the hang of it, it's a lot of fun, and I think it's really great for getting your creativity and sewjo going!
Editied 8/25 to add- Here's a picture of the finished quilt, just in case you're wondering how it looks when the blocks are all put together! You can check out the post with more pics of the finished quilt HERE!