For this block we’re going to make one 12.5″ (12″ finished) improv block consisting of a flower with a stem and a leaf. Please read the full instructions before you start and use the comments (scroll down to the bottom of the page) if you have any questions.

Pattern template

As this is an improv block, there is no template as such, but please see below for ideas of what to aim for.


  • Scrap fabric in your choice of colour for the flower
  • Scrap fabric in green for stem and leaf
  • Scrap fabric in a contrasting colour for the background

Making the blocks

My top tip for this block is to make two flowers at the same time, as this way you won’t waste thread between adding pieces. You’ll sort of ‘chain piece’ the two flowers.

Making the flower head

Start with the fabric you’d like as the centre of the flower; it can be any shape but I suggest it’s not a perfect square or rectangle, but rather something more ‘interesting’.

Next, add your second piece of fabric right sides together along one of the sides. Sew (no need to back stitch at either end). Press. I pressed the seam allowances away from the centre, but do as you like.

Now, take your third piece of fabric and place it right sides together with the two you’ve already sewn together. Trim any excess fabric and press.

Right sides facing
Sewn and then pressed

Continue in the same fashion until you have all sides of the middle fabric covered. I was typically using four or five different fabrics in this ’round’.


First ’round with five fabrics surrounding the middle piece

Continue working your way around the flower, adding new strips of fabrics until you have a pleasing shape. 

It’s almost like a freehand log cabin, but where your aim is to get it into a suitable pentagon or hexagon shape, i.e. aim for five or six fabrics for this ’round’. 

The second ’round’ completed 

When doing mine, I was aiming for the outside sides being around 4″ in the loose shape of a pentagon. As I was doing quite a few, I printed out a hexagon with the sides of 4″ so I quickly could check that I had added enough strips for the size I was aiming for.


Once you have a suitable flower head, take strips of your background fabric and add to all but one side of the flower (you’re going to add the stem area to that side later on). 

In the image below, I used 4″ strips, but on other flowers I’ve used 2″ strips; it was just a matter of what I had available. 

On this one I used 4″ wide strips, but anything works

Creating the stem area

Next, take your fabrics for the background, leaf and stem.

Improv cut the stem at a slight curve and then sew this in between two background pieces.

Next, improv cut the leaf to one side and sew it in place, followed by a background piece


First cut for leaf
First side sewn
Second cut done; next sew it


Improv leaf in place, press, but do not trim yet

To avoid too much trouble later on, make sure the stem area is at least as wide as the flower head area.

Press, but do not trim it at this stage.

Finalising the block

Take the two pieces; stem area and flower head area (with background strips already sewn on as above).

Line up the two parts and cut, checking so flower and leaf fit within the 12″ finished block size.

Sew the two parts together so the stem is sort of in the middle of the flower head. Remember, not many real flowers are perfectly balanced!

Three examples of improv flower heads and stem areas

If you have it, take your 12.5″ x 12.5″ ruler and check where you need to add fabric to get the block the right size.

I need to add background fabric along three of the sides for this block

Add further background fabric to get the block to the required 12.5″ unfinished size. Sometimes a curvy line may make it easier, but straight lines work too! Trim to size.

Four blocks, each 12.5″

Other versions

I had a bit of fun and created a few flowers with much longer stems and no leaves but as these blocks are way taller than 12″ they didn’t qualify for the Blog Hop. There are lots of opportunities with this improv flower! (i just need to remember to iron the blocks before I take photos next time…)

See more of my work

To see my other blogs including stash busting ideas and the quilting book club, please see my blog page here on UKQU or find me on Instagram as BossyOz.

More blogs in the #GFBH2020 series

  • To see all the  fabulous designs in the Garden Flower Blog Hop series, click here