Mendocino Mermaid Improv Quilt // Finished Quilts

Mermaid Improv Quilt with spiral quilting

Tada! After 3.5 years, the Mendocino Mermaid Improv Quilt is finished!

I originally made this quilt top in 2012, as part of a Dresden ruler challenge. There is even a tutorial for this improv piecing, which is made using dresden rulers. I know some people have a hard time with improv piecing–this is controlled improv piecing, if you will.

The quilt top has sat for a few years.  I loved the colors.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.42.59 PM

I loved the fabrics (including the Heather Ross mermaids and swimming sisters, several years after they were released and several years before the reprint. Funny that fabric can become rare and precious, eh?) But I didn’t love the finished quilt top. The proportion of the borders were wrong, and what is worse, they were wonky. So the finished quilt top, backing, batting, and MATCHING purple thread sat in a bin for a few years.

Mermail Improv Quilt Progress

My new quilt guild, the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild (on IG as @saltlakemqg) has a “finish your works in progress” challenge going right now, and for whatever reason, it has inspired me to pull out all sorts of old projects and work on them.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I hated the borders, so I chopped them off. And you know what? It took me a weekend to baste, bind, and quilt the quilt after that. I did a spiral quilting, which I think works on this quilt. Spiral quilting is one of those where the individual lines don’t have to be perfect for the overall result to work!


Do you have any long term WIPs? Pull them out, and determine what it is that is holding you back from finishing them. Chop off a border. Add new fabrics to the mix (I am sharing a triangle quilt next week where I did just that). Sell or share or donate a quilt top that just doesn’t inspire you. Finish it up or give it away, that is my new motto.

Happy quilting.

P.S. In case you are interested in the tutorial (screenshot shown below), it can be found here. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.43.57 PM
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  1. Pat S
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    It was worth the wait.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Thank you!

  2. Lisa C in Dallas
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Clapping for joy that you finished this quilt. Feels great, I’m sure. Sometimes putting something away for a bit changes our perspective and sometimes we just need to overcome an obstacle. Either way, a finish in anyone’s hand (mine, gift or donation) is better than sewn fabric on a shelf. Now pretty uncut fabric on a shelf is another story….

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      This made me smile. Yes to pretty fabric on a shelf 😉

  3. Posted March 9, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you were inspired to finish this- it’s fabulous!

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Thank you!

  4. Posted March 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I bet you felt terrific when you finished this and finished it so well. Chopping it the way you did was so effective! I like the one pieced block outside of center too.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 21, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      It’s been so nice to finish up some quilts. Its been about two years since I did much of any sewing, so its also like looking at everything with fresh eyes. Hard and wonderful at the same time.

  5. Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy to have found your tutorial – I think it’s genius! Controlled improv is just my thing and I do love your quilt! Thank you for this inspiration!

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