From Inspired to Finished: The Flip Side

Early last year I decided to play with colors and shapes more. A great place to start with shapes is with triangles. For almost any image you want, you can build it out of triangles. I chose a silk scarf as inspiration for color.


I’ve always loved the combination of rich eggplant with lavender, reds and oranges, greens and sapphire blue. It’s as if the jewels have all tumbled out of the treasure chest. I cut triangles from a large number of fabrics in my stash. It isn’t a perfect recreation of the colors above. There is no real red in the triangles below, for instance. Still I think you can see the inspiration.

In fall of 2013 I started my Medallion Sew-Along. One of the posts I included was about center blocks. You can make a center block from almost anything, including whole cloth. I used the photo below to illustrate that idea. (This photo shows to me as black with gold. Really it is black with pale green.)

A great piece of ethnic print. The circles are about 5″ across.

After making my African Star quilt for great-friend Mark, I wanted to play more with ethnic fabrics and feel. I started with the whole cloth shown above, edged with trimmings from African fabric, and bordered with orange and then a batik. As you can see, I found a place for some of my triangles!

This shows the center’s green more clearly than the photo of the center cloth alone.

It needed something to break up one of those two inner borders. Either the orange or the bronzey batik had to change. They were too similar for width and design, and they were approximately the same width as the triangles border. I wanted to use a little more of the African black-on-cream fabric to create a new line, but I hesitated, overthinking the execution. After a long delay, I just cut strips to length, using Elmer’s school glue to attach them. A straight stitch leaving raw edges holds it all in place.

Beyond the triangles I added a heavily pieced border. My original plan was to add symmetrical borders on all four sides. However, when I looked at it with just top and bottom bordered, I knew that was enough.

But the quilt wasn’t done. Next came a narrow border of African mud cloth, and then the warm rusty brown unpieced border.

I could have stopped there, but I really wanted to bring out more of the green from the center. A little shopping expedition led to a batik with green and black, echoing that center. It also repeats the triangulation from the triangles border. Take a look: the only triangular shapes are in those two borders. A line of small squares repeats those used in the heavily-pieced top/bottom border, as well as the colors of the inner triangles. I found a wine batik to finish things. I like the small squares floating between parts of the wine borders.

When I showed this to my guild, I told them it was an exercise in restraint, that I wanted to see what I could do with less piecing. Some laughter, some moans arose from the crowd. But if you look closely, you’ll see that only four of the twelve borders are pieced. For me, that IS restraint!

But I made up for it.

When I made the back, the fabric I found was not my perfect color. Also, buying all that was left on the bolt would require some creative piecing of it. Since I needed to piece the back anyway, I decided to add in the strips of the top/bottom border that hadn’t been used on the sides. When joined together, and with just a little added, they would reach the full length of the back.

Then I went a little nuts. Rather than just adding one strip, I decided to add several. In fact, making the back was just as much of a project as making any quilt top. My inspiration here was Seminole-style piecing. Every photo I’ve seen of it has made my heart skip. This was the right time and place.


This was my last quilt of 2014, and in my opinion, a good way to end the year. I’m proud of this quilt for my work on both sides.


18 thoughts on “From Inspired to Finished: The Flip Side

  1. knitnkwilt

    And you should be proud. Both sides are gorgeous. I love the palette, and the addition of the narrow strip was an effective move, a small change that accomplished a lot. Since I’m a relative newcomer to your blog, I haven’t seen the ‘excess’ that this is a restraint from–I imagine I willin the future.


    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for your comments and compliments. I know the colors aren’t to everyone’s taste, but I think they work well together. As to excess, I think sometimes I don’t leave enough “space,” even though I am aware of the need to build it in. Maybe my next quilt needs to be all unpieced strips! 🙂


    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for taking a look. The inner triangular border is simply 5″ squares I cut diagonally and seemed back into 4 1/8″ HST blocks. Now, that is a weird number, and with 7 blocks on a side, adds up to 28 7/8″. So in fact, I sized the prior and next borders to that, rather than sizing the HST blocks. It WOULD be easier to make them a nicer size! Let me see if I can find the material that tells how to size borders to fit…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. snarkyquilter

    I really love the back which goes so well with the african fabrics you used. The purples in the one row give it such zing. And I think the colors are showing closer to what they really are in this post.


    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      YES. The colors on the two final pix are REALLY close, at least on my monitor. I love the back, too. It was fun to try that — should not seem like a big deal, but I’ve never done strip piecing like that before. A lot of it was just winging it, so a little freer for me. Thanks!


  3. Ann

    I really enjoyed you taking us through your thought processes with this quilt and the effect that different colours had on the centre. I tend to stick with fabrics from the same ‘collection’ but you have shown how mixing and matching pattern and colour can result in a spectacular quilt. I definitely need to experiment more. Well done!


    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      EXPERIMENT! 😀 Yes, please do try different types of fabrics together. I use solids and patterns and batiks and tone-on-tone. There are a few in this quilt that would be very sweet used elsewhere, such as the lavender that has a small white floral through it. One way to try that is to start with the collection you like, and then just substitute a couple collection fabrics with other things. If your collection has a rusty red, choose a different rusty red. Then sub in a couple of other things, also. Instantly your fabric set will look more interesting, because there will be a little bit of challenge with the colors close but not quite matching. You won’t need to do that many times to be willing to try more. Soon you’ll just choose an inspiration fabric and pull other things from your stash and a broad range of collections.

      Thanks so much for taking a look and commenting today.



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