Last evening I finished Marquetry. (Thanks to Kate for this quilt’s name. She said it reminded her of inlay marquetry. When I saw the photos she linked, I knew it was right.)


Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I started this quilt for my Medallion Improv! class. When I teach (and blog,) my goal is to help quilters make their quilt, not mine. So for the class I started two quilts of vastly different styles. Doing so, and making my quilts along with theirs, helps show that the process works regardless of style or fabrics used.

The class template is for a 60″ quilt. This gives a guideline for people to follow if they want, but at least half of my students go rogue, either ignoring the template altogether or deviating at some point. Both of my quilts deviated this time, because it was the right thing to do for the quilt. Marquetry is substantially larger at 87″ square. I did follow the template through the first 60″ (the large red/light half-square triangles) but it wasn’t done yet.

A few process/evaluation comments
The overall feel is exactly what I hoped for. With the dark reds and black Jacobean print, the quilt could have been very serious and dreary. What I wanted was joyful and bright, and that’s what was achieved. The cheddar (orange) color adds zing, and the strong value contrast (lots of cream/white/light values) keeps the quilt from getting gloomy.

The proportion and balance are good with Marquetry, better than I achieved in XX’s Quilt, below. And Marquetry is happy, while XX’s seems very serious.

One of the design issues I faced was the HST border in greens and creams. The first time I tried their placement, I ran them in a sawtooth around. (No! I did NOT sew them together like that! This is a thing you try before stitching!) But I hated them and thought I would scratch that border altogether. But HST can be placed many different ways, so always try a few out before deciding what to do. Once I set them in their tumbling pattern, I knew they would work just fine, and in fact echo the hourglasses near the center.

One of the few “weirdnesses” to note is something other people might not notice. In general, I am careful with my corners, because corners are a focal point in medallions. The diagonal lines they create draw attention, so that attention should be positive, not negative. In this case I didn’t coordinate the corners at all. I made each corner only relative to its own border. As your eye moves outward from the center, most every corner is different in design. Though I mention this, in fact it doesn’t bother me on this particular quilt. There is enough (deliberate) busyness of design that the corner differences don’t stand out. Yep. I guess that’s why it works okay here.

I started with an economy block for the very center, which I made late last year. The fussy-cut medallion print was from a yard I bought in Boulder City, NV, after Jim and I visited Hoover Dam in 2011. I’ve used it in a similar way in two other quilts, also shown below. Note, also, that I used it in outer corners in all three quilts. Likely I won’t use it this way again. 🙂


Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

XX's Quilt. 75" x 75". Begun with a medallion print purchased in Boulder City, NV. Finished in February 2015.

XX’s Quilt. 75″ x 75″. Begun with a medallion print purchased in Boulder City, NV. Finished in February 2015.

A wedding quilt, about 78″ square. February 2013.

My verdict? Success! This quilt makes me happy to look at it. It uses really simple blocks but looks complex. I think it was a great example for my class.

16 thoughts on “Marquetry

  1. Nann

    The impression I got from looking at these — especially the first one — is of perspective–as though you’re looking down a well to see the star at the bottom. Wonderful! (And the “tumbling” HSTs are a stroke of design genius.)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Nann! I can’t claim any genius on those HST. I’m just lucky to have enough experience with them (“mature” quilter) to know I should try them more than one way. This one worked, also lucky! 🙂

  2. snarkyquilter

    The group mind came through with the perfect name. I’m amazed at how different the same fabrics look in the different quilts on my computer screen. I just realized that the last border on the third quilt and the fourth border from the outside on the second quilt are the same fabric.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      They are the same fabric. And the 3 quilt photos were taken at different times with different lighting and likely different cameras. We’ve been experimenting with that for more than 3 years and finally feel like the pix show the colors and exposure we expect. Thanks.

  3. KerryCan

    It’s beautiful–and my favorite of the three, too. It’s interesting to see that medallion print in three different quilts–I wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      As I look at the 3 quilts, I see a lot of similarities and differences, and I can remember a lot of my thinking as I designed them. I learned a lot through the process. I do think the most recent is the best balanced and proportioned, but there is a lot I like about the others, too. Thanks for looking and commenting.

  4. katechiconi

    It looks great, and I’m glad the name works for you. Interesting also to see the related series, the others are lovely too, but this one’s my favourite!


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