Stained Glass

A lot of quilters are intimidated by the idea of making a medallion. For many, borders are either difficult or boring, or sometimes both! Many quilt designs/patterns use borders that are just long pieces of fabric enclosing the center. And it can be a struggle to make borders fit, whether they are pieced or not. (I think the “modern” style de-emphasizing borders reflects both of these issues.) A medallion with several borders can seem too hard.

In fact, anyone with a little basic quilting experience can make a medallion. Consider that many quilters’ first class is in making a sampler with several different block styles. Most of those blocks are harder than the units I regularly use in medallion borders.

Early this year when I submitted one version of my book proposal, I mailed two quilts to the publisher. Both were quilts created as projects for the book. I made the larger one about a year ago and the little one just before mailing it off. One of my intentions for both quilts was that they look doable, with borders using simple units.

The Little One, a 40″ square project, can be made in infinite ways. (In fact, all three of my project blueprints can be. I want you to make your quilt, not mine.) This is one take on that blueprint. It has five borders and I call it “Stained Glass” because of the luminous effect of the fabrics I used.

Little One Stained Glass

Stained Glass. 40″ square. Finished February 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

As you can see, the borders are pretty simple. There are flying geese close to the center, stripes/strips, hourglasses, and squares in a checkerboard. Almost everyone with a little experience can make these units.

You might remember another quilt I made this Spring, called “Stained Glass Too.” When I made the hourglass blocks for Stained Glass (above,) I decided some of them were a little murky with their value contrast. I pulled those and made replacements. The pulled ones became the center of their own quilt (and they felt vindicated and victorious!)

Stained Glass Too. 66" x 70". Finished March 2015.

Stained Glass Too. 66″ x 70″. Finished March 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

And to close out this post, I’ll show you the other book project quilt I mailed to that publisher. (YES, I did get my quilts back!) This one is called “Southwestern Sun” and it is 60″ square. Again, though it looks complex, the units are simple. See the linked post if you’d like to know more about it.

Buddy Quilt Southwestern Sun

Southwestern Sun. 60″ square. Finished March 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I was proud to submit Stained Glass and Southwestern Sun as part of my book proposal, and I have no regrets.


16 thoughts on “Stained Glass

  1. katechiconi

    Of the three you’ve shown, Stained Glass (the Little One) is my favourite, simply because the colours are so much to my taste, but the structure of Stained Glass Too is fabulous. As you say, it *looks* complex and intimidating, but broken down, I can see it’s not too tough even for an arithmetical dunce like myself.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I will admit to you, my dear, that SG Too was kind of a hard quilt. The outside border, in particular, was a booger. That might not translate well into Australian, but I really struggled to get it to fit.

      Someday I’ll convince you that you can do these if you want. One excellent means to deal with borders that are too long is to cut them off. And likewise, if they are too short, add a spacer. It is historically, traditionally fine and has its own charm. 🙂

          1. katechiconi

            That’s the one. It came together quite quickly, but I’m not anxious to repeat the experience. Any future medallion will need some calculation assistance!

  2. Tammy

    Too bad about the book idea, I would have bought one for sure. I love the fabric with circles in Southwestern Sun and think it adds great contrast. Since the book deal hasn’t happened (yet) I frequent your blog and learn for free, so many thanks Melanie!

  3. snarkyquilter

    I can see where the last border of Stained Glass Too would be a bugger. Lots of points to keep sharp and lots of opportunity for strips to go curvy. As you get ready to self publish you can emulate Edith Piaf and sing “Je Ne Regrette Rien.”

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ll have to look up the song later. 🙂 Yes, the real problem was that it was much too long, even made “to fit.” So I took it in over and over. Never did figure out how my sizing was so far off. But honestly that is rare for me. I’m not sure if I just plain did it wrong (bad math?) or if there was something particular about those blocks that made the issue.


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