Still Climbing Mountains

Last year I had fun making a medallion using big prints. (If you click on the photo, it will open in a new tab.)


The Mountain. 60″ square. November 2015. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It was a challenge for me, because big prints tend to mute contrast. I like strong contrast and the sharp edges it reveals. I named the quilt “The Mountain.” In the linked post, I said this about the name, “I am not sure why the name came to me, other than that I have been climbing and climbing, mentally and physically and emotionally and artistically, and now I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere, though of course I’ll never reach the peak.” To see more about the design process, click here.

Early this year I saw a quilt top on this site that also merged big prints, but in a completely different way. (I didn’t link the quilt top itself, because the photos disappear when she has sold the tops. And I won’t copy her picture, because it is her picture. However, as of writing this, the top appears in the set of tops over $100.)

I thought about how to make a similar quilt and make it my own. This was the result:


Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The name, “Still Climbing Mountains,” is for three reasons. First and most importantly, the block style used is called “Delectable Mountains.” Second, I am still climbing! And third, it reminds me of The Mountain because of the big prints.

In truth, though, there are all kinds of fabrics in this quilt. They range from solids and tone-on-tone, to very large prints. There are batiks and traditionally printed fabrics, ethnic-ish designs and geometrics and Civil War repros. The fabrics were purchased over many years from local quilt shops and large retailers. Browns, teals, rusts, olives, and tans, I just kept pulling fabrics from stash until I had enough.

There are 48 blocks in a 6 x 8 layout. If you look at the photo above, they are arranged by value. The first column (left to right) is very dark and medium dark. Column 2 is medium dark and medium light. Column 3 is medium light and medium dark. Columns 4-6 reverse the order to finish with very dark.

Construction was amazingly simple. I began by making 48 half-square triangles that would finish at 9.5″. That is a weird number, but the unfinished size is 10″. (I cut squares of fabric at 10 3/8″. I cut them on the diagonal and then stitched HST from them. If you cut oversized and then trim, you would trim to 10″, so a finished HST would be 9.5″.)

Each HST then was sliced into 4 segments of 2.5″ by 10″. The segments are rearranged and sewn back together. The new block finishes at 8″ x 9.5″.

hst sliced rearranged

The coolest thing was how each block transformed as it was rearranged.
Del Mtn blocks in process

Assembling the top was easy, too. I assembled each of the six columns, being careful to match them in the one place where the jags fit together. When sewing the columns together, you only need to match the block corners, because that is the only place where contrast shows. In fact, though I’m usually pretty careful in my construction, this was a really forgiving quilt top! My blocks were not all exactly sized and my within-block seams didn’t match up, and believe me, there is no way to see any of that! It was fun and fast — the hardest part was picking the fabrics, and I’m not kidding.

This is one of four quilts I finished in August. September will be a lot lower output for me, so it was nice to mark some finishes.

22 thoughts on “Still Climbing Mountains

  1. Sue

    This is a really attractive quilt, Melanie. Great block, great name to it, and the variety of fabrics gives so much for the eye to wander around and see. Nice work!

  2. tierneycreates

    The quilt with the rusts & browns is super lovely. When I saw your post title, suddenly in my head I had a song from The Sound of Music: “Climb Every Mountain”…keep climbing!

  3. snarkyquilter

    One of the clever things about the construction method you use is that stripes continue to line up across the sub-strips. The light neutral zigzags in the center really liven this one up and help it breathe. Otherwise all those rich colors could become too heavy. Is that blue/brown blotchy (I mean in a good way) fabric from Marcia Derse?

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yeah, I LOVED the way the stripes lined up, whether “horizontal” or “vertical.” And that chevron was fun, too. The blue/brown is Marcia Derse. Good catch. I think the rust in the upper right corner block is, too. She is one of about 3 designers I would recognize.

  4. katechiconi

    I really like your colour choices on this one, the blue pops and enlivens the duller colours, and the sprinkle of more contrast-y prints really works. You’ve really made all the values work for you, too.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I agree using the teal-blues really makes the rest work better. I still feel a little uneasy with the value contrasts — I like them strong! and this is a little lower contrast. But I do really like the way it turned out. Thanks!

  5. mothercat2013

    I really like this. (And I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve tucked the idea away in the “Future Quilts” folder in my mind – with retirement now only only 5 weeks away, I can’t wait to get started on some of them! 🙂 ) Love your combination of colours, and the way you’ve arranged the light/dark blocks to form a secondary pattern, it’s very effective.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Woohoo! Congratulations on the upcoming retirement! There is SO MUCH TO DO, you will be busier than ever! Thanks for taking a look. If you make some version of this, please do let me know.

      1. mothercat2013

        Will do! I’m really looking forward to all the projects which lie ahead – I have years of stash stocked up in preparation, some of which is now buried pretty deep, so I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with the fabrics I fell in love with years ago, LOL! I know that some of it was bought before I knew anything about quilting, so there will definitely be some pieces that simply aren’t suitable – but then, that could be an opportunity to experiment, yes? 🙂

  6. knitnkwilt

    I like it. I love the idea of mixing fabric from all eras and types. And I think having some solids and blenders helps control the big prints. What is hardest for me is determining the value of large prints.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Value of large prints can be hard. I actually intended to use a couple as lights that just didn’t work, because of that. The ones I used were pretty low contrast, so it wasn’t a big problem for them. Thanks very much.


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