Tag Archives: Repetition

Medallion Process — Final Borders


Unnamed top. About 71.5″ x 71.5″. January 2017.

Last weekend I finished this quilt top. I’ve shown you some of my process along the way, through the flying geese middle border. The geese border needed to be contained and balanced. Putting the orange and hot pink edge both inside and outside does that.

That decision was made before we traveled for the holidays. While gone I worked on designing the final border.

Remember the purposes of middle and outer borders are to

  1. build the story by repeating and varying earlier elements such as color, value, shape, line, and contrast; contributing to a motif or theme; and
  2. correct problems with balance and proportion; and complete and unify the composition.

I used EQ7 to try design options. If you ever think that designing with software is cheating somehow, let me assure you it is not. I spent many hours, trying literally dozens of designs, before choosing what you see above. One option that made the finals was a border of variable stars on point. Those variable stars, in fact, are what inspired me to begin this project, so it was hard to let them go. The star proportions are the same as the variable star in the middle of the Carpenter’s Wheel center block, so would echo it. (The EQ7 drawing below uses a different version of the center block than I used. See the photo above.) The on-point setting also repeats the 4-patches’ setting in the first border. Another benefit is the ability to use all the colors again in a natural way.


Pretty, yes? But I like the boldness of the components that come before, and the stars are small and the detail gets a bit lost. To me the design did not seem well balanced or fully unified.

Long ago I played with a number of quilt designs, which used a repetition of a center block motif in the corners of both an inner and an outer border. Here’s one example (and see more here and here.)

wraparound corners 4

I tried this idea in a variety of ways, and I liked the direction it was taking. I chose corners the same as the corners of the center block. They are the same size, and the pinks are the same fabrics. They made sense, continuing the floral motif and unifying the design in ways the variable stars did not.

However, with all the blank space between those corners, it didn’t balance well with the busyness and boldness of the flying geese. What it needed was more.

Next I tried more. I tried adding a flower variation in the centers of the border. Several iterations of that later, I stopped with my final choice. But still it looked too bare.

Once the chain blocks, made of double 4-patches, were added, I stopped. The 4-patches repeat the inner 4-patches. The chains’ stair-stepping shape also imitates the line of an on-point setting. Finally, they present the notion of floral stems or vines, or even swags, very traditional ways to border a medallion.

I have fabric for the back and will quilt it soon. I’ll show you final photos then.


Around the Corner

I’m trying to finish my Branching Out challenge quilt before Monday’s guild meeting. Once I’m done with it, I won’t get to do much quilting for the rest of the month or into August. These are a couple of weird, fragmented months, and I have much to do besides sew.

In the meantime, I continue to look for inspiration and ideas. While rolling though some googled images the other day, I noticed a handful of medallion quilts that had something in common. For each, the first border wrapped blocks around the center’s corners, leaving the middle of the border unpieced. The effect was to strengthen and extend the center block.

I drew some examples in EQ7 to save as reminders, and possibly as designs. They have a western or southwestern feel, masculine and rugged, but the idea is valid regardless of style or format. It could work just as well for a block quilt’s borders as for a medallion.

The first two illustrations don’t use exactly the same effect as the googled images, since they both have a narrow first border, followed by the block-wrap. In addition, my drawings repeat the corner design, which wasn’t used in what I saw elsewhere. Drawing in EQ7 leaves some “piecing” lines where I wouldn’t actually piece. Also all of the sizing isn’t exactly how I would make it in real life.

wraparound corners 1 wraparound corners 2 wraparound corners 3

This is the center block.
wraparound corners 3 block

This kind of corner gives a couple of positives. First, I like the way the fancy corners connect the rings of the quilt differently than with a more typical border/corner design. Second, the length of the border isn’t dependent on the length of the blocks in it. For example, in the second quilt above, the grey-blue strip between pieced brown blocks acts as one long spacer strip, and its length doesn’t need to be a multiple of the pieced block length or width. That makes it easy to adjust for odd border lengths.

Though these corners are a little showy, they don’t call attention to themselves, but contribute to the unity of the whole quilt. The repetition of the corner treatment in each design adds to that effect.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make any of them, but they have design elements that are worth remembering.


Southwestern Sun

Here is a quilt I finished last September but haven’t shown you yet. It is 60″ square and was inspired by colors of the American southwest.

Buddy Quilt Southwestern Sun

Southwestern Sun. 60″ square. Finished September 2014. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

With bars, flying geese, and hourglasses, the construction was very simple. Even the center block is just a fancy nine-patch. The apparent complexity is from the use of color and value. For example, alternating light orange and dark rusty orange in the final border gives a sense of three-dimensionality. The geese in multiple directions provide a sense of movement.

In some of my medallions all the corners are different and only relate to their respective borders. In this one they are patterned, drawing the eye outward with the repetition, alternating plain rust squares and two other, more complex blocks. Repeating with alternating designs creates a rhythm.

Another thing to note is the use of multiple fabrics of the same colors. There are several of each light orange, rusty orange, dark green, lighter green, and blue. If you use at least two of any color, you have invited another and might as well use it. When you do, you make the quilt more interesting, because there is more to look at. All of the fabrics except the back were from my stash.

The colors are very strong, even for me. But the consistency of saturation actually calms the whole. Consider the DeLight quilt I showed you recently. Its saturated reds, oranges, and violets are offset by the grey background. Because of the contrast, DeLight appears (to me) to have a stronger palette.

The longer I have this quilt, the more I like it. I’d be happy to give it up to a loved one. In the meantime, I’m happy to have it here.



XX’s Quilt

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 January 2015.

XX’s Quilt is a funny name, but this is a quilt for someone special, someone who can’t know the gift is coming. It will be several months before delivery, and in the meantime, I need to call it something!

I began this just before the end of 2014 and finished it in January.You’ve seen this as an unquilted top before. I’m trying to get in the habit of describing process on current projects, rather than unloading the whole story after the fact. Most of my decision points were described here.

I had created a quilt two years ago that I still consider one of my best. In the center of the center block, I used the medallion print used in XX’s. I set that quilt on point, as this one is. It was very elegant and masculine. I had hoped this one would have the same feel, but it does not. It is masculine, but I wouldn’t call it elegant. I’d call it bold, rather forthright!

So what do I like and what do I think falls short? It’s a unified design, with the different elements of color, value, line, shape, and pattern contributing to a whole. Nothing stands out as out of place. The repetition of various elements adds to that unity. The sawtooth border in the corner settings adds movement. The narrow borders create delineation between sections of the border but do not fragment it. The medallion print in the very center is repeated directly in the four corners, but also more subtly in the dark red floral border stripe, and in the small print of the next-to-last border. The strong value contrast leads to that bold, showy look, along with the Americana colors of dark reds and dusty blues.

For negatives, it seems slightly center-heavy to me, so the proportion isn’t quite right. Not sure how I would change that if I were starting over. I like the accents of dark brown, but they are rather far and wide, so don’t feel as consistent as if I’d used them a little more. And over all, it takes itself pretty seriously. There’s nothing playful or exuberant or light-hearted about it.

Even with all that, I’ve come to love it anyway. It will suit its recipient quite well.

Thanks as always to Jim for taking photos for me. ❤

Stained Glass Too WIP

More borders to follow. Current size is 44" x 48". Final size should be about  58" x 62".

More borders to follow. Current size is 44″ x 48″. Final size should be about 58″ x 62″.

This one is fun. I started it with 12 4″ hourglass blocks, left from another project. They didn’t quite work there, but they were so pretty together. It made sense to use them right away, rather than waiting for some other project to miraculously need them in the future.

The first border set around the center hourglasses also were discarded from the other project. The rest of the quilt comes from stash. I love the colors, which seem lit like stained glass. They don’t show their brilliance in the photo.

I chose the long triangles (what are they called??) to break the 90 degree angles used to that point. I think they add a sense of movement. They gave me an opportunity to repeat some colors, as well as to introduce a few new ones. Since the new colors are of the same feel, they don’t look out of place, providing unity.

The last borders will ring what you already see without more elaborate piecing. My brother and I agreed it will give the sense of looking over balcony railings in an old, ornate building.