Tag Archives: Shape



DeLight. 96″ square. Finished June 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

(Click on the photo above to open it larger in a new tab.)

As noted (extensively) in the last post about this quilt, the center block is a variation of an old design called “Odd Fellow’s” block. I found the design in a book called One Block Says It All, by Toni Phillips and Juanita Simonich. The book has a number of patterns all based on 60″ center blocks, surrounded by a couple of borders. While I used the same configuration as one of the centers in the book, I scaled mine to 32″, still a large block by most standards.

I’ve discussed before the proportion of the center as compared to the whole medallion quilt. Though I didn’t have a final plan when I made the block, I knew the quilt would be sized for a big bed, queen or king, so a big block would work well. (I’ll give all the border sizes in another post, as well as a blank you can play with.)

Almost all the shapes in this quilt are big. The smallest shapes are star points at the very center of the quilt. Next are the blue accent triangles in the inner HST border. They are small, but the solid pale grey in which they’re set creates large shapes to offset. (Note this: there are two shapes, one in the “color” and one in the background, or negative space. Either or both contribute to the sense of scale.) Also, the vibrant blue gives them weight relative to their size.

The “middle” border is actually two blocks wide. Each block finishes at 8″ square, so the perceived width of the combined border is 16″. As compared to the center (finishing at 32″) the middle border seems wide, and the blocks are bulky. The pale grey background fabric also attracts the eye more than the darker grey in the center. When the quilt is hanging as shown, the wide border and value difference takes some of the focus away from the center. When the quilt is on a bed, however, the imbalance is lessened in impact.


Two of the feature fabrics are the red with black print, making star points in the center and the large red triangles in the broad border, and the orange dandelion fabric. I’ve long wanted to use them together. They set the color scheme for the rest of the quilt, emphasizing the reds and oranges, but also including the violet.

The background color throughout the quilt is grey in varying shades. I’ll be honest. I am not a fan of grey, generally. But it was the right offset to the reds and oranges. It is very neutral, as a white would be, but it is less stark than white. That said, I much prefer the paler greys to the darker ones.

Speaking of paler compared to darker, the value contrasts in this quilt are a big factor in its effectiveness. In particular, I think the center block would be better if the background grey were paler, lending more contrast and showing off the Odd Fellow’s block and its fabrics better.

On the other hand, the broad border might be better with slightly less value contrast between its background grey and the shapes of color. A little less contrast would make the odd shapes stand out less.

Overall, though, I like strong contrasts creating distinct rings of value between center and border components. So while I’m not completely satisfied with the effect here, in the broad scope of things, I think the value contrast works okay.

Shapes are another design element we use to create meaning in a quilt. The comment above about value contrast in the broad border alludes to odd shapes. In truth, I really like the shapes from center through the big red triangles. And I like the outside border of red half-square triangles. And I even love the Old Maid’s Puzzle blocks in the corners of the broad border. But the other shapes there, especially the squares on point and the flying geese on either end of them, do not work as well for me as I’d hoped. Though they are connected to the red triangles and the Old Maid’s Puzzles, they don’t seem to relate. I still haven’t figured out what would have worked better.

Unity is the design principle that refers to the overall look of a piece. Does it present itself as a whole, or are there parts or elements that look out of place? This quilt displays unity. Aside from my misgivings about the squares on point, I don’t think they draw attention to themselves, distracting from the whole design. The strong symmetry and repetition of shapes and colors is soothing, while the ways points are directed provides some tension and contrast.

This quilt isn’t on my list of favorites, but I tried some things I hadn’t done before, and on the whole I like it very much.

Look for the EQ quilt design next time.

Stained Glass Too

I am very blessed — I have few real deadlines or obligations in my life. (Taxes? Done! Death? Not in a hurry!) But when I’m nearing the end of a project, and nearing the end of a month, I end up telling myself I should finish that project by the end of the month.

I LOVE finishing things, because then I can start new things. And with a new class to teach this month, it was great to clear the decks at the end of March. In doing so, I finished Stained Glass Too and Garden Party.

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

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

I’ve shown you progress on this quilt as I made it, and I showed you the finished top before quilting.

The quilting I chose (which you probably can’t see in the photo above) was simple meandering. The primary reason was because I wanted the effect of ripply antique stained glass, and/or the notion of the colors being wavy and washed like watercolors. As simple as the quilting was, it did what I wanted.

I love the colors and fabrics in this quilt, almost without exception. It was fun to make a quilt all tending toward warm. Even the “cool” colors were greens, turquoises, and purples, so all had warm hues mixed in. The quilt became a little bigger than I’d originally planned. I thought it would stop after the broader green border toward the outside edge, but when it got that far I wanted it a little airier, so added the narrower strip borders and the final pieced border of beads.

Besides lightening the total effect, that last pieced border also repeated the triangle-in-a-square units used near the center. At the same time, because the long beads are of two colors, it echoes the notion created in the hourglass border, where two colors come together separated by a spacer.

In critiquing farther, I haven’t decided how I feel about the low-volume effect. In a relative sense, the dark turquoises and that olive in the strip borders show up as dark, but they are more dark-mediums. I’m kind of a high-contrast gal, so it’s a narrower range than I am used to.

I also don’t love the fabric used for those spacers in the hourglass border. Spacers were required because the quilt is oblong. The block size that would fit “correctly” on the vertical didn’t fit on the horizontal. The color comes off as murky as compared to all the clear pastels. But it is the same fabric as in some of the center’s hourglass blocks, which were leftovers from another project. Repeating that fabric helps tie the center to the rest of the quilt.

This quilt is going to stay with Jim and me, as it has not claimed another owner. The bright, cheery colors suit our living room and we’ll enjoy using it.

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.

Trying Things Out

How many ways can you arrange half-square triangles in a border? A LOT! Here are just four.

Can give a cool effect, but probably not what I want for this quilt.

This one I kinda like…

Not actually wonky — these are just blocks I’ve overlapped.

Maybe too “sharp” looking?

I think I’ll wait until I’ve built the next (last) border before deciding which of these I’ll use. Or perhaps I’ll pick another way to set them!

Playing With Color

Remember how my word of the year is “Experiment”? Well, I have been experimenting in a lot of different ways, some in quilting and others in other parts of my life.

My main quilting experiments have been in teaching. In April I taught one class session on the Underground Railroad Quilt Code. And in April and May I taught Medallion Improv! I’ve taught before, but the subjects were in Finance, not quilting!

But I’ve also pushed my edges a little in my creative work, as well. My Harlequin Medallion led me through quilting with rulers and a ruler base, with a style of design different for me. Genes and A Cute Top (and its back) were a foray into modern quilting, with the plus design so popular these days.

And now that I’ve finished a few other projects, I’m ready to play. For a while I’ve wanted to play more with color and with shape. Triangles are the perfect medium.

This is just a start. I have reds and blues to cut and try in the mix, too. If I sewed this just as shown, I’d have a piece that is about 21″ square.

Imagine the things I could do with that. Perhaps it would serve as the center of a medallion. Maybe it would become a table mat or wall-hanging by itself. Maybe I’ll make a bunch of “blocks” the same size and make a bed quilt. All kinds of possibilities…

What are you playing with these days?

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