modern eclectic in Transparency Quilts and American Patchwork & Quilting


We had another design in mind for the last quilt that was to be included in Transparency Quilts. The final photo shoot was a few days away and I approached Bill, as I am known to do, at the last minute suggesting that we audition another quilt for the book. I had an eclectic stack of fabrics in my hand and told him that I wanted to see how many different genres of fabric we could put together without looking chaotic. We decided that if we took out all of the saturated ones and pastels that it might look cohesive. We auditioned dozens and dozens of fabrics before we came up with this bunch. There’s Amy Butler next to a primitive batik next to William Morris. We titled it Small World and it became one of our favorites. It was the most fun we had had choosing fabrics in a long time. We were delighted when the editors at C&T chose Small World for the back cover of the book.

“I think we need to go even bigger with this eclectic idea and submit something to American Patchwork & Quilting,” I suggested. Without missing a beat Bill was pulling handfuls of fabric out of our stash and laying them out on the table. In the end, we cut up 36 fat eighths for this quilt and it has become one of a favorite as well.

Photo used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting ©2011 Meredith Corporation, all rights reserved

The wonderful editors at American Patchwork and Quilting decided to put this quilt entitled Fabric Fusion on the cover of some of their newsstand issues (if you’re a subscriber, you got the other cover) and we have been deluged with orders for kits.

Part of what I love about both of these quilts is that they both remind me of that great Louis Armstrong quote about music: “There are two kinds of music, the good and the bad. We feel that way about fabric. There are lots of fabrics that are supposed to be for modern quilts that I find very difficult to use. Conversely, many Civil War reproduction fabrics that are often overlooked by modern quilters have soft colors that are a welcome foil to all of the brights out there.

Both of these quilts have prints, plaids, batiks, primitives, tone-on-tones, reproduction fabrics and large-scale prints in them. Our hope is that quilters will rethink some of their assumptions about what goes with what and be able to see new possibilities for fabrics that are already in their stashes but they haven’t been sure how to use. These collections of fabrics were carefully thought out but with a little thought and editing, you could probably find some unexpected combinations of your own among those in your stash.

So do tell. What fabrics are in your stash that you want to use but aren’t sure how to use?

9 thoughts on “modern eclectic in Transparency Quilts and American Patchwork & Quilting

  1. I have a number of very pretty “splashy” floral fabrics that I bought back in the early 90s. It has occurred to me that the things I’m learning about design through your books and articles are going to be the vehicle to finally use these fabrics. With the my budget the way it is, I’m trying to look for ways to use what I already have rather than buy more. I’m getting lots of wonderful ideas. Thanks for doing what you do!

  2. As usual, I love your design. Something so “simple” as using an asymmetrical rectangular block pushes this design and pushes quilters to think beyond the symmetrical square. And that’s on top of the ingenious fabric selection. Your quilts make me think, which is what drew me to this medium to begin with. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. I’ve been trying to use everything I have, instead of buying more, as money has been so tight. Since I dye my own fabrics, too, I overdye prints that I might not love and create new fabrics that are all my own.

  4. I have two “nemesis” (nemesi?) fabrics: shot cottons and batiks.

    I sometimes think that the problem with both is the “hand” of the fabric – the shot cottons are a looser weave and soft and stretchy), while the batiks are just the opposite – hard and crisp.

    Recently I’ve been trying to use up my stash of Fassett shot cottons and I realize that the problem is also the look – for whatever reason, nothing looks as nice with my shot cottons as other shot cottons. And the batiks never seem to look “right” with prints other than batiks.

    Designs that show all kinds of fabrics playing nice together is really what a lot of us need!

  5. Not an “answer” perse to your question because I on more than one occasion have forced the wrong fabric into a quilt. Like the time that I used all of the yellows from lime to orange/light to dark completely ignoring the fact that the block probably wanted “dark.”

    But your Small World quilt too me looks like a great pattern for a charm pack or for a bunch of novelties – with the stripes & border squares adding abit of “edge.”

    I want to finish the “this pile of fabric with make a nice quilt” piles…

  6. I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate civil war into modern quilting. When I was expecting our third child in 2000 a good friend who loved shabby chic took me to a quilt shop which loved civil war. I purchased quite a bit, and then it sat due to lack of confidence and then having our fourth child two years later. I love some of the colors like the blacks, burgandies and gold, now gotta figure out how to make it modern. And there’s little miscellaneous bits that I don’t love, but was given, and like an earlier commenter said, trying to economize and use what I have. Loving the Quilts Made Modern book that I got for Christmas. Looking forward to getting your Transparency book, as well The Modern Quilt Workshop. And I have been checking the postbox daily for my issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. Didn’t know y’all were in there until I read this post!
    Thank you for your delightful blog!

  7. Novelty prints kill me! I love them but I just have to stop buying them …. pprints on a white background are also the baine of my stash…
    my next project is going to be working with Navy… I love it… I keep buying the odd navy FQ its time to make something… I think with a whole slew of orange…


  8. I rarely, ummm, ok, never really sew from patterns, but I love your Fabric Fusion pattern so much that I got over my pattern aversion. I finished my quilt – baby sized because it’s going to a pregnant friend and I LOVE IT! (Note: I misassembled a few of my blocks, but left them that way anyway – just wanted to let you know that I noticed that.)
    Just wanted to say thank you for designing such a great pattern!
    Quilt for Peaches

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