When Carolyn Beam from Quiltmaker asked me to participate in their 100 Blocks issue I was thrilled to contribute, as Quiltmaker is the magazine I recommend most to my students. It’s a great learning tool, and their 100 Blocks collector’s issue does not disappoint. It’s packed with appliqued, pieced, and mixed-technique blocks, so no matter what your taste, you’ll find something that you love and can’t wait to make.
Here’s a sneak peak at the behind-the-scenes detail of my block:
Inspiration: I used my color journal as I discuss in Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts. You would think I already know what’s in my own journals as often as I write about them. I was wowed by how many patriotic quilts and memorabilia I had pasted in those pages. I have three patriotic quilts in my den (above the mantel, over the sofa, and on the foyer wall), but I knew a patriotic block would be a classic that quilters would love to make and use often. I do wish I could have included photos of my journals here, but they are at Quilter’s Newsletter being photographed for an upcoming excerpt of my book.
Design: I adore simple, elegant blocks, and do not enjoy making quilt blocks with a lot of tiny little pieces. It’s actually far more difficult to design a simple block that looks sophisticated than it is to make one with 70 pieces. This one came together after I remembered my mission: Connecting, Playing, and Longevity. Old Glory connects me with so many other women of generations past who honored their country by making patriotic quilts. Playing? I had fun playing with the pinwheel design in the star area of the block. I played with several options and decided on this version after I loved the movement it created. And what block design could have more longevity than a patriotic block? It’s one that will be made again and again.
Colors: Red, white and blue of course, but which ones? The flag block needs high contrast for each part of the design to show well. I mapped the hue, value, and intensity of each color, so I’d know exactly which ones would work together to create harmony. Blue is the easiest, as navy is the classic dark, dull blue used in most flags and quilt blocks. So what about the red and white? I went to my stash and found two red fabrics: both pure red (no orange or raspberry hues) and they were a dull intensity and medium value. The white fabrics were both bright white and would be more intense than cream or off white, but were needed to balance the navy and red. I adore how they all coordinate to give a crisp look.
Construction: Here’s a secret: all 1/4″ seams are not created equal. For this block, and others I’m making for a quilt I designed for a fabric manufacturer’s block of the month, I find a true 1/4″ seam works well for strip piecing. However, when you piece triangles, a scant 1/4″ is far more accurate, as a true 1/4″ makes the block too small. Try it on the Old Glory block and it you’ll find this method works beautifully and gives super-accurate results.
I envision Old Glory set in a quilt with alternating plain blocks and lots of gorgeous feather quilting. Wouldn’t it look great for July 4th?
Follow the 100 Blocks Blog Tour daily Nov. 9-13 at for inspiration, ideas and giveaways! The collector’s issue is in your local quilt shop, or purchase it at the Quiltmaker website.
Here’s your own chance to win the issue and make your own quilt using Old Glory! Leave a comment telling me how you would use Old Glory in your quilt or project, and I’ll choose a winner Thursday. Watch here for your name to be announced!