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  • November 11, 2021 8:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Prompt:  Binding

    We are almost done!  Our last prompt for this year is “Binding”.  You’ve tried lots of new ideas this year in the making of your medallion quilt, so why not consider something different for your binding as well?  This month’s prompt offers ideas for lots of different methods to make or enhance your binding.

    When considering how to finish the outer edge of a quilt, one way to think about it is to consider how much attention you want to draw to that part of the quilt.

    • You could have no visible binding by using a facing technique, so the quilt piecing goes all the way to the edge and seems to just stop
    • You could have nearly invisible binding by color-matching the binding to the piecing.
    • You could have visible binding that is generally a contrasting color, that frames the quilt all the way around, and this frame can be skinny, medium, or wide.
    • Since bindings are often machine-stitched on one side, and then folded over, there are choices to how you attach that second side. It can be handstitched to be invisible, handstitched to be purposely visible, machine stitched to be invisible, or machine stitched to be purposely visible.
    • And as you’re choosing the binding width, you can attach to the back and fold to the front, or attach to the front and fold to the back, creating different effects of where the widest part of your binding shows up.
    • You could have binding that is also something extra special by itself with special treatments on the fabric, or extra texture or dimension or a flange or something that adds to the wow factor there. Or you could be binding around a non-rectangular shape that has the binding show off scallops or wiggly edges.

    Methods/tutorials to help you finish your quilt in these different ways are explained more below.

    Faced bindings.  Modern quilts look particularly beautiful with faced edges (no visible binding).  There are many different ways to achieve this look.   Some of my favorite tutorials are:  blunt corners (Audrey Esarey) mitered corners (Elizabeth Eastman) triangle corners (Robbi Joy Eklow)

    Color matched/color change bindings.  It’s definitely a spicier option, but some quilts may just yearn for a color matched binding, so that the binding isn’t an obvious design element.  The opposite of this is a color change binding that is a deliberate design element- same technique, different intention).   Debbie Jeske did a nice tutorial on color matched bindings: , as did Sylvia Schaefer on Fresh Quilting: .  Joyce Geizler’s approach (changing colors at the corners of the quilt) could work well with your medallion quilt, particularly if you have used a log cabin style construction and have different colors on the different edges of your quilt:

    Standard mitered corner binding.  This is the classic and is probably what most of us started with when we did our first binding.  It can match the quilt or be a contrasting color and can vary in width, depending on your preference.  It can be hand finished or machine finished.  I like Karen Brown’s tutorials for standard bindings.  Here is her basic tutorial, which describes hand stitching for an invisible finish on the back side of the binding and here is her tutorial on 3 different ways to apply and finish a binding completely by machine:  Extra fun (but extra work) is to use a visible big stitch hand stitch to fasten the binding down on either the front or back of your quilt:

    By special request, I’m including directions for the way our member @snarkynarwhal does her “foldover” standard bindings.  They are typically narrow on the front and wide on the back and are completely finished by machine.   She starts with a 3” wide strip of fabric, folded in half along the entire length, making a 1 ½” wide piece.  The binding is stitched to the front side of the quilt with a ¼” seam, then folded around to the back, like a standard binding.  It is then machine stitched on the 2nd side, but a little farther away, using a wide decorative stitch like a honeycomb or blanket stitch or wiggle to catch the edge. This kind of binding is especially easy to finish because that wiggly wide decorative stitch is very forgiving, in addition to looking cool.  It can also be done in reverse (stitch to the back of the quilt first, then fold to the front) if you want the wide part to be on the front of the quilt. 

    Faux Flange binding:  I love faux flange bindings.  They are an easy way to add a fine line of color at the edge of your quilt.  Sometimes it is just what you need to give some “wow” factor.  Bonuses- with this method, the mitered corners almost match themselves, plus it is completely done by machine.  My favorite tutorial for this method is:

    Wide Bindings.  Wide bindings can add an additional design element to your quilt.  I’ve had good luck using a wide bias binding as demonstrated by Carrie Nelson of Moda Fabrics .  Since it is cut on the bias, it has the advantage of being able to round the corners of your quilt if you wish.   If you are binding a quilt with bias binding, it is much easier and more efficient to make a long continuous bias strip.  This is my go-to tutorial for that method-   You can also use a standard double fold binding cut on the straight of the grain, but made wider than normal (aka “chunky” binding).  Latifah Saafir has a nice tutorial for this: 

    Extra Fancy/embellished bindings.  There are lots of ways you can create texture or draw attention to the outer edge of your quilt.  What about using prairie points (folded fabric triangles), inside or outside the quilt edge?   Here’s a tutorial for classic prairie points  and another for a quick way to create a chain of points .   

    You could also do something similar with small finished half circles, or yo-yos.  One of the things on my bucket list is to someday make a scalloped edge on one of my quilts.  A smaller, wall medallion quilt might be a good candidate for that.  This tutorial ( ) uses a specialized ruler, but you could easily follow her directions and make a template for your customized scallops.   And, here is a way to use freezer paper to design a scalloped or wavy border:

    You can also embellish with buttons, beads, or embroidery:   

    Another idea is to do some decorative stitching on the binding fabric before you even cut it.  This idea comes from Geta Grama .  She did some simple parallel lines stitched on her binding fabric before cutting and wow, what a look!  

    Last, but not least, if you’ve made a wall quilt, don’t forget to make a hanging sleeve!  My go-to tutorial for sleeves is from Jacquie Gering : .  If your quilt is small enough, you might be able to use the corners on a faced binding (using the triangle corners method) to hold a rod for hanging.

    Have fun choosing your binding method and completing your Salsa Medallion!

    November Summary- Binding




    Your usual method

    Faux Flange Binding

    Prairie Points or other embellishments

    Standard binding with mitered or rounded corners

    Wide Bias Binding

    Color Matched  or Color Change binding

    Faced Binding

    Embellish your binding fabric with stitching before cutting into strips

    Big Stitch Hand Stitched Binding

    Fold over binding with decorative machine stitching to secure

    Please tag your work in progress and your completed quilt:  #seamqgsalsaBOM

  • October 11, 2021 8:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Prompt:  Quilting

    If you haven’t finished putting your quilt top together, no worries.  Just keep working on it.  There is plenty of time left to still finish your quilt this year. 

    Whether you are ready to quilt, or just want to start thinking about how you might quilt it as you finish the flimsy, this month’s blog post is for you.  There are tips for how to audition a layout, and lots of online resources for getting inspiration for techniques or patterns.

    How will your quilt be used?

    If your 2021 BOM is going to be a wall hanging, it may require very little quilting to hold it together, and the quilting decision is purely aesthetic. If your 2021 BOM is a quilt that will be used and washed repeatedly, you may wish to quilt it thoroughly enough to support it through its lifetime.

    Who quilts it?

    To start the quilting conversation, you might first decide if you want to “quilt by check” and pay another skilled person to use their long arm machine to quilt your quilt. This is sometimes the fastest way to finish the quilting and gives you a chance to support some of the guild members who offer professional longarm services (see Long Arm Quilters List ).

    If you decide to quilt it yourself, you might be deciding between doing it on your domestic machine with the feed dogs up (straight line or gently curvy line) or with the feed dogs down (free motion designs) or using a long arm (did you know you can rent time on long arm machines at several of our local quilt shops?) or quilting it by hand. Or you can do a mixture of those things. Knowing how you plan to approach the quilting provides you with some useful guardrails in deciding what patterns to use.

    Support and inspiration on your quilting journey

    If you’ve never quilted one of your own quilts, or you’ve done a few, but want to try something different, you may find some ideas here. 

    Quilting on medallion style quilts is really not different than any other quilt, however the multiple rings or rows of different designs give you the opportunity to try different quilting designs/styles in different borders or sections of your quilt if you wish. 

    Looking for input in conversation with your fellow guild members? You can join the next monthly guild meeting early and ask your breakout group for advice during the pre-meeting social time. Or you can join any of the weekly or bi-weekly sew-ins that are happening most days of the week and talk to that group of guildmates to ask for input on how you might quilt it (Sew-in Calendar link).

    Auditioning Designs

    I like to start my quilting design process by doodling on a photo or drawing of my quilt.  This can be as simple as taking a photo and using your iPad or phone’s built-in photo editing tools to draw on top of it. Or take a photo and print several copies from your computer to doodle on.  My favorite approach is to use a drawing program on my iPad, but you can also do this on your phone or computer.   Most drawing programs let you import a .jpg (photo) or .pdf file.  You can then draw possible quilting designs on the photo to audition them.  You can also use a piece of vinyl or architect’s mylar to lay directly on your quilt and draw on it with washable markers to try out quilting ideas at actual size. 

    Julie Cefalu of The Crafty Quilter has a nice summary of these various approaches (and some others) in a blog post .

    Here are some examples of my doodling possible designs on a small medallion-ish quilt:



    Design Ideas

    Want to keep it mild and just get this quilt done?  One of the many variations on straight line quilting may be the answer.  Basic straight line (also called “channel”) quilting is your friend- it looks good on practically everything. You can make the lines a uniform distance apart or vary the distances between them.  They can be tight (half-inch apart), or wider (couple inches apart).  Worried about keeping the lines absolutely straight?  You can make a guide with masking tape for your first line, and then echo that line with subsequent ones, or just opt to make them gently curve.  You can make the adjacent lines curve in parallel, or each line can follow its own path.

    A variation on straight lines is to create a cross hatched pattern.  The cross hatch can be stitched at 90 degree angles to form squares, or at different angles to form diamonds or triangles.  Cross hatches can be made of straight or wavy lines and the spacing can be uniform or variable.

    You can also consider an overall design for your medallion quilt.  Basically, you are creating an organic or geometric pattern that repeats over the entire quilt.  The all-over pattern you choose might repeat some design element in one of your fabrics, such as have a leaf design if you have floral prints, or perhaps be purposely contrasting, such as a graphic interlocking squares design on your floral prints.

    If you want to highlight specific blocks or borders or shapes in your quilt, you may want to customize your quilting design accordingly.  Maybe you want to do spirals in all of the squares in one border, while you want to emphasize the half square triangles in another with switchbacks.  Break your quilt top into units and play with the quilting in these smaller, less intimidating sections.

    Big Stitch Hand Quilting

    Especially if your quilt is small, this might be the project you want to either quilt completely by hand or embellish with a bit of hand quilting.  Using a heavier weight thread (8 or 12 wt) and big stitches will make it a design element on its own.  Maybe you want to emphasize a shape or fabric element that occurs in various places in your medallion, or possibly just add a couple of lines of stitches in a fabulous contrasting color.  A couple of good tutorials:  Sarah Fielke  or Elizabeth Chappell .

    More Resources and Tutorials

    Choosing a Quilting Design for Your Quilt: Christina Cameli on Fresh Quilting

    Angela Walters (@quiltingismytherapy)- free YouTube series “How Do I Quilt It?”  (maybe less relevant to the medallions, but a good general resource).  Her Shape by Shape FMQ books have great (and straightforward to quilt) ideas based on block shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles, circles, diamonds, hexies, etc).  This link to one of her Pinterest boards will give you a flavor for them.   Angela has a lot of free content on her website and YouTube channels, as well as several Craftsy classes.

    Christa Watson demystifies quilting your own quilts.  She did a blog post with index of links to her quilting tutorials . She also has several books and Craftsy classes.

    Karen Brown of Let’s Get it Done Quilts has a YouTube video with easy, forgiving designs and lots of good tips.

    Debby Brown is another quilt instructor with lots of free videos online and a comfortable, get it done style.  A good starting point is this video on easy designs using your walking foot: .  Searching YouTube for Debby Brown quilts will bring up many more.

    HollyAnne Knight (@stringandstory)  Tips for quilting a large quilt on a domestic machine  (Note:  I watched one of our members quilt her Begonia quilt [about 70 x 70 inches] on a machine with about a 5 inch throat space at our fall retreat- it can be done!)

    Nichole of MamaLoveQuilts:  Straight Line Quilting Tips

    Jacquie Gering on Fresh Quilts:  Creating Gentle Curves in Your Quilting   Jacquie’s books on walking foot quilting (WALK: Master Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot, WALK: More Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot) are classics.  She has two excellent classes on Craftsy as well.

    Christina Cameli. Ideas for specific designs.   Christina also has several books and Craftsy classes on quilting.

    Leah Day.   Loads of free tutorials showing how to quilt specific FMQ designs.  She also has a good introductory walking foot/straight line quilting video:

    Lori Kennedy.  Her blog shows step by step stitching of organic, free motion designs, often inspired by doodles,  If you want to add text to your quilt in the quilting, she has a good tutorial for you .  She has written two books, runs regular skill builder quilt-alongs and has some good Craftsy classes as well. 

    October Summary- Quilting




    Straight or mildly curvy lines

    More complex walking foot designs

    More complex all over design that is a stretch for you

    Cross Hatch - squares, diamonds, uniform, or irregular

    An all over design that is in your comfort zone

    Custom quilt your medallion

    Send it to your favorite longarm quilter

    Use a mix of approaches (by machine and by hand)

    Happy sewing!   Don’t forget to tag your progress:  #seamqgsalsaBOM

  • September 09, 2021 8:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Prompt:  Assemble your quilt top

    It is time to put your blocks together!  With luck, you have a design wall to work with.  If you don’t, consider using a piece of batting or a flannel sheet to create a design space on a wall or clear a space on a floor or table to lay out all of your component pieces.

    By now, you may have a firm idea of what you want your medallion to look like or you may still be looking at the few blocks you made after each prompt and be feeling overwhelmed about ever finishing, or somewhere in between.  Don’t worry.  Remember, there is still plenty of time to finish (and there is no rule that says you absolutely must finish by the end of the year).

    Before finalizing your layout, you might want to look again at the Medallion Quilt inspiration board on the Guild Pinterest account, which can be found here There are also some great quilts to look at for layout inspiration in the slides from the January Guild meeting (January 2021 Meeting Slides).  The June BOM blog post has more specific information about different layouts you can consider, as well as ways to use spacers, cornerstones and coping strips to make everything fit together nicely (June 2021 BOM blog post ).

    Play with ideas on your design surface.  Take photos.  Leave an arrangement you like on the wall for a few days and see how it settles (or doesn’t) in your brain.  Don’t feel like you have to rush this process.

    Once you have decided on a layout, don’t be surprised if the actual construction takes more time than you expect.  Getting the borders to the proper size can be fiddly.  Take your time.  Measure several times before cutting.  Don’t forget to account for seam allowances (ask me how I know….).

    Your effort level this month will depend on how much you already have completed and what your final design concept looks like.

    September Summary- Assembly




    All your parts are ready, you just need to stitch them together

    All of your blocks are finished, now you need to figure out spacers and coping strips to make everything fit together

    You still want to make more blocks and will then tackle making everything fit together

    Happy sewing!   Don’t forget to tag your progress:  #seamqgsalsaBOM

  • August 15, 2021 9:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Theme: Diamonds

    Wow, it’s August already!  Believe it or not, this is the last month for a new border prompt.  It doesn’t mean it has to be your last border, however.  You can keep adding borders until your quilt is the size you want it to be.  Feel free to go back and use some of the additional border ideas in the previous blog posts.    

    Our theme this month is “Diamonds”.  As a general principle, you can create patchwork diamonds in two ways.  (1) Cut a diamond shaped piece of fabric and fit edges around it to create a square or rectangular block, or (2) create diamonds by putting together two triangles.  There are multiple techniques you can use for each of these approaches and I’ll describe them below.  First, however, let’s look at some ways to use the diamond shape in borders.

    Rows of Diamonds

    The most basic approach is to create rows of diamonds, either horizontally or vertically.

    You can also mix and match horizontally and vertically oriented diamonds.

    Want to get even fancier?  How about piecing diamonds inside of diamonds?  Kirsty of Bonjour Quilts has created a nice tutorial for piecing this kind of block.   It would also lend itself to foundation paper piecing.

    Scattered Diamonds

    You don’t need to make an entire border full of diamonds.  You can make a few and space them, uniformly or eccentrically, in your border.

    Wonky Diamonds (“snowball” corners)

    Don’t want uniform diamond shapes?  Go wonky.  Cut some wonky diamonds, then piece the surrounding fabric on to create rectangles or squares.  This is sort of like making square-in-a-square blocks, but the angles of stitching are different (think rectangles instead of squares).   If that feels a bit too freeform, draw yourself a wonky diamond in a square (or rectangle) on paper and foundation piece it (improv paper piecing for the win!).

    Ribbon Effect

    Working with color values, you can create the effect of a coiled ribbon, with fairly easy piecing (block lines shown to help you visualize the base blocks).

    Diamonds based on triangle shapes

    The first border example below can be made two different ways.  You can make two-color hourglass blocks (quarter square triangles, first example) or make square-in-a-square blocks (second example).  The row of on-point square diamonds will look the same, but the location of the seams will differ.

    You can use half square triangles (HSTs) and flying geese to create a chevron effect. The light blue chevrons look like diamonds but are actually created by the piecing.

    Pieced Diamonds

    These fancy diamonds were made by SMQG member Amy Steed as a border for a pillowcase.  This design can be made with Julie Herman’s Hex and More and Sidekick rulers.  Other specialty rulers that simplify the cutting and piecing of this sort of design include the Tri-Recs rulers and the Creative Grids 60 Degree Diamond ruler.  If you own one of these rulers, you may want to check out some of the various diamond patterns that can be created with them.


    Feeling really spicy?  How about using value and contrast to create the look of argyle?  This wouldn’t be that hard to piece, but it would be laborious with all the precision cutting and lots of bias seams.


    Here are some additional tutorials that may help you figure out how to piece your diamonds if you aren’t sure where to start.

    Tips for piecing bias edges (Krista Moser):

    Diamond in a rectangle- pieced and paper pieced:

    Hourglass tutorial/multiple sizes:

    Square-in-a-Square/Basic method

    Square-in-a-Square/Enhanced method: Julie Cefalu uses a couple of extra steps and some clever tweaks to make perfect square in a square blocks easily.  This could readily be adapted to create central diamonds instead of squares…

    Snowball corners:

    August Summary

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Scattered diamonds More diamonds per side Pieced Diamonds
    Wonky diamonds Ribbon effect Argyle look
    Square-in-a-square diamonds Make lots and lots of diamonds
    Chevrons (HST blocks)

    Don’t forget to tag your progress: #seamqgsalsaBOM 

    September Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions close to the September meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • August 15, 2021 9:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For many quilters, the only thing scarier than foundation paper piecing is sewing curves! This month, we will explore ways to incorporate curves in your next border, hopefully without too much stress.     

    Drunkard’s Path blocks (quarter circles) are a classic patchwork block that works equally well in traditional and modern quilts. A Drunkard’s Path block generally uses paper patterns or specialty rulers or acrylic templates to cut precise shapes. A cool variation on the classic is to make an oval curve instead of a round circle. There are almost as many tips for stitching Drunkard’s Path curves as there are people teaching the technique. If you don’t like the first one you try, check out some of the other options before you give up entirely. Another tip: if this is your first time stitching this type of curve, aim for larger blocks, rather than smaller ones. Drunkard’s Path blocks that end up 3 inches finished are adorable but are much harder to sew the first time than a 6 inch block is.

    Tutorial for classic (lots of pins) curve stitching:

    Fewer pins, still precise:

    No-pin tutorial:

    If you don’t like any of these tutorials, you can google or check out YouTube until you find one that resonates with your sewing style.

    Once your blocks are made, there are lots of different ways to use them in a border. I’ve illustrated several options in the different borders in the diagrams below.

    Wavy Bands: There are lots of different ways to achieve this look. You can create a pattern and piece it precisely (very spicy choice, just saying….), or you can cut and stitch long undulating freehand curves or make a long curve with bias tape.   

    The diagram shows a very regular wave, but you will probably find it is easier to make a wave that is cut freehand and may be somewhat irregular.

    Freehand/freestyle curves can give a beautiful energy to a border strip.  

    If you are lucky, you may have tried this technique in a class with Maria Shell or Katie Petersen. If you haven’t had that opportunity, here are some tutorials showing different approaches. 

    Gourmet Quilter- freeform curves tutorial:

    Jean Wells: Freehand curved piecing (no pins)

    No pins freehand curves (blog, not video)

    Creating freezer paper patterns for freestyle curves. This method is finicky, but yields beautiful results and allows you to control what the shape will look like.

    If you aren’t excited about piecing a freestyle curve, you could consider making a wide bias tape from the fabric of your choice and appliquéing it in a sinuous wave onto your border.

    Appliqué circles, ovals, or improv organic shapes onto border blocks.

    Another way to add curves is to create shapes (circles, ovals or curvy organic shapes) and applique them onto your border or blocks. 

    You can use turned edge applique, raw edge/fused applique or a simple reverse applique method (aka the “6 minute circle”)

    Jo Avery: Freeform applique circles (“bubbles”)

    6 minute circle:

    Organic 6 minute circles:

    Night Quilter:

    Orange Peel: Another classic patchwork design that lends itself well to a modern style and to borders. Orange peels can be pieced or appliquéd onto individual block or border strips. There are lots of design opportunities with this curvy shape.

    Appliqué orange peel tutorial, Jenny Doan style:

    Basic pieced orange peel block tutorial:

    Dresdens, New York Beauty “Suns”

    More classic blocks you can use to add some curviness to your border are Dresden Plate and New York Beauty blocks. Each of these block patterns is really an entire category of blocks, ranging from relatively simple (a basic Dresden Plate with 2-4 blades per quarter circle) to wildly complex (some of the New York Beauty variations).  I’ve used a Dresden Plate to illustrate some ways you might use these “rounded design” blocks in a border. You can also make wonky versions of Dresden Plates.

    ( or improv New York Beauty blocks (

    Don’t want to stitch a lot of curves? How about putting curves only on some cornerstones? Try a circle on each corner of this border. Or, piece some Dresden or NY Beauty blocks and put one (or three) in each corner. 

    The “Sparrow” block from Heather Black on MQG site (below) would also look good in the cornerstone blocks. 

    Bias tape arcs or waves

    Finally, if stitching curves just isn’t your thing, use bias tape made from a favorite fabric to create a curve. Most of the shapes described above can be made using bias tape. It is easy to do (and a handy skill to learn if it isn’t already in your toolbox).  

    For some additional cool ways to create and use curves made with bias tape, check out Latifah Saafir’s Fresh Quilting Episode:

    Great tips for using bias tape to make designs on quilts:

    Making bias tape (with or without a bias tape maker):

    July Summary

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Bias tape arcs or waves or orange peels or loops Improv wavy curve or insert Precision pieced wavy inserted line
    Simple cornerstone blocks with curves Appliquéd circles or ovals or organic shapes New York Beauty blocks
    Make one block with curves for each section of the border (2 or 4 for most layouts) Dresden Plates Make more blocks
    Orange Peels (Appliquéd) Orange Peels (pieced) Make full borders with more complicated blocks
    Drunkard’s Path (if you aren’t making many of them) Drunkard’s Path (lots of blocks)

    Don’t forget to tag your progress: #seamqgsalsaBOM 

    August Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions close to the August meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • August 15, 2021 9:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our goal this month to start assembling the components built so far for your medallion quilt. This is going to require thinking about your overall design again, laying out the blocks and border sections you’ve already built, and figuring out how to make them fit (which may require making more blocks for some borders).   

    As you are working this month, remember that there are still going to be two more border prompts, so your quilt will get bigger.

    We have three topics this month: choosing a design framework for the medallion, tools to make the borders fit the desired spaces, and some helpful construction hints.

    Start by revisiting some of the quilts that inspired your medallion. Do you like asymmetric designs? Lots of negative space? Wonky? Balanced? This may influence how you decide to construct it.

    Design Frameworks:

    Traditional: There is something very pleasing about a traditional medallion style with even borders that circle around the focal block. These can be constructed in many ways- lapped ends, mitered corners, using cornerstones. A given border will all be the same size in this style, but the borders can be different sizes from each other.

    Log Cabin: Using a log cabin style construction provides lots of design opportunities. The borders can be uniform in size, or asymmetric. You can make all four sides the same, add border designs in pairs, or put different border designs on each side. I’ve tried to illustrate that using colors to indicate each border component in the diagrams below. 

    You can also start with your focal block in the corner of the quilt and build out asymmetrically from there. 

    Courthouse Steps: The courthouse steps variation on a log cabin block will also work well for medallion borders.   

    “Propeller” Style: I first saw this layout in a post advertising Sarah Bond’s “Making Modern Medallions” workshop, and I love the feel it gives a medallion quilt. It could be used for some, or all, of the borders.

    Diamond: Varying the orientation of your center and combining diamond and straight set borders is another interesting option.

    Wonky: Start with your focal block off-kilter and build around it. The diagram shows just one of many ways to do this.

    Columns: One of our members, Leslie Nellermoe, inspired this approach. She is starting with a batik panel as her focal block and building her rows in a mostly columnar fashion around it.

    Tools to Make Your Border Components Fit:

    Is your border too short? You can always make more blocks. Maybe it isn’t a whole block size short? In that case, consider adding spacer units between blocks or groups of blocks.  

    Is your border too long? It’s okay to cut some of it off. There is no rule that says every block has to be its full size. If you are just a bit too long, consider adding a narrow “coping strip” to increase the size of the inner blocks and borders enough to make the new border fit perfectly. Coping strips can also provide a design element, as in the test layout below:

    For more ideas on ways to adjust borders to fit with the inclusion of novel design elements, see the books recommended at the start of this project, listed again at the end of this post.

    Helpful Construction Hint:

    To keep your quilt squared up as you add borders—measure across the center of the quilt, not the edge to which you are adding the border. When you stitch the border on, mark the center of the edge and the border piece, match the centers and the ends, and ease the fabric in if necessary. A good basic tutorial is here: How to measure and sew borders to a quilt

    June Summary

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Traditional Borders Propeller styles Diamond Layout
    Log Cabin Styles Piece more units to make borders long enough Wonky Layout
    Courthouse Steps Piece more units to make borders long enough
    Use cornerstones/spacer blocks

    Don’t forget to tag your progress: #seamqgsalsaBOM 



    Liberated Medallion Quilts, Gwen Marston, 2012

    Medallion Quilts: The Art and Technique of Creating Medallion Quilts, Jinny Beyer, 1980

    The Modern Medallion Workbook, Janice Zeller Ryan and Beth Vassalo, 2015

    July Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions right before the July meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • May 13, 2021 9:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The theme for this month’s prompt is “TEXT MESSAGE”.  The idea is to embed a message in your quilt.  It can be short and simple, inspirational or informational, subtle or bold.


    Step 1:  Brainstorm ideas for the message you want to put in the quilt.  Think about words, phrases, or mantras that inspire you or messages that you might want the viewer or eventual owner of the quilt to receive.  Or, keep it simple and put the label information on the front of the quilt instead of the back (your name? the recipient’s name? year made?).

    Step 2:  Consider the method and look you want for your message.  Just making one or a few words?  Pieced letters would be great.  Have a LOT of text?  Consider fusible applique or embroidery.  Going subtle?  How about translating your word or phrase into Morse Code or Braille and/or stitching it in a nice thick perle cotton in a color very similar to the fabric color?

    Step 3:  Practical considerations.   Size matters.  If you are piecing letters, bigger is easier than smaller.  Paper piecing will let you reduce the size more (down to about 2” high).  Embroidery or big stitch quilt stitching will let you get even smaller (although these methods will also work for larger borders).  So, if you want a narrow border, you need to take that into consideration in selecting a method.  No matter what method you use, plan to make your border a bit oversized and trim to the desired final size after it is finished.  Trust me, you’ll be happy you did this.  

    Step 4:  What else do you want to put in your border, if anything?  If you do only one word (especially if it is short), you may want something else to fill the rest of the border.  You can obviously use your text background fabric, but maybe you want to consider making cornerstone blocks for this border or balance the length of the word with a similar length set of pieced blocks.  What can I say?  The design considerations never stop…

    Mild, medium and spicy designations are harder to classify this month, because your perception of mild or spicy will depend on your comfort with the different techniques and the complexity (or simplicity) of the message you select.  Here’s the summary table, which will be followed by examples and resources for the various approaches.

    Mild Medium Spicy
    1-2  (short) words Pieced letters Lots of words
    Embroider the text (cross stitch or outline or satin stitch) Paper pieced letters Paper piecing lots of small size letters
    Use big stitch quilting to present your message Improv pieced letters  Message in Braille, using appliqued dots (or even small yo-yos?)
    Fusible raw edge applique Message in Morse Code
    Relief images created by quilting
    Print text directly on fabric Bias tape applique
    Message in Braille, using French knots Emojis

    It’s all about the font…

    Once you’ve selected your word or phrase, you’ll need to find a font that works with the rest of your quilt’s style and will translate to piecing or applique (or that someone has already translated for you!).  As part of the preparation for our 2020 Quiltcon Charity Quilt, Erica Johnson (@ricaroo.quilts) did a great blog post for our guild on a range of available quilt block fonts and methods.  You can find that post, with all its wonderful links at 

    Additional font resources are at the end of this post.  Many fonts are protected by copyright, so to avoid any issues, either purchase the font from the designer, or use fonts that are copyright free or in the public domain.  A good resource for lots of free fonts for personal use is .

    Techniques and Examples:

    Pieced letters (standard or foundation pieced) make an easy to read message.

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    Improv letters could add some mild wonkiness to the quilt.

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    Fusible applique or bias tape applique can be used for any style of lettering, but lend themselves especially well to the curviness of script fonts.  If you’ve never done raw edge applique with a fusible backing before, Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World has a good basic tutorial for doing letters using this method.   

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    Using a stitch that outlines the letters, whether as embroidery on the blocks or as something added during the quilting, can make the message more subtle, particularly if the thread color is selected to be similar or slightly darker than the fabric you are using.  For more pop, use a contrasting color of thread.  The thicker the stitch, the easier it will be to see the letters.  Using a big stitch quilting stitch is probably the most subtle.  If using embroidery stitches, a back stitch, stem stitch, or a chain stitch would all work well. The heavier the thread, the thicker your line will be. If you’ve never embroidered on a quilt block before, here are a couple of blogs with tips and tutorials: , (Sarah includes descriptions of how to use fonts from your computer to create the name/words you want to embroider, as well as how to mark and stitch).   Are you intrigued by embellishment techniques?  You can also create letters with buttons, sequins, heat transfer, and other techniques. 

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    An alternative way to create a word with quilting is to quilt heavily around it, leaving the interior space of the letters unstitched.  This is called “relief quilting”.  Kitty Wilkins of NightQuilter has a great tutorial.  She uses matchstick quilting to make the letters pop.  In the sample below, I used free-motion motifs to get the same effect.

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    You can also print directly on your fabric if you have an inkjet printer. .  This is a common way to make quilt labels, but it can definitely be upsized to use in a border.

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    Morse Code is a way to put a message on your quilt that is likely to be known only to you and anyone you share the secret with.  Since Morse Code letters can get long, you may need to keep your message short in order to make it fit.

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    The Braille alphabet offers another way to hide your message in plain sight (or feel!).  The simplest and fastest way to add it is probably as French knots (your message will be very small and very subtle, though).  As shown in the mockup below, you can also applique circles in the appropriate configurations to create the letters.  Small yo-yo’s would be another fun way to add the circles.

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    And don’t forget the punctuation!   Exclamation points, questions marks, and emoji can all enhance your message.

    Cheryl Arkison exclamation point tutorial:

    Gailen Runge has written a book on making your own custom emojis

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    After finishing your message, if you feel like there is too much blank space in your border, consider adding cornerstones or other elements to jazz it up.  Two ideas are shown below.

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    Have fun deciding what message you want to include in your quilt and how you are going to incorporate it. 

    Don’t forget to post your progress using the hashtag #seamqgsalsabom!

    More Resources:


    Morse Code Quilts by Sarah Maxwell, 2019.  Ideas for using Morse Code to convey messages in quilts.  Bottom line:  Morse Code letters can be long, so probably best for single words or short messages in the context of a medallion border.

    Quilt Talk by Sam Hunter, 2014.  Foundation pieced letters, 2” tall and scalable to larger sizes.

    Sew Emoji by Gailen Runge, 2018.  Mix and match elements to create custom emoticons.

    Text It! Quilts and Pillows With Something to Say by Sherri Noel, 2019.  Applique approaches featuring raw edge, bias tape and needleturn options.  Includes script and block letter font ideas.

    Word Play Quilts by Tonya Ricucci, 2010  (hard to find a physical copy, but available from Martingale as an ebook).  Gwen Marston-inspired approach to improv pieced letters.  

    Websites/Blog Posts/More Fonts:

    Embroidery tutorials:

    River Birch Threads:  Basic embroidery stitches for beginners 

    Sarah Homfray- 5 Stitches for lettering in hand embroidery 

    Bias tape lettering technique: .  Sherri Noel demonstrates her technique using commercial fusible bias tape.  To make your own fusible bias tape with any fabric, check out this tutorial: 

    Making bias tape (with or without a bias tape maker):

    Braille alphabet representation: 

    Morse Code translator: 

    Pinterest Board with large variety of fonts that could be adapted for use on a quilt: 

    Assortment of blocks with one word (in various fun fonts) by Kristi Lea of QuietPlay:

    Ridiculously cute letters in hexies, $10:  Etsy link for 1-inch alphabet in hexagons (I suspect you could increase the size of these if you wanted to)

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    Chunky alphabet (5” high, paper pieced), $8: 

    These letters have a nice shape to them, but they are pretty large (5” high).

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     Pixelated pieced alphabet ($4):  Missouri Star Quilt Co pieced alphabet  These are big letters, but would work great for initials and/or the year the quilt was made.

    Easy Alphabet Quilt Pattern by Missouri Star

    June Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions right before the June meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • May 13, 2021 9:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At last, the month everyone has been waiting for! It’s time to choose and stitch your focal block.

    Size Considerations: If you are making a wall quilt- keep it small. 8-12” will be ideal. Bigger will work, but the borders will need to be relatively narrow to keep the final size reasonable. If you are making a throw size or larger- start with a larger center block or your focal block may get lost in the quilt. This is a chance to go really big, using 18”, 24”, or even 36” for your focal block for a throw size or larger quilt.

    Remember: Your focal block does not need to be square (it can be a rectangle, a diamond [or a square set on point], asymmetric, even irregularly shaped).

    Let’s start fairly simply.

    Mild: Pick a large scale print you love and fussy cut a block that features an interesting motif.Something like this yummy Anna Maria Horner print, perhaps? 

    Medium: Use a big print to make a kaleidoscope block with 6 or 8 wedges. This is an example with the fabric below:

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    This is effectively a single block made using the “one block wonder” or “stack and whack” method for kaleidoscope quilts.  I couldn’t find a good tutorial for making a single block.  The core technique here is to fussy cut 6 identical 60 degree triangles and stitch them together.  If you cut them oversize, you will be able to trim to a square.  If you cut them smaller, you will get a hexagon that can be appliqued to a square or made square by adding corners.  Basically, the method would be a hybrid of the approach to making multiple blocks ( and a clever way to create a template for fussycutting your triangles to create the kaleidoscope effect ( .

    Spicy: Use the broderie perse technique. This technique dates from the 1700s, but can be very modern, as the example by Kae Eagling shows below. The elephant and the flowers were all cut from different fabrics and appliqued to a background, then further embellished with embroidery and beading. See below:

    Stepping up the complexity a bit…

    Make an oversized single patchwork block.

    Mild: Repurpose an orphan block (bonus- no additional sewing required!). Here are a couple of contenders from my stash, both about 18” square:

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    Medium: Make a classic quilt block, but on a larger scale (15-24” finished size would be great).  The block below is called Dutch Rose (or Carpenter’s Wheel) (or Carpenter’s Wheel) and the one on the right is called Friendship Wreath. These are beautiful when made at large scale and you can play with value to get a great sense of depth.

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    Spicier: Pick a block with simple construction, create new “fabric” from scraps using crumb piecing or string piecing and use that as your feature fabric to make the block.

    More Spicy Options:  

    A classic medallion quilt center is a Mariner’s Compass. These can be very complex or relatively simple. They can be foundation paper pieced or made using specialty rulers and techniques. Two variations are illustrated below:

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    A set of 4 New York Beauty blocks (all the same or different) would make another great focal block for your quilt. If you are really inspired, try an improv version! 

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    Jo Avery (@joaverystitch) has created a fun improv version of a New York Beauty block she calls “Dandelion Clock”. If you did the 2019 Summer Sampler, you have detailed instructions for this type of block. Similarly, the Journey to the Center of the Earth class that she taught at Quiltcon Together uses this technique. If you don’t have either of those, she did a blog post that shows some of the basic techniques.  Dandelion Clock Quilt

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    How About Applique?

    Depending on your experience, you may class applique blocks as medium or spicy…. There are some lovely modern takes on applique that would make beautiful centers for a medallion quilt.  First up, a simple tree by Laura Bittel of HappeeTreeQuilts.

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    Alison Richter of Campbell Soup Diary (  has some single block quilts that could be downsized for a focal block, as well as some modern takes on classic applique, such as the block used for the Tiptoe Through the Tulips quilt shown below:

    Wendy Williams ( ) has dozens of patterns for birds, flowers and animals based on simple shapes and vibrant colors:

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    And, of course, Laura Heine’s designs are a hybrid of broderie perse and applique ( ). She sells some of her designs at a scale that would work for a focal block.

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    Layered Improv Circles—Our own Debbie Jeske (aka A Quilter’s Table) has created tutorials for making a layered improv circle, which would be a great focal block. See her photos below, plus links to the tutorials.


    Tutorial to Make Layered Improv Circles 

    Tutorial to Inset the Circle in a Block 

    How about a fantastic paper pieced block?   

    There are so many amazing designers making great foundation pieced patterns that would work for a focal block.  We’ve linked more ideas in the guild Pinterest board, so be sure to check there too.

    Seattle Modern Quilt GuildMedallion Quilt Inspiration Follow On

    Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

    Nicole Young (aka Lilyella) has free patterns for a series of butterflies and moths- a cluster of these would make a great focal block.   She also has some larger and more complex patterns for sale in her web shop.

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    What about this cool fireworks design by Ruth Blanchet of Arbee Designs? Available free at Ruth’s blog. (Note that the original block is only 6” finished, you’d probably want to increase the size).

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    Another idea would be to use one of the blocks from Berene Campbell’s (HappySewLucky) Tattoo quilt. HappySewLucky etsy shop. It was hard to pick just one to highlight, there are several that would be a gorgeous focal point:  

    Holding Hands by Ingrid Alteneder (aka JoeJuneandMae) would make a great focal block- Link to pattern on Etsy

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    If you love animals, check out these two great designers. Juliet van der Heijden (The Tartan Kiwi) has written a lovely book called Animal Quilts and also sells less complex patterns in her Etsy shop Tartan Kiwi Patterns.

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    Janeen van Niekerk of QuiltArt Designs also has some fantastic animal quilt blocks. These are more complex, but the results are so worth it. She has a lot of dog breeds, many cats, lots of safari animals and farm animals.  QuiltArtDesign website. Check out this amazing black Labrador, for example.

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    To recap, here are the focal block ideas highlighted in this post, sorted approximately by the difficulty/effort required.

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Use a fun large scale print, no sewing required Kaleidoscope block using 6-8 wedges Broderie Perse
    Repurpose an orphan block Make an oversized classic quilt block (or start with a classic and make it wonky) Use string or crumb piecing to make the feature fabric for an oversized classic quilt block
    Make a block you love Foundation pieced block, less complex New York Beauty- classic or improv
    Make a block you love Mariner’s Compass- you choose the difficulty….
    Layered Circle
    Foundation pieced masterpiece
    Make a block you love

    Please be social!

    Have fun! This may be one of the hardest sections to make, just because there are so many cool directions you can take it. Don’t be afraid to experiment- it is just one block. If you don’t like it, try something different. Don’t forget to post your progress using the hashtag #seamqgsalsabom!

    More Resources

    Broderie Perse  Basic technique tutorial by Laura Ann Coie of Sew Very Easy

    Applique Good basic raw edge applique method  How to set up your machine and get great applique results Kathy Doughty’s organic applique approach- great method for getting turned edge look easily 

    Foundation paper piecing tutorials You tube video from the Modern Quilt Guild featuring Elizabeth Dackson.  Good basic approach to foundation paper piecing    Violet Craft’s foundation methods, including one on how to put subunits together.  Using freezer paper as the pattern, but with no stitching through the paper.  This is a commonly used technique for the curved pieces in a NY Beauty block or a Pickle Dish block.  I like it for curved flying geese, as well.  An excellent tutorial showing detailed photos of using the freezer paper method for a curved block.

    May Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions right before the May meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • May 13, 2021 9:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month we are making blocks for our second border.  You can use the same block for all four sides (traditional medallion style), create a log cabin look with one block on two sides and a different block on the other two sides, or use different block designs on each of the sides.

    As we did last month, we are not trying to make a border the perfect size yet, we are just making blocks that will ultimately be used to build the second border. See last month’s post if you need general guidance on block size or numbers. Border #2 will be bigger than border #1, so you will probably want more blocks than last month if you are planning to make a complete border around the quilt. Asymmetric block positioning will usually not require as many blocks.

    Block Inspiration Idea – Triangles  

    Triangle is the very high level prompt for this month. You can make triangles that are very regular (ie, half square or equilateral triangles), triangles that are very tall and spiky, flying geese, blocks composed of triangles (ie, pinwheels) or triangle shapes made of lines. Of course, any of these can also be done wonky and/or improvisationally.

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Half Square Triangles (HSTs) Equilateral Triangles Pinwheels
    Improv Triangles Flying Geese Spiky Triangles
    Block of your choice Rally Block (MQG site) Vector Block (MQG site)
    Block of your choice String Pieced Triangles
    Pieced Triangles
    Block of your choice

    The Mild/Medium/Spicy boundaries are a bit indistinct this month. One person’s medium may be another person’s spicy, and vice versa. Flying Geese are relatively easy, but require more piecing, so they are listed as a medium effort. However, if you draft your own pattern for a curvy band of geese around all four sides of your quilt, you might categorize it as spicy. Some people find improv very freeing and would call it mild, while others are nervous about it and might put it in the medium or spicy bucket. Most of the border ideas this month are therefore organized by the underlying block style, rather than perceived effort or difficulty. 

    Half Square Triangles

    Half square triangles, also known as HSTs, are a fundamental building block in quilt designs. They can range from tiny (1” finished size) to huge (12-18”, your definition may vary). They are lovely when arranged in order in a row, but are also fun when rotated or staggered.    

    Tutorials for these abound. Yvonne Fuchs wrote a particularly good one for the Modern Fundamentals series on the MQG website that covers the basics and explains different ways to make them, along with the pros and cons of different methods:

    All Seattle MQG members are members of the MQG, so you should be able to access this.  If you aren’t a Seattle MQG or other MQG member, google “half square triangle tutorials”- you’ll find lots of them. 

    Karen Brown of “Just Get It Done Quilts” has a good one: If you participated in the Begonia BOM in 2019, you’ve made lots of HSTs and probably have your own favorite method already.

    Equilateral (60 degree) Triangles

    Terry Atkinson tutorial (60 degree ruler method)

    Angela Walters Midnight Quilt Show: (template method)

    Equilateral triangles also work really well with freezer paper foundation piecing. Rebecca Bryan has a good tutorial on how to do this kind of piecing, but you’ll need to draft your own pattern.

    Spiky Triangle Variation

    Try playing with scale. Vary the size of the spikes if that appeals. Make them slightly wonky for a fun look.

    Improv Triangles

    If you prefer improv to careful measurement, trimming, and point matching, here are tutorials for multiple approaches to improv triangles.

    Patchwork Posse video- improv HSTs (the more improv-y versions start about halfway through the video)

    Gwen Marston- Unequal Equilateral Triangles

    Maria Shell tutorial for improv (equilateral-ish) triangles (she also calls these flying geese)

    Sujata Shah also shows how to make improv triangles in her book, Cultural Fusion Quilts.

    Flying Geese

    Another classic quilt block involving triangles is the flying geese block. These also work in any size and can be arranged in lots of interesting ways, depending mostly on how much piecing you want to do. They can also be very uniform, or improv.

    An excellent tutorial for making them several ways is by Karen Brown of Just Get it Done Quilts-

    Here is a tutorial for making improv flying geese from Patchwork Posse,   and a really free form approach from Michele Bilyeu:

    Flying geese can also be pieced so that they appear to be flying in a curve. Typically you will want to foundation piece these.  Patterns are available, but they are pretty easy to draft for yourself as well (and you can make them to whatever size and shape curve you wish). Tutorials: This is a classic one from Gail Garber. She uses a flexible curve as an aid, but you can totally draw your curves freehand. A lovely organic approach is demonstrated in this tutorial:

    Not exactly a flying geese block, but similar in concept is the MQG Block Study block, Vector, by Sarah Ruiz.  These look a bit like paper airplanes or arrowheads, but could be really cool circling around your quilt. Link to pattern:

    Rally Block

    What about evoking a triangular shape with lines? One of the quilt patterns in the MQG Resources page, Rally, by Melanie Tuazon, makes a lovely “roof” or “caret” shape.

    It looks something like this, but can be varied by playing more with the angles.

    A similar but slightly more uniform block from the MQG resources is Side Stripe by Renee Tallman. This may look familiar, because we used it as a block for one of our giving quilts in 2019. The pattern is on the MQG site:

    Here is a Side Stripe block made for one of our 2019 giving quilts by Rachel Singh and a detail from the quilt, showing how it looks in rows:

    Extra Spicy Options 

    If you are feeling really spicy, think about constructing your triangles from pieced units. A classic would be string pieced triangles (see excellent tutorial from Sarah Bond on the MQG site, but also take a look at some of Rebecca Bryan’s gorgeous pieced modern triangles. She has a webinar on the MQG site (, plus a tutorial for a specific block on YouTube-

    Another spicy approach would be to make units out of triangles, i.e. pinwheel blocks out of HSTs, or star blocks with HSTs. 

    Have fun making point-y objects for your next border!

    Don’t forget to post your progress using the hashtag #SeaMQGSalsaBOM.

    Books with Ideas for Triangles

    All of these books are in the King County Library System collection and some are available through the Seattle Public Library.

    Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah, 2014

    Modern Triangle Quilts by Rebecca Bryan, 2017

    Quilting From Every Angle by Nancy Purvis, 2015

    Teach Me to Sew Triangles by Pat Sloan, 2015

    The Half-Square Triangle by Jeni Baker, 2015

    Please be social!

    Don’t forget to tag your progress pictures on Instagram! Use the hashtags #SeaMQGSalsaBOM or #smqgbom2021 to share your BOM progress.

    Also continue to use the hashtags #seamqg  #seattlemqg  #showusyourmqg and #seattlemqgsewathome to share the wonderful quilts you’re creating.

    April Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions right before the April meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

  • May 13, 2021 9:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month we are making blocks for our first border.  You can use the same block for all four sides (traditional medallion style), create a log cabin look with one block on two sides and a different block on the other two sides, or use different block designs on each of the sides. 

    Size Considerations  

    Since this is the first of five borders, smaller is better than larger.  Think about something on the order of a finished size of 2-4 inches for the finished height of your first border.  However, if you are making a larger quilt and you plan to make a bigger center/focal block, you can certainly go larger.

    How Many Blocks to Make?  

    So many variables here…

    If you are making a relatively traditional border around the focal block, we suggest you make 10-12 blocks at this point.  That gives you 3 blocks per side as a starting point.  You may want more eventually if you are going for a more traditional, symmetric look (see diagram for what a traditional medallion might look like) or have a larger center block. If you already have your focal block in hand, or know how big it will be, you can make enough blocks to go around it. You can also add spacer strips or solid fabric blocks later to make the border fit your center block once it is done.  

    If you are going to do an asymmetric design, you may only want a few pieced blocks for this border.

    Unless you have a very firm vision of what the final quilt is going to look like, do not put the borders together at this point.  Leave yourself flexibility as you play with the new border prompt next month and as you make a final decision regarding your focal block the month after that.

    Block Inspiration Ideas – Lines  

    “Line” is our prompt for this month.  You can use lines to create designs in each block, or aim for the effect of a line or lines around your center block in this border.  This will make more sense when you see the examples.  Don’t feel overwhelmed by the length of this list- you only need to choose one block style, we just wanted to give you lots of options.  

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Rail Fence – classic block Rail Fence – Improv style Inset strips with pieced insets
    Rail Fence with varied lengths Strut or Lock Up blocks (from MQG site) Plus Signs or Hash Tags
    Improv Strip Piecing Inset strips Seminole Patchwork designs
    Block of your choice Liberated cross blocks Improv Zig Zags
    Block of your choice Block of your choice

    Rail Fence

    This very basic block is easy to make with strip piecing, the fun comes when you cross cut the strips and play with the size and arrangements.  The basic block is 3-4 strips of fabric pieced together- the strips are traditionally the same width, but they don’t have to be.  

    Below is a line drawing of a traditional rail fence block, followed by some arrangements that vary the size and the coloring. The possibilities are endless.

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    More variations using simple strips and lines are featured in one of the MQG Block Studies blocks, Lockup, by Riane Menardi Morrison.

    Another variation that could create a fun look is the Strut block by Silvia Sutters: 

    Want a more organic, improvisational look? Check out this tutorial from Victoria Findley Wolfe. Cut pieces with straight or wavy edges.

    Inset Strips

    Create blocks with one or more inset strips and play with the arrangement to achieve something pleasing. 

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    For more interest, piece and cross cut strip sets to use as the inset strip.  Marianne Anderegg had a good example of this at our last Sew and Tell.  A detail from her Sunset Through the Trees quilt is shown below:

    Basic inset strip method:   

    Skinny Strips method:

    An overlay method:

    Plus Signs

    Make a simple 9-patch plus sign block and vary the size to make a fun border.  

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    Alternatively, try an improv version with crosscut inset strips (Liberated Cross Blocks): 

    Take it one step further and make an improv hash tag block with two inset strips in each direction.

    Seminole Patchwork  

    Have you heard of Seminole Patchwork? It is a method from the Seminole Indians in Florida and was used to make intricate borders that were usually part of clothing. Here is a simple tutorial for a basic on-point square pattern:

    Google or search Pinterest for Seminole Patchwork and you’ll find lots of other interesting designs that can be made by playing with the number and width of the fabric strips and the size and angle of the cuts. Some examples below:

    Improv Strip piecing

    This creates a lovely jagged line effect.  It is almost an improv style Seminole piecing. Check out the photos and tutorial at 

    Improv Zigzags 

    None of these ideas inspiring you? 

    Pick any block you like and use it as the basis for your first border round.  For any patchwork block, you have choices:  

    • Make it as originally designed
    • Make it wonky
    • Alter the proportions 
    • Remove or add elements
    • Rotate some of the blocks in the border to add movement and interest

    More Resources for Inspiration

    Pinterest Board:

    Basic Seminole Patchwork by Cheryl Greider Bradkin, 1990

    Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston, 2010

    Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers, complied by Suzanne Woods, 2011

    Modern Plus Sign Quilts by Cheryl Brickey and Paige Alexander, 2018

    Simply Seminole by Dorothy Hanisko, 1997

    Please be social!

    Don’t forget to tag your progress pictures on Instagram! Use the hashtags #SeaMQGSalsaBOM or #smqgbom2021 to share your BOM progress.

    Also continue to use the hashtags #seamqg  #seattlemqg  #showusyourmqg and #seattlemqgsewathome to share the wonderful quilts you’re creating.

    March Instructions

    We will aim to post the next instructions right before the March meeting. Stay tuned, and happy sewing!

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