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

    Welcome to the 2021 Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month! This year we are making a medallion quilt. Our goal is that this will be a project that can be easily customized, allowing everyone to create a fun, interesting, and unique quilt.

    Part of the fun is that you can adjust your effort each month, depending on the amount of time you have available, your skill level, and your interest in that month’s prompts. We are calling these efforts “mild,” “medium,” and “spicy” and will be giving some guidance in each of the prompts about how to hit the right level for you each month. With efforts like mild, medius, and spicy, what else could we call the BOM but Salsa, right? The name and hashtag for the project are The Salsa BOM and #SeaMQGSalsaBom.

    Choose Your Effort Level Each Month:  

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Keep it simple (and maybe small) May want a larger finished quilt. No limits!
    Make simple blocks and/or use fabric design (e.g., a stripe) to add interest instead of piecing every border. Experiment with block variations for some borders; Use cornerstones and coping strips to simplify adding new borders. Try multiple block variations, maybe within the same border; Play with curved placement of border block (e.g., a curved line of flying geese).
    Repurpose an orphan block for the center, fussy cut a large fabric motif, or make a simple block. Make a simple center block with strings or crumb piecing; Make an appliquéd center block. Make a complex center block and/or do more border piecing.
    Use an asymmetric layout to reduce the number of blocks needed. Try some new techniques. Experiment with new techniques.
    Follow the hashtag. Read and comment on other guildie’s posts on Instagram and Facebook. Take photos in progress and tag your work on Instagram and Facebook: #SeaMQGSalsaBOM. Be a Block Meister one month. Email us at to volunteer (don’t hesitate, it’s easy).

    What is a Medallion Quilt?

    In its simplest form, a medallion quilt has a central block that acts as a focal point and is surrounded by multiple borders. The central block may be a showstopper pieced block, or as simple as a beautiful fussy cut from a single piece of fabric. The borders can be pieced, or not, or a mixture. Medallion quilts exist from the 18th century and many beautiful ones have been made in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Use the links at the end of this post to see examples. 

    We are going to make a modern medallion, where the rules are flexible and you can incorporate as much or as little of each month’s prompts as you wish.

    January Prompt: Planning


    Start looking for inspiration. Online, pick your favorite platforms/search engines and try searching “medallion quilts,” “modern medallion quilts,” “round robin quilts,” and “pieced quilt borders.” Create a file of the ones you really like. We’ve created a Medallion Quilt inspiration board on Pinterest, which can be found here.

    Basic Design Elements You Like

    Looking at your inspiration photos, look at the structure. Do you prefer a fully symmetric design, or one with some asymmetry? Do you like the idea of a “log cabin style” construction (with different blocks on two of the adjacent sides)? How about cornerstones, pieced or simply fabric squares? Do you want your blocks to float in a solid background or be more densely packed? How much open space do you want?

    Central/Focus Block

    Unlike many medallion quilts, we aren’t starting with the center. We do want you to start thinking about it, though. Maybe you have an orphan block you love, maybe there is a block you’ve always wanted to make, but don’t want to do enough for an entire quilt, maybe you want to do an improv block, but you are scared to tackle it. For right now, size and color are the most relevant parameters. For good balance to the eye, the focal block is usually one quarter to one third of the width of the quilt. Thus, if you have an orphan block that is 12″ a final quilt size of 36-48″ wide will work well. If you have a 20″ orphan block, a final quilt size of 60-80″ will work well. These are not rules- You can build out a small block to make it larger, you can ignore the one fourth/one third guideline, etc (we’ll talk a lot about this in later months), but this guideline can give you a starting point for thinking about the final size of your quilt (and the size of your center block, if you decide to make one specifically for this quilt).


    This is a good time to think about whether you want to have a theme that might help you with some of your design decisions for your quilt. Mountains? Trees? Birds? Houses? Circles? Triangles? Stars? Curves? We will also have the option to incorporate text in one of the borders- so you might want to think about some potential words or phrases to consider for that.

    Size Considerations

    Our base design will include a focal block and about 5 borders. What do you want to end up with when you finish this quilt? A mini? Something for the wall or a table or a baby quilt? A throw size? Something bigger?  This will impact how wide your borders are, how many blocks you’ll need to piece, and what size you may want to aim for in your focal block. If you don’t know, that’s perfectly okay. Another advantage of a medallion quilt format is that each time you finish a border, you have the opportunity to say, “okay, that’s it, this quilt top is done!”

    Color Choices

    Are you a planner or “let’s see where this goes” type of quilter? Want low stress? Pick a favorite fabric or photo with multiple colors that go well together and use it to set the color scheme, or go completely scrappy. For the planners, maybe you want to think about a more structured approach to color- How about monochromatic, maybe with the color increasing or decreasing in intensity as you build out from the center? If you have been doing any of the Color Collective work, you may have discovered some favorite color combinations you want to pursue. If you’ve been wanting to make a rainbow quilt- this could be a good project for that. We’ve included links to some fun online tools to play with color palettes in the Resources section below.

    Fabric Requirements

    Since this quilt design will be uniquely yours, there is no way to predict how much fabric you will need- sorry!  On the flip side, with our flexible approach to each border, you should be able to make do with whatever you happen to have of a given fabric. If you want a consistent background fabric, you can probably make a reasonable guesstimate by looking at how much background fabric is typically called for in patterns for a quilt the size you want to make… 

    January: Goals For Your Medallion

    Outline some basic parameters for your quilt: size, colors, tentative layout preferences (symmetric vs asymmetric, log cabin, lots of open space/lots of piecing, etc), possible focal block options.

    Start pulling some fabrics to use in your quilt.

    Mild Medium Spicy
    Be inspired by the medallions in the slide deck from the January meeting. Create an inspiration file on your platform of choice. Create an inspiration file and check out new-to-you quilters for even more inspiration.
    Pick a focus fabric or color palette. Pick a focus fabric or color palette. Consider a more curated color palette; work on a fabric pull.
    Think about an easy center: Orphan block? Fussy cut fabric? Favorite Patchwork block? Consider ideas for your center/focal block. Start brainstorming (or even making) a center block.
    Want it simple? Keep it small. Outline your basic parameters for the quilt size (size, colors, favorite layout idea). Outline your basic parameters, consider non-standard layouts (on-point, circular, hexagon, etc.)

    Regardless of what level you’re working at this month, post some of your ideas online: fabric pulls, orphan block options, fussy cut ideas, etc. with the hashtag #SeaMQGSalsaBOM.

    Book Giveaway!

    Due to a kind anonymous donor, we have 3 books to give away this month. 2 copies of The Modern Medallion Workbook by Janice Ryan and Beth Vassalo, and 1 copy of Liberated Medallions by Gwen Marston. You must be a member of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild to win. To enter, send an email to with “Book Giveaway” in the subject line. One entry per person. Winners will be chosen randomly by drawing on January 20, 2021 at 6 pm Pacific time and will be notified by email.

    More Resources for Inspiration

    Online More medallion eye-candy than math.–medallion-quilts/24718. Links to lots of historical medallion quilt photos. Nice history, good photos. Color wheel and palette tool based on classic color theory, very fun to experiment with. Palette generator, easy to use, fun to play with. Uses photos as inspiration for color palettes. Links to additional specialized color tools.

    Books with Medallion Quilt Inspiration

    Cultural Fusion Quilts, Sujata Shah, 2014

    Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making, Suzanne Woods, ed, 2014

    Liberated Quiltmaking II, Gwen Marston, 2010

    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

    Books with Color and Design Inspiration

    Adventures in Design, Joen Wolfrom, 2011

    Color Play, Joen Wolfrom, 2014

    A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design, Heather Thomas, 2011

    Intuitive Color and Design, Jean Wells, 2017

    The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color, Rachel Hauser, 2019

    Artful Improv, Cindy Grisdela, 2016

    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.

    February Instructions

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

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