Tuesday, January 18, 2011

One Block Wonders

We all know I like scrappy quilts.

I like the color diversity. I like using up pieces from my Stash O' Fabrics. I like the continuity of projects when using fabrics for more than one project.

Another thing that runs through my quilts is their functionality. I do not make Art Quilts, but rather things that are to be used, loved, mushed, washed. I use cotton mostly and do not usually use other material or embellishments. Perhaps going along with that, many of my quilts are of traditional patterns. Sure I put my own spin on things, but really, it's about squares, triangles, and such, put together into larger, repeating blocks to make the piece. I find this rewarding, and the challenge usually comes in picking the fabrics to make unusual compositions, or in making a piece that will work well with the recipient, or creating an illusion or over (or under) lying image or feel to the piece.

Put these two things together, scrappiness and traditional patterns, and you can see why the One Block Wonder is a new thing for me. The One Block wonder involves one shape of fabric, sewn over and over again. Traditionally, One Block Wonders are triangles, or hexagons and often involved scraps. But lately, over the past few years, a new type of One Block Wonder has evolved. This uses just one fabric (or maybe two), and one shape of this single fabric, used over and over again. I've seen this in triangles, squares and hexagons and was really intrigued by it. When done a certain way, using identical areas of the cloth sewn to each other, it creates a kaleidoscopic effect which is quite striking.
This is what mine looks like finished:

The challenge here is to find a fabric that will translate well to this pattern.
The challenge for me was wrapping my head around the technique. No matter how many photos I saw, I just could not figure out how the quilts are made.
So I bought a book.
I got a book for beginning One Block Wonders and set to work studying this book. It took me over a month before I felt confident enough even to go LOOKING at fabrics. It took another 3 months before I bought any fabrics and yet another month before I started cutting triangles. I cut and cut and then started laying out the pieces to create something I liked. Eventually I started sewing it together.
A close up:
The way you create this is by buying enough fabric to allow 6 repetitions of the fabric. You cut the fabric into long strips, along the repetition so that you have 6 strips of identical fabric sections. From these you cut the triangles and then sew them together to create these hexagons. Because you are using identical patterns in each triangle, when you rotate them just right you get the kaleidoscope effect.
When I laid the hexagons out, I tried to create a piece in which the designs on each hexagon "flowed" with those in the hexagons around it. And then I found I needed to break up this flow so I added the vertical strips of black, in increasing widths, and added the borders.
Now that I've done this quilt, I know how to do it, and while I love the effect I am in no hurry to create another one (though I have one or two in mind). Working with identical pieces of 2 fabrics is not where my quilting delights lie I guess.
That said, the quilt is on our bed and we love it. I gave it to AJ as a present.
The reverse side of this quilt is more traditional and took a very long time as well. I'll post about that next.


  1. Love it! I think it's extra cool when the original fabric is hard to figure out at first.

  2. Thanks!
    One of the original fabrics is the outer border.