(Image courtesy of Ann Gibson at Canyon Creek Elementary School)

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It is the nature of pattern to delight the eye, and since the dawn of time, we as humans have been surrounded by pattern, whether natural or man-made.

Woven baskets, decorative pottery, architecture, sumptuous textiles, and intricate wood carvings are all means in which artists have included pattern to captivate the viewer's attention.








Take these two beautiful buildings: Ecology of Colour (on the left), Dartford, Kent, UK and Synchronicity of Color: Blue in Houston, Texas by Margo Sawyer. If you were strolling through the park, how could you not stop to admire either of these buildings? Would you try to count the number of block patterns and colors used in each design? Would you take a few photos as a memento? Well, both of the building's designs and patterns were successful in capturing your attention.

As a quilt designer, you have the opportunity to grab the viewer's attention by using pattern to its full advantage. Pattern is the combining of elements or motif in an arranged and repeated manner. Carol Ann Waugh's series Conversations: Years quilts are a visual time stamp of world headlines during pivotal years in her life. The quilts are personal, visually stunning, while at the same time being a fun game of 'do you remember' when? At first glance the quilt (Conversations Years: 1959) appears to be laid out in a simple, but orderly circle in a square pattern. Look at it for a while longer, and you see that there's a lot more going on. 280 light purple circles and an analagous color range of squares provide the background, while colorful words and numbers pull your eyes around the quilt. This is pattern and repetition using a simple motif with impressive and memorable results.

Types of pattern include:
Geometric Shapes





Conversation Years: 1959 by Carol Ann Waugh (Show 1011). [Image courtesy of Carol Ann Waugh]


Let's look at some other quilts featuring pattern:

Spin Cycle by Valli Schiller. (Image by Road2CA)

Summertime by Elsie Campbell (Show 407). [Image Road2CA].

Burst by Marge Tucker. (Image QuiltCon).

15 Warthogs by Marilyn Smith (Image by TheQuiltShow.com)

Midnight In Morocco by Marilyn Badger. (Image by TheQuiltShow.com)


Alaskan quilt artist Maria Shell (Show 2208) shares how she uses basic shapes to create visually interesting quits featuring pattern.

Pattern by Maria Shell
(Show 2208)

What is pattern? And how can we use this design element to create dynamic patchwork? Pattern, also called repetition, is repeating visual elements such as line, color, shape, texture, and value to unify the total effect of a work of art, a quilt, or a composition. It is one of the many “glues” I use to hold my quilts together.

Pattern & Line

The easiest way to create pattern is with line. Every time you make a strip set for a traditional quilt you are manipulating line. Good Vibrations is a classic example of improvision-ally cut strip sets cut into blocks that are then arranged in a pleasing manner.









You can even introduce patterning into your lines if you like. In the quilt Birch Stand, I used bits and pieces within a monochromatic color scheme to create lines that I then pieced onto a neutral background. The pieced lines float on the neutral surface producing a simple but interesting exploration of line and pattern.











Once you get the hang of that, you can then manipulate the lines (pieced or not) into larger shapes as I have done here in Aztecian. Aztecian features a controled palette of hi-contrast colors pieced into repeating lines. The lines change directions creating movement and interest in the quilt.










Pattern & Color
Frequently the first step for me in designing a new quilt is building a palette. I will select 8 -12 colors that I find dynamic, beautiful, and bold. By bold, I mean that the colors never truly blend, but instead they each compete equally for attention—they hold their own.  In Do a Little Dance, I have created five palettes that have been built into curvy lines. Each palette is used in the same way to create pattern and repetition, but they also look wildly different when placed next to each other. To create dynamic quilt palettes where each color holds its own—use a value finder and the grey scale function on your camera to double check against what your naked eye sees. If everything blends together in grey scale that means you do not have enough variation in your colors and values. Change them up! Dare yourself to create combinations that are fresh and unpredictable. That is where the action is at.







Another way to create pattern with color is to place that color in the same place in the quilt over and over again so that the color holds its own within the composition and becomes part of the lines and shapes that are building the quilt. I have used bold colors on white to create pattern with color in the quilt Day.



Pattern & Shape

Introducing pattern into shape can have dramatic results. By this I mean, you can take a shape and fill it with pattern. All traditional quilt blocks are built out of shapes. The Crossed Square quilt block is a perfect example. It is composed of linear shapes arranged in a pattern.




But if you take those shapes and add pattern to them, you will find that you are onto something. Boulevard is composed of dozens of different linear shapes to create a single elongated Crossed Square quilt block.







Pattern & Texture

Texture is in many ways pattern getting small enough to create the illusion of a dimensional surface. I created three color palettes and selected a particular shape or line to create the textural elements of Root Glacier. The sun is composed of flying geese blocks in a pleasing sun palette. The glacier is built from curvy lines moving in different directions, and the sky is that same curvy line moving horizontally across the top of the quilt. The textures created by the piecework serve the quilt and make it more interesting.








You can also create an overall texture to create visual interest. To Agnes Martin, with Color repeats the same shape (which is that simple Crossed Square block I was talking about earlier) in the form of uber-tiny quilt blocks. It is texture as pattern and art.











Pattern & Value

Value is the darkness or lightness of a color or hue. I frequently use high contrasting values to create visual interest in my quilts. Treasure Map uses all of the colors of the color wheel in varying values to create high contrast visual interest.

I hope these pointers about how I use pattern will help you create dynamic quilts.









      Template 1                                      Template 2                                        Template 3

Practice Exercise: Creating Pattern with Repetition

Click Here to Download the pattern templates (triangle in a square, circle in a square, square in a square).

  1. Use the provided templates to make individual units (either a single block or a combination of two blocks) using colored pencils, colored paper, graph paper, fabric, etc. For the best visual results, you will need at least 30 or more blocks.
  2. Arrange and move the blocks about (pinning to a design wall is a good idea) to find a combination that suits you.
  3. Take a photo of combinations with your phone to make comparing easy.


Click here for more topics related to The Art of Quilt Design program


TQS continues its feature of quilts from the exhibit Log Cabin Today! Presented by Brigitte Morgenroth, a series of log cabin quilts created by Brigitte Morgenroth that were featured at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2015. The exhibit is described as:

"Twenty-five years ago, Brigitte Morgenroth discovered quilting when she lived in Bophuthatswana (a former homeland in South Africa) and Libya. She creates modern and interesting Log Cabin quilts, with her choice of expressive colors and material, combined in different variations and arrangements: Log Cabin with a twist, triangular, undulating, or pineapple. Silk and polyester satin are her favorite materials, sometimes combined with patterned cotton. Mainly, she sews large quilts and sometimes smaller, more sophisticated ones. All of her quilts are hand-quilted. She gives this old pattern a modern, interesting character."

Please enjoy Brigitte's fourth quilt from the exhibition.

Title of Quilt: Geteiltes Rot ~ Divided Red

Quilter's Name: Brigitte Morgenroth

Photos by John Anderson


Inspired by the La Passacaglia Quilt from the book Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein, Ann Gonzalez couldn't bear to cut away the finished blocks to square up her quilt, Daddy's Delight, as the pattern instructed. So she instead hand appliquéd it to the background fabrics and added additional floating stars.

Daddy's Delight by Ann Gonzalez of Surprise, Arizona was featured in the Balanced Piecing and Appliqué category at Houston 2019.


A special, hand-crafted quilt has gone missing. Made for Lt. Col. Cynthia Weidman, it depicts Weidman's 24 years of service and is a fabric reminder of traveling the world and helping others. They are asking for everyone's help to find the quilt.

Here's more information from the maker of the quilt, Sara Price, San Antonio, TX:

"Lt. Col. Cynthia Weidman, who serves as Chief Nurse at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, is about to fly into retirement. Weidman's husband, Bill Heisel, a retired Air Force veteran, looked forward to presenting a special hand-crafted quilt during her retirement ceremony on Monday. But instead, pictures of a sentimental gift are all that remain.The quilt depicts Weidman's 24 years of service. It's a fabric reminder of traveling the world and helping others.“Just came back a year ago from a 10 and a half, 11 month deployment to Afghanistan. "During these long deployments, Heisel embarked on a nine-year covert mission, working alongside a family friend in the United Kingdom. Together, they researched and constructed a snapshot of Weidman's life through the quilt.“For me to do something for that long and keep it a secret that’s pretty cool," Heisel said.

Hotel surveillance footage shows multiple people breaking into vehicles in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn and Suites near JBSA Lackland and Sea World. At one point, one of the individuals breaks into the retired military couple's white pickup and takes a bag with the quilt inside. “We’re gutted. That’s the right word, gutted because it does mean a lot." Weidman recalls the moment when her husband broke the news. At first she was confused as to what quilt he was talking about. But then Heisel explained what he's been working on for almost the past decade. Weidman and Heisel hope the community and San Antonio police are able to stumble upon those responsible and more importantly, find the quilt. “The tears flow and when I got to see the picture of the quilt, it’s heartbreaking," Weidman said."

If you have any information regarding the quilt,  you can contact Sara at:



Here's a fun block to make. Your colors will make all the difference, but points matter. Alex will be showing you the way.


We continue our selection of quilts exhibited in 2019 at the Houston International Quilt Festival as part of their 45th Anniversary, the Sapphire Anniversary. The Sapphire Celebration exhibit is described as:

"Quilters have long used the color blue to symbolize trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Sapphire is also the chosen gem to celebrate 45th anniversaries—which International Quilt Festival is doing this year (2019)! These new and antique blue and white quilts will be suspended from the ceiling in a spectacular and unforgettable display."

To be a part of the exhibit, quilts had to fit the following criteria:

  • Entries may be Traditional, Modern or Art.
  • Entries must have been made between 1974 and 2019.
  • The minimum size is 50” x 50”

Please enjoy the twenty-third quilt from the exhibition by Cheryl Degan and quilted by Emily Bowers.

Title of Quilt: Ice Crystals

Quilter's Name: Cheryl Degan

Quilted by Emily Bowers


Judy Woodworth has always loved trees and wanted to design something with hugging trees, brilliant colors, lollipops, and cotton candy. She accomplished that with this wonderfully whimsical quilt, The Lollipop Tree. And it all began with just two circles.

See Judy in Show 609.

The Lollipop Tree by Judy Woodworth of Rapid City, South Dakota was featured in the Balanced Piecing and Appliqué category at Houston 2019.


MK, an editor at TQS, and Alex both received brand spanking new BERNINA Q20s at the same time. MK was having trouble doing ruler work, so Alex sent her a video to help her out.

While watching the video, MK discovered her problem...she was using the wrong foot! She was using the free-motion foot which kept jumping over the ruler. Once she changed the foot, no problem. TIP: Remember to use the Adjustable Ruler Foot #72 when doing ruler work!

Also while watching the video, MK realized she had a great tip for Alex as well. She saw that Alex was marking her quilt with a pen.

What was that tip? TIP: Alex needed to get the Needle Point Laser attachment for the Q20. It provides a small dot light to indicate exactly where the needle is going to position the stitch. It makes lining things up a snap.

Click here for more tips on the Needle Point Laser attachment at WeAllSew.



Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window (written by Ricky Tims and Kat Bowser)

To celebrate the launch of the long-awaited Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window, there will be weekly drawings to win a personalized autographed copy of a first edition.

It only takes about five minutes to do the Scavenger Hunt. Get your youngsters involved too - and have them do their own searching. All the answers are provided on the links. Answers must be correct in order to have a chance to win. No purchase necessary.

Click here to go on the Scavenger Hunt.



Alex continues to show how to make the blocks that are going into the mystery quilt. Grab your fabric and join in the journey. Be sure to check out those that are sharing in the forum. We love some of the fabric choices going on. Take a look. https://thequiltshow.com/forum/this-and-that-quilting-related/8994-kaffe-mystery-quilt-learn-with-alex#148068

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Quilt Show!

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