Hungarian Rhapsody is a special quilt that Ricky has brought new life to. Vibrant and colorful, it is sure to get any quilter excited to start their next piecing venture.

You can learn piecing from Ricky in our Piecing Masterclass Part 2, and Show 804: Create Your Own Rhapsody Quilt - Part 2.

Original Photo by Ricky Tims


Why is it that some quilts never leave the depths of the WIP (Work In Progress) pile? Did you lose interest, or did the fabrics and color choices just not play together well? For the next several lessons we will take a brief pause from our focus on the fundamentals of color, to look at how and what fabric choices you make can result in a flat or less dynamic quilt.

Scale, value, and pattern can make a huge difference when it comes to selecting fabrics for your quilt project. It's one thing to understand the principles of the terms, but another matter when it comes to actually putting a fabric group together.

Let's look at Kissin' Cousins by Susan Carlson. This WIP illustrates the wide array of fabrics Susan has used in her collage work to create depth and realism on the faces of the two children. In the detail of the girl's face below, you will notice the masterful way she combined fabrics with prints of different sizes, themes, and colors to give depth and interest. Susan's skillful use with what many would consider fabrics that absolutely would not play well together, in fact, actually do make for a very harmonious grouping.









Kissin' Cousins by Susan Carlson (Show 801). (Detail)

Another master when it comes to gathering a very diverse fabric collection for quilt projects is Karen K. Stone (Show 1611). Two examples that showcase the vast array of fabrics, patterns, scale, and size she customarily uses in her work are Lilith and Clam Session.

Lilith by Karen K. Stone. (Image by TheQuiltShow.com). Clam Session by Karen K. Stone (Image by TheQuiltShow.com)


But where does one start when it comes to deciding on what fabrics to cull or purchase? As a quilter, your local quilt shop is a great resource. Most shops offer pre-cut designer fabric collection bundles, such as charm squares (5" x 5"), jelly rolls (2 1/2" x 45"), layer cakes (10" x 10"), and fat quarter bundles (9" x 22"). These groupings, usually based on a theme, offer a nice array of fabric prints in one complete collection; or let a favorite fabric be the inspiration for your grouping. And don't forget to check out those colored dots along the selvedge of your inspirational fabric, as they are very useful for matching color.

What if the current collections at your local quilt shop don't make you swoon, or you want to build a fabric group from your own stash? Here are a few basic tips to keep you on track.

The basics for creating interest:

Scale / Size - Include a variety of small, medium, and large prints. By including a mix of the three, your work will have more depth and variety.

Value - Include a wide range of light, medium, and dark to avoid your work from reading flat. Are you not sure about relying on your instincts? Use the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool to help solve the mystery. Each of the twenty-four pages illustrates the pure color, tints, shades, and tones of a family, allowing you the opportunity to select from a wide array of fabrics to make a quilt more interesting.

In Show 1307, Alex Anderson shares her method for gathering fabrics when beginning a scrap quilt. From selecting a wide range of fabrics, to the role value plays within a star block, diversity of fabric choice can make a huge difference.

In Show 1413Leni Levenson Wiener shows what a difference 'zingers' make when selecting fabrics for her trees.

Becky Goldsmith (Show 611Show 1704, and Show 2401) is an award-winning quilter who teaches both nationally and internationally. She says that, "quilters paint with fabric." And as such the need to understanding how fabric works can mean the difference between a quilt project that is forever doomed to the UFO dungeon or a loved and completed piece.


Working with Predictable vs. Unpredictable Fabrics

by Becky Goldsmith (Show 611, Show 1704, and Show 2401)

Fabric falls into two broad categories: predictable and unpredictable. Predictable fabrics are not ‘better’ than unpredictable fabrics—they just behave differently. When you can see at a glance which category a fabric falls into, it makes choosing fabric for a quilt much easier.

Predictable Fabrics

A predictable fabric can be cut into big or small pieces and it will look the same everywhere it shows up in the quilt. In pieced quilts, that is a very good thing.



Solids are the most predictable fabric.
No matter how you cut them, they always look the same.







Tone-on-tone fabrics usually read as a solid at a distance. Tone-on-tone prints can be quiet or visually active. If the values in the print are close together, the fabric will read more as a solid and be ‘quieter’. The more contrast in the print, the more noticeable and visually active the fabric becomes.

Tone-on-tone prints come in all sizes: small-, medium-, and large-scale.



Small Prints

The motifs and colors in small prints are near enough to each other that when cut into small pieces, they look the same no matter what part of the fabric they are cut from.






Some small prints have motifs that are more widely spaced. The designs in the print won’t be exactly the same in the pieces you cut from the fabric, but the print will retain its character. This antique fabric feels open and airy in both large and small sizes.







Medium Prints

Medium prints have obviously bigger motifs than those you find in small prints, but many are still predictable. Look for designs where the colors in the print are mixed together well across the face of the fabric.




Unpredictable Fabric

Unpredictable fabrics are ones where the motifs are often big and widely spaced. When you cut small pieces from unpredictable fabrics, you can’t predict which color will end up where and that can play havoc in repeating blocks.

Big Prints

Most quilters shy away from big prints because they look hard to use, but I encourage you to give them a try. Big prints have an expansive feeling that can add motion and depth to your quilt.


Big Prints

Most quilters shy away from big prints because they look hard to use, but I encourage you to give them a try. Big prints have an expansive feeling that can add motion and depth to your quilt.


When you cut big prints into small pieces, the design is fragmented.
If you bought the print because you liked it as a whole, this can be disconcerting.


These squares, from the big print above far left, are a good example of that.


Sometimes colors are segregated into discrete areas. For example, if you cut 2” squares from the rainbow dot fabric (designed by Greta Lynn) you will end up with squares that are blue, or red, or yellow, etc. If your pattern calls for mostly blue squares, the others are not going to fit into your design.

That doesn’t mean that these are not good and useful fabrics! One simple example is to combine one of these prints with one solid or near-solid contrasting fabric. Imagine 9-patches made with the rainbow dot against white. You would have a happy and colorful quilt from just these two fabrics.





Predictable Big Prints


Big prints are not always unpredictable and they are well worth using.

This wonderful fabric (on the left) is based on a pieced quilt, Tara’s Fireworks Quilt (fabric from Michael Miller). This cut is roughly fat-quarter-size.

You could use it as is, but it is easier to use in small pieces than you might think. The overall flavor of the print remains the same.




Let’s Compare:


Whether a fabric is predictable or unpredictable, always remember that the color, value, and scale of any print can only be measured against the fabrics they are paired with. A medium-scale print will look big when compared with solids and small prints.






Add an even bigger print, and the relationships change.








Adding prints with lines and stripes can help to visually control big and wild designs.








And, lastly, know that clear colors come forward and gray colors recede. So even though the big print, below, will be noticeable, the clear blues are more dominant.






Let's look at two completed quilts:


The only unpredictable fabric in this quilt is the dark gray/brown big print used in the log cabin centers and in the upper right hand triangles. You can’t see the big kitchen tools, but the shapes are cut big. I was careful to make the log cabin centers dark for continuity. I used a multi-colored stripe for the colorful inner and outer borders.







Improvisation by Becky Goldsmith


There’s a little bit of everything going on in Everyday Best. Many of the border backgrounds are cut from unpredictable fabrics that would not have cut up into consistent colors and/or values.







Everyday Best by Becky Goldsmith



Seeing Stars by Alex Anderson (Image courtesy by C&T Publishing. Free pattern Click Here) Lilith by Karen K. Stone (Image by TheQuiltShow.com)

Practice Exercise: Scrappy Sawtooth Stars
  1. Gather a collection of fabrics together from your stash to include one as the background fabric. Your collection can be totally scrappy as in the case of Alex's quilt, Seeing Stars, on the left above or a more controlled color palate as Karen K. Stone's quilt, Lilith, on the right above.
  2. Using the principles you have learned today, see how dynamic a collection you can pull together by including various print scale/size, patterns, and values.
  3. Using your favorite Sawtooth Star Block pattern method, make at least six different blocks. With each succesive block, try to find a way to make the next block different than the one previous.

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


We continue our feature on quilts from the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) exhibit, Layered & Stitched: Fifty Years of Innovation, as featured at the Texas Quilt Museum. The exhibit is described as:

Studio Art Quilt Associates presents Layered & Stitched: Fifty Years of Innovation at the Texas Quilt Museum in Galleries I and III. These studio art quilts, dating from 1968 to 2016, represent the extraordinary range of talented artists working in contemporary quilt art. Featuring a balance of abstract and representational styles, Layered & Stitched includes several foreign artists, with a wide geographic distribution of makers in general. The curatorial vision of this exhibition embraces diversity and excellence, including three-dimensional works. Juried by Nancy Bavor, Director of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles; Martha Sielman, Executive Director of SAQA; and Dr. Sandra Sider, Curator of the Texas Quilt Museum, who says, "Jurying this spectacular exhibition was one of the highlights of my career! It is an amazing show of historic significance."

The exhibit has also been collected in a companion book as well, titled Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 Years of Innovation by Nancy Bavor, Lisa Ellis, Martha Sielman, and edited by Sandra Sider. The book is described as:

Published by Schiffer Books, Art Quilts Unfolding offers full-color images of 400 masterpieces along with engaging interviews and profiles of 58 influential artists, key leaders, important events, and significant collections. Organized by decade, an additional 182 international artists' works are featured.
An introduction by Janet Koplos, former senior editor of Art in America, and a conclusion by Ulysses Grant Dietz, emeritus chief curator of the Newark Museum, help us to understand the impact and the future of the art.
The exhibit will be on display at:
(Due to the current situation around the country, dates for the exhibit have changed.)
Ross Art Museum, Delaware, Ohio: May 14, 2021 - July 2, 2021
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles: October 10, 2021 - January 9, 2022

Please enjoy the thirteenth quilt from the exhibition. 

Title of Quilt: Listen to Your Mother

Quilter's Name: Jean Ray Laury

Photos by Mary Kay Davis


Ellen Lindner felt her quilt, Jubilation, should represent the bright colors and high energy of the joy that comes with any jubilation. We think she did a great job getting the feeling across.

Jubilation by Ellen Lindner of Melbourne, Florida was featured in the Abstract, Small category at Houston 2019.

Congratulations to Cynthia England for her quilt Reflections of Cape Town (68" x 72"), the Best of Show at Houston 2016.
Cynthia writes about her quilt:
“I was fortunate to teach quilting in South Africa. While there, we took a side to and visited Cape Town. This picture was taken in a fishing village there. I loved the bright colors and the reflections were something I wanted to try to recreate in fabric. I am constantly amazed at the beautiful places where quilting takes me. This quilt took about a year to make and has approximately 8400 individual pattern pieces in it.”

You can learn piecing from Cynthia in our Piecing Masterclass Part 2 and Show 1412: "I Can't Believe It's Pieced!"

Original Photo: Mary Kay Davis


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 seventeenth quilt from the exhibition by Eileen Diercks and quilted by Erica Barrett.

Title of Quilt: Starry Night

Quilter's Name: Eileen Diercks

Quilted by Erica Barrett


Alice T. Megna made her quilt, Dancing into Spring, using a technique she learned for piecing curves from Sheila Frampton Cooper. She was inspired by the wildflowers growing in Texas during spring, and just like nature itself, she let design come organically to her rather than planning it out ahead of time.

Dancing into Spring by Alice T. Megna of Round Mountain, Texas was featured in the Abstract, Small category at Houston 2019.


Try the New Search Box at the Top of the Webpage

It looks like this: (this is just an example picture. Go to the top of the page to search)

We are still working hard to bring you a new website. One of the features of the new website is a new search that looks at the whole site at the same time. We have installed it here at the top of the website for you to try out. Is it perfect....No, BUT it is better, more fun, and easy to understand. Several things to note. It is still in beta as we tweak it to get it better. If an article only has a video, the search cannot return a picture (google doesn't show any pictures).

Try these tests and then try your own and let us know what you think. Pick an artist name or a quilting technique. Beware, you can get lost looking at the quilts.

  1. Go to the top of the any page on the website. The search box in this blog is just an example picture.
  2. Search for trapunto (Your results should look like the pictures below)
  3. Search by typing in "1st" and go to the blog tab. Look at all the 1st place quilts you can see.
  4. Search "Tula Pink", then search "Tula". You can see that using a very common word returns a lot of answers. Sometimes less is more.
  5. Think of your own search


Alex continues her quilting tutorial on quilting design from lessons she learned from Lucy Hilty. Filling the space, turning corners, amount of quilting, overlapping designs, and more are covered in this continuing program. Coming soon is the "Kaffe Fassett Mystery Quilt"....well it's a mystery because Alex hasn't finished creating it in her mind yet. These lessons are recorded, but the LIVE is more fun and starts at 10am PST, 1pm EST, and 6pm London time Friday June 12, 2020.


Three Easy Steps To Save This Lesson As A Pdf:
-Make sure you are logged in.
-Click on the small triangle next to the tool wheel in the upper right hand corner of the page (you'll find it above the Like button).
-Select the pdf. option. Wait a few minutes. It's a large file due to the number of images.
-Your file should appear with the title of the lesson.

This is our last lesson devoted to value, and if you have been following along in our design series, you have learned how important of a role both color (Lesson 13) AND value (Lesson 19) play when selecting your fabrics. Whether it's an art quilt, or one steeped in tradition, here is a quick review with easy to remember tips to keep in mind for creating your next successful quilt:

  • In the most basic terms, value is the lightness or darkness of a color. There are generally three categories of value: high, low, and mid.
  • High value means colors that have a great deal of light in them, with white being the highest of high value colors. Low value colors are darker, with black being the lowest of low value colors. Mid value colors are those that do not lean to the very light or very dark, and as such, are very appealing to quilters.
Easy terms to remember:

High - Light, Airy, Delicate
Low - Dark, Earthy, Heavy                                                                                            
- Middle of the road


                                                                                                                                                                                     Aloe Vera by Grace Errea (Image courtesy of Grace Errea)

  • The key to achieving success is to remember that when selecting fabric, try to incorporate a very wide range of tints, tones, shades, and pure color. That way your design will have contrast, depth, and volume.


  • And last, but not least, use easy to follow tools such as the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool to help keep you on the right path. Each of the twenty-four pages illustrates the pure color, tints, shades, and tones of a family, allowing you the opportunity to select from a wide array of fabrics to help you make YOUR quilt more interesting.


Fiber artist, designer, quilter, and author, Grace J. Errea (Show 1303: Discover the Rewards of "Value-Based" Quilting), began quilting in 2000. Her art focuses on the depiction of inspiring scenes in a value based contemporary-realistic manner. Grace is a self-taught artist and her work illustrates and has been recognized for exceptional primary use of values and secondary use of color. Her focus on value makes it easy for her and her students to create inspiring botanicals, landscape scenes, and portraits, in any color.

Color Harmonies

by Grace Errea (Show 1303)
(All images by Grace Errea unless otherwise noted)

First comes VALUE, and then comes HUE/COLOR. When discussing Color we need to talk about Color Harmonies, which are combinations of hues that work well together, support each other, and create amazing artwork. Once the value of your piece is decided, then hue can be finally defined. Color Harmonies are important as some hues combine better than others. For this we will refer to the standard Color Wheel.

There are a few Color Harmonies that should be mentioned:

Achromatic – just black and white. Value does not exist in this realm, as it is ONLY black and white. Well, let’s stretch the point a little. Even here Value can be pushed a bit.

There are only 2 distinct and separate hues in this harmony. Values are determined by how much of each of the hues (black or white) is present, rather than the smooth transition you obtain when hues are mixed with white or black to create values.

Compare the Black and White Blade to the Blue blade.

Notice here that in Value 1 of the achromatic harmony, you have mostly white and very little black. This black increases as you move through the values until Value 8 is exactly the reverse.

Monochromatic – One Hue.

Fur Blue is an example of a monochromatic color harmony, i.e., one Hue. With only one hue, you need to use value to the fullest. There is nothing else to juxtapose to create your design.

Complimentary Harmony – opposites on the color wheel.


In this harmony you work with one primary hue and its compliment - a secondary hue. The complements couples are Red/Green, Blue/Orange, and Yellow/Purple. With the complimentary scheme, you need not be as careful about Value. Complimentary colors look brighter side-by-side as they possess a dynamic contrast. In Samba Zinnia, the red is about a value 5, and is seated next to a green, also value 5-6.







Analogous Color Harmony - Three adjacent hues on the color wheel.


This color combination is always harmonious and each hue enhances the other. In this harmony, one of the hues is common to the other two. In Women of Color you see the blue face, the purple face, and the green face. The common hue is Blue, since green and purple are both created by using blue as one of their components.







Triadic Color Harmony - Three Primary hues or three secondary.


On the color wheel these are the three points in an equilateral triangle. The Red Ram displays the 3 primary colors of Red, Blue, and Yellow. Another Triadic combination is the 3 secondary colors of orange, purple, and green.














Rainbow Color Harmony Last but not least, this is a pleasing combination of all the hues. Rainbow Canyon is an example.


















There is no Practice Exercise this week, but we do suggest that you might want to review past lessons as there will be a review quiz coming in the next few lessons.

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

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Quilt Show!

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Learn about
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