Based on the Birds in the Air block, but taking the free-form approach of the blocks in her book, Sujata Shah's Sunset quilt is dedicated to her father, who she used to watch sunsets with from the balcony of her home.

Learn from Sujata in Show 2705.

Original Photo: Kristin Goedert


In our last lesson in The Art of Quilt Design program, we focused on Unity (Lesson 40). Unity can be thought of as everyone in a group working together. Unity represents calmness and order through repetition, either by shape or color. It can be achieved with pattern, color, or theme. But, unity can also become somewhat boring if the elements, while being the same, are not different enough in some way. That is where variety helps to shake things up a bit for the viewer. Variety adds that bit of spice to a quilt without sacrificing the idea of the group working together as a whole.

An easy way to remember is... Unity adds harmony; Variety adds interest.


In this example, notice how all of the droplets on the left are the same color, but different sizes. In the area on the right all of the droplets are a different color, but the same size.








Not sure where to start? How about selecting a simple block to see how far it's possible to push the variety. The traditional clamshell block offers many options for creativity interpretation.



Treat each clam as an individual unit. A bit of edging or trim along the top edge to add more interest.
Happy As A Clam by Rachael Daisy. (Image courtesy of Rachael Daisy)








Arrange individual clam units in different directions to create movement across the quilt. Or, build pieced units to create a sampler look.

Clam Toss by Latifah Saafir. (Show 2502) [Image TheQuiltShow.com]. Callou by Latifah Saafir (Image TheQuiltShow.com)

Make each and every clamshell unique. You get the idea; the possibilities are endless.

Clam Session by Karen K. Stone (Show 1611) [Image TheQuiltShow.com]





Now that you understand the ways that you can create interest using a group of elements, let's look at some excellent examples of quilts featuring Variety:

Seasons by Terry Sargent Peart. (Image QuiltCon) ; Painted Magnolia by Cathrine Butterworth. (Image Road2CA)

Bow Ties by Alex Anderson (Image TheQuiltShow.com) ; Away by Karen K. Stone (Show 1611). [Image TheQuiltShow.com]


Guest Room Quilt by Mary Elizabeth Kinch. (Image Courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Kinch) [Show 1502] ; Round The Garden by Helen Anderson, a Wendy Williams Pattern. (Image R2CA)

Twirly Balls and Pinwheels by Sue Garman (Show 304, Show 505) ; Time and Place by Robbi Joy Eklow (Show 1008).     


"Variety in Your Work"
Laura Wasilowski (Show 303, Show 1009, and Show 2109)

(All images by Laura Wasilowski, unless otherwise noted)

If there is a recipe for creating artwork then there is an important ingredient to include. This ingredient spices up the design. It is variety. Variety takes a bland concoction and adds flavor using diverse motifs, colors, and pattern. By varying the shapes, colors, and placement of shapes in your artwork, you create lively and active designs.

In Seedpods, the simple dot motif appears in various sizes. Large, medium, and small dots scatter across the surface carrying the eye from one side to the other. The stripped motifs also vary in size. Fine lines create narrowly striped fabrics and wide strips make bold stripes. By providing a mixture of motif sizes, energy is added to the piece.

Color also adds variety to artwork. Changing colors and color values in a composition keeps the eye active and searching for the next instance of that color. High contrast colors in Seedpods lift off the background while analogous colors recede into the background. This variety of colors choices push and pull the eye across the piece.

Another important ingredient of design is placement. Placement of shapes and colors adds a dynamic flow to a design. Placing shapes at different elevations is an effective way to lend action or movement to a piece. In Seedpods, dot shapes are placed at varying heights. Repeating colors at varying intervals across a piece also works the eye and gives energy to the artwork.

All this variety of size, color, and placement of shapes leads to unity. A variety of elements in a composition appeals to the eye but it achieves harmony or unity. Unity is a feeling that all the elements work together and form a whole piece of artwork.



In my quilt, Pretty Planet #10, the design principal of balance plays an important role. When elements in a design share equally in interest or visual weight, balance is achieved. The viewer’s eye travels the artwork and senses the placement of the various design elements, giving the viewer a sense of harmony or balance within the artwork.

In the case of Pretty Planet #10, design elements like the houses and trees radiate evenly around a central point. This is radial balance. Radial balance is an easy design format to follow when making artwork. By placing similar elements in a circular pattern the sense of a spinning wheel or rotating objects appears. In this case, the feeling of motion created by radial balance is also repeated in the circular shape of the quilt.





Pretty Planet #3 is also a round quilt but there is no center point. Instead the disparate elements in this design are given equal visual weight or balance by their strategic placement on the background fabric. This is called asymmetric balance. Similar shapes, like the trees, are positioned at different angles to draw the viewer’s eye around the place. The darker green at the bottom of the quilt and orange trees add weight, balancing out the importance of the house shape.









Arbor Day uses a traditional four-patch layout that reflects symmetrical balance. Symmetrical balance is also known as “formal” balance. When design elements are positioned on either side of a central axis or line, they have an equal visual weight. Even distribution of shapes and a layout of repeating horizontal and vertical lines are very common in traditional quilt compositions. This gives them a feeling of formality and calm balance.








Pay attention to balance while making a composition. The placement of elements, arrangement of shapes, and repetition of colors create balance. When making artwork, step back and look at it with a critical eye. Do the elements share equally in visual weight? Is your eye continuously drawn around the piece? Does it feel in balance?


Practice Exercise: Using the Half-Square Triangle to create Variety in a design.

Create a design using the traditional Half-Square Triangle. Below are two examples to get you started.

Square Dance by Carolyn Hock. (Show 2001, Show 2212, Show 2311) [Image TheQuiltShow.com] ; Goal Visualization by Laura Hartrich (Image by TheQuiltShow.com)

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 ninth quilt from the exhibition.

Title of Quilt: Ace of Diamonds

Quilter's Name: Brigitte Morgenroth

Photos by John Anderson


Alicia Sterna's quilt, Sometimes It Snows, is inspired by Michael McKee's painting Sedona Snow and the rare sighting of snow in Arizona. It presents a great contrast of the white snow against the red rocks of Arizona.

Sometimes It Snows by Alicia Sterna of Surprise, Arizona was featured in the Fantasy / Whimsy category at Houston 2019.


Okay…..so apparently Freddy Moran isn’t just inspirational to quilters…..she is even inspirational to non-quilters…..like Jim Hucks, our cameraman.

After shooting at Freddy’s House last month, our cameraman, Jim Hucks….went home and heeded Freddy’s advice…and did some painting in his own kitchen. He recalls Freddy mentioning that, “The color red is a neutral"…..and BROWN IS A HOLE.” Noticing that his kitchen was brown & black….he got to work.

This is the influence of Freddy Moran.  

Star members can watch Freddy and Sujata in Show 2705.  
To join and watch click here: 







It's actually less than 4 weeks until Quilters Take a Moment. Do you have your tickets? The event website is now public and you can hear how the event will combine both live, recorded, and interactive content, by watching their event preview video with Quilt Alliance board president Frances O’Roark Dowell.

Click here to go to website.
Click here to register.

Here's Frances to tell you more, check below the video for a schedule of events.



Quilters Take a Moment Live (and Recorded) Program will include:

Friday, Sept. 25, 2:00-4:00 pm EDT:

Reading by poet and quilter Gwen Westerman

Welcome and prize drawing announcements by Emcee Josh Dunn

“Incubation of a Quilt” presentation by Anna Maria Horner.
Frances O’Roark Dowell joins Anna Maria for Q&A

Messages from our sponsors

Music from Ricky Tims

Debut of QSOS interview with Dindga McCannon by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi (recorded exclusively for QTMo on August 13, 2020)

Dance It Out–join event volunteers and staff to share a quilt while we dance the day to a close.


Saturday, Sept. 26, 2:00-4:00 pm EDT:

Panel Discussion, “The Quilt Keepers.” moderated by Janneken Smucker
Panelists: Emily BodeDr. Carolyn L. MazloomiJulie SilberMerikay WaldvogelJohn M. Walsh III

Meet Our Sponsors: Q&A with the generous sponsors of Quilters Take a Moment

Comedy break with quilter and teacher Mel Beach

Virtual gallery tour by Laura McDowell Hopper, curator of the Known & Unknown virtual exhibition

Closing remarks

Dance It Out–join event volunteers and staff to share a quilt while we dance the day to a close.



When Sujata lived in San Francisco, she mostly noticed the grays in the city. As a result, when she makes quilts now she keeps color at the forefront. Made in Pennsylvania, Sujata's quilt, Windmills, reflects the colors you see all around India, such as in the markets and at weddings.

You can learn from Sujata in Show 2705.

WindmillsbySujataShah - 36 Pieces Non-Rotating

WindmillsbySujataShah - 100 Pieces Non-Rotating

WindmillsbySujataShah - 289 Pieces Non-Rotating

WindmillsbySujataShah - 36 Pieces Rotating

WindmillsbySujataShah - 100 Pieces Rotating

WindmillsbySujataShah - 289 Pieces Rotating

Original Photo: Kristin Goedert


When Sujata lived in San Francisco, she mostly noticed the grays in the city. As a result, when she makes quilts now she keeps color at the forefront. Made in Pennsylvania, Sujata's quilt, Windmills, reflects the colors you see all around India, such as in the markets and at weddings.

Learn from Sujata in Show 2705.

Original Photo: Kristin Goedert


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-eighth quilt from the exhibition by Annick Bouvier-Selwyn.

Title of Quilt: STOP! Ouvrons Les Yeux! (Stop! Let's open our eyes!)

Quilter's Name: Annick Bouvier-Selwyn


Featuring fun Arctic animals, The Polar Ice Skating Championship by Beth Miller is the fourth in her series of kid's quilts. With the animals both competing and judging, this machine quilted and fused appliqué quilt is sure to raise the spirits of even the coldest polar bear.

The Polar Ice Skating Championship by Beth Miller of Kambah, Australian Capital Territory, Australia was featured in the Fantasy / Whimsy category at Houston 2019.

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Quilt Show!

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Learn about
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Watch Show 1912
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Apliquick Rods


Apliquick - 3 Holes Microserrated Scissors


Apliquick Ergonomic Tweezers