Block Based Quilts from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

Page Content: 

Detail of Quilt by Nan Green, circa 1930

One thing about quilts that definitely hasn’t changed over the years is that a large percentage of them are made from blocks.

Planetarium Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman, 2010

Block-based quilts break down the work of creating a larger project into more achievable parts. They provide an opportunity to play with geometric shapes, and to create secondary designs where blocks intersect.

Detail of Log Cabin Quilt by Nan Green, 1926

Making a quilt with multiple versions of the same block can also be an excellent way to play with color and print, creating an array of miniature compositions that work together to make something even more wonderful – a finished quilt!

Detail of Canasta Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman, 2010

Quilters today are lucky to be able to draw from both the rich history of quiltmaking and the aesthetics of the present day and, when modern quilters recreate or reimagine traditional blocks, the results can be fabulous.

This week we’ll be featuring block-based quilts and quilt block tutorials and we hope you’ll stick around for the fun. Welcome to the Week of Blocks!

Featured Quilt 1

Sampler quilts have, historically, been a way for quilters to practice and display their skills with a range of different block styles. Today, we’re featuring Elizabeth Dackson’s beautiful Summer Sampler Plus quilt.


Elizabeth blogs at Don’t Call Me Betsy. Her blog post about this quilt can be found here.

We loved the crisp and focused color scheme and the variety of piecing skills on display in this quilt! We also asked Elizabeth a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Elizabeth: There’s a lot of things about this quilt that read modern to me, but the one that jumps to the front of my mind is the quilting.  I feel that stretching yourself to try different things is a big part of modern quilting.  I chose to quilt this quilt in a style that was new to me, inspired by the geometric feel of this quilt, using an interconnected maze boxes.  I also think the mix of styles and techniques in the blocks gives the quilt a fresh feel, the mix of classic blocks mixed with more geometric paper-pieced blocks. 

MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Elizabeth: My personal favorite block at the moment would have to be the Sawtooth Star.  Stars are one of my favorite recurring shapes in quilting, and it’s the first traditional block I really mastered, so it holds a special place in my heart as a result.  It’s such a simple block, and yet with the right fabric choices, it can be made in a fun, modern kind of way. 

Featured Quilt 2

Today’s featured quilt is Aima’s version of Susan Beal’s Modern Crosses pattern from the book Modern Log Cabin Quilting.


You can see more of Aima’s beautiful work in her Flickr Photostream. We also asked her a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Aima: I think the choice of fabrics is what makes this quilt modern, more so than the pattern. I fell in love with the Pick a Bunch range of fabrics by Nancy Mims the first time I saw it. The colours are vibrant and have that special something. There was no fabric in the range which I did not like.

MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Aima: The log-cabin; it is so versatile and with careful choice of fabrics (colour and intensity) you can achieve very different effects. It is also very easy to put together and lends itself to chain piecing (which speeded up the process for me making this quilt).

Featured Quilt 3

Jolene Klassen’s Autumn Circle Quilt is filled with gorgeous color and playful use of print fabrics. It’s also a wonderful interpretation of the classic Wagon Wheel block.


Jolene blogs at Blue Elephant Stitches. Her post about making this quilt can be found here. We also asked her a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Jolene: I don’t know that I would technically call this quilt modern.  But I think the one modern element in all my quilts, including this one, is my way of approaching the so called “rules” of quilting.  I believe that the rules are to be respected, but not necessarily followed!  There is no ‘wrong’ way to make a quilt, whether it’s construction or design.  The sky is the limit, and I always want to keep my mind open to new concepts and ideas, while still making things that I love!


MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Jolene: To answer this question I looked through all my previous quilts, as well as my favourite quilts on Flickr and Pinterest.  I came up with squares!  As in plain patchwork squares, nine patches, trip around the world, and more. 

Featured Quilt 4

We love Audrie’s twin baby quilts, which put a modern spin on traditional Sawtooth Star and Churn Dash blocks.

Audrie blogs at Blue is Bleu. Read more about these quilts on her blog, here.

Featured Quilt 5

Pinterest enthusiasts will probably recognize Erica Sage’s beautiful, graphic, A Quilt For Harry. We love this modern take on Half Square Triangle blocks and it’s our featured quilt today!


Erica blogs at Craftyblossom. Her post about making this quilt can be found here. We also asked her a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Erica: By drawing upon the trends in home decor and runway fashion, a bold and graphic approach, I created a quilt that conveys my point of view on modern aesthetics. While some modern quilts are constructed using hip designer fabrics, A Quilt for Harry gains its modernity through gradient color and unsystematic layout. I definitely think the colors of this quilt give it a modern edge; grey and yellow have been all the rage for the past few years!

MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Erica: The simple four-patch is my favorite quilt block pattern to sew. The pattern is effortless and the results are iconic and sweet. I aim to avoid fussy patterns, making exception only for paper piecing. There are many patterns on my wish list; one in particular is Denyse Schmidt’s Single Girl, the quilts I have seen online made from that pattern are scrumptious!

Featured Quilt 6

Today we’re featuring another sampler, Monica Solorio Snow’s Make Me Happy quilt.


Monica is a proud member of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and she blogs at The Happy Zombie. Her post about making this quilt can be found here. We also asked her a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Monica: I think when you take something and infuse it with bits of you, as well as make it fresh and crisp – that’s what makes it modern. Celebrating the colors and the fabrics by using them with white or greys or another solid.  Using solid white is like giving your colors and prints a stage, and letting them belt out some beautiful eye music – like Pink Martini for your eyes.  I remember as a kid on special occasions having TV dinners, and how fun it was to have those little compartments for the food on the TV trays.  It’s how I feel about using solids, especially white… it’s makes the quilt one big fun TV dinner and everything was so dang tasty.  Quilts should be tasty, too. 

When we infuse our own happiness into the quilt, I believe it makes the quilt all the more beautiful.  Making it our own and not following all (or any) of the instructions or guidelines is not a bad thing.  Not that I don’t love to follow a great pattern – but if I’m not feelin’ it… I’m not gonna do it – just as I did with the Make Me Happy quilt.  I hope that’s how people treat my patterns too – to make and finish it to their happiness standards – not mine.  I think quilt patterns are merely seeds, and everyone should grow their gardens in their own sunshine and happiness.  And unicorns if they can find one.

MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Monica: I don’t so much have a favorite block – but rather a favorite type of block.  I love a great traditional block that can have many personalities just by switching values, colors, scales or fabrics.  I love, love, love seeing a vintage block made with modern fabrics and some crisp, happy white solid.  I also love a block that can be changed in multiple ways, set on landscape or on point, or paired with another block to make an interesting secondary pattern. Kind of like my You Are Here block (my escape plan if I’m ever in my personal Hell – the Mall).  I love a great secondary pattern when one can’t “see” the blocks right away.  Gotta make people look a bit!  

Featured Quilt 7

We love Denyse Schmidt’s Single Girl pattern (a modern interpretation of the traditional wedding ring quilt) and so does Jessica Kovach, whose beautiful version of the popular pattern we’re featuring today.


Jessica blogs at Twin Fibers. Her post about making this quilt can be found here. We also asked her a couple of questions.

MQG: What do you think makes your quilt modern?

Jessica: I think this quilt is modern in its simple design and use of negative space. I like how the cream background fabric forms star shapes in between the rings and how the rings aren’t perfect circles. The quilt really shows off those unique design elements. I also like the repetition in the pattern. Having the rings lined up in columns and rows creates simplicity and order within the design. I happen to like quilt designs that are symmetrical, have repetition and order and I’m so glad to have made the time to make this quilt. If you want to make a quilt like this, the pattern is called the Single Girl Quilt by Denyse Schmidt. It’s not hard to make, but takes time. There’s a lot of templates to trace and pinning to make it all work beautifully!


MQG: What is your all-time favorite block pattern?

Jessica: My all-time favorite pattern is the Single Girl Quilt. It’s one of those designs that is so “me”. Another block pattern that I really like is the Double Hourglass. It’s simple and I like the different shapes made when it’s repeated throughout a quilt.