Popular Shapes in Modern Quilts from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

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This week we are exploring shapes in quilting, specifically in modern quilting. Since we can only show seven quilts this week we will concentrate on the most popular shapes in modern quilts: squares, circles, triangles, and hexagons.

Squares are oftentimes overlooked in their importance in quilting because they are well, square. But, since many quilts rely on a block structure, squares are very key component of many quilts. Some even allow the square to take center stage with that being the only shape in the quilt. These quilts generally rely on color and arrangement and can result in very interesting and quite dynamic quilts.

Huckleberry - Modern Circle Quilt with Squares by Latifah Saafir


Second only to squares, triangles are definitely a cornerstone shape in quilting and modern quilting is no different. They can be put together in an infinite number of combinations to create unique, fun and modern quilts. They come in many dimensions and orientations and when put together can create a variety of shapes and designs. To quilters they are called HST’s (Half Square Triangles), QST’s (Quarter Square Triangles), Equilateral Triangles, Flying Geese or just triangles.

Quilt for Nyala by Latifah Saafir


There is very little more intimidating to a new quilter than circles. But, if used properly there can be very little more satisfying than a quilt effectively executed with circles. Modern quilters have been playing around with circles and coming up with some great results. Effective use of color and negative space are two keys to creating a striking modern circle quilt and many new techniques make circles in quilts more attainable.

Perfect Puddles by Latifah Saafir



Aside from squares and triangles, hexagons are the only other regular shape that tessellates. This just means that it is the only other regular pattern of shapes that fits snugly together with no space in between. This results in the opportunity to create wonderful paper pieced 1” hexagon quilts as well as much larger machine pieced hexies. But, modern quilters aren’t stopping there. They are taking the hexagon to greater heights, floating them on solid backgrounds and making them out of a million tiny pieces.

Bailey's Hexies by Latifah Saafir


This week you will see seven quilts that illustrate the versatility and beauty of modern quilts based off of shapes. Oftentimes, it is the most basic shape that makes for the most striking quilt.

Featured Quilt 1

Our first Featured Quilt in the Week of Shapes is a quilt featuring both triangles and hexagons aptly named Hexagons by Kati Spencer. Kati has only been quilting for two years. This first image of the quilt is actually the back of the quilt. Can you believe she made this back out of the leftover triangles from the 6.5″ hexagons that were cut for the front? Read on as she tells us a bit more about designing and creating this 58″ x 70″ beauty.

Back of Hexagons by Kati Spencer


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?
Kati: When I started this quilt, I simply wanted to learn a new skill.  I saw a video tutorial on machine-piecing hexagons and decided I had to try it.  After cutting out all the hexagons, I was left with stacks of small triangles.  While working on the front, I was designing the back in my head.  I wanted to use the triangle scraps, emphasizing that shape while echoing the hexagons from the front. Rather than beginning with solid plan, I simply started sewing triangles together and the resulting design eventually took shape. My inspiration for this quilt came from all the great projects that were popping up on blogs and flickr made from hexagons, triangles or a combination of the two.

Front of Hexagons by Kati Spencer


Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?
Kati:  I have lots of favorite things about this quilt.  I love the colors.  Orange and blue is my favorite color combo.  I love the uneven sides of the quilt, even though they were a pain to bind.  I also love the back more than the front.  I love that the design on the back can look like a 3-D cube depending on your perspective.  That wasn’t intentional at all.  My husband noticed it once the whole quilt was completed.

Hexagons by Kati Spencer


Question: What did you learn making this quilt?
Kati: I really enjoyed making this quilt. I love trying new techniques.  I learned, especially with this quilt, that new techniques don’t need to be intimidating or scary.  I learned it’s worth it to try new things.  Machine-piecing hexagons wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined.  I also realized that very frequently I like the backs of my quilts more than the front.  I love designing both sides.  It gives me the chance to use more of my ideas.  I think the back of the quilt provides the perfect opportunity to experiment with something new and different.

Kati blogs at fromthebluechair.com and loves to be inspired by her fellow guild members at the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild. You can also find her on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/katisquilts/.

Featured Quilt 2

Neverending Story Quilt by Cara from Me? A Mom?


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?
Cara: Well, I’d amassed quite the collection of Heather Ross Munki Munki fabric through Flickr swaps and TJ Maxx pajama purchases and wanted to showcase my favorite prints in a fun way.  To someone who is unfamiliar with Heather Ross’ work or Munki Munki, the quilt probably looks like a hot mess of novelty prints but I love having them all together in one quilt.

Detail Picture of Neverending Story Quilt by Cara from Me? A Mom?


Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?
Cara: Definitely the back, with the way the charms are lined up in color order down the center. It makes my ROY G. BIV heart happy.

Binding Details from Neverending Story Quilt by Cara from Me? A Mom?


Question: What did you learn making this quilt?
Cara: At the time, this quilt was my first attempt at improv blocks so I learned a lot along the way in terms of balancing blocks visually and the importance of picking the right prints and solids to compliment and not compete with the center fabric. I also learned that it’s worth every hour spent to have a back of a quilt as fun and interesting as the front.

Cara blogs at Me? A Mom?, can be found on Flickr and is a proud member of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild.

Featured Quilt 3

Next up in the Week of Shapes is the circle! Isobel Piper who blogs at To Ithaca created this beauty titled Ring Quilt as her reinterpretation of Joelle Hoeverson’s Color-Wheel Quilt from Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. She taught herself to quilt from a number of resources on the internet over the past couple of years and loves to use solid colors and predominantly geometric prints to create useful and beautiful quilts. This one forced her out of her comfort zone as you’ll read in her words below. The clean lines of this 56×56″ circle quilt make this an instant favorite though. Check out those circular quilting lines too!

Ring Quilt by Isobel Piper


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?
Isobel: I wanted to make a wedding quilt for my cousin, but I didn’t start on it until after the wedding. The color themes had been yellow and grey, so I decided I’d use that as a color scheme – a bit of a departure for me! After a bit of indecision, I decided to go for the Color Wheel Quilt pattern by Joelle Hoeverson in her book ‘Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts’, but using only grays and yellows. The ring shape links back to the wedding, as well as being a bold graphic statement.

In progress photo from Ring Quilt by Isobel Piper


Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?
Isobel: I really like the color scheme – I would never have chosen yellows and grays before, but now I’ve branched out into this bit of the spectrum I’m using them in lots of projects. I’m really pleased with the quilting, even though there was a really steep learning curve associated with it!

Question: What did you learn while making this quilt?
Isobel: All the quilting I’ve done previously has been free-motion quilting but I didn’t think it would be quite right for this quilt, so I thought I’d emphasize the circular nature of the quilt with concentric rings, a technique I’d not used before. I learnt that a walking foot is absolutely crucial for line quilting and that the rings get easier to quilt as you get further out! I also learned that I should try more new color schemes – I’m now really happy with using grays and yellows in quilts.

Isobel blogs at toithaca.wordpress.com/ and you can also find her on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/36017542@N05/. She’s hoping a Modern Quilt Guild starts in her hometown of Bristol, UK so she can join. Maybe we can convince her to start one!

Featured Quilt 4

Triangles are up next in our Week of Shapes. We are all used to seeing HST’s (Half Square Triangles) and Flying Geese but, this is a new way to showcase triangles in a quilt. Cristin Wilson calls it her Banner Quilt and she was inspired to make it after seeing similar quilts on Flickr. Cristin is a self proclaimed fabric addict but, she was able to make this 76″ x 62″ quilt all from fabric in her stash.

Banner Quilt by Cristin Wilson


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?

Cristin: I’ve been on a bit of a bunting (or banner or flag) kick for about a year now… and after seeing a baby girl quilt with bunting “hung” across it I really wanted to make a larger version for my little guy, who was about 1 at the time.  I wanted him to use it as a play mat, drag it around the house, take it on picnics, and use it for any other activity that required an impromptu soft area to sit.  I also wanted to use fabric I already owned so I dug through my scraps and pulled lots of masculine prints.


Banner Quilt by Cristin Wilson


Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?

Cristin: Aside from the rows of flags stitched to the front, the quilting is my favorite part!  I’m lucky enough to be able to rent time at my Local Quilt Shop on their long-arm quilting machine.  I took a page from Denyse Schmidt and did a basic loop-d-loop design and was finished quilting it in an hour flat!  I not only love the quilting but I love that it only took an hour to finish.  Sometimes, a mom has to go for speed, not precision. Can I get an amen?


Detail of Banner Quilt by Cristin Wilson


Question: What did you learn making this quilt?
Cristin: I learned that creating a quilt doesn’t always mean piecing a traditional block and replicating that one block dozens of times.  There isn’t one pieced block in this quilt, but its still a well-loved quilt that I know my family will enjoy for many years.  Stepping outside the box is therapeutic and can yield some pretty interesting results.  I usually am a very precise person but putting this banner quilt together allowed me to sort of let go of my usual OCD quilting tendencies and let things fall where they may.


You can find Cristin at her blog Sew This is My Life and on Flickr. She proudly claims to be a member of the Columbus Modern Quilt Guild.


Featured Quilt 5

Next up for the Week of Shapes we have our second hexagon quilt to share. This one is from Melissa Richie at We Shall Sew. It is the TNT (or Tried New Things) Quilt and features a modern rainbow of raw edge appliqued hexies arranged in a cascading asymmetrical design.

Melissa first attempted to learn to quilt back in 1997 but, it wasn’t until the modern quilt movement was fully underway in 2011 that she was inspired enough to finish her first quilt. In just one short year she’s designing her own quilts. Read on as she answers a few questions about her inspiration for this 50″ x 80″ quilt.

TNT (Tried New Things) Quilt by Melissa Richie


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt? 
Melissa: Well, the inspiration was actually a design on a t-shirt I saw on a guy at a cafe. The left side of the (aqua) shirt had asymmetrical red and white circles, but the right side was plain. I thought it was cool. I had to be sly and take a pretend picture of one of my girls in order to get a good picture of the shirt. The color inspiration came from a stack of hexies I’ve been collecting from swaps. I have over 200 hexies, so I had plenty to choose from. And I really love seeing the color spectrum on quilts. It makes my eyes happy. And, finally, I was inspired to actually make this quilt after the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan in March 2011. There was a call to make quilts for the survivors, and I really felt this was a good, clean aesthetic that a Japanese family might appreciate and enjoy.

TNT (Tried New Things) Quilt by Melissa Richie


Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?
Melissa: Hmm… I think it was when I realized that the vision in my head was actually coming to fruition and was going to look good in real life! It doesn’t always work out that way, you know? But I do really love how it looked in the end.

Detail of TNT (Tried New Things) Quilt by Melissa Richie


Question: What did you learn from making this quilt?
Melissa: Well, I call it the TNT quilt because I Tried New Things. So many! From all the different techniques I tried, my favorite was learning to use the long arm. Personally, I think I learned that I can take something from a vision in my head to an actual quilt in a short period of time. And like it! I need to make more quilts that I like because when I’m making something I don’t really like, I’m not as motivated to finish it.

Melissa blogs at We Shall Sew and can be found on Flickr as well. She started out as a proud member of the LA Modern Quilt Guild but, after her move to the Denver area she quickly helped to found the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild. As President, she is very happy to report that they are growing every month!

Featured Quilt 6

Earlier this week we featured a quilt with just one circular ring, today the featured quilt has 25 rings! All of this in a 40″ x 40″ quilt! The quilt named Hugs and Hugs was designed by Hannah Talecki as a part of the Jay MacCarroll Habitat Fabric Challenge that Free Spirit Fabrics sponsored through Modern Quilt Guilds across the US. All 25 ring blocks are pieced (not appliqued) using Dale Fleming’s popular Six-Minute Circle technique. Hannah quilted this on her home machine with “concentric” V shapes, working outward from the center to form a large X across the whole quilt.

An engineer by schooling, Hannah says that her left-brained, mathematical roots play a large role in her quilting. She describes looking at a quilt design like a puzzle, and loves to figure out how to efficiently construct a quilt without sacrificing design or creativity. Read on as Hannah describes more about creating the Hugs and Hugs Quilt.

Hugs and Hugs Quilt by Hannah Talecki


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?

Hannah: After receiving the fabric for the Habitat challenge, it took me weeks to decide what to do with it. As I sketched and doodled designs, I just couldn’t get away from the idea of circles, as much as I dreaded the thought of tackling a quilt full of curves! I played with a variety of circle concepts in Google SketchUp (it’s a 3D modeling program that I’m familiar with from my engineering days, but it works just as well to plan out 2D quilting projects, too!), but nothing felt quite right, until I finally had the idea to turn the circles into rings. I knew it would be time consuming, but it was the first idea I was truly excited about, so I knew I just had to jump in and go for it.

Question: What is your favorite part of this quilt?
Hannah: I really love the quilting. It was a bear to do it on my tiny home machine, but I like the juxtaposition of the straight lines with the all the circular curves. Also, I like to think of the X formed by the quilting lines as a big “kiss” on top of 25 little “hugs.”

Detail of Hugs and Hugs Quilt by Hannah Talecki


Question: What did you learn making this quilt?
Hannah: One of the obvious things I learned is how to sew a Six-Minute Circle – after doing it 50 times, I’d say I’ve definitely got the process figured out! More than that, though, I learned that you really can’t judge a quilt until it’s finished. After a few blocks, I wasn’t sure I liked where this one was going, but I decided to stick it out. Even after the top was done, I wasn’t fully convinced. It wasn’t until I actually pulled the finished quilt from the dryer that it all came together for me, and now I love it!

Hannah created this quilt as a challenge issued to members of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild. She doesn’t have a blog – yet – but, you can catch some of her other work in her photostream under Flickr name Soft Funny Fat.

Featured Quilt 7

To round out our Week of Shapes for the 100 Days of Modern Quilting we have one final triangle quilt to share with you. This time, it’s the Half Square Triangle disguised in a Flying Geese formation. Rita Hodge from Red Pepper Quilts calls this colorful quilt Birds of a Feather and was inspired to play with these fabrics from another quilter’s work. She has been quilting on and off for ten years, much more so over the last 3 years.  She especially enjoys fabric play, and has developed her own sense of color and layout style simply by trusting in her own instincts to create without limitations.

Birds of a Feather Quilt by Rita Hodge


Question: What was your inspiration for this quilt?

Rita: I spotted on Flickr a picture of a quilt for a Doll Quilt Swap from Kate Blakesley who blogs at Swim, Bike, Quilt. I wasn’t immediately taken by, nor could see the potential for the Alexander Henry Heath print until I spotted this quilt. I sourced my own stash of this print and started a quilt with similar elements even though I knew the overall block/design/layout would be quite different.

Birds of a Feather Quilt by Rita Hodge


Question: What is your Favorite part of the Quilt?

Rita: I LOVE the backing fabric, a new bed sheet by UK designer Orla Kiely.


Back of Flock of Flying Geese by Rita Hodge


Question: What did you learn making this quilt?

Rita: To continue to be patient with trimming Half Square Triangles.  It’s time consuming but so well worth the effort to make oversized Half Square Triangle Units, and trim back to correct size, as it makes for much easier and more accurate patchwork piecing.

Rita blogs at Red Pepper Quilts and can be found on Flickr as well.