Not Quite a Kaleidoscope

As you know, this week we’ve been talking about the basic kaleidoscope block starting with how to make it, and then showing how this block could really transform the look of a fabric.

Today, we’ll look at the kaleidoscope from a different view. What happens if you don’t choose the same fabric to work all the way around the block? Then what type of an effect might you get?

Both of these blocks are kaleidoscopes, but see how different they look? The one on the left uses the same dot fabric for the corners of the block as it does for the matching interior triangles – this draws the entire block out making it look much more square. While the block on the right gives more of an “X” marks the spot type of effect, as the dot is on the alternate interior triangles. Just imagine an entire quilt with either of these blocks! Then consider what it would look like if you used both of them!

Imagine using a block like this around the edge of a larger focus fabric for a children’s quilt – or even just at the corners of the quilt!

Take a good look at this quilt – the eye sees curves and circles all around the quilt. But this is still a simple kaleidoscope block, repeated. The various shades of blue are tied together by the white print used in all blocks, and the fact that the blues are in similar color ranges. Did you notice that the blocks alternate? Half have white fabric for the corners, while the other half uses the blue fabrics, this adds to the curve illusion.


These blocks were made using a very interesting technique. The quilter first sewed strips of solid fabric together to create the gradient effect you see here, then those new color strips were cut into the kaleidoscope triangles and sewn together again – a very vivid and striking effect!

And here you see the full quilt – the one thing this quilter did differently is that the triangle was not flipped over to make a second cut, she used a bit more fabric for her triangles, so that the stripes would always have the same gradient (light at the tip to dark at the edges). I wonder if she did make the reverse cuts and made a second quilt out of those….

As you can see – there’s LOTS that can be done with the kaleidoscope block – what ideas does it give you?

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

2 thoughts on “Not Quite a Kaleidoscope

  1. Marcia Lee says:

    I am trying to figure out how to do contrast on the storm at sea block.Any help would be appreciated.Thank you.
    Marcia Lee


  2. sheilareinke says:

    I am assuming you are talking about the blue/white quilt pictured in this post. Of course you are using the Kaleidoscope ruler from Marti Michel. This quilt is just a bunch of different blue and white fabrics. There are two blocks. Each block has 4 blue and 4 white Kaleidoscope triangle cuts. Half put the white ones on the corners and half put the blue ones on the corners. You than add the corner point pieces to the corners in the opposite colors. This is really a easy quilt do make because it is really just a scrappy quilt. Let me know if you have any other questions.


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