What’s Happening Now

I’ve been hard at work getting the quilts finished and doing all the administrative work in putting together a quilt retreat – which is why you haven’t heard much from me lately.

However, I just wanted you to know that I haven’t completely forgotten about you!

Since my work lately has been in preparation for the Iowa / Nebraska Quilt Retreats (see this page if you want more information), and assisting with the Minnesota Quilt Retreats (info found here), what I have to show you is one of the finished quilt tops for the IA/NE retreat.

I know I’ve talked about the kaleidoscope quilt before – and the ruler, but working on these quilts has simply amazed me.  They make up SO quickly using the ruler (see more about the kaleidoscope ruler here), this is fast on the way to becoming an addiction!  I suppose a warning lable should be added to the packaging of the ruler – repeated use can be habit forming! Laughing 13

Here are some of my favorite blocks from this quilt.

Even if you can’t come to one of the retreats (and believe me – you’d have a great time if you did), you really should check out this book, which was made as a companion to the ruler. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

Kaleidoscope ABCs

Kaleidoscope ABCs

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

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

Kaleidoscope Block = Fabric Transformation

Yesterday, I showed you how to make a kaleidoscope quilt block, and you saw the steps as I made a block using a stripe fabric (and the finished paisley block).

Today, I’d like to talk about how the kaleidoscope block really transforms the way you look at a fabric. For instance, what type of a block do you think a fabric like this one would make?

Can you see this as a repeated image? The design twisting around a center point? Well, one of the participants at the recent seminar I taught saw the potential in this fabric, and you’re going to be amazed at the results she got from this pattern. (You may want to click on the image of the fabric above to see the detail of it.)

And here are some of the blocks she got from this one piece of fabric – as you can see, some very different looks depending on the repeat chosen.

If you look carefully, you can pick out the areas she pulled each repeat from in the original piece of fabric.

And here it’s pictured again, with the original fabric and the quilter. Great job! The lilacs have really transformed into a brand new type of flower – what would you call it? A Lavender Star Flower?

Next, we have this lovely black fabric, a very striking pattern, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But when you look at it, what color do you see? Black, red, even white?

What about green? Yes, that’s the same fabric used in the blocks pictured on the left of the picture. And again, we have the quilter’s standing with their creations. The sage used on the corners of the blocks really does match nicely with the hint of green in the original fabric – and it showcases the kaleidoscope making it ‘pop’ nicely.

In contrast to this style, the quilter on the right has chosen a fabric for her corners that blends right into the original print – making it look almost as if the block is actually a printed image instead of a pieced one.

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And here, a soothing cream/tan color. Once again the elements of the print have created a floral effect in the center of the block – this is particularly evident in the yellow ‘flower’ center on the left.

Do you see the difference made in these blocks? Just the fabric used for the corners is going to give these two similarly colored blocks a completely different look in the final quilt.
This set of blocks is actually finished off as octagons – can’t you just see these sitting on a side table in the living room?
And these great patriotic blocks started off as a simple striped fabric – what a terrific look!
These blocks are going to make an absolutely gorgeous red and white quilt – wish I could see the finished work!
I nick-named this batch “garden bouquet”, doesn’t it just look like you could go out to the garden one summer day and pick these flowers? Look at the contrast effect the quilter is getting by using the different red and yellow corners for her blocks.
Here are a couple more of the “garden bouquet” blocks – giving you a bit closer look at the actual fabric repeats used.
The quilter, and a peek at the original fabric used to create the kaleidoscope.

So as you can see, if you look at the fabric in just the right way, you might see a great kaleidoscope in the works! If you’re wondering how a repeat of a fabric will look beside itself – here’s a trick you can use…. for small prints, you can use a simple mirror set at a 90º angle to the fabric – look in the mirror and you’ll see a mirrored image of that section of the fabric (not really a true repeat).
Or, you can take the fabric, lay it out and locate the repeat you are looking for in two places, now draw those two sections together so you can look at them side by side.
I also like to use my template (which is almost always going to be a clear ruler of some sort) to view the fabric section – this way I can see just how much of an image I can capture (such as in the paisley print used in yesterday’s finished block – I wanted to capture an entire paisley in the repeat).
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing