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.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usspace

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

Kaleidoscope Quilt Blocks

Yesterday, I teased you with this image, telling you that it was used in my recent seminar at the University of Kentucky. Probably some folks have already figured this out – either by looking at my Events Calendar, or because you recognized the elements of a Kaleidoscope block from your own work.

For those who don’t know what a Kaleidoscope block is – here’s a very simple explanation: It is a block that works just like the toys we’ve probably all played with at one point or another. One view of a piece of fabric is ‘mirrored’ 8 times to create an octagon of that pattern. And the repeated image gives you a completely different view of the fabric than you had when you looked at the full piece of fabric uncut.

Now, if that sounds frightening to you – don’t worry. As always I have some hints and tips that will make creating such a block MUCH easier for you. And those of you who have made such blocks in the past may want to consider trying these tricks, they will probably save you some serious frustration! And we all want quilting to be more about fun than frustration.

My first suggestion – use a quilt template that is designed for making Kaleidoscope blocks. Yes, there are many triangle templates on the market, and you can probably get away with using one of those – but there is a certain simplicity to the work when the tool you are using is designed for the job you want to do.

I use the Marti Michelle Quilt Sense ruler – called the Triangle Kaleidoscope ruler.

As you can see, it has markings on it for various size blocks and the 90º angle is perfectly designed for the corners of a traditional kaleidoscope.

It’s a bit hard to see in this image, but the lines tell you what size the BLOCK will be, not how tall each triangle will be, so you don’t have to stop and use your calculator (mental or physical) to determine what size triangle you need to cut to create the finished block size you want. This makes preparation so much easier. The blue lines on the bottom of the triangle (as it is facing in this picture) are designed for measuring the width of the strips you will be cutting before you start your triangle cuts that will be sewn on the corners of your block (burgandy fabric).

All in all – a great tool, and a wonderful time saver. As I said earlier, the right tool can make a big difference in your project.

Now, on to the basics of the cuts.

Step one, carefully cut eight strips of your fabric so you can line the design up on each piece of fabric so it lays directly over the one below it. (This way, when you cut your triangles, you will have eight triangles that have the exact same fabric repeat showing.) Lining the repeats up is probably the most time-consuming part of cutting the fabric, but the end results make it well worth the effort.

Step two, now that your fabric is aligned, pin the fabrics together using a flat quilting pin (such as the flat flower pins from Dritz that I mentioned in an earlier post). This will allow your ruler to lay right on top of the pin without rocking because of the pin head (thus making your cuts straight).

Step three, line the template ruler up so you get the proper repeat showing through the ruler, and trim away the excess. After this is done, with the template still in place, cut your triangles. You will now have eight triangles of the same image – just as in the teaser picture I showed you (see top of this post).

Step four, cut your corner blocks – there will be four of these for each kaleidoscope. After you have cut these, you can sew them to your triangles. On the end of for of the repeat triangles, add your corners.

Step five, begin to sew your block together, start by making one half of the block, sewing each triangle into place separately.

Once you have half of the block sewn together, sew another half block together, and then sew the two halves together to create a full block.

And here you see the completed block (not nearly so much yellow in the picture this time), and the paisley block that will be it’s companion in the quilt. I’m very pleased with the way these turned out!

See? It’s really not that difficult when you have a few hints to guide you. If any of you are thinking about purchasing the Kaleidoscope ruler by Marti Michell, I recommend that you take a look at this book as well, it was made as a companion to the ruler – and has some wonderful patterns and eye-candy of the quilt variety!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing