Archives by timeline

Positive/Negative Quilts Revisited

I did a post a year ago about the different look that can be achieved by simply changing the value placement of the fabrics in a quilt pattern. In it I shared quilts made by 2 friends using the Bear’s Paw pattern. To read that post, please go to: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=9428

This week I want to expand on this topic. Way back in 1997 my friend Carolyn took a class I was teaching called Almost Charming. The students brought in the 6″ squares we’d been exchanging in our guild, we sorted them by value, then stitched them into half square triangles, and pieced them into Friendship Star blocks. Since a charm quilt has only one piece of each fabric, and this pattern has two, it isn’t a true charm quilt – so it’s Almost Charming!

I did a post about this quilt way back in 2012. You may want to visit it because it contained my favorite technique for sorting fabrics by value: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=2535

So – back to Carolyn. During class she asked me if she could make the stars white, because stars are not black. I hadn’t thought of that when I made my quilt, but she had a great point. We talked through how to change the placement and she went to work. Over the years she would bring up the quilt and how she really wanted to get it done, and in 2009 she finally did. Then she said she’d send me a pic. Well, it only took another 10 years for the photo to arrive (we both laughed about it)! – and her quilt is lovely!

Isn’t it interesting how different the pattern looks when the values are rearranged? I presented a lecture to Carolyn’s guild a few weeks ago and we both brought our quilts to compare them. It was great fun. Thanks Carolyn!

Around this same time I decided I wanted to share a block making technique with my Open Lab class, and the sample quilt I needed was my granddaughter Sommer’s baby quilt. She’s not a baby anymore. In fact, she just celebrated her 7th birthday!

But she was happy to let me borrow her quilt and I was struck by what a great positive/negative design it contained. So I threw it on the floor and grabbed my camera. By the time I snapped the picture, her little brother Trey had photo-bombed the quilt.

It took a bit of persuading, but he finally rolled off, and I got a shot of just the quilt. You’ll notice it contains both positive and negative blocks and the juxtaposition adds excitement to the whole piece:

In case you’re having a hard time seeing the basic blocks, here they are:

This block is a fun one to make oodles of – and then play around with placement. If you’d like to play a bit yourself – I found a printable tutorial for making the Mary’s Triangles blocks at: http://qacdg.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Block-6in-Marys-Triangles.pdf

I did a post about this back in 2012, when Sommer was born. It has information on how to lay out blocks with a strong diagonal and you can read about it at: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=2303

I know this post contained lots of links. I hope you don’t mind, I just love to share techniques and inspiration. Have you made a Mary’s triangle quilt? Have you made a quilt that included positive/negative effects? I’d love to see pictures. Please email me at !


March 31, 2019, Uncategorized
A Sweet Memory

I first began making quilts with my Repliqué technique in the early 1990s. We were living in Sun Prairie at the time and I had numerous people in the Madison area commission me to make quilts of a building or vehicle that was important to them.

One of these clients owned the local Dairy Queen restaurant. Here’s the 1994 photo:

They said it was the last original DQ shaped like a barn in the State and they wanted to have it made as a quilt to hang in the restaurant. I made the quilt – 26 years ago! This photo is of a photo because we didn’t have digital back then :-).

I was so pleased to have it hanging where many could enjoy it, but I was a bit concerned about how well it would hold up – simply hanging from a dowel in an ice cream shop.

Well, we moved away and when we went back to visit my brother and his family over the years, Dairy Queen just wasn’t on the agenda.

This past week Mike and I had business in Madison and, on a whim, we decided to stop for a sweet treat. I was so pleased to see that the quilt was still hanging there – and they had it framed to protect it! It still looked great!

And it’s still in the original barn building!

Here’s a detail shot. The signage was done in satin stitching, ink, paint, and cross-stitch.

Our Blizzardswere delicious and the woman behind the counter said she’d been working there for 29 years. She even remembered my nephews, who worked with her while they were in High School.

What a wonderful trip down memory lane!


March 24, 2019, Uncategorized
Educational Quilts For Kids

A month or so ago I received an email from Rita. Here’s what she wrote:

I attended your repliqué class at the Bismarck Quiltfest and purchased your book for kids…..the one with colors and numbers. the reason I am emailing you is to get your input on the color and number quilts for my special needs granddaughter…..Emma is almost two and she has Down syndrome. I was hoping to put the two designs in one quilt……I think I will eliminate the cursive writing and just put the appliqué number with the cute buttons on that particular block and try to use them in one quilt…..I think I will need to use the “0” and cut the block down to better try to fit it together.  I am trying to make it a bit simpler for her level of development.   I have also decided to use only nine of the color blocks to simplify it a bit for her level! Do you have any ideas to make this work?”

When she wrote to me I was in Hawaii and I didn’t get back to her in a very timely fashion. This may have been a good thing, because she moved forward on her own and her ideas and execution were great. I finally wrote her back and said I loved the idea, and it would be easy to resize and adjust things when copying the patterns from the book. She responded:

“Thank you for taking time to hopefully help me……So I have attached two photos of the blocks I have completed so far……. I only did some of the color blocks to try to keep it simpler for little Emma….I made the blocks the same size in your pattern but I am stuck on the placement now because of course they are different dimensions…..so I have a couple of different options which incorporate sashings or borders. I would entertain your input on these ……I want you to know I am not trying to redesign your awesome patterns but to make it a bit simpler for Emma for a development tool.”

This time I responded that she should trust her judgement because Emma would love it whatever she chose (I actually didn’t say it that well, but I wish I had). This time she sent me one more option and wrote:

“This might work too?”

I could tell from Rita’s email that she was pleased with this simpler setting and I agreed. Her next email began:

“I thought I would send you a photo of Emma’s quilt – I finished tonight.   I hope it does your two patterns justice!  I really love the size for her and combining the two patterns.   The math was a bit challenging to get the blocks to work but I love the way it turned out!  I know she will use it to work on her color and number development!”

I am so impressed and very pleased that Rita took my ideas and made them her own. I wrote her that this is when a teacher really feels successful.

Many years ago I had a student take one of my Snuggle and Learn classes. She made the “Touch Me, Feel Me, Read Me” quilt for her daughter because she said her husband was blind and he would be able to “read” this quilt to her.

What a blessing to be able to encourage quilters to make quilts that help those with handicaps! Praise the Lord!

I think Rita’s quilt is spectacular! and what a wonderful story! Rita sent me these photos of her with Emma, and Emma with her quilt.

Over the course of our email exchange she shared one other thought concerning a future blog topic:

“I think this would be an awesome blog post to learn about “adjusting” patterns to fit a persons projects!”

Hmm. That sounds a bit challenging, but I love a challenge. Stay tuned :-)!


March 17, 2019, Uncategorized
Pieceful Travels

I’m thrilled to be sharing some very exciting news with you. I’ve been invited to lead a tour to the International Great Quilt Festival in Tokyo, Japan, this coming January – and I’d love to have you join me!

This has been on my “bucket list” for years, but I really never thought I’d have the opportunity to actually go there. A woman I met several years ago plans travel adventures for quilters. She just returned from this exact trip and invited me to lead it for her next year. Besides spending two days at the Quilt Festival in the Tokyo Dome (and staying in the attached hotel), we’ll be touring many of the most interesting sites in Japan and taking classes from Japanese quilters and fiber artists!

The following quote about the quilt show is from a website called Quiltripping. You may read the enitre post at: https://quiltripping.com/visit-tokyo-international-quilt-festival-even-dont-quilt/.

“The annual Tokyo Great International Quilt Festival presents the works of the best quilters in Japan. This is also the largest quilt show in the world, filling up the whole floor of the Tokyo Dome which is Tokyo’s indoor baseball and special events stadium. Roughly 250,000 Japanese and international visitors check out the quilts and special exhibits over the course of seven days. Apparently, this is the largest attended event in the Tokyo Dome (even beating out baseball).”

And, if experiencing the quilt show isn’t enough – we’ll spend a night at an Onsen hotel with views of iconic Mount Fuji.

We’ll visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and see the magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills behind the Shrine.

We’ll take classes with Japanese artists in Shibori dyeing, Rocketsu
dyeing (a traditional wax-resist dyeing method),

and we’ll even learn to make sushi!

Our brochure with dates, prices, and all the details will be available in a very short time. Until then I’m compiling an email list of anyone interested in joining me on this once in a lifetime adventure. If you’d like to receive more information as soon as it is available please email me at: .


March 10, 2019, Uncategorized
PaintStick “Appliqué”

When Wendy and I lead tour groups, we always have at least one project to teach while we’re traveling. Our recent cruise to Hawaii was a bit of a challenge concerning this topic because the ship traveled from island to island during the night and we had almost all of our daylight hours available to explore the islands. This was a good thing – Hawaii is a great place to have time in the sun :-). But, on most of our other trips we had a day or two “at sea”, giving us plenty of project time.

We were able to “squeeze” in two class sessions this trip, so we needed a fun project that could be accomplished in a short amount of time. What we came up with was Hawaiian Appliqué done with paintstick stenciling. I know I’ve posted this photo before, but this time I’d like to share a bit about the technique.

What’s so exciting about this technique is that the Shiva™ Oil Paintsticks are actual oil paint in a crayon form. They create beautiful designs that are permanent on fabric. Therefore they can be used on garments as well as quilts. It’s a wonderful way to put designs on fabric/clothes, but words could be stenciled too! Just imagine the possibilities!

I chose to put my Hawaiian design on a t-shirt.

So – here’s how: The first step was to create the pattern “paper snowflake” style using freezer paper.

This was opened up to reveal the pattern and ironed onto the fabric, shiny side down.

Then we colored along the paper edge with a paintstick, and dragged the paint onto the fabric with a stencil brush.

The results were great – and everyone got them done in the time we had available. We will be having a cruise reunion in April and we’re hoping everyone will bring their finished quilts for show-and-tell. I’ll post pictures at that time!

If this technique intrigues you, I will be teaching it as an all day workshop at WCTC on April 12th. We’ll be making a Spring time table topper, and students will not only learn this technique, but a few other ways to use Shiva™ Paintsticks too.

Everyone will cut out the same tulip pattern, but the color choices are up to you. I’ll have a variety of paintsticks available for student use, so no one has to purchase them until they’re sure they enjoy using them.

To register go to: https://www.wctc.edu/Click on “Course Search” and type “quilt” in the “Course Title” box; then click on “Find Courses”.

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And one more thing :-)!

An upcoming workshop for quilters in the Milwaukee area!

I will be teaching my 3 hour Seminole Sampler workshop for Common Threads Quilt Guild on Wednesday afternoon, March 27. They meet in Lannon, WI (northwest of Milwaukee). This class is done using a pre-cut kit, which is provided for a low extra fee. Everyone gets a lot of sewing done and students go home with samples of many different Seminole border patterns.

There are a few openings left, so if you’d like to give it a try or just want more information, you can contact Beryl at


March 3, 2019, Uncategorized