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 !

2 Opinions

  • Barb said:

    Love the quilts but I really love the cake!!!

    • clkquilt admin

      The kids push me to try new things – cakewise – each year. Sommer had a puppy theme and I tried, but I’m afraid it looks a little more like Chewbacca from Star Wars :-).


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