Sunday, January 13, 2013

One fabric wonders - Inspirational Sunday

It's been a few weeks since I've done a book review, and because I've gotten a few questions about my Blue and White One Block Wonder top, I thought I would share where the inspiration came from....

Blue one block wonder top

There were two books that I bought when I first became interested in this type of quilt.  One-Block-Wonders Encore by Maxine Rosenthal and Joy Pelzmann and Stack-n-Whackipedia by Bethany S. Reynolds.

Both discuss a technique for layering your fabric while cutting it to create kaleidoscope effects.  The fabric shown below was what I used to create my Blue and White One Block Wonder quilt.

blue and white OBW

It no longer looks anything like the original fabric does it?  The waves are transformed.  Here is another example..

mini practice sandwiches

I don't have a big chunk of this fabric left any longer because I've been using it for mini practice sandwiches for FMQ, but you get the idea.  It had large flowers, bamboo shoots, and some random gold spheres with what looked like jacks in them.  This one fabric created this..

Mom's One Block Wonder

My mom's One Block Wonder Quilt -- not my favorite quilt, but it illustrates how much diversity in blocks one fabric can create.  I was so excited about this technique that I have at least 5 different fabrics that I bought that were destined to become quilts like this.  Of course, I got a little distracted, and the fabrics are sitting there waiting for me to be motivated again.

I almost always see at least one "one block wonder" quilt at the quilt shows.  Here is one from the Long Beach show back in July.

I know where the summer goes by Cathie Ugrin
It is called, "I Know Where the Summer Goes" by Cathie Ugrin of Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Just beautiful!

I think what draws me to this technique is that you can take a really ugly fabric -- no I mean really ugly -- but in colors that you like, and create something completely different and beautiful.

One-Block Wonders Encore shows you the layering technique and how to make these hexagonal blocks using a 60 degree triangle ruler.  It also shows you how to make "Cube" Blocks to add to your quilt with the idea that it looks like a block fell out of the quilt.  THAT look wasn't for me, but it is the key difference between the "Encore" book and the original One-Block Wonders book.  You might as well get the encore edition = more for your money.  Finally, the book also shows you how to use multiple fabrics (like a different colorway) in these quilts to add interest.  The book has a gorgeous gallery of quilt photos.

If you really want more for your money, check out the Stack-N-Whackipedia book!  It shows you the same layering technique, but it gives you 11 different blocks (not just the hexagon) to try out.  There is a Dresden plate one that I would love to try out!  Since there is more diversity in this book, I feel you get more bang for your buck.

The technique itself is not very difficult.  Layering the fabric is a little tricky, but once you figure it out, it is easy.  Cutting is easy (with a sharp blade).  Figuring out where to put the blocks is the hardest part - only because the tendency is to over-think it.  The idea is that you group like-colored blocks next to one another. One could spend hours rearranging blocks!  If I made another quilt today, I think I would spend a little less time rearranging!

Want to see more examples of quilts like this?  There is a Flickr group for quilters who used the One-Block-Wonders books.  Some of the quilters also uploaded pictures of their original fabrics.

Well, what do you think?  Ready to try one?  I'm thinking I might want to finish mine up first, LOL!

Thanks for reading today!



  1. I could have done with that technique for the fabrics I received in the In the Bag-Ugly Fabric challenge. They were really ugly!

    Thanks for the review.

  2. That's such an amazing technique Jen! Thanks for sharing it and the head's up about the books.

  3. I love yours but I dontthink my attention to detail is up to such specific fabric cutting! Thanks for the review though

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Wonderful kaleidoscope quilts. It's amazing how a piece of fabric produces such different blocks. I learned the technique from Bethany Reynolds too, from an older book of her. It was my favorite technique for many years.

  6. Thanks for this - it'll help me be on the look-out for the perfect ugly fabric. :-)


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