Guest blogger series: Quilt design – Ambassador to Large-Scale Prints

by kath_red on 17/02/2011

in Guest Series 2011, Whip Up Tutorials

Today I want to welcome back to Whipup for this guest blog series Weeks Ringle. Weeks is a full-time professional quiltmaker and co-founder of FunQuilts, a contemporary quilt design studio in Oak Park, Illinois, USA. FunQuilts’ work is widely seen in the press (O:The Oprah Magazine, Country Living, The New York Times, American Patchwork & Quilting magazine and Quilts & More magazine). In their appearance on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims they discussed how to find color inspiration for quilts. Weeks Ringle’s art quilt Tankini toured with Quilt National 2007. Weeks also writes a craft blog Craft Nectar, where you can get an insight into her life as a quilt and fabric designer. As well as running a quilt studio with her husband and business partner Bill Kerr, they have also written a couple of books: The Modern Quilt Workshop, The Quiltmaker’s Color Workshop and most recently Quilts Made Modern. In addition to designing home textiles and quilts for Crate & Barrel, Weeks and Bill have designed more than 130 quilting prints sold in 15 countries. Weeks and Bill also design and sell Many Hands Blankies, a line of blankies that provides job training opportunities to developmentally disabled adults in Chicago.

I have appointed myself a special ambassadorship. The UN has its hands busy with turmoil in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen so I thought I’d just solve this issue on my own. Here’s the problem: those beautiful large-scale prints that we all fall in love with are trouble-makers. You buy them thinking that they’ll get along because they have similar palettes but I’ve fallen for their deceptive ways too many times. They start fights with one another, blending into one another to create visual chaos. Bill Kerr (my husband and partner in FunQuilts) and I teach workshops in how to work successfully with large-scale prints but every now and then they fool us too – we included a special section in our new book Quilts Made Modern with guidelines for working with large-scale prints.

Window Shopping

Bill and I thought we’d whip up a quick free pattern for this post. I wanted to design something simple, deadline-friendly and a layout that uses large-scale prints that many people love but find hard to use. The quilt also needed to be easy enough for novice quilters to make without a hitch.

Download the PDF pattern for Window Shopping

I laid out the fabrics and thought that they’d keep to themselves enough to see the forms of the pieces. I had some doubts and considered placing long white strips between the rows but decided against it because I worried that it would look too rigid. But once I actually pieced it together I realized that visual chaos had broken out once again.

Determined to keep my diplomatic cool I ripped out all of the squares (sigh), cut them down 1/2 inch (1.5cm) and added a 1/2 inch (1.5cm) finished strip of white all the way around. The “fringe” at the top and bottom is optional. I added it because I liked the scale change and it used up the scraps leftover from the main quilt. It’s a bonus that the white binding of the quilt is kept away from the white squares so each of those elements would be clear visually. Détente at last!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Becky M February 17, 2011 at 7:06 am

oh wow, thanks for the great pattern and for tackling the issue of large scale prints. It’s great to have some tips for them!


2 Vicki K February 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I love this! It has the happy overall chaos of beautiful prints but also the grab-your-attention-look-at-this-particular-fabulocity-of-a-print. Thank you!!


3 Lisa February 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Nice — and those are my favorite colors. I like a quilt that sort of lets the fabric speak for itself.


4 Collette February 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Lovely and simple. And, my son owns one of those blankets. He received the elephant in a (now unavailable) yellow and blue. It’s super soft, really fun and pretty, and well made.


5 kath_red February 19, 2011 at 2:52 am

so happy you love this quilt as much as I do.


6 Lisa February 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

It reminds me of how fabric looks in some of the quilt shops I’ve seen, and the perfect opportunity to use some big prints together. The bit of a solid helps calm the prints so they aren’t overwhelming. Thanks for the pattern!


7 kath_red February 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I love the calmness of this quilt too – its so pretty and reminds me of a lavender garden


8 Carol F Metzger February 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

o so lovely. It was delightfully overwhelming to see your quilts in person last night in South Holland. So glad I made that connection.


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