New Year – New Quilt: Choosing Colors for a new project

Out with the Old, in with the New!  I am intrigued by Pat Sloan’s latest quilt along – the #SolsticeChallenge, so I have the challenge of choosing colors for quilts.Pat Sloan 182 Day Solstice Quilt Along

Thinking about the passing of time and changing seasons, I was inspired to base my color palette for this quilt on the daily temperatures here in Phoenix, Arizona.

My Colors for #SolsticeChallenge

Color choice based on temperature

Before looking at fabric, I decided on this range of temperatures with their assigned color:

96 – 100+ (farenheit) = Red                                                 90 -95 = Orange

85 – 89 = Yellow                                                                     79 – 84 = Dark Green

73 – 78 = Light Green                                                            67 – 72 = Turquiose/Teal

60 – 66 = Dark Blue                                                               >59 = Purple

It will be fun to see how this quilt develops!  Pat is releasing a new block pattern each Wednesday and I will make my version according to my color chart.  Both weeks 1 and 2 we have had a high temperature of 70 degrees, so I am starting with my turquoise fabrics. Here is block one from Dec. 21, 2016:

Block 1 for Solstice Challenge

The TV news people have dubbed this a “Chamber of Commerce” forecast – the tourism industry loves to advertise our beautiful winter days in contrast to the northern parts of the US that get freezing temperatures and lots of snow.  The first three months of the challenge may be boring, then we will see the jump…we have had 100 degree weather in April!  Of course, the daily variation can be more interesting than just one temperature reading per week.  For instance,the high temperature on Christmas Day was just 55 degrees!

Choosing Colors for Quilts

I love picking fabrics for a new project.  Most of the time I start with a specific color, then move to my stash to pull specific fabrics. Rebecca at Bryan House Quilts details her process for selecting fabrics with a color scheme here.  For a recent project, I pulled some purples.Choosing colors for quilts

There is no set formula for choosing colors for quilts, no matter what “they” say!  My theory is to trust your instincts and work with whatever looks good to you. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. I talk about making color decisions in my book Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety. Once you decide on a broad color family or theme, then the fun begins as you pick fabrics and decide what looks good together.

using a focal fabric to choose colors for a quilt

Sometimes the fabric will lead you to other colors, such as the purple and gold tones in this multi-color green print.

How do you choose colors?  What palette are you using today?  Leave me a note in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Rolling Stone Quilt Block – #9 for RAVBOM2016

Hello Ravelry friends and fellow quilters!  I chose the Rolling Stone quilt block for the sampler we are working on in the Quilters Knitting group on Ravelry. If you are just starting this project, find the details here.  The classic Rolling Stone block is a two color block, but you can add a third color accent, or get scrappy with each section.rolling stone quilt block with two colors   rolling stone quilt block with three colors

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Ooooh, I just had the thought of making it in a color wheel variation, that might be fun!  But back to business…

Rolling Stone Quilt Block Tutorial

These measurements will make a 12″ finished block.  Notice that the Rolling Stone quilt block uses a 9-patch layout.  Generally, the measurements will work best for multiples of 3 – a 6″ or 9″ block will have “nicer” measurements than an 8″ or 10″ block!  The units that make up the Rolling Stone quilt block are square-in-square (corners), rectangle pairs (sides) and a center square.

cut pieces for rolling stone quilt block

Cutting Instructions for the Rolling Stone Quilt Block

For the Square-in-Square corners, cut 4 squares from the main color at 3-3/8″. Cut 8 squares from the background at 2-7/8″, then cut once on the diagonal so you have 16 HST.

Note: In the picture above, I used the third accent color, so I cut 6 squares from the background color and 2 from the accent color.

You can also use the Square-in-a-Square ruler for these units.

For the Center, cut one square at 4-1/2″ from the main color.

For the Rectangle sides, cut  4 from the main color at  4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″, and 4 of either the accent or background at    4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″

*trim all units to 4-1/2″

Assembling your Rolling Stone Quilt Block

Square-in-square units can be tricky.  Sew alternate corners, press, then add remaining corners.  I use a quick finger-press to find the center of both the square and the triangle, then I pin before sewing the seam.

sewing corners on a quilt square

Sew the rectangle pairs together, then lay out the units in a 9-patch arrangement and sew into rows.

rolling stone quilt block ready to sew

Ta-Da!  You are on a roll!!

rolling stone quilt block

For more block tutorials, please refer to my post on the Jacob’s Ladder Block.

I also have useful tips for half square triangles and basic 4-patches.

Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block Tutorial

For my contribution to the Ravelry Block of the Month 2016 quilt, I chose a classic block.  Gather 2 or 3 fabrics to  make the Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block.

jacob's ladder quilt blockJacob's Ladder quilt block

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Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block Design – Basic 9-patch

I always start by analyzing the block to identify the units I need.  The Jacob’s Ladder quilt block has a classic 9-patch layout with 5 four patch units and 4 half-square triangle (HST) units.  Because of the 3×3 layout, this block works best with units that are multiples of 3. Therefore, 6″ and 12″ finished blocks will be our goal.

Fabric Requirements

This block can be made with just two colors, while I show it in three colors.  Of course, you may want to be as scrappy as possible, making each unit with different fabrics, and that is fine too.

For the pictured block, you will need 1 strip of background fabric at 4-1/2″, 1 strip of light/medium fabric at 2-1/2″ x 25″, and 1 strip of dark at 4-1/2″ x 10″.  Note…I use the Easy Angle Ruler to cut my HST units.  If you use a different method, your fabric strips may need to be larger.

From the background strip, cut one rectangle at 4-1/2″ x 10″ for the HST. Cut the remaining piece to 2-1/2″ x 25″ for the four patch units.

fabric for Jacob's Ladder quilt block

Sewing the Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block

Step 1 – HST with the Easy Angle ruler

Lay your background and dark fabrics right sides together.  Place the Easy Angle ruler on the fabric aligned with the 4-1/2″ markings.  Cut 4 units, then sew on the diagonal.  Press to the dark fabric and trim to 4-1/2″ square.

cutting half square triangles

Step 2 – 4 patch units

Place the background and light/medium fabrics right sides together and sew one long strip.

pair two fabrics for four patch units

Press to the darker fabric and cut into 2-1/2″ units.  You need 10 units to make 5 four patches.

two color four patch quilt block

Pair these units together, nesting the seams, and sew the four patch units. Press and trim to 4-1/2″.

Final block construction

Layout the units according to the block illustration.  The HST “kiss” and the 4-patch units all face the same direction to create one light diagonal and one dark diagonal chain.  Note…I flipped the corners so I do not have a light chain in this block.  Remember that errors in quilting are “Design Opportunities.”  This is a mistake I can live with, so no need for the seam ripper.

jacob's ladder quilt block

I also made this sample with just two colors, which creates a strong graphic design with the dark squares and HSTs.

Jacob's Ladder Quilt Block by TrueBlueQuilts

Making smaller blocks

To make a 6″ Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block, you will need units that finish at 2″.  The HSTs can be made with 2-1/2″ strips and the Easy Angle ruler, while the Four Patch units need strips cut at 1-1/2″.

The math also works out nicely for a 9″ block.  The HSTs can be made with 3-1/2″ strips and the Easy Angle ruler, while the Four Patch units need strips cut at 2″.

To make 8″ or 10″ blocks, you will need to work with units measured at the 1/8″ or 3/16″ line…much too fussy for my taste!


What does your Jacob’s Ladder quilt block look like?  I can’t wait to see the variety of colors and sizes! Join us in the Quilters Knitting group on Ravelry for show and tell.

More details about sewing with HSTs are described in my Pinwheels post.