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Add “Spice” to Your Quilts with Color and Curves

As you may know by now, I am often drawn to Asian-inspired designs and fabrics. I am currently teaching a Block of the Month class using Susan Briscoe’s book, Japanese Taupe Quilts. It features 125 beautiful blocks (pieced, appliquéd, and embellished). Designs are taken from a variety of traditional sources, including Japanese fabric, paper, architectural designs, and kamon family crests.

Susan Briscoe's Taupe Quilts book

It was difficult to narrow the choice down to 12 blocks to fill a year’s worth of classes. So, at the request of my students, I’ve been adding a few more blocks each month. By the end of the year, each student will have a nice collection of blocks to sew into a sampler quilt. (The book also contains lots of great setting ideas for combining blocks.) I’ll be sure to post photos of the finished quilts.

I love the look of the taupe quilts, but honestly have a hard time working without the punch of color. While recently teaching at a local quilt shop, Queen B’s, I asked “Ms B” to choose a collection of Asian-inspired prints that she would like to see used to make up blocks from the book. Here is what she came up with. We both find it helpful to start with an “inspiration” or “focus” fabric and build from there.

Building from a Focus Fabric

The class gives me an opportunity to teach a variety of techniques, including precision piecing, appliqué (hand and machine), curved piecing, and so much more.

Last week we were working on a block with bias-tape appliqué.

Susan Briscoe - Bias tape

I was able to show the students three options for making the narrow bias strips, which can be used for vines, stems, and for outlining shapes, as shown above. If you’d like to try working with these versatile strips, I suggest trying one of my two favorite tools for making them: Fasturn and Clover’s Bias Tape Maker.

Easily make bias tubes of fabric with this tool.

These tools neatly fold bias strips of fabric.

Happy sewing everyone.

PS – Be sure to check back as I am working on an instructional video to demonstrate the use of the tools.

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