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Stripes: A Case of Serendipity or Common Threads (plus a Giveaway!)

If I didn’t tell you otherwise, you might think that we at SHWS coordinate our posts so that there is a theme running from one week to the next. We don’t consult or meet as we have each been working on projects independently from home for the last several months. While I have been playing with my own designs, I was intrigued to read that both Kirsten and Julia had similar themes running through their posts.

In Kirsten’s post, A Tale of Plaids, Stripes and Minky, she mentions being gifted a stash of cotton shirting fabrics. Little did I know that we had a mutual friend, and I too received some of the same treasured fabrics; mine are a variety of stripes.

Another one of my favorite collections of striped fabrics consists of silk ties. I have made a few quilts with them but feel there are more designs to be made. As I contemplate new ideas, I noticed Julia, too, was busy on her design wall with her beautiful collection of silks. In her recent post, The Three S's of Working with Silk, and as a guest on The Quilt Show, Julia shares so many helpful tips (called Ss) for working with what could be a challenging fabric. Julia encourages you to share any additional tips you may have. I have a few of my own that I will share in a future post when writing about my silk quilts.

Perhaps we have more in common than just our love of making quilts.

I enjoy working with stripes and am often intrigued with the variety of designs that can be achieved. The Kaleidoscope is one of my favorite traditional quilt block patterns.

I smiled when I saw that Julia, too, has been working with this pattern. More on that in a future post.

This is one of my favorite quilts using this block. It was made by Katie Prindle and is featured in the Second Edition of my book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!

Here are some of my tips for making a Kaleidoscope quilt.

First, I cut strips of fabric with the stripes running lengthwise. Then used a template I had made for making 8” blocks.

Next, I joined fabric triangles together in pairs. Since there are 8 seams meeting at the center of the block I press them open to help prevent bulk. Thank you to my friend, Jan Krentz for introducing me to The Strip Stick tool. It allows the fabric to roll over the edge of the stick so that a ridge from the seam allowance will not be visible on the right side after pressing. Leave the tail extensions as they are helpful when joining units together.

Next, join two pairs together to make halves. Again, leave the tail extensions to help when aligning the seams for sewing the halves together.

On the wrong side, first press the seam flat and then open.

Finally, turn and press flat on the right side.

I don't add the corner triangles to complete the blocks yet. Instead I place all of the units onto the design wall. These are not in any particular order. I like to see what I have and then start playing.

You can already see the designs and movement emerging. Just as you would with a kaleidoscope, begin turning the units ... light to light, light to dark or dark to dark, as shown in these two photos.

In doing so, different patterns are created. You can't see the big picture from these images. It is best to take photos and compare before deciding on final placement. At this point, corner triangles can be added to complete the blocks. I generally like using light colored fabrics for the corners but it's fun to experiment with different options. Just have fun.

I have an extra kaleidoscope template that I am happy to send to one of you. If you are interested, please leave a comment telling me what fabrics you want to play with using this design. One winner will be selected and announced on Kirsten's post next week.

Before I close, I'll share another quilt that uses the same template and would be perfect for using any fabric triangles that may be leftover from the Kaleidoscope quilt. This one is Thousand Pyramids made by my co-author, Diana McClun, and is also featured in our Second Edition of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts.

Until next time, please take care.



Aug 10, 2021

thank you for the information! Could you please give us the size of your templet so we could just have one made or do you have a ruler you prefer? When sewing the you sew from point to base or base to point? Do you starch materials?

tks, nancy


Aug 10, 2021

This is inspiring & the tips are great!


Aug 10, 2021

I have been collecting Stripes for several years just because I love how much movement they give to a quilt. I hope I win your template as I'd like to try a kaleidoscope quilt with some of them.



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