Welcome guest blogger and quilt designer, Susan Emerson. After earning degrees in Home Economics and FIDM Fashion Design, she’s spent over 25 years in the fabric industry, which includes designing quilts to promote fabric collections for Wilmington Prints and Wilmington Batiks. Susan’s new quilt, Murano, offers dazzling secondary patterns created by fabric and block placement and features a complex pattern that’s easier than it looks. You’ll find this quilt in the McCall’s Quilting May/June 2017 issue. We’re happy to have Susan here to talk about her quilt!
Hello Quilters! This is my very first time blogging and I’m very excited to share a bit of my design process for the Murano quilt featured in the McCall’s Quilting May/June 2017 issue. I love the fabrics and colors, the design challenges, the deadlines, and yes, the math involved. Using Electric Quilt software and digital fabric files, I create several designs and optional color combos for each collection – close to 100 published designs every year that are (hopefully) attractive, interesting, and achievable for quilters with a variety of skillsets.
When designing for a print collection, the challenge is to create attractive ways to use engineered panels and border stripes. When designing for a new collection of batiks, it’s all about the colors. A pastel collection might suggest a baby quilt, while a collection with deep colors (and no “girlie” pinks or purples) seems suited to a man-sized throw quilt. My favorite part of designing with batiks is that I get to play with random blocks and layout ideas that float around in my head. Floating ideas are normal, right? (Or should I be worried?)
This Wilmington Batiks collection includes a variety of blues, oranges, limes, purples, and citrons (greenish-yellows). After dividing the colors into complementary color schemes of blue/orange and purple/citron, I played with some quilt block ideas for a throw-sized quilt that would showcase both combos.
Many wonderful quilts use just 1 block or 2 alternated blocks, but one of my floating ideas was to use 3 or 4 blocks in an asymmetrical layout. I chose 4 blocks and, for the layout, I roughly pictured a map with open land and a few roads transitioning through suburbs into a crowded city, then it sort of morphed into a mosaic-style layout. I love quilt designs that make you guess where the blocks start and stop and I find that’s usually achieved with color placement.
Amy Gilbert in Missouri makes most of my batik quilt models including Murano, which she says was her favorite one to make so far. She says that “the layout seems to flow regardless of how you arrange the fabrics within the colorway.”
When combining blocks, use similar block types such as:
- All 9-patch quilt blocks
- All 5-patch quilt blocks
- All 4-patch quilt blocks (like Murano)
- All 16-patch blocks
The seams and shapes will align, making it possible to overlap color placement for a flowing design that creates secondary blocks and visual effects. In Murano, the citron colors in the edge-triangles of Block V combine with the citron in Block W to fool the eye into seeing larger, on-point blocks. Here are examples of different color placement in these blocks:
If you don’t want to start from scratch, and you don’t have access to software for trying digital color options, you can use the stress-relieving activity of using adult coloring books for some color-play:
- Trace your chosen quilt design (the blocks and shapes or the construction diagram)
- Make a few photocopies of the diagram or outline and use colored pencils to try a variety of color placement ideas, either random or based on color combinations from your stash.
If the colors are not in your stash, you’ll have to take your favorite colored page with you to match next time you shop! I know, I know – you hate to go shopping for fabric, right? :)
I hope you’ll have fun making the Murano quilt in whatever colors you choose. Being creative and playing with color is the most fun part of my day – I hope you’ll try some color-play, too. I think you’ll find it freeing and fulfilling. I hope to work with McCall’s Quilting again, so until next time, happy quilting!
I’m very happy to offer a 24-count pack of 10″ batik squares. Wilmington Ultra Violet – 10 Karat Mini-Jewels includes the fabrics used in Murano and additional batik fabrics from the latest collection.
Thanks so much, Susan! Leave a comment below before midnight May 4, 2017 and you’ll be entered into our random drawing to win this lovely prize. The winner will be notified by email with subject line beginning YOU WON.
If you’d like to make your own version of the Murano quilt, and don’t yet have a copy of the McCall’s Quilting May/June 2017 issue, you can order print and digital versions in our online shop. The Murano quilt pattern is also available separately as an instant digital download.