Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free Pattern Day: Patriotic Quilts

'Tis the season for red, white and blue ! We've been collecting patriotic quilt patterns (aka Stars and Stripes, Old Glory) and we came up with some great free patterns from all around the country.  Note: This post has been updated; please see the latest patriotic Free Pattern Day.

Uncle Sam's Quilt by Andie Johnson for Moda Bakeshop

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who have died in military service to the USA.   On this day the flag is lowered to half-staff, where it remains until noon.  The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who have given their lives for our freedom. At noon the flag is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain. We think that this flag quilt, which is quilted with the lyrics to a well-known song, is perfect for Memorial Day.

God Bless the USA, 53 x 38", by Pam Smith, Contra Costa County Quilt Guild, Pleasant Hill, California

The quilter, Pam Smith, explains her lovely work:  "I wanted to quilt the words of the refrain to 'God Bless the USA' by Lee Greenwood but hadn’t figured out how to do that when my mom bought a long arm quilting machine.  After some practice I found that quilting words was much easier than regular designs.  I did the words in blue thread but they didn’t show up like I wanted, so I did some bobbin work from the back following the quilt lines with Razzle Dazzle thread in the bobbin on my regular machine.”

I'm proud to be an American 
where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me, 
And I gladly stand up next to you
 and defend her still today, 
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land 
God Bless the U.S.A.
Image and song credits:  Photos of the quilt by Pam Smith were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the Contra Costa County Quilt Show, April, 2012.  God Bless the U.S.A was written by Lee Greenwood in 1983, and it has been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America, taking the top honor over God Bless America and the National Anthem.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Q.I. classics: The Adventures of Rob Appell

We first featured Rob Appell's work in August 2010, and he has since expanded his collection of Endangered Species designs. A self-described surf quilter, Rob is a designer who takes "a manly approach to quilt making and love for the ocean".  His unique quilt patterns are featured at his website, Rob Appell Designs (Morro Bay, California).  Read on for some fun quilts and our interview with Rob!

Red Eyed Tree Frog, 40 x 32, by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

The red eyed tree frog, which makes its home in tropical forests of Central America, is one of the most colorful creatures on earth (see below).  Rob's quilt pattern captures the detail of the frog's bright red eyes.

Red eyed tree frog, photo by Michael Caldwell for Discover Magazine
Red Wolf by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

The red wolf once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States. The red wolf became extinct in the wild by 1980. Through a captive breeding program the animals are considered to be successfully breeding in the wild once again.  The incredible detail in Rob's design shows the sharp eyes of this canine hunter.

Red Wolf seen at HikeClimbSurfRun

Bengal Tiger, 41 x 41, by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

Rob's Bengal Tiger quilt pattern is one of his most popular. At a finished size of 41 x 41", this tiger is larger than life!

Bengal Tiger close up, wallpaper, at Scenic Reflections

Take a look at the photos of Rob's students showing their finished pieces !  You can see all the animals, birds and fish that are featured on the endangered species page at Rob's website.  A portion of the proceeds from the sales of his Endangered Species patterns is donated to an endangered species charity.  We were fortunate to have a chance to interview Rob about his quilts and his inspiration:

Quilt Inspiration: Did you always think you would be a textile designer and art quilter? Or, did this "career" take you by surprise?

Rob Appell: A total surprise. I have always loved to create art, but never knew much about textiles. I love to draw and thought of graphic design, but was afraid to connect a career to it. I did not want to lose my art and income due to stress. I moved home after a few years of traveling around, and started helping out around my Mom’s quilt shop, The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay, CA. It took a few years for the quilt pox to catch, but I could not be happier today doing what I do.

Q.I.  How and when did the idea come about for the Endangered Species Project?

Rob Appell: The idea was a group effort between Michael Miller Fabrics and myself and started back in March of 2009. I was challenged with creating a line of quilts that would be easy to do, and able to keep in the cycle much longer. My seascapes are more fabric specific, and when the fabrics ran out, the seascapes became harder to do. I chose Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost line, it has close to a hundred different colors to choose from, and it will be around for along time. The other goal was to create a project line that allowed quilters to feel like they were “making a difference” through their love of quilting. Many of the Michael Miller Team and I hold the Endangered Animals close to our hearts. After a surf trip in Costa Rica, I was overwhelmed with the ideas and could not wait to get started.

Q.I. Your quilts include applique (e.g. Endangered Species), pieced designs (watercolor quilts), and combinations of the two methods. Do you have a favorite technique or style that you prefer to work in, or one just comes naturally to you?

Rob Appell: I really do enjoy the free motion machine quilting, so anything I can quilt on is a favorite. I do love to design through raw-edge appliqué using Heat ‘n Bond lite (FYI Heat n’ Bond is coming out with feather lite – and it is awesome) and I do not like to have to work too hard, so I create backgrounds as either pieced or a single color of fabric that lend to the design. On the Endangered Species, one of the Fairy Frost fabrics is the back ground and shows through where the appliqués are not placed. It makes the need for precision much less, which is a lead into my next answer too.

Q.I. You mentioned that your book includes advice on "taking life less seriously" and yet you are a very productive designer, which seems like a potential contradiction in real life. Can you explain your philosophy on life, and how you mesh your priorities?

Rob Appell: I love this question, and yes I am becoming a filthy liar (in that aspect). I work around the clock to be a good designer, Quilt Shop owner, Sewing machine technician and educator. I hardly rest, but I am trying not to let it make me panic. The life less seriously is more to the tune that my quilts are not perfect, my stitches are not even and my patterns do not have to be done with accuracy. What I pray is that I am able to be seen as a Blessing and Creative inspiration to all that I come in contact with. That I may uplift people with my smile, and help them achieve their creative goals. I want folks to not worry so much about all the little details in their work, and see the beautiful work that they are creating. I like to make people laugh, but the harder I work to support the animals the more changes I see needing be made in my own life.

Q.I.: What are your goals and aspirations for Rob Appell Designs... where would you like to be in 5 or 10 years?

Rob Appell: In five years, to be able to start slowing down the drive, and push for more patterns and be more involved in creating quilts that will be one of a kind. Also, I am just now taking over my Mom’s shop and I would like to see it be able to run itself so that I may create more, and play more. I am blessed to have a very busy career today, but I have two children that need to go camping and swimming, play dolls and legos, and see the world.

In ten years, I will be getting ready to watch my oldest graduate from high school and learn to drive, I hope my Quilt shop and career will still be booming, but I want to live off the grid, and be able to do what I do from anywhere so that my family and I can benefit from my years of hard work. Plus, I will only be in my mid forties, which is comforting.

Q.I. Do you have some new projects and ideas on the near horizon, and can you tell us about them?

Rob Appell: Always! I have three more animals to create and I would love to start traveling with the whole line of quilts to places folks would not expect to see a quilt showing: Zoos, Animal Parks, Earth Day Festivals, raise money for more awareness, and promote using art to better our environment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quilt Artist Val Moore from Sydney, Australia

From Sydney, Australia, quilter, designer, and teacher Valmai Moore has dedicated 30 years to expressing her interest in botanical art through the beautiful floral themes of her quilts. Join us today for a look at some gorgeous fabric flowers, as shown on

Day Lilies by Val Moore at

Day Lilies is a quilt pattern of tessellating, or interlocking shapes designed by Jinny Beyer. Val constructed this quilt using both machine and hand-piecing to join the multiple segments, points, and curves. Three monochromatic colorways comprised of a warm, cool, and neutral hue join together to make these sophisticated, pretty, curved blossoms.  

Australian Wildflower by Val Moore at

Val Moore's many original designs are based on floral themes.  Val says: "I sought to reflect the uniquely delicate beauty of the Australian flora in my applique designs, using many hand dyed fabrics & embroidery to capture the fine detail." The Australian Wildflower quilt is her favorite quilt; and it's easy to see why, since the applique design and handwork are so elegant and artistic. We think these blocks are lovely, especially the Red-Centered Hibiscus and Flame Pea block in the upper left-hand corner. The patterns and fabric kits for each of the nine blocks can be purchased at on the patterns page.

Summer Roses by Val Moore at

We really enjoy this eye-catching quilt with its symmetrical stars and lively appliqued flowers. The colorful prairie points border adds a dynamic touch to this cheerful design, which is reminiscent of a Baltimore Album Quilt.

Symbols of Japan by Val Moore at

Val says that her Symbols of Japan was a "must do" following a visit to the Tokyo Quilt Show. We loved the dazzling complementary colors of fuchsia pink and spring green which are used throughout this work. Val writes that the intriguing designs seen here are inspired by MON, a Japanese emblem, badge, or crest, which can be based on geometric, floral, or animal forms.  We're showing this quilt in a large format so that you can see the beautiful quilting in each block.

Waratah by Val Moore at

Val machine appliqued and hand quilted this very life-like design of  the Waratah flower.  Native to Australia, the Waratah is the state flower of New South Wales where Val lives. The subtly shaded pieces of red and green fabric look so realistic, it seems as if the flower is just waiting to be picked off the quilt and added to a bouquet.  

Image credits: Photos are shown with the generous permission of Val Moore. You can see more of her quilts and patterns, and read about her classes, at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Free pattern day: Sweets ! Cupcakes, ice cream, & lollipop quilts

Instead of baking cakes and cupcakes, how about some quilted treats?  We've been inspired by the many creative designers who have shared their free patterns.  Check out these zero-calorie lollipops, ice cream cones and cupcakes ! (Note: this post was updated on October 14, 2017)

Popsicle Party quilted table runner, ~11 x 38", free pattern at Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Ice Lollies quilt, 60 x 72", free pattern by Latifah Saafir for Hoffman Fabrics

Sweet Cakes quilt, 63 x 77", free pattern by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller Fabrics

Just Eat Cake quilt, free pattern by Cherry Guidry for Benartex (PDF download)

Piece of Cake table runner, free pattern by Kitchen Table Quilting for Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Chevron Lollies quilt, 46 x 54", free pattern at Riley Blake Designs (PDF download)

Peppermint Twist table runner, ~14 x 32", free pattern by Twiggy and Opal for Fort Worth Fabric Studio

That's A Wrap table runner, 14 x 32", free pattern by Twiggy and Opal for Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Birthday Cake, free mini quilt pattern at Bee In My Bonnet

Cake block, ~17 x 26", Happy Birthday BOM, free pattern at Riley Blake Designs (PDF download)

Cupcake, free applique pattern by Jacquelynne Steves

Yummy Cupcake by Cyrille Zellweger at Bubblestitch Quilts, free download via the Garden Party Blog Hop at Sew Hooked

Chocolate Lollipops by Anna Maria Horner, quilt by Cheryl A. Adam, free pattern at Free Spirit Fabric (PDF download)

Lollipop quilt tutorial by Melanie McFarland, from Out of the Box with Easy Blocks by Melanie McFarland and Mary Lou Weidman at Martingale

Scoop It Up wall hanging, free pattern by Sandy Fitzpatrick for Fairfield World

Sweet Treats mini quilt at Quilt In A Day (PDF download)

Ice Cream Social, 64 x 84", free quilt pattern by Robert Kaufman Fabrics

A Baker's Dozen cupcake quilt, 39 x 39", free pattern by Paula Doyle for Andover Fabrics (PDF download)

Cherry Christmas by Monica Solorio-Snow at The Happy Zombie

Lollipop quilt by Karen Snyder for Timeless Treasures (PDF download)

Tonga Gumdrops quilt, free pattern by Konda Luckau for Timeless Treasures (PDF download)

Sweet Dreams quilt, 35 x 47", free pattern by Project House 360 for RJR Fabrics (PDF download)

Candy Gram quilt, ~48 x 58", free pattern by Jocelyn Ueng for RJR Fabrics (PDF download)

Image credits and links:  All images are copyrighted by their owners. Please respect their generosity in sharing their free patterns, and the restrictions they have placed on the use of these designs. Complete information can be found at the designers' websites provided in the links.  If any links are broken, we'd love to know; email us at Quilt Inspiration {at} gmail {dot} com.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quilt artist Valerie Page from Toronto, Canada

Internationally known artist, teacher, exhibitor and designer Valerie Page creates quilts that are a joy to behold. Like the newly planted blossoms of a springtime garden, they burst forth to delight our eyes.  An artist in Toronto's Leslieville Area Since 1983, Valerie Page has been quilting since 1972. Join us today as we feature her quilts, and you will see why she is greatly admired for her artistry with colors and forms.

Jamaican Court House Steps, 51 x 66, by Valerie Page at Page Quilts

On her biography webpage, Valerie writes that she started making quilts in the early 1970's. To make ends meet on a budget, she searched the second hand clothing stores to find vintage clothing in interesting patterns and colors, which she used as fabric for her first quilts. "Jamaican Court House Steps", which was made in 2004, still reminds us of the vibrant colors which captivated the youth movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Remember the fashions of Carnaby Street in London, as popularized by The Beatles?  Here are many of those hues. Although she used dozens of different fabrics and colors in this quilt, Valerie has created a cohesive look by arranging the cool hues on the vertical axis and the warmer hues on the horizontal axis. Notice how she has placed black squares or 'spacers' to separate the shapes and enhance the contrasts of the colors.

Bright Scraps on Black Quilt, 37 x 37, by Valerie Page at Page Quilts

Valerie writes, "In exploring why I choose to create using geometric graphic designs comprised of fabrics joined in specific color combinations, I have discovered that is the exploration of the combinations that motivates my process."   In "Bright Scraps on Black" we see interlocking squares that appear to glow like neon signs in a city at night. Valerie has achieved this effect by using fabric in high chroma colors; there are few muted or toned fabrics in this dynamic work. The colors are clear and pure, providing a fascinating jewel-box effect. 

Morning Star, 36 x 44, by Valerie Page at Page Quilts

Valerie says,  "Suited to a young child's crib, all twelve stars are crafted from vintage 70's cotton fabrics and bordered by bright blue and yellow daisies." In this clever design, each star surrounds a log cabin block that is set on point. We love the fresh country look of this quilt with its energetic blue sashing and outer borders which really make the Ohio stars "pop". 

Fibonacci Vines Quilted Wall Hanging, 30 x 30, by Valerie Page at Page Quilts

Valerie explains that she used the Fibonacci technique to construct the curves of this intricate wall hanging.  She says, "Purple vines rise up on a sea-blue background with little cubes of yellow-orange fruit. The original name for this quilt was, 'Woman with basket of oranges descending a staircase.' Each block is comprised of  about 29 different fabrics, lending the quilt an air of sublimely rich texture."  This quilt is a gorgeous study of monochromatic blues and purples, interspersed with complementary tangerine and apricot hues.

Hot and Cold Snowballs, 47 x 63, by Valerie Page at Page Quilts

We enjoyed  "Hot and Cold Snowballs" so much that we featured it on one of our earliest posts, two years ago, when our fledgling blog had only a few followers. We're so pleased to show it again here.  What we see here is a very contemporary update of a time-honored snowball block. Valerie has combined the split complementary colors of clear blue with pure orange, red-orange, and yellow to create a quilt that sparkles with life. She writes,  "The possibility of reaching another through one's personal interpretations is tremendous; as each of us reads ourself into that which another has created."  Once again she has done a marvelous job of breathing new life into well-loved vintage patterns, using her artistic gifts to bring these classic blocks into the 21st century.

Image credits: Images shown are with the generous permission of Valerie Page.  Her online quilt gallery features contemporary and traditional quilts that are for sale, including Morning Star, Fibonacci Vines and Hot and Cold Snowballs.  In addition, you can also view quilts that are in private collections in her Archive Gallery.  Last but not least, check out Valerie's 100% cotton baby quilts and her cheerful tea cosies.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of mothers everywhere, here is a beautifully hand-painted and appliqued quilt which we spotted at the 2011 Houston IQF. We think that this piece captures the bond between a mother and her child, as she cradles the child's body in her arms.  The mother and child are surrounded by appliqued words which almost seem to float: "They are sleeping and dreaming." 

Dreaming by Sonia Bardella, San Michele Al Tagilmento, Italy.  Photo by Quilt Inspiration

Sonia Bardella says, "I've tried to interpret dreaming using contemporary techniques. The background is made up words and letters which show how language is an important part of our dreams."  A closeup photo of the mother and child is shown below.

Image credits:  Photo by Quilt Inspiration, taken at the 2011 Houston International Quilt Festival.  This quilt impressed us as as having one of the most innovative and original themes at the show. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quilt Artist Terry Whyte from Kenogami, Ontario, Canada

Amidst the lush green forests and sparkling lakes of Northeastern Ontario, award-winning quilter Terry Whyte creates beautiful and intriguing quilts.  Terry began quilting about twenty years ago, and her favorite part of the craft is free-motion quilting. On her blog, Today In Kenogami, she documents her work and explains her techniques.  Today, we are featuring five of Terry's very accomplished works.

Night and Day Advanced Sampler, 58 x72, by Terry Whyte at Today in Kenogami

When we asked Terry what inspired her about quilting, she told us,  "There's nothing I love better than a challenge. I always give myself a challenge whenever making a quilt, no matter how big or small it is.   Whether it involves trying out new techniques, seeing how certain fabrics work together, even finishing UFOs with a bit of a twist or following the rules of a competition, it keeps things fresh and makes it fun."  The Night and Day Advanced Sampler above is an example of a challenge which Terry gave to herself.  In the summer of  2005, she wanted to practice making more intricate blocks. She chose monochromatic blues, along with browns, yellows, and whites, to make this twelve-block quilt with 2 versions each of 6 blocks, one on a dark background and one on a light background.

Close-Up of Garden Gate (Night Motif)  Block from Night and Day Advanced Sampler

For her Garden Gate blocks, Terry used Dilys Fronks' book, Enchanted Views: Quilts Inspired by Wrought Iron  Designs.  To give this quilt its cohesive effect, she used one dark background fabric throughout for the Nighttime blocks and one light background fabric throughout for the Daytime blocks.

Close-Up of Garden Gate (Day Motif) Block from Night and Day Advanced Sampler

In this Daytime block, you can see an example of the contemporary gold swirled fabric which is used as the anchor fabric for all the blocks. You also can see the graceful, lyrical,  appliqued lattice pattern which serves as the garden gate design. Note that Terry has included a bit of the Nighttime fabric in the day block, and a bit of the Daytime fabric in the Nighttime block, as a way of visually tying the twin blocks together.

Going In Circles, 35.5 x 35.5, by Terry Whyte at Today in Kenogami

Terry completed this lively shadow-themed quilt in January 2012 as a response to a UFO (unfinished object) challenge from Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times. The large center shadow mirrors the shape of the smaller circles and creates an optical illusion of one solid dark center, even though it is really six medium-size circles. Terry used cotton and hand-dyed muslin in gray, brown, purple, red, coral, and pink to create the circles in different lighter tints and deeper shades, depending upon whether they are placed inside or outside the shadow. 

Close-Up of Going In Circles by Terry Whyte

Here's a great close-up of some of the raw edge appliqued concentric circles of this really fun quilt. We love this work, because Terry's original design is so inventive, and because it reminds us of the vibrantly colored op-art and pop-art movement of the 1960's.

Snail's Pace, 21 x19.5, by Terry Whyte at Today in Kenogami

Terry explains that this stunningly colored art quilt was made as an entry for a challenge issued by Mongrain Textile, New Liskeard in 2004. The flowered fabric in red, yellow, and blue was the challenge fabric, and Terry added three other fabrics of her own in the spiral shape. Terry pieced, raw-edge appliqued, and free-motion quilted this piece, and entered it into the Kirkland Lake Mile of Gold Quilter's Guild Annual Quilt Show in 2004.  "Snail's Pace " is so whimsical and energetic that it makes us smile. What a day brightener !

Under the Rainbow, 72 x 72, by Terry Whyte at Today in Kenogami

Terry explains that she won these vintage Amish Pinetree blocks at a quilt guild raffle, then challenged herself to develop an innovative setting for them. She was inspired by a picture of a quilt by Georgia Bonesteel to create a curved, contemporary sashing in cotton and hand-dyed muslin for the traditional blocks. She sandwiched the blocks individually to the batting and backing, quilted them,  then stitched and turned them using the pillowcase method. The curved edges of the rainbow sashing were then turned down and stitched into place. We are very impressed with this quilt, as we think it is an excellent and original  juxtaposition of traditional and modern shapes.

Close-Up of  Under the Rainbow by Terry Whyte

We really like the gently curved machine quilting that Terry has done on these blocks. It not only mirrors the curved edges, but also reminds us of the breeze blowing the pine trees back and forth, as a rainbow lights up the sky after a springtime shower.  Please note :  The back of this quilt is done in magnificent hand-dyed muslin;  click on Under the Rainbow to see the vividly-hued backing.

Neutral Sampler, 82 x82, by Terry Whyte at Today in Kenogami

Neutral Sampler won first place at the 2009 Temiskaming International Plowing Match and Rural Expo Quilt Competition in the Wall Quilt group. Terry used white, gray, brown, beige, and black fabric to create these blocks based on many different techniques, including applique, curved seams, and paper piecing. The central block is a 24 inch "Flying Swallows" variation from Judy Martin's The Block Book. Terry uses her Neutral Sampler in the classes she teaches on creating an album or sampler quilt. To give the quilt its eye-catching look,  she teaches her students to use one fabric for the background and one other main fabric for all the blocks. She then adds 3 to 6 other accent fabrics, ranging in values from light to dark. We love the outstanding three-dimensional effects created by set-in seams, the geometric piecing and the carefully mitered borders of the blocks surrounding the center medallion. 

 As you browse through these fabulous quilts, you will see Terry's theme of using a quilting challenge as an opportunity to grow in artistic understanding and to utilize her talents in new ways. That's a wonderful lesson for all of us, as we each have a skill which can be strengthened by meeting a challenge. We certainly look forward to seeing all the new challenges that Terry Whyte discovers, as we know that they will result in many more spectacular quilts from this gifted artist.

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Terry Whyte.
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