P. 1
Kaleidoscopes And Quilts: An Artist’s Journey Continues

Kaleidoscopes And Quilts: An Artist’s Journey Continues


|Views: 335|Likes:
Published by C&T Publishing, Inc. an imprint of NBN Books
Kaleidoscope - the very word promises surprise and magic, chance and change. Exploding with visual excitement, a kaleidoscope design organizes an abundance of light, color, form, and motion into a complex and coherent image, capturing a moment of infinity. This book is jammed with how-to's and why-not's, process and product, and an abundance of text and photos that explains elements of design and technique for creating the multifaceted, luminous, and random nature of a kaleidoscope's interior on the flat surface of a quilt.

The kaleidoscope configuration and its symmetrical repetition allows the quiltmaker to explore a variety of design possibilities using intricately printed fabric. With Paula as your guide, you will find that making kaleidoscope quilts is like making magic with fabric.
Kaleidoscope - the very word promises surprise and magic, chance and change. Exploding with visual excitement, a kaleidoscope design organizes an abundance of light, color, form, and motion into a complex and coherent image, capturing a moment of infinity. This book is jammed with how-to's and why-not's, process and product, and an abundance of text and photos that explains elements of design and technique for creating the multifaceted, luminous, and random nature of a kaleidoscope's interior on the flat surface of a quilt.

The kaleidoscope configuration and its symmetrical repetition allows the quiltmaker to explore a variety of design possibilities using intricately printed fabric. With Paula as your guide, you will find that making kaleidoscope quilts is like making magic with fabric.

More info:

Publish date: Nov 5, 1996
Added to Scribd: Feb 05, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781607050278
List Price: $16.99


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Full version available to members
See more
See less






© 1996 Paula Nadelste rn

Editor: Lee Jonsson
Technical Editor: Joyce Engels Lytle
Copy Editor: Judith AI. ivloretz
Illustrator: Kandy Petersen
Book Design: Ire ne Morris, Morris Design
Cover Design: Jill J) e rrl-, Artista Art\\-orks
Quilt photography: Kare n Jjell, Ne\\-York City, NY, unl ess ot hen\-ise noted_
Illustration photography: Jo hn Woodin, Phil adelphia, PA, unl ess ot herlyise noted_
A 11 rights rese ryed_ No pa rt of thi s work cm-ered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or
used in any form or by an)' mea ns- graphi c, electroni c, o r mec ha ni cal, including photocopying,
recording, taping, o r in fo rmati on storage and retri e\-al syste m- \yithout \\Titten permi ssion of
the publisher.
A ttenti on Teachers:
C& T Publishing, Inc. encourages you to use this book as a text for teaching_ Contac t us at
800-284- 1114 o r \\Ww_ctpub_com for more information about the C& T Teac hers Program_
We take grea t ca re to ens ure that the informati on included in this book is acc urate and
presented in good faith, but no \\-arranty is prm-ided no r res ult guaranteed_ Since \\-e
ha\-e no contro l m-e r the choice of material s o r procedures used, neither the a uthor
no r C&T Publi shing, Inc. shall hm-e any liability to any person o r e ntity \yith respect to
any loss or damage ca used directly or indirectly by the informati on contained in this book.
Rul er designs Copyri ght 1986, 1995, OMN1GRID", Inc. All ri ghts reserled.
U.S. Pate nt. 4,779,346; Ca. Pat. 1,297,286
8/8 Cross Section is a prod uct of Ca nson-Talens, Inc.
Libe rty is a registe red trademark of Libert)' of London Prints Limited.
Omnigrid is a registered trademark ofOmnigrid Inc.
Pil ot SCA-UF is a registered trademark of the Pilot Pen Corporati on of America.
Sesame Street is a trademark of Children 's Teleyision Workshop.
Singer Featherweight is a registe red trade mark of Singe r Corpo rati on.
Template-Graph is a product of Quilter's Rul e, Inte rnati onal.
UI trasuede is a registered tr ademark of Springs I nd ustri es, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Nadelstern , Paula.
Kal eidoscopes & quilts / Paula Nadelste rn.
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 1-57120-0 18-5 (pape r trade)
I. Patch\\·ork- Patterns. 2. Kaleidoscope in art. I. Titl e.
TT835.N33 1996
746.46'041 - c1c20
Published by C&T Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 1456
Lafayette, CA 94549
h ttp:/ hnn\'.ctpub.com
Printed in China
10 9 8 7
96-1749 1
6 5
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............. ... ... 4 DESIGN SENSIBILITY ......... ...... .... 87
DEDICATION .................................... . 4
Elements of a Kaleidoscopic Design ...... .... 88
INTRODUCTION ... .. ............. .. ........... 6
Elements of Any Good Design ......... ......... 91
Random Acts of Color ......... .......... ...... ...... 93
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK ......... 10
Our Fabrics, Our Palettes ..... .... ............ ...... 95
THE GALLERY ....................... .. ........ 11 And the Categories Are: .. ......... ... .... ...... ... . 97
TOOLS OF THE TRADE ............... 31
Designing: Musings ....................... ............ 106
Angling for a Difference ........ ................... 107
TECHNICAL SENSE .............. ...... ... 33
Considering All the Angles ..... .................. 34
How to Draft an Angle ........... .. ... .. ...... .. .... 35
A Pieceful Strategy ................. ...... .. ... .... ..... 38
How to Make a Template .......................... 39
How to Mark a Template ........................ ... 42
Templates for Special Effects ..................... 43
Visual ProbleIllS, Creative Solutions ......... 46
The Nitty-Gritty of the Very First Patch .. 110
The Art of Coupling ................................. 113
[nterlacing Fabrics and Patterns ... .. .. .. ...... 118
Unlocking Quilter's Block ........ .............. .. 124
ConscioLls Acts of Design fnt en·ention ... 124
Philosophical Kaleidoscoping ................... 126
Mirror, Mirror .................................... ..... .. 127
The Concept of Cheating ....... ...... .... .. ... ... 127
The Same Beginning, A Different Ending 48
The Pace of Piecing ....... ..... ... ....... ..... .......... 48
How to Piece Itsy-Bitsy,
Teeny-Weeny Pieces ......... ... .... ..... .... ... .... 50
THE SAMPLE ........... .... .. ................ 128
RENAISSANCE .... .............. .......... 137
Pressing Issues .......................... ......... ... ...... . 52 The History of the Kaleidoscope ............ .. 138
Trimming Seams .......... .................... .......... 54 Kaleidoscopes 101 ........................ ...... ........ 138
How to Calculate the Width of a Strip ..... 54 The Brewster Society ... ....... .... ........... ... ... . 140
Hovv to Match Templates ...... ....... ..... ........ 54 Conversations with Kaleidoscope Friends .. 140
Fractured Patches ...... ....... .. ........................ 58
Back on Grain ..... ........ .... ........ ....... ....... .... .. 70
INDEX ........... ......... ......... ................. . 143
To Strip or Not t o Strip ..... .............. ....... .... 71
Is It a Circle or Isn' t It? ..... ...... ..................... 71
SOURCES .................. ............... .... ... 144
Redefining the Point Systen1 .. .. ........... ...... 73
The Final Scrutiny .......................... ......... .. 75
The Final Piecing Sequence ......... ... ... ........ 75
Joining Together .... .................. ..... .......... ... 77
Squaring Off the Corners ... ... .. .. .. ... .. .. ....... 79
The Quilt Sandwich .... .... ...... ..... ................ 83
Quilti ng ....... ..................... .... ..... ....... .......... 83
Signs and Labels ... ......... ... .... .............. ......... 85
Name That Quilt .... .. ........... .. .... ................. 86
Photography ...... ... ....... ....... ...... .................. 86
I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to
the following people:
My friends The Manhattan Quilters: Teresa
Barkley, Karen FeliCity Berkenfeld, Jeanne Lyons
Butler, Vikki Berman Chenette, Judy Doenias,
Susan B. Faeder, Yvonne K. C. Forman , Iri s
Gowen, Marilyn Henrion, Katherine Knauer,
Leslie Levison, Emiko Toda Loeb, Diana Goulston
Robinson, Carmel Ro th,
Diane Rode Schneck, Robin
Sch wa lb, Judy Speezak,
John S\viatek, and Margaret
Pohlman Zipkin, who give
me th e ben efit of their
enthusiasm, humor, snacks,
and joint genius.
Todd Hensley and all
the creative people at C&T
Publishing, for the respect
they gave t o my ideas. I
especially want to thank my
new friends Lee Jonsson and
Joyce Lytle, whose cross-
country, good-humored sup-
port and technical expertise
arrived in the nick of time.
Special thanks t o Irene Morris and Diane
Pedersen, who worked very hard t o capture
my design sensibility in the book's design. I also
wa nt t o remember Louise Townsend, whose
encouraging words and wonderful smile in the
midst of a frenetic Quilt Market aisle caused me
to finally launch this project.
Karen Bell and John Woodin, photographers
par excellence, for their keen focus.
Selim Benardete, Esther Zielinski, Lisa Hamm,
Kirsten Vogel, and David Lochner (Benartex, Inc.),
Fion a McKelvie (Libert y of London Prints
Limited) , Irwin Bear and Jen nifer Sampo u
(P & B Textiles), Nancy Crow (John Kaldor
Fabricmaker), Sandy Muckenthaler (Hoffman
California Fabrics), Mickey Lawler (Skydyes), Tina
Ruytil (Textil), Dorothy Brown (International
Fabric Collecti on), Lois Griffin (Sparklers) and
Peggy Schaefer (Omnigrid Inc. ) for donating
gorgeous goods and valuable products.
Cozy Baker, for sharing her kaleidoscope
collections and connecti ons
a l ong with invalu abl e
personal and profeSSional
support. Research for "The
Kaleidoscope Renaissance"
was derived solely froln
books by Cozy Baker.
Kaleidoscope makers
Charles Karadimos, Randy
and Shelly Knapp, Peggy
Burnside and Steve
Kitt els on , Adam Peiperl,
Kay Winkler, and Sue Ri oux
who willingly shared their
expertise and their slides.
My fri end s in The
Brewster Society, for their
enth usiastic acceptance of
my attempts to fabri cate kaleidoscopes, especially
Mary Lou Donarski, a kal eidoscope and quilt
enthusiast, who telephoned me on March 12, 1990,
after she saw my quilts in Quilter's® News letter
Maga zine, and gave me Cozy Baker's ph on e
Quiltmakers Bonnie McCaffery, Sue Spigel ,
Margaret Zipkin, Diana Go ulston Robinson ,
Margit Echols, Akiko Osugi, Noriko Ikegami , and
Noriko Noseki , for their generosity, and to Emiko
Toda Loeb, for connecting me t o her students,
reinforcing my noti on that I can al ways rely
on the kindness of quilters.
To friends and coll eagues in the quilt world:
Mary Leman Austin and Karen O' Dowd (QNM),
Vict ori a Faoro and Mary Lou Schwi nn (AQS),
Paul Pilgrim, Gerald Roy, Doreen Speckmann,
and Marty Bowne, for their acti ve interest and
Shelley Zegart and Velma Vaughan , for their
generous contribution of photography of antique
kaleidoscope quilts, and for underst anding the
dilemma of a deadline.
Catby Rasmussen , for ber courage, encour-
agement, and researcb skill s.
Tbe staff at Quilter's Passion in Manhattan,
NY, Se w Br ookl yn in Brookl yn , NY, and
Tbe Country Quilter in Somers, NY, for tbeir
friendsbip and support .
  Kaleidoscope interior by Bob and Sue Rioux
.... Kaleidoscope interior by Adam Peiperl
Tbe New York Foundati on fo r the Arts, who,
by awarding me an Artist 's Fellows bip in 1995,
did more to encourage n1.y faitb in my art tban
T can express.
My family, Ralpb and Clara Lym an , Mark
Lyman and Ginni e Salman , Sara and Harold
Taubin , A my Orr and Jobn Woodin, En and
Mark Nadelstern, Ruth and Neil Pariser, and
family fri end Rosie Steinberg, whose support
of my unusual choice of profession has always
been appreciated.
And special tbanks to the quiltmakers I met
in my classes who encouraged me t o write tbis
book. We \ovho have been touched by the cama-
raderi e of quiltmaking are tbe lucky ones.
I make my guilts on the same block in the Bronx where 1 grew up. The view from our ninth-fl oor
window is one of the rnost northern expos ures in New York City, showcasing acres of tree-filled
park and empty sky. My daughter Ariel is the third generation of my family to bve in this neigh-
borhood that prides itself on a sense of communi ty and cooperative spirit. She grew up with the
expectation that she might bump into either set of grandparents \vhen she \valked down the street.
In spite of these images evoking small -town America, J am a ew Yorker wrapped up in the fab-
ric of city life. [ sett led into full-time guiltmaki ng by way of the playground park bench. That's
where city mOIns on a hiatus from previous lives hang out and share ideas- like organizing quilt
novices into making a raffl e quilt for the local cooperati ve nursery school. One good quilt led to
another and another. By the time I gave up my place on that bench to a new generation of moms,
I had the expertise and repertoire for a comprehensive book on group quilts, and was stitching my
way toward a new career.
In 1987 my co-author and I (we met on a park bench) turned in the manuscript for QUILTING
TOGETHER: How to Orgalllze, Des'lJlI , and Make Croup Quilts, and in the celebratory moment of accom-
plishment, r resolved to stop smoking. Within a few days my head felt as if it were stuffed with a very
fat batt. I couldn't think or write, plan dinner or make a quilt, but- trooper that I was- I could
still go shopping. And that's when it happened: I was struck by a bolt of fabric.
At 36 inches wide and $16 per yard, buying a quarter yard of LibertyTM of London fabri c seemed
sinful. I literally circled it for over an hour. "Anywhichway'll be OK" surfaced through the haze
obscuring my thoughts. I think I knew the bilateral sYInmetry of the beautiful print had the poten-
ti al to reconnect into graceful kal eidoscopic designs. The results were fascinating, prompting lots of
those "what if" kinds of ideas that propel you along a creati\'e path (see KALEIDOSCOPIC I, page
12). I was encouraged to make more kaleidoscope guilts (over fifteen at this writing, teeming with
an eclecti c assortment of scopes) to buy more LibertyTM of London fabric and to explore the world
of actual kaleidoscopes for further inspiration.
Another factor played strongly in the development of my personal approach to design and tech-
nique. Historians have suggested that the block-style method of guiltmaking evolved in response
to the cramped quarters of early American life. My family's li ving arrangement in an urban envi-
ronment creates similar considerations that, unwittingly, I resolved in much the same way.
My workspace in our two-bedroom apartment is the forty-two-inch round kitchen table. My fas-
tidi ous husband shares the li ving room with the ironi ng board, and dinner shares the kitchen table
with a forty-five-year-old Singer Featherweight™. Fabrics find shelter everywhere: novelty fabrics
sleep under the bed; luxury imports reside in the li ving room wall unit; Ultras uede® scraps hide in
an elaborate Indian treasure chest on the window sill. A foolishly narrow closet next to the bed
hoards a hodge-podge of see-through boxes jumbled with fabric sorted by color, along with an arse-
nal of beads and threads. There's a file cabinet full of paperwork behind the door to Ariel's room,
and art suppbes are camoufl aged in the linen closet.
Clockwise from upper left: using the Singer Featherweight'" on the kitchen table; playing an the monkey
bars in the playground (holding KALEIDOSCOPIC V: The Turning Point) ; sitting on the steps in front of the
apartment building; view of the entire kitchen; hanging out in Van Cortlandt Park; sorting fabrics and
stuff on the bed. Background fabric is Liberty'" of London Red Ianthe.
A t the beginning of a sewing frenzy I pour this r eservoir of goodies onto the bed, sorting and
sifting and foll owing t angents until I uncover my palette. I haul my finds around the bend and
into the kitchen , where they collect in an unruly pile. I believe in the artisti c contribution of a
t angled mishmas h of cloth. The chance combinations that catch my eye res ult in unconventional
but intriguing relationships between textiles I might not have discovered on my own .
I think the reality oflimited space merged with my personality and passion for fabric in shaping
the directi on of my kaleidoscopic piecework, causing me t o rely on intri cat e detail and inherent
symmetry, and t o invent a shape that makes the most of limited space. My block-s tyle method is
based on a pie-slice sect or. Throughou t the design st age of a fabri c kaleidoscope I foc us on a single,
full-size tr iangle drawn on a long sheet of graph paper with an eight-to- the-inch grid. Since there
isn' t any long-distance viewing space, there are times when I don' t see the full impact of my quilt
until it is hanging on the p hotographer 's wall.
My ambiti on is t o integrate harmoni ously the idea of a kaleidoscope with the techniques
and materials of quiltmaking. Making kaleidoscopes is like making magic with fa bri c. There is an
element of abracadabra as the very last seam is stitched, because what you see in one single pieced
t riangular segment is not what you get in the multipli ed sum. The whole is greater than the sum
of its parts.
This is probably a good time to menti on that , although a quilt may end up seamed from many
thousands of pi eces, I don' t think there is inherent value in teensy slivers of fa bric and perfect
points. However, while I don ' t embrace techni cal ac hievement as a personal goal, I also don' t want
t echnical boo-boos t o detract from the visual impact. The tr uth is, I don't really sew very well.
When quiltmaking first piqued my fancy, no matter how hard I tried, my points never mat ched,
a crucial fabric inevitably lacked a critical amount , and on e edge of every quilt wiggled past its
significant other. In spite of these indigniti es, I couldn't wait to start another quilt . There is some-
thing optimistic about a palette of port able, colorful , t actile fabric that represses any unpleasant
memories left over from a previous project .
So, per haps you can underst and why I thought I was cheating when , over a period of time, a
sequence of uncommon techniques evolved which worked for me. Obviously, I was doing it this way
because I couldn' t do it the ri ght way-compensating, not innovating. When asked, I hesitated to
show my method t o anyone because I didn' t want t o defend my cheating ways. The image of the
quilt police who point their collecti ve, thimble-encrusted fingers at those of us who sometimes
color outside the lines can be demoralizing.
Has the quilt world, and its burgeoning industry, changed so much, or have n Here I am, eight
years and :it least one hundred kaleidoscopes beyond that first encounter with a kind fabric, flaunting
my Innovations. I alternate between feeling sorry for the individ ual who cannot see the quilt for the
technique, and being offended by her short-sighted view.
In this book I offer my inSights, not techniques that are fas ter, or better, or foolproof. Making a
kaleidoscope block can be tedious unl ess you enj oy the process. I love it because it allows me t o
merge control and spontan eity t o spark something unexpect ed. My points appear t o mat ch,
although oftentimes they don 't , and when it comes t o fabri c, just as I always suspect ed, more
is more!
Remember, I' ve been making this up as I go along. Now it's your turn. Take what you want.
Leave the rest . Until I met quilts I though t I was creati ve, bu t not talented. To find something you
love t o do is a gift. To achieve recognition for it is a miracle. When I am overwhelmed by a longing
for functional space complete with a door I can close, I try to remember this.
Two triangles  
  One triangle
  The complete kaleidoscope. Detail of KALEIDOSCOPIC XII: Up Close and Far Away.
Writing a book about my personal approach t o quiltmaking reminds me of the cartoon where
an obviously self-absorbed woman says to her companion : "Enough about me. Le t' s t alk about
you. Tell me, 'vvhat do you think about me?"
At the same time I offer my insights, I am aware of the egocentri c natu re of t bi s one-sided "iew.
This book is about my interes t in the structure of fabri cated kaleidoscopes. It foc uses on the
mechani cs involved in the intricate piecework as well as the challenge of findi ng relati onships
between fabri cs. The underlying ass umption of the format is that you are not making your first ,
or even your fourth, quilt. r don' t provide general quiltmaking instructi ons. Only techniques that
are unique to kaleidoscope quiltmaking are covered. The step-by-step directi ons explain how I
do things- by mac hine pi ecing, hand quilting, and making lots of templ at es. If you are a paper
piecing person , a rot ary cutting connoisseur, or adept at any of the many things I am not, please
adapt my strategies t o your personal way of doing things.
I've t aught this approach to over a thousand peopl e in workshops all over the count ry. I kn ow
where it gets inevitably tedi ous, where lengthy expl anati ons payoff, where a picture is wo rth the
proverbial thousand wo rds. At this point, more than one hundred kaleidoscopes beyond that first
t winkling of a good idea, design and technique are entwined in so integral a manner that separat-
ing them neatly for the sake of a bow- to disc ussion laced with cl arity seems almost impossible-
and definitely artificial. Yo u can' t have one without the other. But, in spite of my misgivings,
I intend t o do exactly that: t o isolat e these symbi oti c compani ons into first the prerequisite
how-t o skill s, and then the artistic element needed to create something aestheti cally satisfying.
I'll do this for you, the reader, if you promise to look at both sections before you begin.
In t he late 1980's the question put to quilt artists by t he media searchi ng for an angle was:
"Why quilts?" Within a few yea rs, in response to the fl ourishing quilt world, the questi on changed
to: "Why are so many peopl e making quilts?" I' ve always thought the relevant ques ti on was:
"Why are so many people making so many quilts?"
My goal here is not to answer the questi on, but to celebrate its impli cations. We're a phenomenon!
An awful lot of us have chosen quiltmaking. There is something in its materials and methods for
everyone. Together we create an array of unique personal responses, and a group response that
includes both common threads and di verse noti ons. The st ate of our art thri" es on the li vely
quality of variety.
I hope that within these pages my quilt persona speaks to yours. Browse through the color
phot os for inspiration or fo r amusement. And remernber, we came here in the first pl ace to have
agood time.
Here's a tip for those of us who seem to be wading in the shallow end of the compulsive gene
pool. A painless way to bestow a quilt with an air of competence and techni cal savvy is to use
the same tools consistently, from the beginning of a project to the end. It is important that the
meas uring devices used agree with each other. Otherwise, carefully meas ured pieces still might
not fit together. I've learned to rely on the following implements. They have become the tools of
my trade.
1. Graph paper with an eight-to-the-inch grid and a bold inch line (hereafter, ~   graph paper).
Make sure the lines are printed precisely on both sides of the page and meas urements are
consistent with your other tools. I buy pads of both 11" x 17" and 17" x 22".
2. Sheets of see-through plastic template material with an ~   grid and bold inch lines.
Usually these come in packages with four 8 ~   x lOW' sheets.
3. A thin ruler made of clear plastic with an accurate ~   grid and bold inch lines. I keep a 12" x 2"
and an 18" x 2" ruler close by .
• TECHNIQUE TIP On some rulers the ~   along one edge is narrower- by the barest of smidgens-
than t h e ~   on the parallel edge. These rul ers are designed to compensate for the width of a pencil
line along that edge. Check both sides of your ruler by aligning the ~   line along the edge to the
grid of the graph paper. Mark along the ruler's edge with a pencil and see if this line falls exactly
on the graph paper line or a little above it. Repeat along the ruler's other edge. If one of the ~  
delineati ons is wider than the other, make a mark on the ruler's narrow side as a reminder to use
t his edge conSistently.
For drafting I hke to use a thin ruler. Thicker ones made to be used with rotary cutters cast shadows
and don' t allow my pen or pencil to get really close to the ruler 's edge.
4. Well-sharpened pencils with ample erasers. Lines have not only length, but also width. When
you outline a shape, yo u incr ease its size by the width of yo ur marking. Rega rding
erasers, there is at least one virtue to the old-fashioned, attached kind-when you've found
your pencil , you know the eraser is not far behind.
5. A protractor with notations for both whole and half degrees. The bi gger the protractor,
the better-since the numbers and marks are easier t o read. It 's impor tant t o be able to
decipher and mark the half degrees easily. If pOSSible, collect two or even three protractors of
different sizes.
6. Fabric scissors.
7. Template/ paper scissors.
8. Set-up for rotary cutting, including a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat .
9. An extra-fine-point permanent marker. A marker should glide smoothly without stretching
the fabri c. I like the PILOT® Extra Fine Point Permanent Marker, SCA-UF, because it leaves a thin
but visible line. I don ' t want to waste time searching for a line once it's drawn or increase the size
of a patch by the width of a plump line.
Smearing is inevitabl e with any pen that is brand n ew and dragged along a rul er. Rulers
intended for drafting often compensate for smudging with an elevated bottom surface that
doesn't extend completely to the edges of the ruler. These rulers aren't the see-through variety.
If smudging bothers you, glue something (like pennies or thick sandpaper) to the bottom of
the ruler. Or, sometimes it helps if you wait a beat after marking a line before removing the ruler.
10. Sewing machine with a well-defined X" seam all owance guide. On some machines the edge
of the presser foot is exactl y X" from the needle. Others, like my aging yet ever-faithful Singer
Featherweight" ', have a X" mark et ched on the throat plat e. Still others come with a magnetic
or screw-on accessory t o indicate sewing lines.
If your machine has no markings at all , make your own with a piece of masking tape on the
throat plate. Meas ure from the needle using the same ruler or graph-pap .r grid you' ll be using
to draft the deSign. Check it a few hundred times. This is important. Compulsiveness now will
res ult in well -behaved patches later.
.... Tools of the trade
A kaleidoscope-shaped design functions like a circle. In Diagram 1, triangular shaped wedges
radiate from the centers of each circle. When fitted together, the sections-no Inatter how many
there are-form a circle .
.& 1 Triangular-shaped wedges radiate from the centers of two circles.
A circle always consists of 360 degrees. Thi s geometri c tidbit is the key ingredi ent in the recipe
for piecing wel l-beha\'ed eight-pointed stars and hexagonal designs. Think of the circle as a pie,
and the sections as pieces-of-the-pie This means that when any circl e is di \'ided into sections, the
nUInber of degrees in the angles that meet in the middle must equal 360.
Now that we'\'e established this uni\'ersall y accepted axiom, we can decide how many sections
to di\'ide our 360 degrees into. This decision is partially up t o your designing druthers and is
addressed from that point of \'iew on page 107. Since our quiltmaking legacy includes many ewnl y
divided sLx-sided hexagonal and eight-sided octagonal designs, that's probably a good place to start.
For a design with eight equal secti ons, di\'ide 360° by eight. The answer, 45°, is the angle that
must be at the apex, or tip- top, of each and eve ry triangle (2A). [n other words, the kaleidoscope
is cr eated from eight 45° triangl es that meet in the middle of the bl ock (2B). Another design
alternati\'e is to di\'ide the kal eidoscope into six equal triangles. In thi s case, di\'ide 360
by six. The
ans\\'er, 60°, tell s us that in order t o make a six-sided hexagonal design, each of the triangl es must
be exactl y 60° (3A, 3B) .
.& 2A 45° triangle .& 2B Kaleidoscope block created
from eight 45° triangles
.& 3A 60° triangle
.& 3B Kaleidoscope block created
from six 60° triangles
What happens if your attention is di verted fro m the drafting t ask by ringing phones, wafting
smells, or unrelenting famil y members? After all , life makes its demands, and we all make mistakes. You
might end up with a triangle that turns out to be, let 's say, 61 °. Considering I am usuall y not \'ery
persnickety, why should one itty-bitty degree be \'iewed as such an enormous t roublemaker? When
a 60° triangle is next t o one with 61 °, it is hard to see the difference. rs this a case of rampant
fastidiousness usurping the design process?
The point is, we' re not creating just one triangle. [n a hexagonal kaleidoscope, the design calls
for SLX identical triangles. The error is compounded six times by the inherent symmetrical structure of
a kaleidoscopi c shape. One extra degree attaches to each of the six triangles. In the case of a 61 °
triangle, 6 x 61 = ( uh-oh) 366. When the six tri angles meet in the middle, there will be six extra
degrees \'ying for a place in the pie. Count off six degrees on a protractor and you' ll have concrete
evidence of the extra bulk that's just biding its time, waiting t o combine into a dreaded bulge.
That seemingly innocuous single degree turns out to be an apocal yptic warning of impending
patchwork doom!
Take the time, acquire the tools, and learn the skills for drafting a trustworthy angle. It will
become the blueprint you rely on during the entire design process, whi ch, in my case, can be a
couple of days or a couple of months. Once I\'e draft ed an angle, I place my confidence in its
acc uracy, inhibit the \'oice of that fussbudget within who demands, "If you don ' t have time to do
it right the first time, blah, blah, blah," and release the spirit that yearns to search through beckoning
heaps of fabri c shouting: Free at last! More 15 MOR£!
The foll owing disc ussion foc uses on drafting the 45° angle needed for an eight-sided kaleido-
scope. The technique is the same for drafting an angle of any size.
Diagram 4 shows a sheet graph paper with a ri ght angle in the upper left hand, formed by
tracing two perpendi cular bold inch lines. In Diagram 5, a line drawn through dots marked at the
intersections of the bold inch lines divides the right angle down the center into two equal parts.
A right angle always consi sts of90 degrees. Therefore, with very little fuss, J draft ed a 45° tri angle.
Well , actually, two of them.
. .
+ t-+
. +--+: +-+
" + . .

f+ i-H+

. + -"-+
+ 1-

. + . +
.+ .+
I. I .+
... 4 Right-angle corner

H±1±t± I+-' tttt·

t: •
f++. ++ 1+++· .
t-., + fn.+··· H- t- . + ..
r+ ... ! t
.. 'r
+ +
tt .j--!
... 5 Right angle evenly divided into two 45°angles
Take a look at the shape. What appears as a 45° tri angle is really useless for my purposes beca use
it is awkward t o work in such an askew format . l may nuke guilts on the kitchen table, but that
doesn' t mean I don't have standards.
I want my 45° triangle to be the epitome of a pi cture book tri angle, the kind they invite onto
"Sesame Street"'." r want it smac k in the middle of the graph paper, lined up t o the grid with an
obvious top, bottom, left , and right, easy t o reach and easy t o read (6). Pretty soon 1 intend to be up
t o my elbows in sCintillating fabric. At a glance, I want to know where r am in my design, and
where the design is in its space.
To this end, I use the grid of the graph paper t o ori ent me. Mark the words top, left , and right
on the graph paper along its corresponding edges (7) . Establish which of the bold verti cal lines
seems to be the center of the graph paper. This line will be the center axis of your design. In
geometri c terms it is designated the axis of refl ection or the axis of symmet ry. In Diagram 7 the
center axis is marked for you to refer t o in the following discussion. Do not mark the center axis
on your graph paper! Every line inside the tri angular shape represents a sewing line. By marking
this line, you risk interpreting the center axis as a seam later on.
45°triangle lined up with
grid of graph paper
.... 7
  The center axis of the
graph paper
Toward the top of the page, locate a point where a bold inch line intersects the center axis
(7, Point C). Thi s will be the center reference point for lining up the protract or. It will also become
the apex of the tri angle.
A protrac tor has three reference marks that must line up acc urately with the graph paper (8).
A. The as (zeros) on each side of the
B. The center reference mark along
the middle of the straight edge of
the protrac tor.
C. The 90° mark at the center of the
semi -circle.
... 8 Protractor
Place the prot ract or so the zeros are aligned with a bold inch line of graph pape r. The center
reference point and 90° mark line up with the center axis (9). Use as many cues as possibl e t o
ensure precision.
Here's the plan . Instead of counting off the entire angle at once, divide those important 45° in
half (22 Yz0), and meas ure half of the 45° to the left of the center axis and the other half to the
right. Find Point A in Diagram 9. This is the point where the center axis meets the 90° mark along
the circ ular edge of the protract or. Count off 22Yz° t o the left of Point A and make a visible, but
exquisitely delicate, pencil point right there (Point L). Next, go back t o Point A, count off 22 Yz° t o
the right , and mark it with an equall y dainty dot (Point R). With a heavy dot , it's hard to be precise
when you aim fo r its center. (For a 60° angle, count 30° t o the left and 30° to the ri ght.)
+ ~
+- +-
t- +- +-
... 9 Aligning the protractor to the graph paper grid
+ +-
... 10 The resulting dots from
multiple protractors
The next logical step is to remove the protrac tor and, with a very sharp pencil and straight
edge, make a line connecting Point C and Point L and a second line connecting Point C and Point R.
Before you do this, I'd like you to consider something.
A line is really a series of points. The more points that connect to make a line, the more acc urate the
line. In this case, there are two points t o connect. If you are making a fairly short line, maybe three
or five inches, I'm sure it will be acc urate. But what if you base a very long line on the strength of
those two puny points? The line gets off t o an auspicious st art by zipping straight through only
two points. Pretty soon , there's nothing for the line to aim toward. Even the best intenti oned
r uler can inadvertently go as tray under these circumstances.
Aft er lots of tri al and error, with the emphasis on error, I fi gured out one alternati ve was t o
make as many points as pOSSible. In order t o achieve an abundance of dots, I use many p rotrac t ors
of different sizes in a single project , lining each one up as illustrated in Diagram 9. Use each
protrac tor t o mark 22 Yz° to the left and 22Yz° to the right of the center axis. Voil a! Lots of dots!
Beca use the protract ors are different sizes, the res ulting dots vary in distance from Point C even
though they measure the identical angle (10). Please note that these dots will not necessarily coincide
with the paper's grid lines.
3 7
During the time it takes t o design and pi ece th e kal eidoscope, I' m onl y going to see a single full -
size triangle drawn on a long sheet of Ys " graph paper. Unl ess a quilt needs to be a certain size,
I won' t decide in ad\'ance how bi g the compl eted triangle \Vii I be. rlliet serendipity and rny pal ette
of fabric guide the e\'olving design.
The size of the compl eted kaleidoscope bl ock is twi ce the size of a single pi ece-of-pie. For
exampl e, if the pi ece-of- pi e meas ures 5   the bl ock \yill be twice that size, or 11". The final shape
of an eigh t-sided kaleidoscope is a square (l I A). Fou r 45
tri angles pi eced t o eyer)' oth er
tri angle turn the oct agon into a square, A six-s ided kaleidoscope bl ock is a rectangle. The fo ur
tri angles needed t o create ri ght angles in the co rners meas ure 30
( liB) .
... 11 A The final shape of an eight-sided ... 11 B The final shape of a six-sided
kaleidoscope is a square. kaleidoscope is a rectangle.
As simpli sti c as it sounds, hi gh up on my li st of obj ecti ves is the desire to create a design that
se\\'s together successfull y. r rely on a deyelopmental approach, all owing the patches to eyoh 'e
graduall y into secti ons, combining secti ons t ogether into bigger and bi gge r di \' isions until it all fit s
together like a puzzle . . . a puzzle defined by t\\ O limitati ons: con forrning to the shape set by the
deSignated angle and confining the design to onl y strai ght lines. These lines do not ha\'e to follo\\'
the grid of the graph paper ( 12) .
.. ...    
.... ,.. .-.- ..
11 .• . I r
j'J.;c. •. --r-[
-'-".--- ....
, _
... 12 A single wedge divided by straight lines
These criteri a are based on rny prefe rence to ne\'er, eyer haye to piece my way out of a comer,
aptly defined by Webste r's as "an awkward positi on frorn whi ch escape is di fficuIt. " As the design
p rogresses into an increasingly n'lore compl ex map of sewing lines , I continuall y stay focused on
ho\\' to di\'ide the wedge into secti ons that can be sewn t ogether using onl y straight seams.
There are infi nite \'ari ati ons in applying these principl es, Ka leidoscope bl ocks \'ar)' in cOITl plexity and
t ake \'a ri ous fo rms, It isn't as if I stare at the ern pty graph pape r diagram and arbit rarily split it into
subdi\'isions, Organizing the wedge into segrnents keeps pace with the design process, whi ch dominates
the decisions and is guided by fabric choices, In fac t, the design sequence may not be the sa me as
the pi ecing sequence ( 13), Oft en I design a secti on and then rea li ze it can' t be pieced until later,
aft er an adjacent secti on is fini shed, I usuall y \\'ait until all the secti ons are cornplete before J piece
them t ogether into the piece-of-pi e.
Piecing Sequence
ci > B
Cr- > Bcl
FI > E
Fr > EFI
Piecing Sequence
BI - > A
Br > C
Piecing Sequence
BI > ci
DI > Bici
EI > BlclDI
Repeat for
other side
... 13 Organize the wedge into segments. The design sequence is often different from the piecing sequence.
I prefer not to do a fabri c mockup. My standard, glib explanati on is that if I knew what it was
going to look like, I wouldn't want to do it. Remember, making kaleidoscopic designs satisfies
my urge to be the one who makes the magic and the one who feels the surprise. You should do
what works best for you. J tend to get absorbed in the act of designing until I'm just about to lose
track of the proverbial thread binding my decisi ons together. That's when 1 stop to catch my
breath, vi sit the fridge, and transfer every decision to the graph paper diagram.
Starting the design at the top of the triangle, I begin to invent a piecing sequence that fills the
body of the triangle. The only rule defining this task is to stay Inside the lines fo rmed by the angle at the
top of the triangle. This governing principle will be interpreted through my palette of fabri c. Here's
where r balance my confidence in the angle's accuracy with my respect for the fabri c and my
childish desire to have it all. .. now! An animated back-and-forth exchange develops between the
fabric and the graph paper blueprint. The mediator facilitating this collaborative effort- both
the peacemaker and the pi ecemaker- is the templ ate technique.
Along with ensuring an accurate angle, the full-size "piece-of-the-pie" on J" graph paper serves
as a blueprint for making clear plastic templates. No matter how complex a shape is, the tech-
nique for making a template is always the same. To demonstrate how to make a template, let's say
the first patch will be 3G" . (This is just an arbitrary measurement to get us started. Usuall y the
patch is shaped by a fabri c's motif. )
Mark every decision on the graph paper diagram in pencil so it can be erased when you get an
e\'en better idea- or make a n1.istake. Every pencil line represents a sewing line. That is why I did
not want to mark the bold vertical line that functi ons as the center axis illustrated in Diagram 7
(page 36). I didn 't want to risk interpreting it as a sewing line.
Starting at the t op of the triangle, count down three bold inch lines and two ~   lines. Use a
ruler to draw a pencil line across the grid at this point ( 14A). Use the grid t o meas ure \vhenever
possible; it is quicker than lining up a ruler. One of the most sati sfying features of the ~   grid is
that y,j " and ~   dimensions are easily measured. This allows us to be precise and quick when
generating a design brimming with intricacy .
.... 14A Using a ruler and
pencil , draw a line
across the triangle
/."' from the top
of the triangle.
.... 14B place a sheet of transparent
template material over the
patch marked on the graph
paper, aligning a bold inch
line on the template material
with the center axis.
.... 14C Trace the triangle precisely
onto the template material
with the permanent marker,
marking as thin a line as
The plan is to trace the shape of the patch onto the template material using a see-through ruler
and permanent marker. Place a sheet of transparent template material over the 3 y,j" patch marked
on the graph paper, aligning a bold inch line on the template material with the center axis ( 14B).
Keeping in mind the guiding principle for placement- Thou shalt not waste template material - make
sure there's enough space on all three sides t o add X" for seam allowance.
Trace the tri angle precisely onto the template material, marking as thin a line as possible ( 14C).
Remember, every line has width and length. You don ' t want to increase the width of the template
with a corpulent outline. This template will be used t o cut eight identical patches for the kaleido-
scope. If you inadvertently fatten it up now, the bl ock will be burdened with the extra baggage
times eight.
ext, immediately add ~   seam all owance on all th ree sides using t he see- t hrough ruler. Align
the W' rul er delineati on with the edge of the template line and zip a line along the ruler (IS).
In other words, on a ruler \\·ith an Ys " grid, two Ii nes will equal X". Pl ace the ru ler so mos t of i t li es
on the teInpl ate and W extends pas t the edge .
... 15 Align the 1/." ruler delineation with the edge of the template line and
mark a line along the ruler.
Noti ce how the seam allowance at the top of the template extends into a point way beyond a
true X" ( 16A). Imagine the bulky impac t when eight of these oversized angles rneet in the middl e.
Be mercil ess. Nip that bulk before it gets a chance t o bud. Use a rul er to cut it down to X" (16B).
16A ~
The seam allowance at the top
of the template extends into
a point bigger than 1/. " .
<Oil 16B
Trim the seam allowance
at the top of the triangle to 1/.".
• TECHN IQUE TIP For patches that are centered along the axis, it is important to make a templ ate
that matches the bold lines of the template grid to the corresponding grid of the graph paper. This
simpl e strat agem encour ages an acc urate mir ror-imaged, left/ri ght ori entati on . For patches that
are not positi oned along the center axis, matching the template grid to the grid of the graph is not
17A ~
Template A is an example
of a well-behaved template
with a bold line sitting smack
in the exact center.
<Oil 17B
Because the bold line in Template B
is set off-center, it forfeits its stature
as a valuable aid in the quest for
Using transparent material and marking the seam all owance lines creates a tern pl ate that functi ons
li ke a window. It allows you to identi fy the area that will be \'isible in the pat ch and, particul arl y
relevant t o this con figurati on, you can check out what part of the fa bri c bumps into the seamline.
Herein lies the essence of a pi eced kaleidoscope. The porti on of fabric that winds up along the
seamlines connects to its mi rror image. Seamlines will di sappear, intricacy \\"ill reign, and we will
get credit fo r the magic that happens when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
The top of the triangle, or apex, will e\'entually take its position in the design's important center. In
a radial design , such as a kaJeidoscope block, the eye is drawn first into the middle. Therefore, the
fa bric chosen for the first patch ass umes a major role, seducing the viewer into the visuall y exciting
focal point, enti cing her t o st ay for a second look, setting the mood for the scope t o come.
To ensure the illusion of graceful continuity in the center, look fo r a cotton-like border print
with perfect bil ateral syrnmetry (see "Our Fabri cs, Our Palettes" on page 95). In other words, find
a rnotif printed on the fabri c that can be di vided into identical halves by a line passing through the
center. Give a fa bri c printed with the capacity t o refl ect itselfin a perfec t mirror image the chance
t o strut its stu ff. There will be lots of chances to pl ay with asymmetrical fabric later in the scope.
To decide .whether a fabri c is design-worthy for this pi votal positi on , check for two important
criteria. First, it must have a suffi cient number of repeats t o cut an identi cal patch fo r each piece-
of-the-pie. Second, to promote stability when all the triangles meet in the middle, this first triangle
must be cu t on a straigh t grain offabri c. In other words, the center axis of the tri angle must line
up with either the lengthwise or the crosswise grain of the goods ( 18). If you fa ll in love with an
exqui site paisley that loops along the diagonal, set it aside for no\v.
D C>
To promote stability when all the
triangles meet in the middle, the first
triangle must be cut on a straight
grain of fabri c.
Pl ace the window- like template on the front of the fabri c, aligning the center line of the tern-
plate with the implied center of a motif. Move it up, mO\Oe it down , turn it upside down . Varying
the template'S placement e\Oen slioghtl y alters the fin al kaleidoscopi c effect (see "The Nitty Gritty
of the Very First Patch" on page 110).
When you've decided where t o positi on the template, hold it in place and trace a few lines of
the selected moti f onto the template with the permanent marker. Trace some of these "clues" or
"hints" within the body of the template, making sure se\Oeral clues spill across the seamlines into
the seam all owance. This will facilitate acc uracy at the seams (l9A).
Trace a few lines of the selected motif
from the fabric onto the template with
the permanent marker.
Use these clues t o superi mpose t he template ide nti call y m-er corresponding moti fs when
they occur again on the fabri c. Once the t emplate is appropri ately placed, trace it on the fro nt
of the fabric with the permanent marker. Repeat this process as many t imes as necessary ( 19B).
Cut acc urately, aiming down the center of the marked line. Panel 20 re\-ea ls the "holey" quality of
much of my st as h.
<4 19B
the template identically over
corresponding motifs on the
fabri c and trace it with the
permanent marker.
<4 20
A state of hole-iness
The purists among us are probably asking: "Why on the front?" My answer is: "Why not ?" After
all , I want t o be abl e to see the fabric cl earl y in order to recogni ze identi ca l segments. Also, I'm
using a permanent marker that won ' t bl eed t o mark a cutting line that \\·i11 be cut off.
The only time I don ' t rnark on the fro nt is wben I can 't see \\·hat I'm doing. For exan1.pl e, if the
fa bri c is printed \\'itb lines that are indistingui shable from ones made by my marker, I'll check to
see if the print is recogni zabl e from its wrong side. ( In this case, if I am markin g a nonre\'ersibl e
templ ate on the wrong side of the fabri c, I ha\'e to flip tbe templ ate ove r; two wrongs make a
right). My first choice is always t o use tbe thin , permanent line of the marker. Sometimes on a
dark fabri c J use a chalk pencil tbat fits in an electri c pencil sharpener.
Altbough the apex of the first patch is predestined by the 45
angle, the contour of its bottom
boundary is a design choice. It does not have to be a hori zontal line molding the shape into a
triangle. Diagram 21 illustrates a few options. Le t the fabric shape its own destiny.
<4 21
Options for the shape of the
first patch
For exa mpl e, look at the tri angle of fabric and its corresponding template (A) in Pane l 22.
Perhaps lopping off the extraneous stuffin the triangle's corners \\'ill hi gh li gh t the tea rdrop shape
of the fabri c's mo tif. Exactl y \yhe re to trim the triangle is a decisi on easily tail o red t o the fabric.
Place the template on the patch (B). Looking through the transpare nt template, focus on \yhat
po rti o n of the design to keep yersus \\hat is immate rial. Let the grid lines on th e template guide
the placernent of a cutting line. It will be easier to read and use as an effecti\'e measuring tool if
lines begin and end at the intersecti on of grid lines rather than between them.
Note \\·here your choice coincides \\'ith a point on the template grid. lext, line up a straight
edge \yith this point and use it to extend an imaginary line t o\\'ard a second pote nti al grid point.
This giyes you a chance to expe riment Yi sually and sun'ey alternati\'es for outlining the patch of
fabric. In this case, I decided to make the line close to the turquoise contour, eliminating as much
of the dark blue circle as possible. Mark the two points on the template and dra\\' a line from point
to point (C). Add X" . ea m allowance and cut (0). Use the revised template to res hape the patch of
fabric (E).
The next imperati\'e step is to transfer this line onto the graph paper blueprint. Use the template'S
grid to meas ure the positi on of the points. Starting from the top of the triangl e, one point is 2%"
down , on the bo rder line of the triangl e. Mark thi s spot on the graph paper diagram. The second
dot coincides \\'ith the intersecti on of the central axis and the bottom edge. Dra\\' a line from point
t o point ( F) .
Because the pattern on one side of the center axis is the rnirror image of the pattern on the
o the r side, this center line is also called an axis of refl ection o r symmetry. The pattern can be
superimposed on itselfby flipping it mu. This insight a11o\\'s me to draw lines onl y in one half of
the graph pape r triangle and know that these lines \\'ill be identical on the other side (F). The
pieces-of- the- pi e will repli cate more acc urately if onl y one set oflin es is used for each adjustment.
Flipping the template O\'er, instead of creating a second template, \yill ensure the line stays fixed .
• TECHNIQUE TIP I kno\\' it isn' t easy for quilters \\'h o aren't used to drafting patterns on graph
paper t o adopt this strategy. Bu t it is exactly the step of rnarking e\'ery se\\'ing line on the diagram
that res ults in a design plan that explains the parts and their relationships. [fyou gi\'e it a chance,
you will learn t o appreciate the diagram.
J mark sewing lines on the left side of the diag ram (probably beca use I am a lefty). By being
consistent, r can assume e\'ery template is correctly aligned to a left-sided patch and must be flipped
o\'er and used \\'rong side up to create a rnirro r-imaged patch on the right side. You should do
\\·hat feels comfortable for \·ou.
c D
.... 22 Trimming the triangle to fit the fabric motif
A. A triangle of fabric and its corresponding template.
B. place the template on the patch. Align a straight edge with the selected point and extend it toward a second
potential grid point.
e. Draw a line connecting the points on the template which correspond to your choices for the patch's outline.
D. Add ,/." seam allowance and cut the re-defined template.
E. Use the revised template to reshape the patch of fabric.
F. Transfer this line onto the graph paper blueprint.
Let the first patch inspire the second. My tendency is to camouflage seams through fabric
manipulation, to encourage an uninterrupted flow of design or color from one patch to the next.
Consider this design scenario: What ifI select a portion of the fabric used for Patch 1 (A) and use
it again in Patch 2, creating a connection bet\veen the two that seems to reflect the tear-shaped
motif back on itself? Confused? Don' t be! There is a picture worthy of the proverbial thousand
words in Panel 23 (r). The next couple of paragraphs explain how to create this special effect.
Let the grid of the template plastic sen·e as a ruler. Place the template on its patch-mate (B).
Looking through the transparent plastic, select the portion of the motif you want to include
in Patch 2. Orient yourself to the details. Do you want to include all of the purple motif, just a
fragment, or none of it? Do you want to end at 2" or ~   or somewhere in between? As soon as you
make a decision, transfer it to the graph paper diagram. Remember, the best way to define a patd1
is by chOOSing points along grid line intersections.
I decided to end the patch in a tip at Point Y, capturing the turquoise contour only. I figured out
the coordinates of this point by counting grid lines along the center axis, starting at Point X, the
intersection of the seamline and the center axis. The result, two bold inch lines and four eighth
lines, or 2 Yz", was transferred to the graph paper diagram (C).
Next, I focused on how to shape the patch along the horizontal connecting seamline. Since the
goal was to mirror image the turquoise pear shape, it seemed logical to pinpoint Point Z at the
little periwinkle flower. Counting from Point X, this point measured 1   to the left of the center
axis. After marking the appropriate point on the diagram, I used a ruler to draw lines connecting
Points Y and Points Z (D).
Once Patch 2 was outlined on the diagram, I made a template for it by traCing the shape onto
template material, aligning grid to grid. Next, I added y,;" seam allowance to every side by the
method described in Panel 15, and cut (E) .
The goal is for the pattern in Patch 1 to match the motif in Patch 2 exactly. This is remarkably
easy to arrange. Line up Template 2 with Template 1, right sides together matching sewing lines
and center (L'(es (F). Trace hints from Template 1 onto Template 2, using the permanent marker (G).
Use the cues on Template 2 to find the corresponding motif on the fabric (H). Once the template is
appropriately placed, trace it as many times as necessary on the front of the fabric with the permanent
marker. This method ensures the two fabrics are accurately aligned when machine-pieced
together, because the all -important seam allowance is built into the constr uction technique (I).
c D
... 23 Filling Template 2 with the mirror image of Patch 1
A. The patch and its corresponding template
B. Place the template on its patch-mate.
C. Transfer design decisions to the graph paper diagram.
D. Use a straight edge to draw a line connecting the chosen points.
E. Once Patch 2 is outlined on the diagram, make a template for it by tracing the shape onto template material ,
aligning grid to grid. Add '/4 " seam allowance to every side
F. place the two templates right sides together, as if sewing them together, matching the bold center axes and
sewing lines.
G. Trace hints from Template 1 onto Template 2, using the permanent marker.
H. Use the cues on Template 2 to find the corresponding motif on the fabric.
I. The result: an accurately aligned connection between two patches that appears to reflect the tear-shaped motif.
What if, instead of filling Templ ate 2 with the mirror image of Pat ch 1, I want to create the
illusion that the two pat ches aren ' t inter r upted by a seam, as if the design spills across the seamline
and resumes the natural fl ow of the pattern (A)? Thi s idea is explored in Panel 24.
Let 's use the shape created in the previous disc ussion to ·work out the cons tructi on strategy fo r
this alternate design (B). The key t o success is provided by the following unusual way to line up
Templat e 2 to Template 1: overlap the bottom searn all owance of Templ ate 1 onto the t op seam
all owance of Template 2 (C). Match up the bold center axes and the sewing lines. Trace hints
marked in the seam all owance of Templ ate 1 where they land on 2 (D) . If there aren 't enough
cues t o ensure acc uracy, pl ace Template 1 back on its fabric counterpart and add some more hints
in the seam all owance.
Place Templ ate 2 on the fabri c and find its cor responding positi on. The easiest way to conduct
this search is t o first find the spot for Template 1. Keep it there. Line up Template 2 to 1 (E). Trace
clues from the fabri c onto 2 (F). Copy enough hints t o make identifying repeats a cinch (G).
Again, t wo fabri cs are ass u red acc urat e ali gnment 'vvhen stitched t ogether usilg a sewing
mac hine because the templat e technique includes the all-important seam all owance.
Design a little, piece a little, design a littl e rnore. Sew identical units at the same time, using
an assembly line approach. Whatever J do for one piece-of- the-pi e, I do simultaneously t o all of
its mates. By the time the end is in sight, the six or eight t riangles are at identi cal stages of
compl etion.
... 24 Creating the illusion that the two patches aren' t interrupted by a seam
A. The final version.
B. The shape and its corresponding template.
C. Overlap the bottom seam all owance of Template 1 onto the top seam allowance of Template 2, matching the bold
center axes and the stitching lines.
D. Trace hints marked in the seam allowance of Template 1 where they land on 2.
E. place Template 2 on the fabric and find its correlating position.
F. Trace clues from the fabric onto Template 2.
G. The result.
Designing a kaleidoscope bl ock is basicall y \' isual invention. There is no "correct" way t o
continue the piece-in-progress. Thi s time, brains torming led t o surr unding Pat ch 2 'vvith a
reddi sh-purpl e outline. I guessed that this would show off the elegant tear-s haped motif and
create a chain linking the purple "vees" from a single wedge into a st ar. The color purple influ-
enced simil ar colors in the design t o dance fo rward and be highlighted. A sharp demarcati on
between the background colors of Patches 2 and 3 accentuated the impression of an outline*. An
all -over print that read li ke a solid was my fa bri c of choice. That was in keeping with my modus
operandi : slip a fo rgi\'ing textile next t o a fussy one whene\'er possible.
(*Although I'm supposed to be demonstrating technique, I can 't resist purs uing the design
tangent left dangling in the previous paragraph . Try to imagine the alternate effect of a subtle
shi ft in color. Fabrics that evoke a sense of shading translate the translucent nature of a scope's
interi or on a quilt's fl at surface. For example, a fabri c fl avo red with a moody version oEPat ch 2 will
cast a shadow around the silhouette, conveying qualities of depth and dimension (25) .)
... 25 The effect of a subtle shift in color between Patch 2 and the fabric used to create its outline
The first step is to draft the shape of an ou tline on the graph paper diagram. Our legacy of
quilting traditions hands down the noti on that an outline must be uniforn1.ly even . But a peek
into a real kaleidoscope reveals lines capable of infinite variety. Irregular ones suggest spontaneity,
randomness, and transience.
I used existing points t o begin and end an outline that narrows as it moves from top t o bottom.
There is a small but significant di fference between Diagram 26A and 26B. In 26A the new line
comes to the same point as the bottom tip of Templat e 2. In 26B it ends \li" to the left (and the
righ t) of that point, along the same horizontal graph line. Both diagrams create the effect of an au tLne.
But in Diagram 26A at least three patches and their seam allowances converge in the same spot.
The new line ends
in a point .
.... 26B
The new line ends
'/s" to the left and to
the right of the point
along the same
horizontal graph
This construction scenario is a t ad bulky for my t as te. I t ry t o avoid a multitude of seams.
Whenever I see three or more fabrics about to crash into the same destination, I reroute the drafting
lines to avoid a collision . Of course, there are times when this kind of det our isn ' t possible or
desirable. There are also times when rethinking the design because of these considerations makes
it even better.
By choosing the outline that ends \li " t o each side of the point, I' ve narrowed the opti ons for the
fi nal piecing sequence. The only practical conclusion for the version in Diagram 26B is a horizontal line
6 W' from the top of the piece-of-pie (27B). On the other hand, the pointy design ill ustra ted in
Diagram 26A is open t o more than one sewing st rategy. The same horizontal line is one possibility.
Extending the margins of the ou tline is another (27 A).
27A   .... 27B
Options for the final piecing sequence
DO NOT make a separate template for Patch 3. Instead, follO\v these steps (28).
STEP 1: Make a template that includes Patch 2 and Patch 3. Add y,j" seam allowance and cut .
Extend lines that represent sewing lines all the way to the outside edge of the seam allowance.
Place this new TeIl1plate (2+3) on top of TeIl1plate 2, aligning the bold center lines. Trace hints
from 2 in the analogous position on Template (2+3).
STEP 2: Use a rotary cutter t o slice a long strip of the reddish-purple outline fabric. How t o
estimate the required width of the strip is discussed in the next secti on .
STEP 3: Machine pi ece one side of each Patch 2 t o the reddish-purple strip. Press.
STEP 4: Place Template (2+3) on the strip-pieced unit. First, match the hints drawn on the template
with corresponding motifs in Patch 2. Next, adj ust the sewing line drawn on the template so it fits
directly on the seam between the t\VO fabrics. Holding the template firml y in place, mark around
it with a visible, precise line. Cut accurately, aiming the scissors down the middl e of the marked
STEP 5: Repeat Steps 2 through 4 on the other side.
Voila! An accurately pieced unit, complete with seam allowance and ready for a new assignment.
Treat the result as a unit of fabric that was born that way. Doesn' t it look as if tiny patches were
meticulously cut and perfectly pieced together?
• TECHNIQUE TIP In the above scenario, consider Patch 2 the "dri ver," since being in the driver's
seat connotes the positi on of control. When placing the template on the fabric, the most impor-
tant areas of alignment are the fussy fabrics that must appear to be meticulously identical. I call
these t emperamental prints the "prima donna" fabrics. If you have t o fudge a bit when aligning
templa tes t o fabric- and you probably will at some point- nuke amends via al truistic, laid-back,
all -over prints.
Balance the usual rules guiding pressing patchwork with a pinch of logic and an eye t oward
future quilting. Eliminate as many layers of fabric that congregate at one point as you can .
Press seams cl osed to one side. Whenever possible, press the seam toward the darker fabric, unless
you are dealing with really tiny pieces. In this case, press t oward the bigger patch. (If the W seam
allowance is bigger than some portion of its patch, you're looking at troubl e come piecing time.
This bulk will bump into the sewing machine's searn guide, causing it to slide off its straight-
forward path. )
• TECHNIQUE TIP When I take the time t o press after every sewing step, the inevitabl e multitude
of seams behaves compatibly, adjusting unsightly bulges into a smooth, even surface. If an iron is
inaccessible, there is always finger pressing.
... 28 Piecing itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny pieces
No matter how teeny-weeny a patch may be, it is al ways surrounded by an entourage of full -
sized sean, all owances. Adding on patches via strip-piecing can create an excessive bundle of bulk.
Use common sense. Trim away just enough t o tidy up. This makes it easier t o piece the patch t o
adj acent ones. But don't get carried away-a skimpy amount of material sets the stage for a fat e
worse than bulk.
Use the templ ate to calcul ate how wide to rot ary cut astrip.
Place a transparent rul er on the templ ate, ali gning the y,;"
demarcati on Cis" in from the ruler's edge) with the sewing line.
In other words, y,; " of the ruler is on one side of the sewing line
(representing the addition of this amount for seam allowance), and
the rest of the rul er li es on the porti on of templ ate that represents
the piece to be added on.
Read the ruler t o see what measurement coincides with the widest
point of the templ ate. In thi s case, a tiny bit mo re than one inch of
template materi al lies under the ruler. Cut the strip 1 y,; " t o be on the
safe side (29).
How to calculate the required
width of a strip
Di agram 30 depi cts the current stage of the design. Find Patch 4. This space can be filled with a
Single fabri c or fractured into two, or three, or many fabrics. The two foll owing principles apply
regardless of the number of pieces you choose t o make up Patch 4:
1. No matter how many lines di vide it, the final pat ch must
be the same exact size as Pat ch 4, plus seam allowance.
2. The sewing line of Patch 4 must match the sewing line of
Pat ch (2+3).
Here's the predicament: when you ali gn the cut edges of
two differently angled shapes, the fini shed product will be
di st orted. This is because the sewing lines, W' from the cut
edge, don'tmatch. Once templ ates are cutinto patches of fabric,
there is no guideline t o judge how to positi on the shapes
per fectl y. The sharper the angles t o be pieced, the more
difficult it is to eyeball the correct alignment .
• 30 The current stage of the design .
Here's the soluti on, made possible through the generous support of the see- through templ ates
(32A). The following discussion refers t o the points labeled in Diagram 31.
~ ~ .   ' 3 1
" 'WI.1 Reference points
STEP 1: Make a templ ate for Patch 4, including the seam allowance.
STEP 2: Line up Template 4 to Template (2+3) right sides together, as if you were going t o sew
them together, matching sewing lines. Keeping the templates precisely ali gned, look at the corre-
lation between Points C and E at the bottom. See hm\" extra plastic from Template 4 peeks out,
extending beyond the other template.
STEP 3: Using the ri gid edge of Template (2+3) as a guide, mark and trim off the excess at Point C.
STEP 4: This touch of grooming creates neat and tidy templates with evenly matched edges for accu-
rate piecing alignment. (You will find the corner angles of neighboring templ ates are rarely identical. )
... 32A How to match templates
Whenever possibl e, make this step an essential part of your templ ate habit before you cut into
the fabric. Align every template to its adjOining t emplates, right sides toget her, sewlng line to selVing
line, and trim away any pl asti c peeping past its partner. There's even an added benefit: you' ll simul -
taneously eliminate excess seam allowance and waste less fabric.
Back t o the drawing board. ow consider the relati onship between the two templates at the
other end of the sewing line, between Points A and D. It is hard t o see in the photograph that the
templates don 't ql.lit e mat ch. This statement reminds me of an adage about pregnancy. When it
comes to templates, there's no such thing as a littl e bit matched. Templates either match or they don't.
In Diagram 33 you can see how Point A on Templ ate 4 is a sli ver bi gger than Templ ate (2 + 3). In
cases like this, when the angles are simil ar but not identi cal, the quiltrn aker, in her infi nite wis-
dom, can reshape the existing angle into a more serviceable one. Thi s operation requires two
Template 4 is a sliver bigger
than Template (2 + 3).
1. Invent a new, blunt angle on one of the templ ates, preserving approximately ~   seam allowance.
Mark and cut.
2. Transfer the new angle to the corresponding corner of the other template by ligning the
templ ates right sides t ogether, matching sewing lines. Use the edge of the just-c ut angle t o copy
the identi cal shape onto the second template. Cu t.
When this metamorphosis is complete, two previously dissimil ar corners emerge as identical
twins. Each predicament requires its own unique soluti on.
Here's how I resolved this case (34). Refer t o points labeled in Diagram 31 on page 55.
STEP 1: Begin by trimming the left corner of Template (2+3) at Point D. Prune it any way that
seems logical t o you. Its seam all owance is more than the requisite ~   anyway. Trim one side of the
templ ate onl y. At this time there is no acc urate way to duplicate an identical angle at Point F.
STEP 2: Align Template (2+3) and Templat e 4 ri ght sides t ogether, relying on the cropped edges
that now match neatly at Points C and E and the sewing lines. At Points A-D, the corner of
Template 4 extends past the new edge of Point D.
STEP 3: Mark off the excess and cu t.
STEP 4: Now you can use revised Point A to fas hi on an identical Point F on the right side of
Templ at e (2+3). Flip Templ at e 4 over and Li se it wrong side up. Ri ght sides t ogether , align
Templ ate 4 to the ri ght side of Template (2+3). Using Point A as a guide, trim the excess plasti c at
Point F.
• TECHNIQUE TIP Pat ch 4 is the first shape in this piecing sequence that isn ' t positioned squarely
on the center axis. Therefore, when making Templ ate 4, it is not important t o match a bold line of
the template grid to the grid of the graph paper. That step ensured the design st ayed visually
Another of Patch 4's quirks is that it is an asymmetri cal shape. It is nonreversibl e: the back and
the front of the shape are mirror images of each other. For instant orientati on, mark asymmetrical
shapes with direction cLl es: T(top), L(left) and/or R(right).
  _______________ ff
... 34 Revise angles af adjacent templates that are similar but not identical.
In the previous secti on I menti oned that Patch 4 could be fill ed with a single fabri c o r frac tured
into many pi eces. Let's brainst orm th rough both opti ons , focusing primaril y on eleUl e nts of
constructi on rather than design.
The design spotlight is no longer aimed along the center axis. Now that we've moved beyond
the prominent first patch, the laws of fa bric grain are irrele\·ant . Isn't that a hoot! Lop sided is
lovely, as long as the fabric is printed with a wiggle to the left and an identi cal wiggle t o the r ig ht.
Go ahead; catch a falling pai sley! Hook a spiraling curli cue!
Patch 4 bumps into its mirror image in the adj acent tri angle. Thi s positi on alon g the seam
inherits certain idiosyncrasies. For example, twi ce as much of the fabric filling the sp ace in a single
piece-of-pie will be seen in the finished p roduct . Keep this in mind. Too much of even a good
thing can be boring. On the other hand, a single spark sets off a visually exciting chain r eacti on ,
encircling the fini shed block by punctuating each triangul ar segment identi cally.
In the foll owing eight examples, Patch 4 ad\'ances through a seri es of progreSSively more complex
adventures in piecework. Please note, the templ ate-making instructions fo r thes samples ar e
written for the left side. Whenever you need to create a pair- the one-way shape and its lTIirro r
image-first mark the templ ate on the fabric right side up, then flip the templ ate over and use it
wrong side up. Also, fro m this point on, pl ease ass urne that every template automati cally includes
seam allowance.
Complexity, of course, is not always the preferred route. The first sample is gorgeous and created
from a single patch. Positi oning an intact Template 4 on an intricate, symmetri cal fa bri c gen er at ed
a sle\v of possible soluti ons (35). A template adorned with clues makes replicating sixt een identi cal
patches feasibl e. Before cutting into the fa bri c, align this template to neighboring Templat e (2+3)
and trim away extending points .
.... 35 Template 4 positioned on an intricately printed symmetrical design five different ways
By revealing the effect of each option side by side, the five in-progress samples ernphasi ze the
visual force of symmetry (36). In each radiating design patterns of inferred lines and vis ual rhythms
begin t o emerge. Along the si de searns motifs connec t t o their mirror images and act as if
refl ected, multiplying into new, never-before-seen patterns. Here's a chance t o play the usual
guessing game with twice as many dues. Try t o predi ct the effect of these eyecat ching elements
when their circular journey is finished. Which one is your favorite? Which would you like to
reviser How about a twinkle of something unexpected in the corned How about intercepting the
inevitable self-encounter along the seam r
  ~ ~
... 36 Example A: One prima donna patch; the effect of each alternative placement
A single pi ece of all-over fabri c adds a casual touch to the second exampl e. An unaltered Tem-
pl ate 4 can be used t o form the necessary patches. Or make Template (2+3+4), as shown in Panel
37, and strip-piece. l like the juxt apositi on of elegant, organi zed Pat ch 2 sur rounded by random
doodles scribbled on a murky ground (37) .
Template (2+3+4)
<III 37
Example B:
One all-aver patch
Paying attention to the prima donnas in your palette is often the best way to start the ball
rolling. Once their needs are addressed, they guiet down and do their best t o be team players.
(Pl ease forgive my tendency to anth ropomorphi ze fabric.) This sample divides Patch 4 in two,
combining a prima donna with a deep blue all-over print (38). My idea was to extend the line of
Patch 2's purple details into Pat ch 4. I used see-through Ternplate (2+3) to locate the position of
the purple doodads and transfer this point t o the diagram. Using a ruler, I drew a line from this
point, aiming for the side of the wedge. The only proviso regarding its landing was that I didn' t
want to drop anchor in the corner.
After I made a templ ate for this shape (Patch 4), I placed it on the prima donna fabric and
fiddled until I liked the patch encl osed by the seam lines. Holding the template in place, I traced
hints from the fabric onto the template. A second template linking Patch 4 + Patch 5 was cr ucial
for the next step. This template, of course, is our old friend Template 4 marked wi th a line that
di vides it in two. I sewed Patch 4 t o a long strip of blue
fabri c and pressed. After aligning Template (4+5) with both
the prima donna patch and the sewing line, I marked and
c ut the desired
patches. Please note:
this time the fin-
is hed ve r sion is
sho\ov n witho ut
seam allowance.
.... 38
Example C: Template 4
divided in two,
combining a prima
donna and an all -over
I recycled t he di agram from Example C t o explore an idea coupling two prima donna fabrics
(39). Pat ch 4 st ayed the same. I positi oned Pat ch 5 on a fabric printed with gradual shadings from
one color t o another and used the see- through template to capture a very subtle shift from dark
to light (A) . My prediction is that this hint of shadow, as innocuous as it seems in a single patch,
will intensify into a dramatic ring of translucence when it is multiplied by eight . Because the
desired effect required duplicating the identical t ransiti on from dark t o light, this pseudo-friendly
fabric ass umed the status of a prima donna and needed a separate template. By coincidence, this
pat ch is cut on gr ain.
Aft er you make Template 4 and Template 5, complete with seam allowance, remember t o match
these adj acent templates to each other before translating them into fabric (B). Align the two templates
right sides t ogether, sewing line to sewing line, and t rim away any plastic peeping out. Again, the
finished version is shown without seam allowance (C).
... 39
Example D: Template a
divided into two prima
It may seem as though the most logical routine is to make all the templates at first. This would
allow you to match the edges of neighboring templates t o each other before spending time copy-
ing them in fabric. Usually all of the patches aren't defined at the beginning of a project. How
conveni ent, this time they are. The diagram for multifaceted Example E is a complete blueprint
reguiring four templates. Here's a blow-by-bIO\v account of the construction seguence (40).
Two primo donnas and
two all·overs
STEP 1: Patch 4 and Patch 5 are prima donna fabri cs. Each needs its own template. Trace each
shape from the diagram onto tern plate plastic, add seam all o\vance, and cut. Mark T( t op), L(left),
R(right). Place each template on the appropriate fabric and rnove it around until it lands on a
pleasing motif. Copy hints from the motif onto the ternplate with the permanent marker (A).
Mark and cut eight left-sided patches; flip the template and create eight right-sided patches.
STEP 2: Make Template (5+6) by tracing the shape off the graph paper
diagram. Immediately add searn allowance. Because Patch 5is a prima donna
fabric, trace hints from Template 5 in the analogous positi on on Template
(5+6) t o ensure accurate placement (B).
STEP 3: Make Template (5+6+7). Trace a few hints from Patch 5 in the
corresponding position on the templ ate (C).
STEP 4: Right sides t oget her, match the sewing line of Template 4 t o the
sewing line of Template (5+6+7). Trim away extending points. This step
ensures templates with evenly matched edges for acc urate piecing align-
ment. Use these revised templates to cut out the fabric (C) .
STEP 5: Cut a strip ofFabric 6. Sew the eight left-sided and eight ri ght-sided Pat ch 5s t o this strip
(0). Press. Align Template (5+6) to the strip-pieced unit (E). Begin by matching hints on the template
with corresponding moti fs on Patch 5. Next, adjust the seam connecting Pat ch 5 and Fabric 6 with
the sewing line marked on the template. Mark and cut eight times; flip the t emplate and repeat
eight times. Treat this new unit as if it is a single piece of fabri c (F).
STEP 6: Cut a strip of Fabric 7. Sewall sixteen Patch (5+6)s to this strip. Press. Align Templat e
(5+6+ 7) to the strip-pieced units, using fussy Fabric 5 as the "driver," mat ching seams and sewing
line (G). Mark and cut (H).
STEP 7: Sew sixteen Patch 4s to sixt een Patch (5+6+7)s. Press. The res ulting shape should be the
same as the patch we st ar ted with in Example A (I). Sew t he eight left-sided units to the left side of
Pat ch (2+3) and the eight right-sided units to Patch (2+3)'s right side 0) .
s -
. , . -
Template (4 + 5 + 6 + 7)
6 4
The sixth sampl e is another ve rsion of Exampl e E. Blending a bunch of all-over prints with
limited di stincti on between the fabri cs creates a mushy, ambi guous effect . J like it a lot. These
subtl e but con istent areas of dark and li ght will combine into fl owing, graceful yisual r hythms in
the completed block (41).
STEP 1: Neither Patch 4 nor Patch 5 needs its own templ ate. Instead, make (A) Template (5+ 6),
(B) Template (5+6+7), and (C) Templ ate (4+ 5+ 6+7).
STEP 2: Sew strips of Fabri c 5 and Fabric 6 together. Press. Line up Template (5+6) with the seam
between the fa bri cs (D). Mark and cut eight times; reverse the templ ate and repeat eight times.
Treat this new unit as if it is a single pi ece offabric (E).
STEP 3: Cut a strip of Fabri c 7. Piece the eigh t left -sided and eigh t ri gh t-sided Pat ch (5+ 6)s t o this
strip. Press. Ali gn Template (5+ 6+7) to the strip-pieced unit, matching seams and sewing lines
(F). Mark and cut .
STEP 4: Sew SL'( teen (eight left and
eight right) Pat ch (5+ 6+7)s to a
st rip of Fabric 4. Press. Use Tem-
pl at e (4+ 5+ 6+7), whi ch is the
same shape as the original Patch 4
back in Example A, t o mark and
cut eight left-sided units and eight
righ t-sided units (G).
STEP 5: Sew these units to Pat ch
.... 41
Example F:
Four all -overs
-. (
- \ \1
,). I
I,' '')' . , I' .
Template (5 + 6)
Template (5 + 6 + 7)
A t
Template (4 + 5 + 6 + 7)
And novv for something completely different. Here's the multipl e fractures renditi on , for those
of us who believe you can never have too many fabri cs. Panel 42 illustrates tbe design sequence on
graph paper. Panel 43 expl ains how to custom make a template for an idiosyncratic fabric.
Example G:
stages of graph
poper diagram
r decided to hi ghlight the outline with a tbin sliver of new color (Patch 4), predi cting that tbi s
splinter would multiply into a Significant connector (42A). Next, I drafted a shape similar to Patch 4
along the side line, deliberately drawing Patch 5 a bit longer to suggest the irregular unplanned
variations that instill a sense of spontaneity (42B). An eye-popping fabric fill ed with expl oding
stars seemed perfect for the left-over space. The question was how to fit tbe fabr ic into the shape
By placing a sheet of templ ate material over the diagram (43B) I created a see-through template tbat
represented the final patch (43C) . Playing and rearranging the template on the fabric revealed
an array of possibilities. [ decided t o cram a piece of star into the t op corner, cat ching some gold
points jutting onto the black background (430). Tracing the star points onto the t em.plate
ensu red consistency. The criteria for this pat ch's boundari es were to expose as little of the bl ack
background as possible without cutting off the tips of the star. Each of the sixteen patches does
not have to dupli cate the exact same porti on of the star. The irregular, fragmented points of a st ar
suggests constant movernent and cbange.
By counting gridlines on the templ ate, I transferred this patch to the diagram (42C). Wow!
This turned out to be a quirky little shape. Before anot her fabric had a chance to grab my atten-
tion, I ensured the final design was composed of straight lines that sewed toget her. Usi ng a ruler,
1 extended the left bottom edge of Pat ch 6 until it hit the wedge'S horizontal boundary (420). No\\'
the shape was divided into three sections, Patches 6, 7, and 8. By using all-over prints around the
prima donna star patch the whole shebang can be strip-pieced.
Let 's talk colors. At this point in the design , choices aren't arbitrary. They must relate to (not
match! ) the evol"ing pattern. Patches 1,2,3, and 6 are already establi shed. Look O\'er the diagram
and see ifit suggests ways t o visually connect patches (that aren't necessarily next to eac h ot her)
"ia color.
Surrounding the star pat ch with black-background prints keeps the star popping by camou-
flaging the sean1S connecting adjacent patches (44). The positions of Patches 7 and 8 ga\'e me the
idea to find two different fabri cs with an interesting relationship: dark/light , sharp/fuzzy, positi\'e/
negative. I had a yen for erratic black and white polka-dots. T chose small white and gray fl ecks
(Patch 7) merging into puffy white dots (Patch 8). This combination suggested one further addi-
tion: little gold blotches on a barely visible black ground (Patch 9), ringing the tip of Patch 2 and
complementing the gold contoured star (42E). Imagine the effect as this threesome ebbs and fl ows
around the circle.
How to fit the
star in the shape
C r
E A!ij
The column of templates and corresponding patches in Panel 44 expl ains the sequence of tem-
plate maIQng. At the bottom of the column is the fin al pi eced version, sho\\"n without seam al-
lowance. As is often the case, the design sequence for this example differs fro m the pi eci ng sequence.
Diagrarn 45A is labeled according to the design sequence. Di agram 45B is marked in the order of
the pi ecing progression .
.6 44 Templates and corresponding patches for Example G
The design sequence
<II 45B
The piecing progression
In Example G, the design sequence differs from the piecing sequence.
I got carried away with a kiwi (46).
<II 46
Example H:
recycling Example G
[n order for the finished kaleidoscope to behave as a bl ock of good breeding should, stability
must be prm'ided at the two opposite ends of the piece-of-pie. Fabrics at the apex and the desig-
nated bottom edge must follow the grainlines (47A). Otherwise the block might give in t o its
procli\-ity to wiggle when you were counting on it being nice and flat .
.... 47 A Fabrics at the apex and boHom
must follow the grain lines.
.... 47B Create on-grain patches
along the boHom edge.
.... 47C Piece an on-grain strip of fabric,
such as a border print, to the
finished edge of the triangle.
The parameters for choosing the first patch which graces the important center is discussed on
pages 42 and 110. Remember, to promote stability when a gaggle of wedges meets in the middle,
this first shape rnust be cut on a straight grain of fabric.
The outermost edge of any patch forming the bottom boundary of the tri angle should also
fo ll o\, ' the grainline. Think of the outside border as a girdle, encircling the block, binding it into a
shapely si lhouette with firm control. Fabrics that surround the block should line up with either
the lengthwi se or the crosswise grain of the goods.
Keep thi s in mind when fi guring out a pi ecing strategy for the patches that fa ll on the block's
periphery. Check to see if strip piecing \-vill provide the correct grainline ali gnment. Often, at thi s
close-to-the-end position in the wedge, a shape needs to be cut directly from its own templ at e to
ensure an on-grain patch (47B). Handle it with the care best owed on a prima donna, even if the
fabric is an all-o, 'er pattern. If the adjacent fabrics are all-over prints that lend themselves to the
strip-piecing method, make the template for this patch first. Then create templ ates with as many
add-ons as needed.
There is anot her way to ensure that the piece-of-pie ends on-grain. Piece a strip of fabric cut
along the grain line t o the finished edge of the triangle. Border prints are good candidates for this
assignment (47C). Or, for a completely different look, consider using the same fabric that will be
used in the corner tri angles to square off the design (see "The Sample" on page 128).
Here's the long and short of all the pre\"ious stu ff, a ve ritabl e thimble-full.
A prima donna fa bri c that demands to be treated "just so" requires its o\\"n template- "sharing" is
not a word in thi s textil e's vocabulary.
Fabrics falling in the "t o-be-strip-pieced" category are all -owr prints that can be cut randomly.
Never make a separate teInpl ate for a patch designated for strip-pi ecing. The beauty of this
technique is that it all ows you t o add diminuti\'e, uncommonly shaped pat ches, no matter how
small , by strip-pi ecing.
There is no limit t o the number of strips t hat can be added t o a uni t .
Match each template to its adj acent templ ates, as described on pages 54-57, before cutting it
into fa bric.
When joining two angles that are not the sa me, remember to align the sewing lines, not the cut
edges. Trim away any points that stick out. Or res hape one side into a new angle, and match the
partner t o the ne\\' angle.
If the shape must be cut on-grain in order to pro\"ide st ability, and strip-piecing will create an
off-grain directi on, cut the shape frorn its own indi vidual template.
One day I was hit on the head by the tru th in the following sentence: a line Is a seri es of points. After
J came t o, my perspecti ve was reversed. Instead of connecting points to make a line, I could draw
any line and break it up into points. The wizardry in this logic was an eye-opener for an unadven-
turous seamstress like me. No\\' I'm a whi z at dissecting a curvaceous contour into a chain of
straight lines or smoothing an austere shape into a gentl y rounded arc.
Usually J begin by drawing the cur\) ' line on the graph-paper diagram \\'ith a pencil. Sometimes
r draw the cun'e freehand. Other times I use a compass to draft a true circle. Lots of times I create
t he effect completely by accident. KALEIDOSCOPIC VIII: The Sun, the Moon . . . and the Stars (48), and
KALEIDOSCOPIC Xv. Eccentric Ci rcles (page 29), are extreme cases of illusory cun'ed piecing.
The Sun, The Moon ...
and the Stars
Any cun'e can be reformed into straight lines. The key is: don't rely on the inacc urate eyeball
rnethod to approximate alignment between adj acent patches. Instead, nn ke sure the edges of
neighboring t emplates match each other befo re copying thenl in fa bri c, using t he method
described on pages 54-57.
With a compass, I drew the circular line defining Patch 2 in Panel 49A. When alJ eight wedges
connect, this line will form a perfect circle. Think of the design possibilities! Imagine Patch 1 er upting
out of a dramatic black hole or glowing on a hot yell ow sun. Next, I identifi ed the points where
this line begins and ends. Remember, it is always easier t o distinguish points if the line travels from
grid line to grid line rather than bet\veen them. Line up a ruler from the starting point to the end
of the line. If there isn 't rnu ch discrepancy between the straight edge of the ruler and the curve,
use the ruler to draw a line connecting the dots (49B). Erase the original curvy line.
Use a campass to
create a circular line
I \ I
. .---,
Identify the points
where this line begins
and ends. Draw a line
connecting the dots.
A lengthy wide curve probably needs to be separated into more than one straight line. Here are
the steps dividing the curve formed by positi oning a compass at the X in Panel SO .
.... 50 Dividing a long curve into more than one straight line.
STEP 1: Starting at one end, place the straight edge of the ruler along the curve. Note where the
straight edge begins t o di verge from the curve. Mark this point with a dot (SOB).
STEP 2: Repositi on the ruler so that it is alongside the dot and once again, try to fo ll ow the con-
t our of the curve (SOC). If this second maneuver reaches the end of the line, draw a line from the
dot t o the line's end. Erase the original curve.
STEP 3: If the second dot falls within the curve, repeat Step 2 as many times as necessary. If more
than three joints are required, try stretching each link into a slightly longer line in order to need
fewer divisions. When they are fused together, the lines will blend into the illusion of a cun'e,
even if it's not a perfect rendition of the original line. Revising the design so it is less complex, but
still pro\'ides a rounded effect, is a reasonable approach. Translating cun'es into fabric involves a
lot of precise piecing. A long sequence of steps can get tedious.
The constr ucti on sequence for this example requires three templates: Template I, Terl1plate
(1 +2), and Terl1plate (3+4) (51A,B). Coincidentall y, the cut edge of Template (1 + 2) already matches
the cut edge of Template (3+4).
The construction
sequence for this
curve requires three
STEP 1: Cut eight Patch Is.
II fill [If I III
.... 51B
Template 1, Template (1+2),
and Template (3+4) ; Note that
the cut edge of Template (1 + 2)
coincidentally matches the cut
edge of Template (3+4) .
.... 51C
Economical method replaces
Template 1 with asymmetrical
version of Template (1 +2)
which functions like two
templates in one.
STEP 2: Sew a strip of Fabric 2 t o the left side of each Patch 1. Press. Use Template ( 1+2) to cut
eigh t Patch (1 + 2)s. Repeat on the righ t side.
STEP 3: Strip-piece Fabric 3 t o Fabric 4. Press. Align Template (3+4) t o the seam. Mark and cut
eight left-sided and eight right-sided patches.
STEP 4: Sew Patch (3+4) t o Patch (1 +2), eight times on the left and eight tinl es on the right.
For accurate alignment, pin at the junction between the SeaIl1S.
Here's an alternative method that eliminates the need for Template l. Instead, make Template
( 1+2) as shown in Panel SI C. This asymmetrical template is ambidextrous! It's two templates in
one: the shape of Patch Ion the left side and the shape of Patch ( 1 +2) on the right side. Use the left
side to form one side of Patch 1, then £lip the templ ate over and complete the shape. Sew a strip of
Fabric 2 to these patches. Use the right side of the t emplate to mark and cut the appropriate
number of patches from this strip-pi eced unit. Continue from Step 3 (above).
Patchwork etiquette favors distinct, well -matched points.
Our quiltmaking legacy is filled wit h sharply defined tri-
angles. But unconventi onal shapes are more in line with
a kaleidoscope-inspired design , Simulating the spontane-
ity and randomness synonymous vvith scopes.
It is difficult t o match and stitch thin shapes with acute
angles accurately. There are two solu tions t o this predi ca-
ment. One, reshape severe points into more user-friendl y
forms. Points don't have to come to points to read as points.
The interior of a scope by Charl es Karadimos illustrates A 52 The interior of a scope by Charles Karadimos
this well (52).
Detail of
Crystal Canopy
Use   graph paper to draft lines that meet one-eighth or one-quarter inch apar instead of
assurning that two lines must always meet at the same point.
Two, accept that it is OK for these kinds of points to join together une\·enly. Irregul ar stabs of
color might e\'en enhance the design and be perceived as pulsating, moment ary vibrati ons. There
is a good example of this effect in KALEIDOSCOPIC IV Clystal Canopy, above. (Imagine my dismay
when I stitched the six twenty- inch-long pi eces-of-pi e t ogether and beheld a pouffy di saster. After
drying my tears, J remeas ured and found out the 60 degree angle was acc urate at the top, but
narrowed as it mO\'ed through the twenty inches. It was missing one half inch at each bottom
corner, which was a lot when multipli ed by twelve. J fixed it by adding the long, thin piercing
points of dark blue.) Notice how the dark blue fabric outlining the star emerges as a lance-like slice
into each of the six corners of the large hexagon? Each of the final tips pierce the quilt's surface at
a different place,
EYaluate every fussy point . Does it reall y have t o be a precise barbed tip t o enhance the design?
Often the answer is yes, But sometimes a fabric 's lovely details end up eliminated when an elabo-
rate rnotif is crammed into a narrow point. Use intricate fabrics to their best advantage by apply-
ing the window- like template technique described on page 42. By following the route of the print,
you mi ght create a shape that 's easier to sew and a design that either reads like a point or is e\'en
better (54). Sharp points destined t o rendezvous along the side seams are rendered best in sirnple
all -over prints. Then the assenlbly process does not demand mat ching both an intri cat e pattern
and seam joints.

- r
... 54
Fallowing the route of the fabric
creates a shape that is easy to sew
and reads like a point.
This disc uss ion focuses on the need to look over the blueprint criti call y to see if it is piece-able.
Don' t wait until the last minute to examine the graph paper diagram for piecing blunders. Probe
it as it evolves with an analytic, constr uction worker point of view. Demand cooperation from
both sides of your brain: be a creat or and a problem-solver. Before you make templ ates, do a dry
run. Go through the blueprint step by step t o check for bloopers that will interr upt the pi ecing
Be prudent. Redraft sewing lines to disperse a potential crowd of searns, making the union
between them- and ad jacent patches-easier (55). Avoid creating excessi\·e bulk at the long seams
of a pi ece-of-pi e. You need complex math skills , or basic common sense, t o predi ct the quantity of
cloth involved when a party of points rendezvous with their mirror-imaged counterparts escorted
by a complete entourage of seam all owances.
Remember, you're the boss. You are never limited to a specifi c solution. Strike a balance between the
textiles' suggestions and the network of pencil lines. If the final version doesn ' t fit together, or if it
is just plain sloppy, it won't matter how drop-dead gorgeous the ori ginal vision ,vas .
.... 55 Redraft sewing lines to disperse a potential crowd of seams.
When J decide the number of "pieces of pie," T consider two fac tors. The more triangles there
are, the greater the chance for a bumpy and bulky concussion at the important center. The second
fact or involves my personal sewing prerogative: T only sew straight seams.
A design divided into an even number of divi sions can be constructed much more easily than
one \vith an odd number. In an e\·enly nurnbered design, half of the triangles pieced together will
form a strai ght edge.
Here is the piecing sequence for an eight-sided
design (S6A):
STEP 1: Sew each triangle to another, creating
four pairs.
STEP 2: Piece one pair of triangles to another
duo. Repeat, creating two sets of four.
STEP 3: Sew the two halves together.
The piecing sequence for a six-sided design
fo11o\vs (S6B):
STEP 1: Sew one triangle to another. Repeat,
creating two pairs.
STEP 2: Stitch one triangle to each of the pairs,
creating two units comprised of three triangles.
STEP 3: Sew the two halves together.
A ten-sided design is quirky. Three hundred and
sixty degrees divided into ten pieces-of-the-pie
is a slim thirty-six degrees . When all ten
converge at a single point, expect a densely packed
crowd. The piecing sequence for a ten-sided
design is (S6C):
STEP 1: Sew four triangles to four other triangles,
creating four pairs.
STEP 2: Piece one pair of triangles to another
duo. Repeat , creating two units offour triangles.
STEP 3: Add one triangle to each of the units,
creating two units of five triangles.
STEP 4: Sew the two halves together.
'" 56A Piecing sequence for an eight-sided design

"\L -6 = 1\/\
'" 56B Piecing sequence for a six-sided design

<:D -ts> = tf)
'" 56C Piecing sequence for a ten-sided design
This next-to- last constructi on step will benefit from a moment of philosophical refl ecti on. Stop
and consider the kal eidoscopi c nature of the whole shebang. Repetiti on from one pi ece-of- pi e to
another and another and so on creates "isual pathways that camouflage seams. The whole becomes
greater than the sum of its parts. My point? A couple of mismatched joints are not going to be
noti ced in an image filled t o the brim with complexity.
In other words, season the usual rul es of piecing with a generous dose of common sense. Yes,
coherence between triangular segments is fund amental. But this quality is already guaranteed by
the symmetry built into a design that unites identi cal sections radi ating from a central point.
Success does not mean that eve ryone of the many joints al ong the sixteen borders of eight
segments will make a perfec t mat ch. Many will , some won' t . E\' en in a real kaleidoscope, every
multifaceted image isn't refl ected fl awlessly. It depends on the opti cal quality of the mi r rors, the
criti cal angle of the mirror set- up, and the seams where the mirrors connect . rust like its quilted
counterpart, the obj ective is to eliminate as many distracti ons as possible.
The goal is to pre\'ent joints along the seamline from ac ting li ke visual barri cades. Deal with the
prima donna fabrics first. If these fabrics become victims of piecing interruptus, they will spitefully
sabotage the visual fl ow, shattering the illusion of seamless continuity from one segment to another.
Ri ght sides together, match and pin through corresponding joints. Use thin, sharp-pointed silk
pins. I rarely bas te; it doesn't seem to make the alignment more acc urate, especially when bi g
bulky seams bounce the presser foot off its intended path.
Follow the aforementioned poli cy: spoil the prima donnas and fudge with the all-overs. Begin
by matching Patch 1 at the t op to its twin. ext, ali gn the prima donna fabri cs. Then ease in the
more forgiving all-O\-ers. It is to our advantage that patches along the diagonal edge of the piece-
of-pi e are often cut on the bi as. Here's -where we benefit from its natural "give." Be gentle, but
forceful ; make it give you neatly joined seams.
Sew slowl),. Begin fro m the skinny tops of Pat ch 1 and aim t oward the ra\\" edges at the bottoms
of the pieces-of-pi e. Backstitch at the end. If the presser foot burnps off the X; " seam, stop. Rip.
Remove any left over threads. Reali gn. Re-stitch, overlapping a fe\\' of the leftover pre\' ious stitches
with new ones.
Son1. etimes one or two of the finished pi eces-of-pie are definitely crooked. In this case 1 make a
master templat e of the entire triangle, lining up a sheet of plasti c t o the graph paper di agram,
matching the bold center axis of the diagram t o a prominent inch line of templ ate pl asti c. Copy a
few of the longest sewing lines, tr acing enough of the original to provide enough cues for aligning
the templ ate to the fa bri c tri angle. To consen 'e template materi al, make a templ ate of onl y the
left half of the triangle and flip it over to investigate the ri ght side (57) . For reall y big triangles, tape
pi eces of templ ate material t ogether. Although long roll s of X" template materi al are avail abl e,
I find it difficult to st ore the lengthy size neatly.
Line up the master template with two key cornponents on the patchwork tri angle, the all -
important on-grain first patch and the center axis. Don't expect every cI ue to match a sewing line.
1 use the master plan to provide a sense of how "off" the pieced triangle is: where the tempera-
mental areas are, where the seam allowance is too narrow, when the sensible plan of action is to
stop, rip, and repair. Sometimes identifying one unruly seam is enough t o adjust the design.
There is an art t o compensating. A triangle tbat ends up too big can ' t be automatically "fixed"
by cbopping off the excess along the two side seams- unless tbe guilty party is a compliant all-
over print whose only crime is being bigger than a y,; inch. I admit that sometimes I give in t o the
temptati on t o prune all-overs on the triangle's edge if this step makes the sbape fit the master
template. But I never trim tbose spiteful prima donnas without weighing tbe consequences. The
long vertical side seams are where the actual attenti on-grabbing matching takes place. If motifs
inside the body of the triangle are askew, it won't matter- they will still read as identical when
tbe viewer's eye moves around tbe scope from wedge t o wedge.
Another remedy for healing a warped \-vedge is t o mark the actual sewing line on the long side
seams. Otherwise, there is an underlying assumption the edge of the triangle is accurate and can
be relied on t o ali gn adjacent triangles. Make a full-size template IVithout tbe seam allowance (58).
Line it up on the wrong side of the wedge, first t o the t op patch, then t o the center axis. Holding
the template carefully in place, trace around tbe edge of the plastic with a well-sbarpened regular
or chalk pencil , or trace lightly with the fine-pointed permanent marker. Make a line that is visible, bu t
doesn' t go through to tbe front of the fabric.
Make a template of
one half of the
triangle and flip it
over to investigate
the other side.
<III 58
A full -size template
without seam allowance
ow, when the two triangles are aligned right sides together, pin through points where the
marked sewing lines coincide at a seam joint. This may create a seam all owance that is not a full
y,;-inch seam allowance. lfit is very narrow, use a small stitch length and reinforce the seam a few times.
Use the same criteria described above to align, pin, and stitch the two halves t ogether. To
ensure a finish ed produ ct that lies flat, make sure the long edge of each halfi s straight. If it isn't ,
the error is probably due to an inacc urate seam between two pieces-of- the-pie. Use the full size
template t o determine which triangle is the culprit. Then muttering under your breath, J think
J can, I think J can ... , start at one end and sew together toward the otber.
The theory is simple: add a ri ght tri angle to the piece-of-pie in each of the fo ur corners to make
a square. The problem is calculating the dimensions of the triangle needed to square off the design.
At first, figuring out the meas urements of this shape by drawing it full size on graph paper
seems the logical route. This allows you to draft a template ri ght from the di agram, remembering
to add seam allowances on all sides. Obviously, it is easier to do this 'vvhen the size of t he finished
block is more modest than humongous.
The angles of the corner
A. Top left one-quarter of
an eight-sided design
B. Top left one-quarter of
a six-sided design
C. An eight-sided design
D. A si x- sided design
The geometric explanation of what is going on is based on the following blast from your high
school past: the angles of a triangle added together equal 180
(59). An eight-sided design squares
off with a 90
tri angle (A). The corner of a six-sided pattern requires a 90
(B). If you are handy with a protract or, you can draft the appropriate triangle t o the bottom
boundary of a piece-of-tbe-pie by plotting the correct angles (60). Make sure there is enough
room on the graph paper t o accommodate tbis shape. If there isn 't , t ape another piece of graph
paper t o the ori ginal, mat ching bold inch lines.
Adding a right
triangle to the
Drafting a corner triangle using a protractor
A. Count off 45°.
B. Draw a line connecting the corner and this point.
e. The two lines intersect along the center axis and
create a 90° angle.
D. Erase pencil lines that extend past the intersection.
Let 's work with the octagon design first . Start
by positi oning the p rotrac t or on the gr aph
paper diagram. Align its center reference mark
to the left bottom corner of the piece-of-pi e.
Make sure the Os (zeros) on each side of the
pro tr ac t or line up acc ur at ely on the pi e's
bottom hori zontal gridline (61A). Beginning at
the right zero, rneasure 45°, counting left towards
the 90° mark at the center of the semi-circle (61A).
Mark this point. Remove the protractor and dra'w
a line from the left corner through this point
(6IB). Move the protract or t o the right corner
and repeat in reverse. Draw a line from the ri ght
corner to the second point. The two lines will
intersect along the center axis and create a 90°
angle (61C). Erase pencil lines that extend past
the intersection (610).
The Omnigrid® 98L-Right Triangle turns out to be a friendly instrument . This product creates
right-angle triangles up t o 12 inches. Although it wasn' t designed for this specific task, I find it
adapts with a couple of limitati ons. The good news is, its markings along the center facilitate acc u-
rate alignment with the center axis of the graph paper diagran1. The inevitable bad news is that
alignment along a horizontal grid line relies on the technically imprecise eyeball method. The
Omnigrid t riangle is marked with yellow quarter-inch lines and bl ack half-inch lines. Regrettably,
the shape we want t o create doesn ' t fall neatly on the lines of the graph grid. Al so, the size of the
Omnigrid rest ricts its use to a piece-of-pie under eleven inches. And, obviously, it only works with
an eight-sided design.
Once you understand and accept these conditi ons, it is a functional method. Here's how t o use
this tool t o draft the correct size tri angle on graph paper. We' re going t o add a right angle t riangle
to the bottom of the finished piece-of-pie, so make sure you have enough room for this appendage.
During the fo ll owing st eps, ignore the pre-calc ulated seam allowance line on the Omnigrid ruler.
Pretend it isn't there at all.
Place the Omnigrid triangle so the arrO\vs labeled GRAIN are aligned with the hori zontal lines
of the graph paper. Orient the long side of the ac rylic triangle by lining it up to the very las t line of
the piece-of-pie. Slowly slide the Omnigrid triangle toward the t op of the pie-s haped graph paper
wedge. Stop when the edges of the acryli c t riangle touch the corners of the piece-of-pi e exactl y.
This is t he size and shape of the requi red corner pat ch. Holding the acryli c triangle sec urely in
place, use its straight edges to t race this shape on the graph paper. Draft a template, adding seam
all owance to every side of t he template (62).
.62 Using the Omnigrid® 98L-Right Triangle to create
the corner triangle For an eight-sided kaleidoscope
One of the gifts of quiltmaking is the cama-
raderie of smart, kind folk 'vvilling t o share their
knowledge. Margit Echols, a Manhattan quilter
whose exquisite quilts are based on a love and
understanding of geometry, suggests the follow-
ing procedure. You need a compass, a ruler, and
the size of the finished piece-of-pie. Double that
n umber. Draft a square on graph paper tha t size
and mark its center. For example, if the pie-shaped
wedge meas ures 6%", make a square 12 %" (63)'
If the dimensions are large, try drafting the square
"t o scale" instead of full size.
1-12'/' -1
• 63 Draft a square on graph paper twice the size of the
Finished piece-oF-pie.
Place the pointy tip of the compass on a corner. Keeping it in place, open the compass just
enough to let the pencil point t ouch the center of the square (6SA). This distance is the keyst one,
so maintain this length securely. With the pointy tip still on the corner, swing the compass t o the
left and right. Mark where it intersects the sides of the square (6SB). Repeat this maneuver in each
of the three remaining corners, creating eight marks in all. Use a ruler t o draw a line connecting
the two marks on either side of each corner (6SC).The result is four faithfull y-sized right
triangles. Use one t o create a template. This protract or-free technique is limited only by the size
of your compass. Check out art supply st ores for large ones. Omnigrid's Rul er and Compass
( IC & C) make circl es up to twelve inches.
T 65 Drafting corner triangles using a compass
A. place the pointy tip B. Swing the compass
on a corner and the left and right and
pencil point on the mark where it
center. intersects the sides.
• Omnigrid's Ruler and Compass (1 C & C) makes
circles up to twelve inches. When the lead point gets
dull , use an emery board or sandpaper pad to
sharpen it.
c. Use a ruler to
connect the marks
on either side of a
Regarding a hexagon block, it is easier to draft the required 30°-60°-90° co rner tri angle to one
side of the piece-of-pie, instead of adding it to the bottom (66). This scheme aligns the drafting
lines with the graph paper grid. In this exampl e I drafted the triangle onto the left side of the
triangular wedge. Start at the tip-top of the pi ece-of-pi e. Use the grid Jines of the graph paper to
extend a line left froIn this point. This line creates a 60° angle (66A). Move t o the bottom left
co rner of the piece-of-pi e. Extend a line up t oward the first line. The corner rarel y falls on a grid
line exactly, so expect t o make your own rul ed line. The angle creat ed should measure 30°.
Because you followed the straight lines of the graph's grid, the intersecti on is au tomatically a 90°
angle (66B). Use the protrac tor to check the accuracy of all three angles. It is irnportant t o realize
that a hexagonal design requires two left sided corner triangles and two ri ght-sided triangl es. Use
the template twi ce in one direction, then flip it over and repeat two times.
Extend a line from the
Adding a corner triangle to a six-sided design
<III 66B
Extend a line from
the boHom corner.
The intersection of
the two lines is a
In KALEIDOSCOPIC IX Public Radio Daze (page 30), J fumbled my way through the geometry of
a ten-sided deSign. The geometric construction of this 36
triangle (360 divided by ten sides) created an
unwelcome enigma at the corners of the quilts. I was flabbergast ed t o find something other than
the single, well-behaved, ri ght-angled triangle I had come t o rely on (67). After I calmed down, r
realized that figuring OLlt the angles and shapes required dredging up geometry stuff from some
pre,·ioLl s life. I remembered that ( 1) the angles that form a straight line equal 180
and (2) the
angles of a triangle added t ogether equal 180°. I drafted a full -size, forty-inch kal eidoscope, and
used these two axioms and a protractor to check the accuracy of the drafting lines .
... 67 A la-sided design with 36°triangles
The Batting
The choice is simpl e. A patchwork textured with a multi t ude of seams needs exceedi ngly t hin
loft that need les easil y ( I i ke bu tter! ). 1 t is hard to ge t tiny e\'en -tem pered sti tches on a quilt fra ugh t
with seams. I hesitate to name a brand. The batting manufac ture rs are in touch with quiltmakers'
needs and expand the market with a steady stream of innO\ati on s and imprO\·e ments.
The Bacl<ing
My regard fo r the quilt backing has e\'o h-ed frorn an attitude shaped mo re by fr ugalit:· than
design , t o its current status as an integral part of the design package. Thi s is \\·here I indul ge my
romanti c noti on that good things come in bea uti full y wrapped packages,
Pi cking the backing fabri c desen es more th an an afterthought , It is not just ano ther step
toward fini shing the quilt, The backing collabo rates with the quilt top in a relati onshi p that
affects the visual impac t. It has t o seem as though SOl'ne connectio n beyond ITlere chance has
brought them together. Compatibility isn ' t ac hie\'ed by settling fo r so mething bland. 1 \\'ant a
flin g \\"ith a fabul ous fa bri c that commands a presence in its O\\'n ri ght. After all , the backing's
personality sets the stage for the grand ul1\'eiling.
1 always choose a print fa bri c r ather than a solid, prefer ably a striking all -O\'e r 11 0ndirectional
printed with a generous dose of terrific color that looks great from close up and far a\\"3)". Is that so
much to   s k ~ My stitches are better off camoufl aged than di spl ayed fo r the world t o see. The
mommy in me Ll suall y adds her two cents and ca uti ons that maybe it won't show as much dirt ,
The choice of a cotton fa bri c for the quilt backing is comforting. I am expe ri enced enough to
know that I don't ha\'e t o go looking for tro ubl e. My quilts are a fie ld of seams. I fight off the
seducti on of ti ghtl y wo\'en fa bri cs dyed \\"ith r ich, \'ibrant colors. They sabotage my quilting stitch
by ac ting like barri cades against the needl e.
I quilt by hand with a hoop in my lap, marking the quilt pattern as I go. Chalk lines sho\\' up
better than pencil ed ones on a surface crowded with multi colo red pi eces. When pOSSible, I use
masking tape to 111 ark straight lines. I de\'ised a quilting pattern for KALEIDOSCOPl C X IV Myst
(page 28) th at accommodated str aight lines of t ape (68). Subjecting the backgro und silk to an:'
other kind of mark seemed ri sky for the silk and frustrating for me .
... 68
Approximati on
of quilting design for
Since J don' t want my sti tches to sho\\', a th read color th a t blends \\'it h bot h the fee l of t he qu i It
top and the backing fabr ic is my prefe re nce. I like the soothing rhythm of hand quilting. I don' t
knO\\" ho\\' t o mac hine quilt , but I admire the skill of t hose \\'ho do it \Yell.
The new-fangled batts have pretty rnucb freed us from cboosing quilting patterns for tbeir
ancboring potential. Thi s leaves rapport between tbe pi eced top and the quilting design as the
guiding criterion. Like every otber aspect of solving design problems, there is never a Single ri ght
1 qui lted my first kaleidoscopic images by following their interwoven patterns with simple out-
lines to emphasize the circular flow. A quilted, textured background surrounded the kaleido-
scopes. My current approach is to devise an underl ying design that unites the whole quilt, preferably
a grid with irregular spacing and built-in flexibility. An accommodating pattern that allows the
quilting line t o adapt t o the errati c needs of an uneven surface is ideal. I want to avoid being
bogged down in areas dense with seams. A truly en joyable quilting event lets me zoom across the
tightly packed seams in a kaleidoscope's interior, and Inosey along at a leisurely pace in the just-as-
important ground.
For example, in KALEIDOSCOPIC XIII: Random Acts of Color (page 27), nine loopy lines of quilting
stitches snake across the width of the quilt from selvage t o selvage. They leap across the seaIl1S as
quickly as pOSSible, and meander in the open spaces of background leaving t angles of curls. The
stitches carryi ng the viewer's eye along their textured, indented paths convey a cas ual rhyt h m
(69). In KALEIDOSCOPIC XII: Up Close and Far Away (page 26), a spider \\"eb pattern starts at the top
of the quilt, not in the quilt'S center. The columns of the web narrow as the rows progress down
the length of the quilt (70).
Approximation of
quilting design for
Random Acts of Color
<OIl 70
Approximation of
quilting design for
Up Close and Far
The textured repetition of concentri c circl es sets up a vibrating rhythm and echoes the theme
of KALEIDOSCOPIC XV Eccentric Ci rcles (page 29). Note that the circular quilting pattern does not
radiate from the center of a kaleidoscope. Instead, the compass \-vas aligned with the midpoint of
the larger circle that encompassed the crescent shape. Lucky me! When r showed thi s quilt-in-
progress at a Manhattan Quilters Guild meeting, Teresa Barkley, a cons ummate quiltmaker,
offered the following excellent method for marking and quilting circles accurately. Teresa gave
me permission to share her idea in this book.
Mark the concentric circl es on a piece of muslin or stiff woven interfacing. Teresa, a patternmaker
in the garment district, used a stiff woven interfacing, and recommends the following steps. Cut
away the excess material around the outside circle so that the muslin pattern is a circular shape.
Position the muslin pattern in the appropriate pl ace on the quilt by aligning the corresponding
Inidpoints. Pin or baste the pattern in place.
The key here is th at you are going to qui lt from the outside-in, instead of the usual center-out.
Stitch along the edge of the outermost circle. When you finish quilting the circle, cut the muslin
away up t o the line of the next inner circle. Cantin ue thi s scheme of quilting progressively small er
circles until com pie ted (71).
Marking concentric
circles for quilting
Eccentric Circles
fn stead of a whole-quilt design scheme, KALEIDOSCOPIC VIII. The Sun, the Moon . . . and the Stars
(pages 20-21) is quilted in components. Radiating lines beam out from the center of the sun. Tightly
packed circl es create a crater-like texture on the moon. Spiraling lines entice the eye to cross the
darkening sky.
By its very nature, a quilt tell s a st ory about the person \\"ho made it. An anonymous quilt is
missing a vital piece of the plot . J am sad l didn't know enough to label quilts that were given away
years ago. A signature can make such a difference.
Embroidered on the front of my quilts, in the lower right hand corner, is an unobtrusive copy-
right sign followed by my initi als and the year the quilt was finished. A muslin label sewn on the
back reports the titl e of the quilt, the size and date, my name, address, and phone number.
Recentl y, a quilt traveling home from a large national quilt show escaped from its cylindrical
packing tube. An attentive delivery service representative was able to call me using the information on
the label.
The antidote for my initial bout of autograph defiCiency seems to be excess. A third identifying
device on each rnaj or quilt is an enlbellished Ultrasuede facsimil e of my dominant left hand appliqued
t o the quilt back. This unique trademark coordinates with the essence of the quilt. After I draw
my name, the year, and a design on the back of the Ultrasuede, I cut it out with a very fine scissors. Thi s
gets appliqued t o a fabric chosen beca use its multicolored print pops out of the cut-out design.
Details of beads and glittery threads tie the image t ogether. A second printed fabric mediates a
pleasing relationship between the hand and the quilt backing (72,73,74) .
• TECHNIQ UE TIP T count Ultrasuede among my blessings. It is my kind offabric: the edges don ' t
ravel, it is easy to pi erce with a sharp needl e, and it comes in more fl avors than gourmet ice creams.
The bad news is, it is "ery expensive.
... 72 Signature Hand: ... 73 Signature Hand: ... 74 Signature Hand:
Eccentric Circles Up Close and Far Away
Photo: Meli isa Karl in Mahoney;
courtesy of Quilter's Newsletter Magaz ine
As a beginning quiltmaker I thought that titling a quilt was pretenti ous. My first time out I
t ook a deep breath, picked something colorl ess and literal , and looked around self-consciousl y t o
see if anyone noti ced.
Now I like titles. They round off the \\'ork and contribute t o clos ure. Choosing a sati sfying
name is like soh'ing the final pi ece of a puzzle. You know you've made a perfect match when a title
trips off your tongue effo rtlessly.
Some think a title's functi on is to set the st age. Others want it t o be evocati ve. And, of course,
there are th ose who belie\T a title inhibits the viewer's involvement and personal interpretati on .
In other words, the wo rk should stand on its own. Whether or not you name your quilt , and what
kind of title you give it, may be a functi on of how you perceiYe quilts: as art , folk art , or craft. Or
perhaps you simpl y need a name t o put on the entry fOrIn for a quilt sho\\' o
A title is hel pful in identifying a pi ece and keeping it in the viewer's mind. A mundane title Inay
not be \'ery interesting, but it is easier than trying to remember something called Landscape No.
17. Some titl es are literall y \\' hat they are, like KA LEIDOSCOPIC VlI1: The SUIl , the Moon . . . al1d the Stars.
Others act like shorthand, shifting the percepti on of the design, adding another diInension , truly
enhancing the quilt , When an irnage is eni grnati c, a title offers access t o it.
Try to keep a photographi c record of the fini shed product. Any time I' ve ignored this ilnportant
stage, l\'e regretted it .
Kal eidoscope---the very word promises su rprise and magic, change and chance. Exploding with
visual excitement, a kaleidoscopic design organizes an abundance of light and color, form and
moti on into a complex and coherent image, capturing a moment of infinity.
I can give a few design guidelines here, a little color theory there. But it is the unique qualities
synonymous with the kaleidoscope personality that catapults this kind of design way beyond the
ordinary. During the design stage I rely heavily on the innate order that arranges t he parts into a
complete and artistic unit. This confidence, based on over one hundred pieced kaleidoscopes,
all ows me to be both the one who makes the magic and the one who is surpri sed. For me, the
thrill of creating is in the process.
Trust in symmetry. Use its force . The symmetri cal repetiti on of a design radi ating in multiple
repeating segments creates a visual pattern of inferred lines. The patches along the side SealT1S of
the pie-slice sector connect t o their mirror iInages and act as if reflected, multiplying into new,
unique pathways.
Human beings are symmetrical creatures. Midline orientation is innate. Consequently, symmetry is
comforting to us. There are two lessons to gain from thi s notion. First, t oo much of a good thing
can be bland and boring. This condition is easily remedied in a symmetri cal configurati on. A pinch
of something unexpected, i.e., color, shape, texture, becomes a pulsating punctuation point due
t o its identical placement from wedge to wedge, reinforcing the visual rhythm.
The second notion is akin to the first. A motif that seeII1S awkward and unrelated in a Single wedge
will be well accepted in the finished product when it's peppered identically throughout the deSign.
Intricate Detail
The word "kaleidoscope" conjures up images brimming with elabo rate details and interlaced
patterns. In an actual kaleidoscope, the compl exity of the pattern is determined by the angle of
the mirrors. The resu lting image doesn ' t seem cluttered or ambiguous because of the underlying
organi zation and symmetry.
One "vay t o ac hi eve an effect of complex detail and dramatic impact is to Li se textiles printed
with elaborate patterns. A second effecti ve technique is to facet one shape into an unexpected
network of pieced-together patc hes.
Kaleidoscopes rely on the refl ection of li ght rays fro m t he mir ro rs. When you look into one
end, your eye intercepts light that entered the opposite end and is then refl ected one or more
times from the mirrors. Choosing fa brics that e\'oke a sense of shading and transparency creates
the translucent nature of a scope's interi or on a quilt'S fl at surface.
A Fleeting Instance of Infinity
It is the nature of a kaleidoscope to ge nerate an inexhaustible supply of endless ly changing,
mandala-like images. There is no beginning or end. Each inevitable met amorphoSis res ults in a
marked or complete change of character. Thi s provides the viewer a rare opportu nity t o witness
the visual expression of infinite images extending beyond meas ure.
1 try to create a visual sense of the spontaneity and transience reminiscent of the chance interUnkings
and seemingly endless possibiliti es synonyrl1 ous \'lith kaleidoscopes. An uncoD\'enti on al combi-
nation offabri cs simulates its random nature.
Becoming a kaleidoscope aficionado has made me more adaptable and creati ve both artisti call y
and intellectuall y. The noti on that there is no absolute, correct, best selecti on is ve ry liberating.
Aft er all , a breathtaking colli sion of color in a scope will maneU\'er into something different ,
something slightly new, during even the inst ant it takes me t o hand it t o you.
Tbe Wbole Is Great er tban tbe Sum of Its Parts
Tt is the nature of a kaleidoscope to refl ect and refrac t the loose bits and pieces in the end case
into a symphony of shape and color. The viewer is compell ed t o synthesize its components into a
visual whole ra ther than analyze the elements separately.
Because of the techniques used t o pi ece a fabric kaleidoscope, it is not hyperbole t o suggest the
whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There is an air of abracadabra as the very last seam is
stitched because what you see in one single tri angle is not what you get in the multiplied sum.
Often effects more wonder ful than I had imagined occur and r am hypnoti zed by the res ult.
T Three triangles
... One triangle ... The complete kaleidoscope
Many of the fundamental principles of design are inseparable characteri sti cs of the kal eido-
scope form. Understanding these properties provides us with a common language. We can use the
terms to articulate what we think will happen , and t o critique the fin al res ult. A welcome conse-
quence of acquiring this theoretical knowledge is that mentally trying out principles of design
turns out t o be a credible method for unbl ocking creative blocks.
While reviewing the following list, keep in mind the unique qualities of the kal eidoscope. Above
alL it is a dynami c entity. The most effecti\'e kaleidoscopic designs create the illusion of motion, a
suggestion that the image is fleeting and bound to change in another second. Learn t o manipulate
the following physical properties in order to inj ect a feeling of moti on into an otherwise static image.
A good design impli es visual unity. Visual unity is achieved when the whole pattern is noticed
before its parts. The good news is that the viewer instantl y searches for a co herent unity because
chaos isn 't really all that appealing. A pieced kaleidoscope is a complicated structu re unified by its
repetitive patterns. Its formal organization , charac teri zed by rigid repetition, arranges for each
element of the design to be dupli cated identicall y, thereby establishing a relationship bet\\'een the parts.
Howeyer, it is possibl e t o create a pattern so oyerl y unified that the res ult offers visual boredom
rather than satisfaction. My advice, in this case, is to go back and add more .. .fabric, color, a dash
of so mething unexpected. In an effecti\'e kaleidoscopic design the ordered quality of unity
balances the li vely quality of variety.
I rely heavily on the unifying element of repetiti on. In my first kaleidoscopic experiments, vari-
ety in color and fabric is present but in a more subtl e way. This is apparent in KALEIDOSCOPIC III.
Stained Glass AntholoBJ (page 13). Familiarity with [n), subj ect has granted me the confidence to stretch
this artistic principle wide open. My color and fabric choices are now bolder and more haphazard.
But clearly I wouldn' t be comfortable taking risks now if r hadn' t first experimented with the
basics back then .
Focal Point
A radial design directs the viewer's attention into the important center, the prinury focal point.
The eye travels around the design, making connections between recurrent motifs and searching
for secondary focal points and acce nts. Eventually the central element draws your attention back
to the primary focal point.
There can be more than one focal point. In general , a focal point or \'isual emphasis results
where there is contras t between one element and another. Keep this in mind when choosing
cornponents such as color, fabri c, or shape for the pi e-sli ce sect or. When the design is veering too
cl ose t o the edge of boredom, stimulate some visual di versity by inj ecting a deliberate accent.
Although the \'iewe r has the impression that she doesn ' t kno\v where t o look, it is not actually
true; her eye will take her where it wants t o go.
In fact, a definit e focal point is not required t o create a successful design. In KALEIDOSCOPIC
XII: Up Close and Far Awa), (page 26), the idea of a focal point is ignored. The large, all-over cotton
print used as the background fabric creates an effect which is both interesting and ambiguous.
There is a feeling of depth and li ght, but no one area st ands out.
Balance is innate. In fac t, the t ask of the developing infant in the first eighteen months of life is
to integr ate normal equilibrium reacti ons, which provide a stable base of support for more complex
activity. Consequently, lack of balance disturbs us. In assessing artisti c balance, the viewer uncon-
sciously pres umes a center vertical axis and expects t o see equal distributi on of visual weight on
either side-whi ch is precisely the modus operandi of a kaleidoscopi c design.
In symmetrical balance identi cal eleIl1ents are repeated in the same position on either side of a
central vertical axis. One side, in effect , becomes the mirror image of the other. Radial balance
tames even a cluttered pie-sli ced sector, molding it along with its cl ones into a unified and coherent
visual st atement. That' s why I advocate audacity in some of the fabric choices, restrained by a
sense of pat chwork decorum.
Trying to impose a specific type of balance, fo r example, bal ancing dark, light , and medium
values is not appropri at e in a r adial design . The final image sorts itself out into areas of dark and
light in relati on to the \vhole. Symmetry-not the designer- is responsibl e for the ultimate
balancing act, automati call y arranging order from unanticipated combinations.
The idea of visual rhythm refers to the movement of the viewer's eye. As a principle of design it
is based on repetition , causing the eye t o move from element t o repeated element. Repetiti ve
visual patterns compel the eye to keep moving about, encouraging the viewer t o experience a
dynami c quality.
Visual rhythm is a natural consequence of the kaleidoscope form. Predicting the exact path way
of the viewer 's eye around the final image isn 't possible, but that doesn' t mean we shouldn' t try.
Influencing the res ult by introducing accents is part of our job as the designer.
The rhythmi c pattern also ca uses an emotional response in the viewer. Some visual rhythms
are fl owing and graceful, others are abrupt and dynamic. When I begin a kaleidoscope I aIl1 vaguely
aware rny intention is to est ablish a rhythm that will seem, for example, graceful or, perhaps,
staccato. Initi all y, T have a general "mood" in mind. The char acter of the rhythm res ults partially
from the palette of fabri c and partially from the shapes and lines of the faceted patches.
In geometry a line is defined as an infinite number of points. Art defines it as a moving dot,
reinforcing its inherently dynamic quaJjty, since the viewer's eye lTlust move to follow it. Designing a
kaleidoscope block involves t wo different kinds of lines. One kind is impli ed lines created by the
position of identi cal elements, so the eye tends to connect them au tomatically.
Secondl y, within the pie-s li ced sector lines facet the body of the tri angular wedge again and
again into a net wo rk of adj acent pat ches. SOLTl e of these lines eventuall y become camouflaged
seams, while others are highli ghted and command attenti on.
Line turns out t o be a very expressive t ool. By underst anding the charac teristics of directi ons,
you can infuse a quality of motion onto a fl at surface with a minimal effort. A hori zontal line
suggests qui et and repose, perhaps because it is reminiscent of the sleeping positi on . A verti cal line
is interpreted as more visually ac ti ve. But the diagonal line most strongly impli es movement,
contributing to a dynanlic, motion-fill ed image and evoking the impression that change is imminent.
A line is capable of infinite variety. It is a fo rm that has length and width. Remember that in a
kaleidoscopi c design there are no rules. The width can vary in thickness. rt does not have to stay
even, like a latti ce or a binding. Irregul ar vari ations serve t o maintain the viewer's interest.
There's something about an actual kaleidoscope that makes the viewer gasp out loud with
delight. Maybe it' s the layer aft er laye r of uninhibited colors tumbling irrepressi bly into unpre-
di ctable harmony. After ali , what can be more satisfying than witnessing order conquering chaos,
over and m·er again, right in the palm of your hand?
A pproach color choices playfully and with an open mind. Seek the unexpected- better yet ,
embrace the unexpected and take credit for it. Browse through life looking for unusual combinati ons
of color, and you' ll recognize them when they bump into you. Expl ore e\·ery-day resources fill ed
with an abundance of hues: t ropi cal fish, fine wrapping papers, oriental rugs. When your attention is
caught, mentall y dissect what grabbed it.
A pi eced kaleidoscope is an opportunity to use color intuiti vely. There is no formul a. But since
the viewer's percepti on of the complete scope is based on the relati onshi ps bet'vveen colors, we can
deliberately use color's spatial properties to create the illusion of depth. Some of the classic theories
employed by artists work in a kaleidoscope design while others are irrele, ·ant. So let 's be fl exibl e
and tuck a few pertinent guidelines into the sewing basket .
Value and Contrast
Value and contrast define the kal eidoscopi c image. Value is the ar tisti c tenn for light and dark.
Value contras t refers t o the relationship between areas of dark and light. Often the design choice is
not "purple" or "green," but how dark or light a purple or green to use. The visual unity of the
whole pattern is based on contrasts and comparisons between ligh t and dark. The relati ve color
values organize the design into areas of sharp and mild contrast. This arrangement happens in
spite of you, so don' t agoni ze t oo much.
Value creates a sense of depth, the percepti on that some shapes are in front and some shapes ar e
in back of others. Tn general , li gh t values appear to advance and dark values appear t o r ecede.
Hi gh-value contrast seems t o come for ward, t o appear ac tually cl oser, while areas of lesser
contrast retreat, suggesting dist ance.
The eye is drawn t o sharp contras ts. When the contrast between values is Ininimal, the effect is
calm and subtle. Highly contras ting values suggest drama and excitement. Colors "pop" when
there is strong dark and light contras t with their backgrounds.
In KALEIDOSCOPIC IX Public Radio Daze (page 30), the color strategy was to keep the values within a
limited range in mos t of the ar eas, and sprinkle contained groupings with intense, deeply
saturated color. The smaller areas
of bri ght color balance the much
larger areas of neutral color, keep-
ing a compli cated design organized
and co herent. The seams bet ween
the closely related patches are barely
discernible. The high-contrast colors
advance and dominate the areas of
lesser contras t.
Public Radio Daze
Color Cbaracteristics
There is a direct relati onship between color and the visual impression of depth. The cool blues
and greens have a tranquil , airy, far-away feel. They tend to recede into the background. As
objects recede, any brilliance of color becomes more neutral, finally seeming to be gray-blue.
Yell ow-green through violet is the cool side of the color wheel. The warnl side ranges from yell o\\"
through red-violet. The hot reds and oranges provide a stimulating, opaque, ear thy effect. These
colors catch the eye and ad\'ance from the ground.
Colors are neyer isolated entiti es. The t erm spreadil1B effect refers t o the \\'ay colors change
depending on what colors and fabri cs they are next to. Even the warmth or coolness of a color is
relative to its surrounding colors. Some colors are more susceptible t o change than others. Pure,
vibrant colors are less \' ulnerable t o the influences of adjacent neighbors, while muted colors
modify their appearance depending on the context. That's why oli\"es and strange greens turn out
to be versatile foils, setting off other colors by contrast.
White has a tendency to expand and overfl ow its boundaries. The "spreading" of white affects
its adjacent colors by creating a slightly washed out or tinted effect. Black achie\'es the opposite
effect. The darkness controls the spreading effect, letting each color display its o\\"n tr ue sensation,
\'isually rich and clear in tone.
KALEIDOSCOPfC XL SlloHiall (pages 24-25) is an example of a true blue quilt. The effect is not
onl y harmonious, but generally quiet, restful and very, \"ery cool. It demonstrates how color values are
important in creating spatial illusion in spite of the monochromatic color scheme. The snowflakes do
not seem flat and one-dimensional. A \'isual illusi on of depth is created where the high-contrast
values come forward and the low-contrast areas recede. KALEIDOSCOPIC Xli Up Close and Far
Away (page 26) is an example of a warm color scheme. KALEIDOSCOPIC VIII : The Sun, the Moon . . . alld
the Stars (pages 20-21 ) runs hot and cold, true t o the literal nature of the quilt's subj ect matter.
... Detail of KALEIDOSCOPIC XI : Snowfall
Color Discord
Discord has gotten a bad rap. When we say that colors cl ash, we mean that they seem t o pull
away from each other rather than relate harmoni ously. This isn' t necessarily bad, since the res ults
are exciting, eye-cat ching, unexpected combinations. A discordant color contributes to the visual
surprise. Well , don ' t we want our kaleidoscope t o be full of surprises! It's even OK for colors t o
compete for attention. Make those eyeballs spin! The radial structure and repetiti ve nature of the
whole shebang will harmoni ze the fin al res ult.
KALEIDOSCOPIC XIII. Random Acts of Color (page 27) is a showcase of mildly di sco rdant
eye-catching color combinations .
... Detai l of KALEIDOSCOPIC XIII: Random Acts of Color
The more I am exposed to state-of-the-art kaleidoscopes, the mor e I am enti ced by their magic.
However, my love for kaleidoscopes does not compel me t o make quilts. I make quilts because
I love printed textil es.
On the whole, I'd much rather go fabric shopping than write about it . Some quiltmakers clearly
have a knack for this material pursuit . The key element separ ating the ITl aster fabric collectors
from the wannabees is: attitude. Above all , be your own advocate. Cloth is as valid a palette as paint.
Never make exc uses for the size of your stash. A vast selection p rornot es in-depth, on-site explo-
ration and increases the odds that the perfec t fabri c antidote is waiting on your shelf. Rernember,
just because you buy a lot of fabric doesn' t mean you are materi alistic.
You've probably fi gured out by now that I'm not a purist . When it comes t o textiles, I' m your
basic eclecti c out to have a good ti rne. r look for rnedium-weight , firml y woven fabrics, but I'm
willing t o consider whatever catches my eye and doesn ' t leave its mark all over my fingers or all
over the fl oor. That is the only reasonable way t o expl or e the treas ures of New York City's
garment center.
My quilts are not functi onal. I don 't make them expecting to throw them into the was hing
mac hine, but j do make t hem expecting the unexpected. I choose materials with this in mind and
prepare them acco rdingly.
My homet own paper, The New York Times, once qu oted me in the following way: '''We don ' t do
cali coes,' said Paula Nadelstern of the Bronx, speaking for those who consider their quilt making
an art. " (Frorn "Mild-Mannered Quilters Pursue Quarry," by Cara Greenberg, May 2, 1993). This
soundbite mi ght be too glib. Cali co began not as a print , but as a cotton cloth, and of course I love
cottons. The pli abl e nature of its weave makes it ideal for mac bine-piecing and hand-quilting.
It's the best stuff t o r ely on wben you find yourself cast in a piecing adventure that is threatening
t o take you places you never wanted to go.
r don't use true cotton solids. I think they are appropriately named. According to the di ctionary,
a solid tends t o keep its form ratber tban fl ow or spread out. I read them as visual peri ods.
The image in a pieced kaleidoscope should be tinged with the promise of things to come. Printed
fa bri cs tickle our imaginati ons. Tbeir versatility lets them adapt t o countless moods: playful ,
enigmatic, charming, sophisti cated, or plain and simple. Tbey blend; they fade; they dodge; they
dance; they dazzle!
J don' t feel the same way about solid-colored silks. Many contempor ary kaleidoscope makers
are inco rporating innovations that include dichroic glass . The unique quality of this subst ance,
invented for tbe space program, is that it shows di fferent colors depending on the angle of light
falling on it. For example, t he sarne piece can be blue, pink, or yellow. The effect is an interior
image that glows. Sometimes I interpret tbis quality with a sprinkling of silks that refl ect different
colorations depending on the viewing angle.
In the past year J enter ed brand-new t extil e t errito ry by
exploring tbe wonderful world of fusibles. It all started 'vvhen I
was seduced by nine feet of hand-marbled magenta/maroon/plum
silk swirling with olive and a profUSion of otber colors. (To
create tbis effect , nonsoluble inks are fl oated across a liquid base,
drawn into a deSign , and pi cked up by the fabric.) I know it sounds
wicked, but I turned that silk into cotton by using a fusible
woven interfacing. Losing tbe "drape" of the goods was an asset
for pi ecing; it stabilized the cloth, making it easier to cut with a
rotary blade and needl e (see KALEIDOSCOPIC XIV Myst, page 28).
When I first started exploring kaleidoscopic imagery, J was
more timid in my fa bri c selections. I played by tbe rules. Even-
tually I left civilized patchwork for uncbarted frontiers and learned
to regard tbe rules as guidelines. Now I try t o free myselffrom a
conventional sense of fabric orderliness and COITlmit randorn .. Silk fabric used in
f f b I
acts 0 a ric. Conveying a qua ity toat suggests toe succession
of chance interlinkings synonymous with kaleidoscopes is an important design obj ective. Creating
visions of sparkling cryst al and jewel-like images is another. Evoking a sense of luminosity is
perbaps the easiest of the three to translate into textiles.
Certain kinds of fabri c work best in a kal eidoscopic deSign. Va ri ety in a Single bl ock provides
visual t exture. My inclinati on is t o balance glan1 0ur and usefuln ess. When possible, place a
forgiving textile next to a fussy one. Consider the weight and fiber content of adj acent fabrics.
It's nice wben fabrics play well t ogether.
I seenl to have inve nted a personal vocabulary for colorful patterned textiles that defines them
according to personality and functi on. There are four categories. Prima donnas are simultaneously
temperamental and charismatic. All-overs are reli able and forgiving. Directi onals are dynamic.
Novel ty prints are unexpected contribu tors of highligh ts and shadows.
The Prima Donnas
Any motif that needs t o be duplicated precisely needs its own template. If it can' t be strip-
pieced, it is a prima donna. Accordingly, prima donnas need t o be lavished with attenti on.
In exchange, these powerful design elements make strong, memorable st at ements.
I figure out how much t o buy by counting off eight or sixteen repeats. Usually my purchase is
between one and two yards, depending on the size of the repeat , previous acquisitions , how much
I like it, and the state of my cash fl ow.
I search for patterns printed with perfect bilateral symmetry. By definiti on , a r epeating pattern
can be superimposed on itself. If a line can be drawn in the pattern so that the pattern on one side
of the line is the mirror image of the pattern on the other side of the line, then the pattern can
be superimposed on itself by flipping it over so that the line st ays fi xed. This moti on is called
r efl ecti on, and the mirror line is called an axis of refl ection (1,2,3).
"'" 1 Patterns printed with perfect bilateral symmetry
<III 2
These stunning
patterns with
bilateral symmetry
and oversized
motifs require lots
of yardage to
ensure sufficient
<III 3
These slightly "off "
renditions of
symmetrical motifs
behave admirably
when handled with
care, resulting in a
looser image that
seems less formal.
In other words, a motif with bilateral symmet ry can be di vided into identical halves by a line
passing through the center. That's why it is ideal for the pat ches that meet in the middle of a
kaleidoscope bl ock (4). The intricately entwined moti fs soften the straight lines of t he long side
seams and create the illusion of gr aceful continuity around t he important center. In this pivotal
position synch ronous matching between as many as sixteen refl ections is critical.
A 4 Four koleidoscopes cut from the same piece of fabric
Intricate patterns arranged in an ordered and formal layout are the t reas ures of my collecti on.
The interpl ay offorms caused by the repeat is magical (5). The cl assic Libertl
ofLondon designs,
which have lasted since the Art Nouveau period, are examples of this kind of pattern . Medalli ons
are another useful device. These circ ular fi gures are inspired by star shapes, fl owers, Persian tiles.
My subj ecti ve approach t o fabric selecti on is free of restraints. I like t o mix incongruous fabrics.
Whet her fa brics belonging t o different styles and tastes are vis ually compatible is not an iss ue.
I practice pieceful co-existence.
The prima donna fabric
after patches were cut
from it
Symmetricall y patterned textiles are printed both on and off the straight gr ain of the fabri c.
To p romote stability, the rnotif for the first patch in a wedge must be cut on the straight grain.
Use enticing motifs printed al ong the bias for any other positi on in the piece-of-pie (6) .
.at. 6 Symmetrical patterns printed on the bias
The textile industry doesn' t have a satisfying term for the type of pattern I'm referring to.
"Border print" is my personal label because it functions like the border designs printed in long
linear runs from selvage t o selvage, intended to deco rate hems and edgings. Textile mayens would
probably call the pattern under disc ussion a stripe. In thi s case the term "stripe" do s not refer to
the straight bands of color called stripes, but to a type of layout \\·here the motifs line up to fonn
Sometimes fabri cs that seem to be symmetrical at first glance turn out to be pseudo-symmetri cal (7).
A closer inspection reveals differences between the two sides. Don 't use this type of asymmetri cal
motif for the first patch that ends up in the design 's important center. Use it where the patch isn't
destined to meet itself. In a position where confrontation is impossible, the discrepancies will not be
noticed and it will imitate a symmetri cal patch. When moti fs inside the body of the t riangle are
aske'vv, they will still read as identical when the viewer's eye tra\'els around the scope.
Some fabrics that seem to be
symmetrical turn out to be
pseudo-symmetrical .
A fabric printed \\"ith motif.5 that can be flipped into a mirror image is a useful but rare find (8).
Often, figures that appear to be oriented identically to the left and to the right turn out to be the
same motif rendered right-side-up and upside-do\\"n.
<III 8
printed with
motifs that
are mirror-
images of
each other
This category includes the paisley motif, with its characteristic teardrop shape. ln its ori gi n al
incarnati on, the paisley form was found in set and spaced layouts along the borders of Indian
cas hmere sha\\·ls. The Western preference for all-over layouts in whi ch the forms flo\\' around
eac h other in elaborate profusion e\'entuall y replaced orderly patterns.
All- over s
An all-over, nondirecti onal design looks exactl y the same from any angle (9, 10). It has no
impli cit t op, bottom, left, or ri ght. Its layout contains more figure t han ground. Sometimes the
motif is packed so closely t ogether the background almost compl etely di sappears.
Its forgiving temperament makes it the choice for strip-piecing. You don' t have t o worry about
n1. atching. You can pl ace ternplates on it quickly without wasting. It is an easy fabric t o blend with
adj acent prints. This makes it perfect fo r interj ecting slivers of contrast or visual excl amation points.
I buy one- half or one-yard cuts.
I covet all-over fa brics that render a sense of lu mi nosity and transl ucence. They help evoke the
glassy, crystalline quality of a kaleidoscope. The current abundance of dyed, painted, and marbled
fa bri cs is a gold mine of sources for shading and transparency.
All-over, nondirectionol
.... 10
Ail-over fabrics that
evoke a sense of
luminosity and
One-directi onal designs ha\'e a distinct top and bottom, The patches cut from these fabri cs
must be ori ented in the same directi on , Thi s limits your ability t o maneU\-er, and leaves more
was ted fabri c' Two-directi onal prints could be turned upside down and no one wou ld noti ce (I I),
With a littl e extra care fo r identi cal template placement , directi onals become candidates fo r strip-
pi ecing, It's worth the effort, because they automati cally create visual pathways that instill an
element of moti on, Radiating designs need fri ends like these,
. .
.' ::
. -
.. .' .-
.. 0
'\ I ! I r:
;;;/ 'I
i 'I'
, .
. 1
  . .
I i
: d
Ii :'n ;;
ii II
; ; ,
I :i, ; ,( :,
.1/ :1
!: :i 11
II !l
  11 Two-directional designs
Directionals can be neatly arranged in rows, in grids, or on the di agonal ( 12). Zigzags and
serpentine stripes infuse a more lively qua lity than layouts like chenons and herringbones, but
their errati c behavior makes t hem difficult t o use symmetri call y and in relati\'e1y small shapes.
(That doesn't mean I don 't try again and again.) J consider myself lucky when I find a directi onal
rendered as a three-dimensional design. A shadow added t o a stripe Il1 akes it seem t o spring out of
t he flatn ess of the fabric.
Patterns distinguished by a grad ual shading and bl ending of dark t o li ght , or one color into
another, are worth exploring ( 13). They are not only great organizers, they also carry the viewer's
eye smoothly from one form t o the next.
Another kind of directi onal is fabri cs that have a nap, like silks and velvet. r used t o practice
consistency when pi ecing fabrics with obvious directi onal sheen. Now I figure a random approach
evokes the subtle sense of shading that I'm after.
A 12 Directionals can be arranged in rows, in grids,
or on the diagonal.
· ....... .
· ...... . .
· ...... . .
· . . . . . . . .
• • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • •
• •••••••
· ...... .
· ...... .
• •••••••
A 13 Directional patterns distinguished by gradual
shading and blending
Novelty Print s:   e e l ~ the Unexpect ed
Wben you cross over into this way of looking at fabric, your vi sion al ters. Tbe idea is to concen-
trate attention on tbe details in a fabri c's interior and ignore its t otal effect . It is analogous t o
foc using on tbe twi gs inst ead of the trees or the forest . Paradoxically, thi s narrow perspecti ve
widens the selecti on. The internal, secondary con1.ponents of a motif take on an ac tive life of tbeir
own (1 4, IS).
Beca use novelty prints oft en depi ct some real crea tu re or obj ect , tbey are usuall y fa bri c-printed
versions of paintings ( 16). Reali sti c motifs sucb as juicy fruits, blooming fl owers, and sparkling
jewels are rendered witb painterl y qualiti es. Pat cbes cut from printed cl otb that looks tbree-
dimensional convey tbe illusion of subst ance. Borrow shadings and bigb li gb ts from tbese resources
t o sugges t tbe sbifting ofli gbt in your kaleidoscope .
..to. 14 Use the li vely, asymmetrical motifs
in these fabrics to create accents in
patches that aren' t destined to meet
themselves. Motifs inside the body
of the triangle will read as identical
when the viewer's eye travels
around the scope.
..to. 15 Potential zingers and punctuation points
<011 16
Novelty pri nts
... Even Cowgirls Get Yellow
This si x- sided kaleidoscope was inspired by a cowgirl print.
... Is it a scope or is it dinner? Kaleidoscopic image by
Mark Reynolds
Check out celestial prints for frenetic zigzags and erupting gases.
Falling st ars ar e oft en depicted with cartoon-like broken lines
ilnplying r apid movement. But the sky is not the limit. Take
advantage of the faceted sparkle of printed jewels or the twinkling
highlights of perfectl y r ound fruit s like cherri es and grapes .
Renderings of feathers bring out the bes t fin e line work and
unusual color cOlnbinati ons. Aniln at ed, effervescent bubbl es
suggest transience. The centers of blossoming fl owers translate into
fli ckers of glowing light. The tips of the sunbeams in KALEIDO-
SCOPIC VIII. The Sun, the Mooll . . . and the Stars (pages 20-21 ) were once
tropi cal blossoms. In their new context they burst into scorching
flames (17).
... 17 Detail of KALEIDOSCOPIC VIII:
The Sun, the Moon,.
and the Stars
According to his offi cial bi ogr apher, Dr. Seuss tb ought tbat writers who knew bow a st ory
would end produced an inferior product . A good book has t o fi gure its way out of a predi canl ent.
"He wanted his st ories t o t ake on a li fe of their own," she said, adding, "Wben serendipity pushed
itself in Dr. Seuss' face, be recognized it. "
This little bit of Seuss lore ti ckl es me. When 1 first made quilts, r tbought the "right" way demanded
a design-in-stone before the first scissor snip. Now I know that letting the design suggest other
possibiliti es is an equally valid approacb.
The best way to design a kaleidoscope-like image is t o think kaleidoscopi call y. Come t o the
table with a palette, a concept, and a willingness to revise both. Share control r ather than demand
obedience from your subj ect . When the fabri c wants t o go that way instead of thi s, let it. You are
supervising a met amorphosis-in-progress. Rearrange fabrics, colors, shapes, and lines into new
patterns constantly.
Let' s go back to the very beginning. Deciding how many triangles the scope will be di vided into
determines the angle to be draft ed. Our quiltmaking legacy includes many evenly di vided six-
sided hexagons and eight-pointed stars. A design with eight pi eces-of- the-pie becomes a square
when a triangle is added to each corner. A six-sided design for ms a rectangle. Sometimes one of
these shapes works better in the envisioned quilt than another. Other times a "must-use" fabric
necessitates choosing one division over the other. Maybe there are only six or seven repeats in the
amount of fabri c available. Or maybe stuffing a generous design into the wedge defined by a 45°
angle causes it to lose its appeal.
Distinguishing each angle's peculiar charms isn' t easy, because the differences are subtle. Both
can be dressed up or down , becoming fo rmal and grand or spunky and chic. The classic form of
an octagon reads slightly more regularly, while a six-sided shape with its wider wedge seems somewhat
less sophisticated (18). (See "Conversations with Kaleidoscope Friends" on page 140.)
... 18 Comparison between 36°, 45°, and 60° triangles
Because visual rhythm is based partly on repetition, a block di vided into lots of pi eces-of- the-
pi e automati call y inherits a dynamic quality. Rapid, rhythmic visual movements fr om on e
repeat ed element t o the next make it th rob with activity. The fewer the wedges, the less it vibrat es.
(Of course, it isn' t hard t o start a fat wedge whirling with a few well-pl aced zingers.).
KALEIDOSCOPIC IV Clystal Canopy (page 16), KALEIDOSCOPIC XI Snowfall (pages 24-25), and
KALEIDOSCOPIC XII. Up Close and Far Away (page 26) are examples of quilts with hexagon al
images. KALEIDOSCOPIC III Stained Glass AntholoBJ (page 13), KALEIDOSCOPIC VII The Natural
Order of Chaos (pages 18- 19), and KALEIDOSCOPIC XV Eccentric Circles (page 29) are based on
eight-sided designs.
I t ackl ed a ten-sided design for the fi rst time in KA LEI DOSCO PI C I K Public Radio Daze (page 30),
inspired by the dazzling colors and compl exity of imagery in a Charl es Karadimos scope. The
geo metri c di\'ision of 360
into ten created a surprisingly slim 36° tri angle, demanding a \ ery
different mindset. I had to narrow my mind's eye considerabl y whe n I \\'andered through my
fabrics. Big, p u f ~   elements faced being trimmed into sh ers of their former seh-es to fit the slender
boundari es. I next expl ored ten-sided images in KALEIDOSCOPIC X Ill. Ralldolll Acts of Color (page
27), aiming fo r an inforIn al, spontaneous mood .
• Detail of KALEIDOSCOPIC IX: Public Radio Daze
I find I am drawn to state-of- the-art kal eidoscopes that ha\'e odd-sided designs. Although an
une\'en number of wedges radiating repetiti\'ely from a common center eme rges as a balanced
image, its \'ague irregularity captures my attention.
In 1992 J bartered a fabric kaleidoscope fo r a dramati c fi\ 'e-sided scope entitl ed "Twilight" by
Randy and Shell ey Knapp of Ontario, Oregon. I fell in lm'e the first time I gazed into thi s scope's
opulent inte ri or. But whil e the colors offe red inspirati on for a future quilt palette, I didn ' t think a
fi\ 'e-sided design was in my future, because I only sew straight seams. A design divided into an
e\'en number of di\'isi ons can be constructed much mo re easil v than one with an odd number.
In an evenly nurnbered design, half of the triangles pi eced together wi ll fo rm a straight edge
(see "Joining Together" on page 77).
For \\'eeks aft e r its arri\"al, I li stened to the e\'ening nc\\"s, telephone cOl1\ 'e rsati ons, the sounds
of my daily life, with thi s scope's tumbling images pressed to my eye, Then, in what felt like a
second, whe n J didn ' t e\'en reali ze r \\'as focusing on it , I took a creati\'e leap, Wh at if, instead of
rnaking ten ide nti cal tri angul ar segments, I made fi\'e left-sided and fi \'e ri ght-sided? Would the
res ulting image ac t as a fi\ 'e-sided, odd-numbered deSign , e\'en though the underlying structure
would bean even-nurnbered di\'ision ofte n?
Interiors of Twilight by Randy and Shelley Knapp
I pl ayed with thi s idea in KALEIDOSCOPI C X. Waterfrolll the Moon (pages 22-23). Again J had t o
re\'ise my thinking, Out went the no\\' famili ar central axis with identi cal elements repeated in the
same positi on on either side, Thi s time I mentally labeled the 36
tri angle on   graph paper with
a top, botto m, left ,and ri ght side and fo rced myself to think of the left side and the ri ght side as
separate units, My pl an was t o create some moti fs foc used along the left side, and co mpl etely
di ffe rent on es directed toward the ri ght, conscious that elements along each of the triangle's sides
would connect t o their mirro r images and bl osso m into something brand- ne\\", Although for all
intents and purposes this design strategy di vided a single pi ece-of-pi e in two, the fin al result is a
unifi ed wedge, Smooth connecti ons between the two sides were created by adjusting existing lines
( 19A,19B),
Since the left side and the right side did not
share a relati onship, this scheme forced me, more
th an e\'er before, to rely on serendipity to work
its magic. I had no idea what the final irnage
would be, or whether L would like it. The good
news is, 1 liked it a lot and now I want t o try
other odd-s ided di visions,
In KALElDOSCOPl C XIV Myst (page 28) the
nine di\'erse images include one ten -sided, fi w
eight-sided, t\\"o six-sided, and one fi\'e-sided
deSign , making it a useful guilt fo r an alyzing

r ·",',; ..
,,, >AI < If'--
,, _ _ .,.,,"- I..    
the effect of di ffe re nt angles, A 19A Left-sided piece-oF-pie A 19B Right-sided piece-oF-pie
Begin a tentati ve palette by choosing likely candidates based on the descripti ons in "Our Fabrics,
Our Palettes" on page 95. An open rnind during this open-ended search can be a real eye-opener.
If something ti ckles your fancy, grab it; don ' t stop t o rati onalize your materi al instincts.
Pick a fabri c with unabas hed bilateral symmetry for the pat ch destined t o land in the design's
important center. Remember, the fabric chosen for this turning point ass umes a major role,
creati ng a focal point that sets the mood for the scope-t o-come.
Review "How t o Make a Template" on page 39. Pl ace the window-like template on the front of
the fabric, aligning the center line of the template with the ilnplied center of a motif. Move it up,
move it down , turn it upside down. Varying the telnplate's placement ever so sli ghtl y alters the
final kaleidoscopic effect .
A t first the potenti al for seemingly endless possi bilities may be overwhelming. I know it was for
me. But I have come to belie\'e in the notion that there isn' t a correct or best selecti on- that
fabric choices made t oday will be different from ones made tomorrow. Embracing the possibilities
offered by choice rather than fee ling challenged by it can be liber ating.
If looking at fabric this way is a brand-new idea, here is a design tip: don ' t cut the templ ate out
right away. Instead, place the entire sheet of template pl astic, with the marked 45
angle, on a
whole piece of fabri c (20) . This gives you a chance to adapt the template to the printed fabric,
altering it if necessary, before it is cut out, instead of fi tting the fabric into t he template. Consider
this scenari o: you plan on a 3" t riangle for the first patch, but fiddling with the goods reveals that
a 3 X" triangle creat es a more imaginati ve image. If you realize the need for this change after the 3"
ternplate is cut out, chances are you' ll have t o scrap the first one and make a brand-new template.
Review the discussion on how t o shape templates t o fit fa bric in on page 43.
pl ace the entire
sheet of template
plastic, with the
marked 45°
angle, on a whole
piece of fabric.
If you don't know where to start, look at the fabric as a whole. What catches your eye? A graceful line,
a powerful contrast , a twinkle of brightness? St art there,
Put the template on the eye-cat ching section and scan its possibilities. It's natural to foc us first
on the pat ch of fa bric that falls in the middle of the templ at e, along the center axis. Just don 't
forget that it is as important t o analyze what is going to occ ur along the seamlines. Try t o visuali ze
the mirror-imaged consequence. Moving it just a smidgen may transform the res ult . Identify
which of the fa bric's motifs center along the axis and whi ch ones land on the seamline, conse-
quentl y refl ecting into mi rror irnages.
Four different eight-sided images
are created from the
same fabric.
The placement of these triangles
on the fabric differs
only slightly.
Panels 21 and 22 illustrate how shifting the template slightly transfo rms the fina l effect. Four
different eight-sided images are created from the same fabric. To the ri ght of each kal eidoscope
block is a three-inch 45
triangular template with X" sea m all o\\'ance, a fabric patch created from
that templ ate, and the same patch witho ut seam allowance. The exact pl aceme nt of th e four
templates on the fabric is sho\\'n in Panel 22. Block A's Template sits three-eighths of an inch lo\\ er
than Template B and one inch lower than Ternplate C. The t op/bottom directi on of the fabric is
r eversed for Bl ock D's ternplate. Act uall y, it is created from the leftO\'ers.
Oft en my first pl ace ment of the templ ate on the fa bri c renders the least sophisti cated res ult. It
seerns to be a natural tendency to aim fo r \\"hat appears to be a complete moti f. This transparent
template technique makes it easy to positi on an intact motifin a patchwo rk shape, taking care not
to chop off its \'ital parts. But it turns out that \\·hen a design undergoes mirror-irnaging, \\'onderful
effects emerge when the motif is cropped. A co mplete entity ends up looking like the same old
thing. It seems expected, a trifle boring, whil e a littl e bit refl ects itself into something brand-new:
a piece of unique, imaginatiYe intricacy that didn't exist before.
Locate the dark blue, circular motifs in the pi ece offabric shown in Panel 22. [n Block E (23) thi s
shape sits intact in a Single triangle, centered along its axis. Because its edges don' t touch the se\\'-
ing lines or extend into the seam all owance, what you see is what you get in the fini shed product.
Placing the templ ate lower on the fabric alters the outcome. In Bl ock F the circular motif is
positioned directly on the sewing line so that part of it spills into the seam all owance. When the
tri angles are pi eced together, the roundness disappears. The dark blue motifs meld into a new,
unique shape that is perceived as background from which other colors and lines dance forward.
Varying the placement af the template to
alter the outcome.
Note the eye-cat ching, light-catching motif peppering the perimeters of Bl ocks E and F.
As things stand now thi s li\'ely detail will slip int o oblivi on, lost in the searn allowance. Revising a
pi ece-in-progress t o accommodate serendipity is always an opti on.
Don ' t be too im'ested in your choices. Let the fabric make its magic. Try lots of different things,
even the stuff you think mi ght be biza rre. Tryout e\'ery "what if" idea that pops into your head.
Sometimes getting fro m here t o that inspired instance of creati\'it:, t akes lots of stops in between.
Of course, the first patch doesn't ha\'e to be a cl assic triangle. A predetermined number of
degrees for ms the angle at the top, but its other borders should be deSigned to accommodate the
fabric. Diagram 21 on page 43 illustrates lots of possibiliti es for shaping Patch I.
Block Gis composed ofeight triangles identical to the one shown to its right. Find the turquoise lines
just below the purple doo-dad that sits about 1;C; " from the top. In the final version I' m particularly
fond of two elements created by these turquoise lines. First , the lines fl ow over the seamline and
merge into an intricate arrangement that continues gracefully from pat ch to patch. Second, the
very slight upward curve at the seams winds up in a neat little circle.
To the far right , the templ ate for Bl ock G is reshaped, maintaining the t wo elements described
above. In this second version the dark blue circul ar motif is cropped by the sewing line. Compare
the bottom shape of the template with the corresponding fabri c patch. Because the seam allowance is
included, the template extends way beyond the end of the sewing lines. This excess will be trimmed
when the templat e is mat ched t o its neighboring templ ate. (See "How to Match Templ ates" on
page 54.)
At this poi nt I don 't know what the final kaleidoscopic image with the revised templ at e will be.
For what it's worth, here is my guess. After being drawn into the eye-catching circul ar center, the
viewer 's attention will pass gently t o the turquoise curvilinear shapes, following these lines away
from the center until they gr adually dissipate in a tapered point of light color. Of course, this all
depends on what comes next .
If possibl e, don 't decide on the final shape and size of the fi rs t patch without thinking about
where to go from there. The first pat ch inspires the second. The goal is t o creat e a link between
two (or more) fabri cs that smoothes the transition, drawing the eye away from its initial fling
with the kaleidoscope's center. Find a relationship that binds the two fabrics into a brand-new
visual t reat. Think in terms of camouflaging seams t o encourage an uninterrupted fl ow of shape
or color from one patch to the next.
This search involves physically manipulating the fabri cs. Put the fabric intended for the first
pat ch on the work surface. Pl ace a sheet of templat e plastic with the angle marked on it where you
want to begin. Next, look for tern pting portions of other fabrics that suggest a possible relationship wi t h
the first , perhaps because of similar shapes or colors or something intangible. Investigate the link
by folding the second fabric along the motif where you think it might connect to Pat ch 1. Place the
fold along the approximate seamline of the
first pat ch. Fine-tune the connection by
ad j usting the fold and rearranging the
fabrics until on e artful combinati on
makes you gasp "aaaahhh! " with appre-
ciati on. If this aspired-to revelation seems
a long time coming, go on to a different
second fabric and repeat this problem-
solving routine.
The art of coupling
Panels 24, 25, and 26 jlJ ustrate six diffe re nt exa m pi es of th is impo rtant j unctu reo In each case one
fa bric is used in two different ways. The common fabri c con nects to t\\'o dissimil ar ones, un leas hing the
magic of interl acing patte rns eyer)' time. The graph paper di agram for eac h of the two outco mes
is di splayed, along with its corresponding te mplates marked \\'ith seam all owance, the patches cut
fro m these templ ates, and the res ulting unit of pi eced- together patches. These sampl es offer a
chance t o tryon this new way of looking at fabri c. A useful t ool to ha\' e on hand during the
fo ll owing disc ussion is a set of mirrors th at ca n be positi on ed together at a 45° angle on top of a
single piece-of-pi e.
For ho mework, find the patches' corresponding pl aces in the whole cloth. Identi fy where patches
are centered al ong the axis and whe re they land on the seam line. Visualize the patches without
t heir seam all o\\·ances.lmagine the mi rror- imaged consequences. Meas ure ho\\' bi g the first patches
are by counting t he graph-paper grid.
The t\\'ice- used fa br ic in Exampl es A and B is fro m an elegant French Pro\'incial cotton scarf,
framed with a fo ur-inch wide bl ock-printed borde r. A porti on of the bo rder can be seen on the left
of the s\\' atch. In both exam pIes the scarf is used in Patch 2. In Exam pi e A the first patch meas u res
I Ys " hi gh and is cut from a repetiti ve stripe \\'ith bil ate ral symmetry. The connecti on it makes with
a motif from the sca rf's border obsc ures the seam and leads attenti on t oward the continuous
",hite lines that scall op around the kal eidoscope. Note the two sets of three blac k dots in each
pat ch. Visualize t he effect wh en this moti f Ineets itself, without the seaIn allo\\'ance, in a sli ghtl y
tri angul ar fo rmati on at e\'ery seam .
In Exampl e B the first patch is cut froIn an all -o\'er with a spaced layout, meaning that there is
less motif th an ground. The eccentric circles fl oat apart from each other on an empty field . Extra
care must be t aken t o positi on the center axis of Templ ate 1 on an on -grain moti f. This ensures
stability when all the tri angles meet in the mi ddl e. The temp late does not ha\'e to be cut from the
exact saIne circle each of t he eight times, as long as it ec hoes t he c un'Y line marked on the
template. In fact , the effect will be more interesting if there are subtl e differences in the shadings
and lines that collect in the Illiddle.
There are t\\·o reasons \\' hy I chose to di\'ide Exa mple B into t\\'o separate patches ra ther than
an inclusi\'e Single tri angle of scarf fa bri c. The first is prac ti cal. J want to use thi s one-and-on ly
scar f and save it too. By creating a templ ate with a fl at end rather th an a tapered angle, T consen 'e
fabri c. Specifica ll y, the equall y appealing, neighbo ring In otifis left intact t o use in another scope.
The second reason is moti\'ated by design . When Pa tch 2 is exte nded into a tall er, Single tem-
pl ate, the t op of the teInpl ate lands on a murky moti f. Thi s would not be an auspi cious beginning.
MO\'ing the template do\\'n to a\'oid thi s gloo my center means lOS ing the \vhite le,l\' es at the top
of Pat ch 2. These \\'ill bend into graceful arches at the sea ms. Pi ecing a new li\'ely fa bri c to Patch 2
is clearly the answer. Although the first pat ch meas u res only three-quarte rs of an inch, it repre-
sents an area eight times as large. Imagine the \isLl al \i brations when eight te mplates filled with
dynamic white strokes pop out of the center. Now that's a charismati c beginning!
At first glance it may seem as though Pat ch 2 contains an unabridged \'e rsion of this moti f.
Ac tually, the uppermost red and mustard lea\'es spill into the sea m all o\\'ances and combine into
gracefull y cL1l'\'ing points. The botto m part of the t riangul a r patch of fa bric suggests lots of
possible directi ons for the next pi ecing seq uence. The final shape of the t emplate \\'ill depend on
these decisions. (See the continuing disc ussion of this exampl e on page 116.)
. t",
L i h
'i+f-L -\ 11+.
A 24 The art of coupling: transitions from the first patch to the second
In Panel 25 the common fabri c is used for Patch 2 in Example C and Patch I in Example D. In
Example C simil ar (but different) hues of pink unite the patches in a seamless relati onship. Visuali ze the
finished res ult minus the seam all owance. The blue sparks igniting the center end up crowned
with golden darts, while each of the oli ve-colored leaves spills across the seamlines and curl s up
with its O\,·n refl ecti on.
An openwork lace of gold lines starts off the wedge in Exampl e 0 before di sappearing into
Patch 2 in an ambiguous shift of color. Patch 2 is cut from an elabor ate Japanese-inspired fabric
printed on the diagonal. This fabri c isn't app ropri ate for the first patch beca use it is not printed
on-grain, but it is a fine candidate to fill an ens uing position. Also, although the motifs read as
bilaterally symmetrical, it ain' t necessaril y so. A close examination re, ·eals lots of discrepancies
from one side to the other. Only the t op inch of the motif lines up with the template's grid before
losing its correlati on with the center axis. When drafting the template for Patch 2, I took care to
ensure th at thi s not-guite-symIl1etri cal motif bumps into itself bri efl y at the sea mlines in what
will appear to be a flawl ess connecti on. The state of being sli ghtl y askew works in this design,
lending the whole shebang a jaunty, relaxed feel. By positi oning the segment that goes a\\Ty to-
ward the middle, it doesn' t ha,·e to conform to the exacting rul es demanded by th uptight seams.
In Panel 26, the common fabric in Examples E and F is a rolli cking celebrati on of color. Goods
this good desen ·e to show themselves off in subst anti al shapes like the long Patch 2 in Exampl e E.
[t combines easily with the primary-colored, Gothic-style fabric used for the first patch. The colors
and shapes in Patch J team up with the hot reds and oranges that encircl e the center. The hi gh
contrast of green in the next row zaps this juncti on with a stron g, abrupt contrast that starts the
focus spinning away from the center.
In this case the template for Patch 2 does not have to be placed at the exact sa me repeat each
time. Utilizing thi s fabric's ex uberant yet somewhat random coloring e\'okes the radi ant yet tran-
sient relati onships between colors in a scope's interi or. To line up the template on the whole cl oth ,
1 foc used on the zigzagging line separating the colo r green from the adjacent o range and the
arrows marked along the center axis, and let the rest fall where it may.
And now for sornething compl etely different . The fabri c used for Patch 2 in Example F is a
Dutch Java print. The thin yell o\\" Jines interspersed with black and purple ones intrigued n1. e.
I tri ed lots of ways to connect these two fabri cs before I settled on this one. Visualize the mirror-
imaged res ults. The yell ow lines refl ect into wings that vanish into bl ackness. The motif of tiny
",hite lines caught bet\\"een the stripes may seem lonely and insi gnifi cant now, but in the kaleido-
scopi c ve rsi on this frin ge will become an ac ti w component, causing the eye t o leap around the
circl e.
Thanks to a tiny detai l toward the bottom of Patch 1, the seam between the two patches becomes
uncl ear. The purple ano'w surrounded by the burst of yellow detaches visuall y from the first patch,
looses its shaft in the seam, and connects to the dark vague colors in Patch 2. Meanwhile, the seam
is re ponsible for a wonderfu l illusion , can'ing the yell ow into a curvaceous edging.
Did I know this was going to be the case when I started the search? No. [ can only take credit for
the fact that [ recognize the gifts of serendipity when they open up in front of me.
1 17
Although the kaleidoscopic design is formed agai nst the background of a grid, there is no reason to
follow its network of lines. The purpose of this frame\\ 'ork is t o help organize and discipline the
symmetry, perhaps even to influence the proportion of the patches. Best of all, it frees you from a
conventi onal sense of patchwork order by providing the confidence that the finished block will fit
together. Here's the chance to create odd angles, the opportunity to randomly facet any shape.
Examples G, H, J, J, K, L, and M, (27, 28, 29, 30, 31 ) illust rate variations on the theme begun in
Example B (24, page 11S). Please not e, all the following patches and pi eced-toget her samples
include the seam allowance unless otherwise indicated.
Sorting through piles (a nd piles) offabrics led to a versatil e print twinkling with gold outlined
patterns on a rich black grou nd. A session of hands-on experimenting suggested this sim pie plan:
fill the next 1 %" of the pi ece-of- pie with a big fat patch of this glittery prima donna. The relati on
between the ochre-colored doodad at the t op center of Patch 3 and the background color of
Patch 2 inspired the final choice. The two colors bl end into a new rnotif, visually interrupting the
strai ght line between point c and point d. Seeing the pleasing effect of this relati onship gave me
the idea t o look for other ways t o   i s g ~ l i s e the horizontal sewing line.
Find the red arch in Patch 3 and note its background. I decided to extend thi s ground, figura-
tively, across the seam and into Patch 2. This plan involves three steps. Here's the abridged version
in a nutshell:
j. Use a template t o trim each corner of Patch 2.
2. Strip a pi ece offabric similar to the glittery black background to each of the sixteen trimmed
3. Re-mark these pieced-together fabri cs with the original template.
Here's the more- than-you-probably-want-t o-know version. By placing Template 3 on Patch 3,
J found and marked the gridpoint where the red arch ends and the black background begins
(point B). Counting grid lines identified the coordinates of point B, making it easy to rnark this point
on both the di agram and Template 2. By placing Template 2 on Patch 2, I decided how much of the
little red branches t o trim off at the corner and ruled a line from poil1t B t o poil1t h. I counted grid
lines and transfer red this line t o the diagram and to the other corner of Template 2.
heck out Template 2. See how the left side of the template is different from the right side? The
left side is re" ised according to the new scheme and correlates with points Band h (i ncluding seam
allowance). The ri ght side, marked with seam line B-1! , sits intact on a strip of all -over fabric with
metallic hi ghlights. This versatile teIllplate is now two templates in one.
First, use the revised corner of Templ ate 2 t o trim both corners of Patch 2. Align Template 2 t o
Patch 2, mark and cut the left corner, flip the template over, and trim the other corner. Repeat
with all eight pat ches.
Next, cut two strips of Fabri c 4. Use the right side of Template 2 to figure ou t how wide the strip
has to be. Stitch the eight patches al ong seamline B-h to the strip. Press. Again, place Template 2 on
Patch 2, positi oning template line B-h directl y on seamline B-1!. Make sure the center axis of the
template lines up with the impli ed center axis of the fabri c. It 's OK t o fuss with the fabri c t o ensure
the template is correctly aligned. Mark and cu t each of the eight patches. Repeat this sequence on
the other side of Patch 2.
In the pi eced-t ogether version of Example G, the left side is the original idea and the right side
is the revised yersion. Li vely interlaced patterns are already starting t o emerge. The black prints
link t ogether and seem t o recede behind the red arch, est ablishing a dimensional quality to the
design . The eye \Vi 11 loop rhythmi call y around the scope as it follows the rec urrent motifs.
... 27
A. Fabric 3
B. Diagram G
C. Template 2
D. Fabric 4
E. Template 3
F. Patch 3
G. Example G
.--- '-:
\ g ~
~   '.
4\ d
<UL.L ~
\ f
1 \
Example H illust rat es a second seaml ess connection with the little red coral-like patterns in
Pat ch 2's corners. The new motif draws the patterns down into a slightly curving V. Imagine the
arc of visual movement as the eye veers along these gently bowing contours .
Here's the sequence for thi s design process. To map out the shape of Patch 3, align a sheet of
template plastic t o Fabri c 3. It is important the moti f in Patch 3 is center ed symmet rically along
the axis, so make sure to match a bold inch line on the template material with the impli ed center
of the moti f. Looking through the transparent stuff, foc us on what portion of the fabric you want
in the pat ch. With a ruler, outline the moti f using grid lines t o guide the placement of the lines.
These lines define the templ ate. Trace bits of the motif onto the template, add seam allowance,
and cut. Counting grid lines, transfer the shape of the pat ch to the diagr am.
The lines defining Patch 3 on the diagr am suggested a simpler way t o piece the pat ches to-
gether. Find line 8-h In the r evised version, shown on the ri ght side of the di agram, this line is
extended. It becomes line h-i , t rimming off a bit of Pat ch 2 in the process. Res hape Patch 2 to the
new dimensions by aligning Template 2 with the revised diagram. Trace the lines that alter its
shape and add seam all owance. Mat ch the edges of Template 2 t o Templat e 3 for aCGurate piecing
alignment .
12 0
... 28
A. Fabric 3
B. Diagram H
C. Match Template 3 to Template 2
for accurate piecing alignment
D. Original Template 3 with
corresponding Patch 3
E. Template 3 and Patch 3 with
revised corners
F. Example H
In Examples G and H the design spot li ght aims towa rd the center axis. In Example I, resoh-ing
the how-to-continue-the-design-dilemma returns to the same impulse that moti\'ated the pre\'ious
two examples: to \' isually playoff the red patterned motifs in Patch 2's co rners. But this time,
instead of pursuing the piecing sequence in the center, the design focus is pointed at the sea ms.
In this experiment, two very different fabrics fill the sarne shape. The temperamental personality
of the prima donna on the left requires its own templ ate, adorned ",ith clues fo r acc uracy.
Note the elegant res ult as thi s motif joins its [nirror image in a pointy formation along the seam .
The delicate nuances contribute t o a well-mannered, organi zed \'isual pattern. The second fabric,
a sparkling all-over print, ac hi eves a similar res ult in bot h shape and coJo r but in a less compul si\'e
The significant difference bet\\'een the two fabrics is that each requires a different piecing tech-
nique. In terms of the design sequence bot h fabrics can be considered Patch 3. But , regarding the
piecing sequence, the two deviate compl etely. The left patch's fastidious personality demands its
own template. The right fabric gets cut into long two-inch strips and strip-pieced to the shape
labeled Patch 4, regardless of whether thi s space is filled with a Single fabric or faceted into many.
Instead of making Template 3 and Template 4, make one Template (3+4)(plus seam allo\\·ance).
Use the fabri c randomly t o capture the momentary and tr ansient nature of a kaleidoscope.
.... 29
A. Fabric 3, prima donna
B. Fabric 3, all -over
C. Diagram I
D. Template 3
E. Patch 3, prima donna version
F. Example I
/ 3
In Example J the compli cated fa bric, with undul ating motifs and a strong sense of mo\'ement,
is one of th ose rare finds with perfectl y mirror-imaged patterns, Any of its off-grain nlotifs reflect
into exciting kaleidoscopic effects brimming with animated detail s. The elega nt wi ggles of gold
seen1. to dance before our eyes. An accommodating fabric like this deserves t o show off its goodi es
in a bi g patch. My probl em is, I get so tempted by this kind of potenti al that sometimes I create a
patch so generous in its dimensions-it seems to cross the line from enti cing into boring.
Here's the thought process behind the sea rch for the perfect piece of print. During this explora-
ti on I \'iewed the fabric through a sheet of templ ate plastic marked with the center axis and shape
e-c-d-f pivoting it on the fabric. My goal was to position a strand of wine-colored seaweed along
line c-d to \'isuaJly merge with Patch 2's littl e red branches. The template re\'ealed 1 could let the
seaweed attach to itself at the seams or keep a twinge of black background exposed that would
form slight but dramati c rays. I went for both : a small st ab of dark drama toward the top of the
template and contin uity from a merging maroon motif near the bottom. A bu nch of white bubbl es
convening at the ce nter axis slip into the visual rhythm set up by the white details in Patch 2.
Anti cipating the mo\'ement of the viewer's eye around the compositi on-in-progress suggested
further design possibiliti es. A t this point the lines of seaweed connect in a continuous coil around
the scope. The etTect is defi nitely pleasing. But maybe it would be e\'en more interesting if this much
sameness was interrupted. l decided to pierce the winding fl ow of pattern with a stab of color, choosing
an all-over luminous fabric because it works well "vith the background color oH atch 2.
These new considerati ons required modifying the diagram. I added line j-k to Example K. To
trim Patch 3 identically, make a new Template 3, tracing the shape from the diagram. Don 't cut
down the ori ginal template. Keep it intact , place it on the diagram, and trace line j-k onto it. Use
the new template t o trim the eight left-sided and eight ri ght-Sided Pat ch 3s. Strip-pi ece the new
fabric to Patch 3 along seam line j-k. Press. Now use the original template to reshape the patch by
aligning line j-k with seam j-k.
A. Fabric 3
B. Diagram J
C. Template 3
D. Left and right Patches 3
E. Patches 3 sewn together
F. Example J
G. Fabric 4
H. Diagram K
I. Revised Template 3
J. Revised left and right Patches 3
K. Template (3+4)
L. Patches (3+4)
M. Patches (3+4) sewn together
A Pat ch 2 mi ssing a corner inspired the last two sampl es. Templ ate 2 fits the m'ail able fabri c,
all owing fo r the seams. The left oye r shape created by transferrin g t he lines t o t he di ag ram
becomes Patch 3. Choosing a prima donna for this position establi shes the need fo r a separate
Template 3. After marking t hi s irregul ar tri angle with directional clues for inst ant orientati on,
match its edges with Templ ate 2 for acc urate piecing ali gnment . [n the case of an all -over, the drill
is to strip-pi ece Fabric 3 to Pat ch 2 and outline shape with Templ ate (2+3). A separate Template 3
is not needed.
In Example L Fabri c 3 zaps the juncti on between Patches 2 and 3 with a sharp contrast . Thi s
reinforces the effect of t he str aight line and generates another area of interest along the seam.
1n the fini shed bl ock the combined res ult of Pat ches I and 2 will be an eight-pointed star
surrounded by scall ops of Pat ch 3.
In Example M a simil ar sense of color betwee n the fabrics in Patch 3 and Patch 2 softens th e
straight seam without camoufl aging it. (The background in Patch 2 takes credit for this impression, bu t
I think it's really due to the tan obl ong-s haped p rojecti ons surrounded in red.) The chevron
pattern printed with three-dimensional gualiti es aims itsV, and the \'ie\yer's eye, t oward theseam.
Pl ease n ote that the pi ece-of-pi e in Exampl e L is shown without the seam allowance.
1n both exa mpl es Fabrics 3 are energeti c patterns th at infuse a guality of moti on into the design
with a minimum of effort . The di agonal lines imply movement , evoking the impression that , just
like in an ac tual kaleidoscope, chan ge is imminent.
<4 31
A. Fabric 3 for Example L
B. Diagram L
C. Template 3
D. Patch 3
E. Match Template 3 to Template 2
F. Example L
G. Fabric 3 for Diagram M;
H. Diagram M
I. Template 3
J. Patch 3
K. Match Template 3 to Template 2
L. Example M
Everyone involved in creati\'e work has experi enced that uncomfortable period when she stares,
clueless, at an empty canvas, a blank page, an unrul y pile offabri c. Sudden soluti ons are instances
to appreciate, but since we can' t explain how an idea "appears out of the blue," we can' t rely on
spontaneous insights or serendipity to resc ue us in the ni ck of time.
The best ,vay to overcome quilter's block is to do something. Doing so met hing, even if you
have no clear direction in mind, stimulates the thought processes. The idea is to vis ually brain-
storm. Let your mind wander freely, unrestrained, uncensored, and alert to what might develop.
Play with the idea, letting it guide you to a unique soluti on. Brainstorming, by nat ure, may lead to
some strange pat hways. However, as complex as creativity seems, in the final analysis a successful
design can begin with one simple idea.
Ask peopl e you consider artistic what they consciously do to stimul ate the creati ve process.
Some will menti on making qui ck "roughs" or sketches. Turning neatl y stacked fabrics into textil e
mud pies seems to be my way of doodling. My viewpoint ping-pongs between eye-catching, chance
combinati ons. A cloth peeks out, igniting a relationship with the stuff over there, w li ch prods my
memory of something I know is in here somewhere, but wait, maybe this ... or this ... hey, maybe
both will work instead.
(If, at birth, I'd been given a choice between being naturally neat or having naturall y curl y hair,
I'm sure I vvould have picked the first. As it turned out , I am a curly- haired messy person. Things
may look pretty neat on the surface, but my cl osets are a mess. I used to think it was a worthy
effort to hide my disorganized tendencies. But in the past couple of years, as my art has empowered me,
I've given up the facade. To my family's dismay, the clutter that used t o stay tastefully tucked out
of sight is following me out of the closet. After all , so many quilts ... so little time).
Gazing into kaleidoscopes is my research. When my attention is ca ught by a particularly effec-
tiYe image, I stop to figure out how this was achie\'ed. My intenti on isn' t to reproduce it exactly.
Instead, my goal is to develop a personal vocabul ary that describes the radiant yet transient rela-
ti onships between colors in a scope's interi or. This will help me translate these serendipitous
displays into fabric for all my future quilts , whether kaleidoscopic in design or not. Leaf through
the color photos in this book, in any quilt book, in any book of art. When something catches your
eye, expl ore the element that hooks YOLl .
When you're trying to decide "where to go from here" you are looking for a creatiYe soluti on to
a visual problem. Although there is no stri ct list of "do's and don' ts," there are lots of basic design
standbys to consider that will jump-s tart the brainstorming juices.
Start with the graph paper diagram. Let your mind wander aroLlnd the network of lines,
unhampered by color. It can suggest ways to elaborate on already existing themes or visually
connect patches that aren' t necessarily next to each ot her. Sometimes interrupt , other times
continue, the prevailing pattern. For example, when most of the shapes are horizontal, throw
in a couple of verti cal ones. Designing the kaleidoscope is a developmental process. It evolves
gradually, becoming larger, fuller, ri cher.
The relati\'e \'alues of the patches in the design will arra nge themseh'es into areas of sharp and
mild contrast . This \\'ill bappe n in spite of you so don't agoni ze too much. It's a useful device when
you're trying to decide "where to go from here." Check out tbe background color of adjacent
patches. When the color that functions as the ground connects to similar hues, searnlines will be
disguised, while the printed elernents appear to adva nce and fl oat on the fabric. Tryon tbe option
of a comparabl e value or temperate deviati on in the next patcb for a gentle transiti on .
Or, zap this juncti on with a strong, abr upt contras t , disconnecting the tranquil flow and intro-
d ucing a new element. Remember: the eye is drawn t o sharp contrasts. A valuable use of dark and
li ght contrast is to create an accent or visual emphas is. Higb dark and li ght contrast instantl y grab
our attention. So by planning bigb contrast in one area and subdued contrast in adjacent patches,
you can predi ct tbat an accent is in the making.
An alternate way to achieve dramati c impac t is by introducing bl ack (see page 12- peacock
pillow). Black makes adjacent colors seem ri ch and cl ear. Slip in a single striking element , or inter-
sperse several black patches. In KALEIDOSCOPIC X. Waterfrom the Moon (pages 22-23) it seen1S as if a
whole cloth of black sits behind tbe lacy network of patches, peeking tbrougb here and there.
Actually, the opemvork effect is due to the many instances of strip-pi eced shapes of black, using
the basic tec hnique described on page SO .
... Detail of KALEIDOSCOPIC X: Water from the Moon
Ask yourself, is this a good time to throw in a zinger? Remember, a pinch of something unexpected
becom es a symmet r ical sprinkl e when it is peppered identi call y th ro ughout the design.
A motif that seems unrelated in a single pi e-slice sector is often responsible for achieving visual rhythrn.
Take another look at the samples in this book. This time, observe how fabrics that look like
they landed fro m di ffe rent planets often unite in fl awless connections, usuall y beca use an inci-
dental doodad from one makes an unexpected link with the middle of a motif in the other.
Instead of looking at the whole pattern of your fabri cs, noti ce the individual elements. You will
probabl y discover more relati ons hips than you can use.
As t he designer, your job is to capture attention with a unified image that offers visual satisfaction .
The good news in a kaleidoscopic design is that there are often happy coincidences that make
it even better. The even better news is that the vie'wer is on your side. She does n' t want t o see
unrelated chaos. She works with you, looking for organizati on , searching for coherence, uniting
the different elements.
Aim for the creation of a harmonious pat tern with related elements by applying a unity-with-
variety principle. Shapes may repea t bu t in different sizes, colors may echo in analogous hues that
vary in value. Irregul arity and variations all serve to maintain the viewer's interest . Resist the
temptati on t o line up elements neatly, such as perfec tl y parallel lines that wind up looki ng like
stripes. Vary lines from thi ck t o thin instead of aiIl1ing for evenness and consistency.
Match seams, not colors. Don't even think about matching colors; matching is boring. Comparable
colors that bear a resemblance to each other make more sophisticated visual connections. Gradati ons
and shadings convey the impression that some pat ches are closer than others or that the ligh t
source is unevenly dist ributed. Color helps est ablish a relationship bet ween parts. Even if each
and every shape is colored without regard t o the ot hers, the final version will be seen as shapes and
areas which overlap and interweave.
The ti me involved in developing an idea differs from problem to problem. Two of t he kaleido-
scopes in KALEIDOSCOPIC XV Eccentric Ci rcles (page 29) are opposite exampl es. In spite of its ex-
tremely complex image, the top right scope is really a streamlined design. Seven different fabrics make
up the twenty patches that comprise the nine-inch piece-of-pie (32). (To get the desired effect in
its neighbor t o the left , a single wedge is composed of forty-one pieces, multipli ed by eight .... )
(33). At the other extreme, the left, bottom scope was unr uly. It took almost a week, and three
major ripping sessions, to create a satisfying design (34).
... 32 Top right kaleidoscope .... 33 Top left kaleidoscope ... 34 Bottom left kaleidoscope
The detail s of KALEIDOSCOPIC XV: Eccentric Circles form a harmonious pattern with related elements.
When your designing instincts point you in anot her directi on and a re\' ision is caJl ed for, don't
think of the o ri ginal idea as a mistake, This puts a negati\'e slant on a natural event in the design
process, Relish the kinds of ideas that propel you further along a path of creati\'ity, Be grateful
that your criti cal thinking skills kicked in , Personally, I'm a fast t alker but a slo\\' thinker.
More often than not it takes me lots of mulling before I sense where I'm going and feel in controL
The Sample (page 128) is a case in point.
To use a mirror or not to use a mirror, that is the question, My answer is: you' re the boss,
Do \\'hat makes you happy,
The idea here is that two mirrors, hinged together at a 45° angle or a 60° angle and placed on
top of a fabric, se!'\'e as a cryst al ball , unfolding the finallTlirrored-image refl ection before your
very eyes, Veritable abracadabra. You see the res ult before you go through the tedi ous steps of
cutting and sewing.
It 's a seducti\'e way to design, My fear is that it can seduce us into thinking that we can 't create
spectac ular effects on our own , Personall y, 1 like the promise of surprise, I want t o believe I am
teaching my mind's eye to instincti\'ely see the same thing from lots of perspectiyes, To me the
image seen through a mirror seems more predictable, less fluid than the real thing,
Ho\\'ever, I use my bias t o form guidelines, not rules. Mirrors find their way onto my work
surface every so often, because J recognize their potential as a design tooL I reach for them when
I'm dissatisfied with the outcome of a close-to-being-finished scope or when I suspect that an
alien element has invaded and taken over a des ign, It helps me investigate whether this compo-
nent overpowers the rest of the design or looks totally out of place in the final ve rsion. In this case
I'm inclined to take something out (as long as it is along an accessible seam) and add something
else, On a single piece-of-the-pie, I put a scrap of new fabric on top of the offending one, and let
the mirrors reyeal the scrap's potential to rehabilitate the design, Sometimes, after obsessively
enacting this ritual wit h a \\'ide range of fabr ic snippets, I decide to leaye it as is, Ot her times,
J change what 1 didn't like by appliqueing something new on t op of it,
Which brings me to another interesting disc ussion, , , ,
Tell the truth, Just now, when I said that sometimes J soh'e a probl em by appliqueing, did you
think: "Ooh, that 's cheating"? Excuse me while I take a brief stand on my personal soap box,
Who arn I cheating? The audi ence? The quilt? Where did this sense that real quilters always take
the hardest route come from?
OK, I admit I used to think this behavior unbefitting a quiltmaker. But this judgment doesn ' t
seem valid anymore, 1 want t o encourage peopl e t o create in their own styles, Pl ease, let 's not
all ow external press u re to di ct at e that we conform to an imaginary standard based on the mytho-
logical perfecti on of the quiltmaking legacy,
The Fabric Made Me Do It
Over ten years ago J named my fi rst one-woman guilt shoy\' "Serendipity." Thi s wo rd succinctly
defines my love affair with quiltmaking: the merging of control and spontaneity to spark some-
thing unexpected. The eight-sided sampl e block is a case in point. 0 matter bow sincere my
intent t o toe the line and create a representati ve cross section of the preceding guidelines, the
design danced off in its own directi on . J envi sioned compl etely different fa bri cs and more
strip-pieced contributions than the mix that wound up in the grand finale. Few remnants of the
original pastel palette survived the metamorph osis (35) .
',' \ '
• 35 The final palette of fabrics for The Sample
The foll owing play-by-pl ay directi ons offer a dry run, a chance t o rehearse the process of
a kaleidoscope bl ock from start t o fini sh before setting off on your own . They ass ume the reader
is now famili ar with the t ools , t echniques, terminology, and design guidelines described in
the preceding pages of this book. Pl ease note that seam allowance is immediately added t o every
The search for Patch 1 began with a 45° outline of the piece-of-pie marked symmetrically on
a sheet of template plas ti c, and ended with a long thin spoke of charming trelli s. The prima donna
fabri c purchased express ly for this purpose did not even end up in the bl ock. Trimming the 45°
tri angular shape t o conform t o the on-grain motif created Template 1 (36A).
A. Template 1 and Patch 1
B. Template 2 and Patch 2
2 Extending the hori zontal, bottom border of Patch 1 on the graph paper diagram defined Patch 2.
This patch is not positioned along the center axis. Therefore when making Templ at e 2, it is not
important t o mat ch a bold line of the template grid t o the grid of the graph paper. For inst ant
ori entation I marked Land R on this asymmetri cal template. Since it is nonreversible, I pl anned to
cut eight left-sided patches, flip the template over and cut eight ri ght-sided patches. To ensure
acc urate ali gnment come pi ecing time, I invented a new angle at the right-bottom corner of Tem-
plate 2, preserving approximately one-quarter inch seam allowance, and transferred the new angle
t o the corresponding corner of Template 1. After aligning the t emplates ri gh t sides together, sew-
ing line t o sewing line, I used the edge of the just-cut angle t o copy the identical shape onto
Template 1. Trimming off the excess plastic created identi cal corners.
3 I explored lots of potential Fabric 2s by rot ating window-like Templ ate 2 on a variety of
candidates. Pl acing an actual Patch 1 on the fabrics was also effecti ve. When Patch 1 made an
eye-catching connecti on with a motif, J positioned Template 2 as though it were sewn to Pat ch 1
and checked out the porti on of fabri c that landed within the t empl at e. T pl ayed \vith the
possibilities, wriggling the template a littl e bit this way, turning the fabric a little bit that way.
Hints from the winning version were traced onto the template (37B) .
• TECHNIQUE TIP At this early point in the design process I usuall y cut out onl y one pat ch per
template. Things change; ensuing decisions lead to future patches, hindSight, and revisions. Also,
now my design instincts are in full gear. I can do the mundane stuff when I'm slowing down.
4 I had second thoughts about Patch 1. It might be a lovely single entity, but I was afraid it woul d
be too much of the same sweet thing when multipli ed by eight . A li vely moti f printed on a vivid
royal blue bonded smoothly to an altered Patch 1 and perked up the effect . Aft er marking the
modificati on on the diagram, I used it t o trim Template 1 and make a template for Pat ch 3. And, of
course, I matched the revised version of Template 1 to Template 3 (37 A).
5 The design foc us shifted back to Template 2. Perhaps it would benefit from a similar review. I
wanted to reinforce the ambiguity between Patches 1 and 2. The relationship between Pat ch 2's
white bubbles and the lattice of white along the central axis \-vorked well. The wonderful royal
blue in Patch 3 gave me the idea to spill similar color ac ross the seam from patch to pat ch. I used
see- through Template 2 to find the best site for this new element . Counting grid lines, I trans-
ferred the searnline to the diagram and t o Telnplate 2. Fabric 4 is stripped on Patch (2+5) (37C).
6 A similar operation at the top of Patch 2 offered an easy opportunity t o punctuate the design
with a pinch of something different. This time, rather than introduce an unexpected element with an
eye-popping disposition, I chose a sparkly all-over on a dark ground for a gentle transition (37B).
• TECHNIQUE TIP Instead of pruning Template 2 to its pared-down dimensions, I made a new
Template 2. J kept the original "as-is " and traced the seam lines for Patches 4 and 5 onto it. Now this
two-in-one template can be used to mark pat ches after strip-piecing all-over Fabrics 4 and 5 t o
Patch 2.
7 From this point on I will cut and sew eight of these units whenever it is convenient.
For future reference let' s call thi s coll ecti on of patches Unit A.
8 The motifs in Patches 2 and 3 set off the next chain of design e\'ents, The idea to continue the
design in a color fami ly simil ar to the brown "sea\\"eed" at the left bottom co rner of Patch 2
res ulted in a chen on pattern \\'ith three-dimensional qualiti es, Follo\\'ing the contour of the chen on
generated a fo rm that \\'orked well along the seam line, I planned to let half a V meet itself at th e
seam and unite into a co mplete chevron,
To map out the shape of Template 6, I traced the potential space re\'eal ed by the diagram onto
template plastic. Then I ali gned the template plastic to Fabric 6 so that the left border of the piece-
of- pi e met th e middl e of a chevron, Tracing the ri ght diagonal outline of the motif's V produced
the shape of the patch (38), I transferred the line to the diagram by counting grid lines,
Deciding the
shape of
Template 6
9 Peeking out of my pile offabri c \\'as an elegant lndonesian ikat on a ri ch indi go ground, Com-
bining the non- nati\'e textil e \\'ith dornestic prints piqued my eclectic tendencies, In spite of the
disparities, the ikat's wo\'en pattern continued the theme of strong directi onal V-shapes , and its
deep background color bl ended effortless ly \\"ith the ground of Patch 2, I created a ternpl ate by
follo\\"ing the pattern 's triangular contour and transferred thi s shape t o the diagram, Because thi s
pat ch falls on the center axis, I nude a template with a bold inch line down the center to ensure
that the motif was centered symmetri cally, The compatibl e backgrounds of Patches 2 and 7 gave
me the idea to extend the margin of Patch 7 so that its color flowed across the sean! into Patch 2,
No\\' Patch 6 bumped into Patch 7, I transferred these lines to the diagram, trimmed off the excess
seam a]J o\\'ance at the template's bottom to one-quarter inch, and matched the t op corners of
Template 7 to the t op-ri ght corner of Template 6 (39).
A. Template 6 and Patch 6
B. Template 7 and Patch 7
10 Ha"ing introd uced stro ng angul ar features , I now sought to softe n all that st rai ghtness with
something elaborate and fl owing. After trying lots of st uff. 1 was surpri sed to find a comparabl e
feel in color between the lea,-es in Fabric 8 and the discreet greyish hue in the ikat. I made the most of
this resemblance, using my yery best matchmaki ng ski ll s to maneu"er the t\, '0 fabrics into sync (40A).
.... 40A
Maneuvering Fabrics 7 and 8
into sync.
.... 40B
Uniting Fabrics 8, 9, and 10.
11 The res u I t was Patch 8, con nected t o Patch 7 on one side, sunou nded by empty graph paper on
the o ther three. Using a rul er, I extended the left boundary of the patch up toward Patch 6. Afte r
meeting the dernands of a pack of prima donnas, I \\'anted the relief of a forgi"ing fabric.
I found an obli ging all-over printed with shadows and hi ghli ghts, opting to continue the ground
color. B)' now it was apparent that the dark common gro und p layed a maj o r ro le in this design ,
"isuaUy uniting the piece-in-progress, carrying the , -iewer' s eye smoothl y from one form t o
the next.
12 How much of this moody blue to use was the next questi o n. Fi ll up the rest of the secti on ?
Fracture it into a coupl e of patches? Extend the lines of the diagram in alternate ways? I postponed
this decision until I knew \\-here the design was headed.
I can ' t explain why, but a certain fabric kept slipping into m)' peripheral , 'iew. A sea of bri ghtl y
colored overlapping umbrellas, the bamboo kind that perch 011 top of drinks with names that
e" oke the South Pacifi c, wanted my attention. Why not expl oit its spokes? After se lecting an ap-
pea ling motif. I he ld my brea th and cou nted the n umbe r of identi cal repea ts in my piece of fabric.
The re were only fifteen . I borrowed a couple mo re from the Phabri c Phantom, a.k.a. Diane Rode
Schneck, a master fabric shopper and accompli shed coll ec to r. Fitting a wedge of umbrella next to
Patch 6 created the leftm'e r shape that beca me a strip-pi eced patch of blue (40B).
• TECHNIQUE TIP This is a good time t o take a break and tidy up the templ ates. First, match
Template (8+10) t o Template 9. Next, according to the diagram, the t op of shape (8+9+ 10) must
match the bottom of Template 6. However, there isn' t a Template (8+9+ 10). You can either make
one, or match (a) the top-left corner of Template 9 to the bottom-left corner of Template 6 and
(b) the t op-ri ght corner of Templ ate 10 t o the bottom-ri ght corner of Template 6. If you make
another template, it will probably come in handy during the succeeding design process. It's also
useful to check if Pat ches 8, 9, and 10 are se\vn together acc urately.
There are a coupl e more mat ches t o make. For cl arity's sake, let 's label the secti on cornprised
of Patches (6+8+9+ 10) Unit B. The right corners of Unit B have t o match the left corners of
Template 7. And, if this was not already done, trim the bottom-left corner of Template 2 t o fit the
t op-right corner of Templ at e 6.
13 Now I switched from studying the pat ches indi vidua lly to reviewing the piece-in-progress as
a uni fied image. The result : I decided the design was t oo somber. The ikat seemed too big, too
formal, too defined.
The V shape lent itself t o modi fications at the corners. I searched through the piles for glitter,
glamour, contrast , surprise-and came up \vith snowflakes. I cut out a few, tried each in the left
corner bordering the golden chevron , and placed a bit of snowfl ake at the ikat 's pointy bottom.
Suddenly patterns emerged, entwined, and interlaced where there wasn 't a link just a second
I returned t o my piles t o continue searching for relief from boring corners . I looked for an
all -over remedy, but returned with a prima donna fl ashing gold, curvy lines. Patch 7 became a trio
offabrics. r made a new trim Template 7 and mat ched it t o Templat es J 1 and 12. After cutting eight
Patch 11s, eight left -sided Patch 12s, and eight ri ght-sided Patch 12s, I pieced eight of these units
together (41).
.... 41
Revising the ikat
14 The next secti on to sew t ogether was eight left-sided Units B to the left side of Patch (7+ 11 + 12).
Repeating thi s step on the ri ght side produced the segment we'll call Unit C. 1 sewed eight Units A
t o eight Units C.
15 It dawned on me that I had used completely different fabri cs from the ones 1 had originall y
planned on. I pulled these out from the bottom of the pil e and gave theIn a chance to audition.
A sheaf of gentl y bowing lines won the role, circling the block like a garland.
After matching Tem plate 13 t o Unit B, T cu t eigh t left -sided and eigh t righ t -sided Pa tcb 13s (42).
1 sewed the sixteen patches to the pi ece-in-progress. Altbough I intended the block t o be bigger, it
occurred t o me that Patch 13 made a graceful ending. Tbe problem was, it was not on grain.
.... 42
Ending with an on-grain fabric
16 The soluti on \vas t o ensure tbat the remaining shape, Patcb 14, was cut on-gr ain . This
required making an individual template for Patch 14 and treating it like a prima donna. However,
the pl ot thickens. To maintain the circular effect created by Patcb 13, the fabric in Patch 14 bad t o
make an almost fl awless match with the fabric it abuts in Patcb 15. This camouflage caused the
seam between the t\ovo t o disappear, figurati vely. The result was a kaleidoscopic image sitting
wreathlike, encircled by a muted background.
Tbis ruse was achieved by using the same fabric selected to square off the block in Patch 14.
A typical all-over print would render tbis effect automatically, but in the case of this randomly
dyed batik I had t o hunt for sixteen different relati onships. Tbis required cLltting out the four
Patch ISs before Patcb 14. I found where the two patches encountered each other by positi oning
tbe two templ ates as if they were pieced-together patches. Aft er matcbing tbe edges of Template
14 to Template 13, I Ll sed Template 14 t o cut out sixteen on-grain patcbes that cor respond colorwise
t o their southern neigbbor. Once all sixt een Patch 14s were pieced to sixt een Patch 13s, I sewed
four Patcb ISs to four pieces-of-the-pie (42,43). Voila.
17 No, wait. The kaleidoscope seemed a tad ... quiet. It lacked beat. What ifJ stripped in a burst of
light at the left -bottom corner of Patch 2? Let's call this addition Patch 16 (44). Here's how t o
finagle thi s al tered sta teo
Template 15
Patch 16
Luckily, l still had both versions of Template 2 from Step 5. By positi oning Template 2 on its
corresponding Pat ch in the piece-of-pie, 1 figured ou t a pleasing place to insert the ne'N fabri c.
Although it darts into the darkness of Patch 2, its color clings to Patch 6 and creates a uni fied
presence. 1 drew the seamline on the template, transferred it to the diagrarn, and traced it onto
the already revised version of Templ ate 2. I trimmed this teInplate t o fit the ne'vv dimensi ons.
Using a seam-ripper I unraveled aboll t one and a half inches of both ends of the seam connecting
Unit A to Unit B. I used the modifi ed Templ ate 2 t o crop Patch 2 acc urately and, once the new
fa bri c was st rip-pi eced on , the ori ginal Ternplate 2 t o reshape t he pat ch. After sewing the seams
between Units A and B t ogether again, r carri ed out the final piecing sequence for an eight-sided
design. And the block was finished (45, 46).
  45 A single piece-of-the-pie   46 The fini shed block
The pas t decade has witnessed a renaissance of interest in the kaleidoscope as a dynamic art
form. Invented in 1816 by Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist and philosopher, it was ori ginall y
labeled an instrument of philosophy and intended as a design tool for artists and others who worked
with patterns. However, it was soon widely recognized as a form of adult parlor entertainment ,
and lat er as a children's toy.
On this side of the A tl anti c, the first kal eidoscope made in America appeared as early as 1818. By
1857 they were produced and marketed in quantity, with prices ranging from twelve cents to as
much as twenty-five dollars for an elabor ate model attached to a lantern. The earliest existing
American scopes are attributed t o Charles Bush,
a resident of Bost on , who secured several pat-
ents for his work in the 1870s. Selling for two
dollars and mounted on a wooden st and, this
handsome instrument had a barrel of black card-
board. Its obj ect case contained abou t thirty-fi ve
glass pieces and was rotated by a spoked brass
wheel. Because some of the pieces were liquid
filled, air bubbles inside the liquid continued t o
move even after the obj ect case was at rest.
It is likely the kaleidoscope was the inspira-
tion for the versatile t radi tional quilt pattern
called "Kaleidoscope" (circa 1869). Eight equal
triangles radiate from the center of the block t o
form the overall pattern . Because it seerns t o
create curves where there are only straight seams,
this simple pattern using only two t emplates
enco urages design expl orati on thro ugh the
deliberate placement of dark and light fabrics.
... Kaleidoscope, 72
/2" x 67" , circa 1910.
From the collection of Jonathon Holstein.
Like quilts, kaleidoscopes ret ain a relati onship t o the traditi on from whi ch they descend.
Contemporary scope makers have created a new stat e of the art by combining their traditi on with
modern technology. A basic kaleidoscope consists of an eye-piece, an obj ect case containing items
t o be viewed, a tube, and either two or three mirrors along the length angled t oward each other in
a V-shaped triangul ar configuration.
The mirror system organizes the light rays into images. A two-mirror syst em provides a refl ec-
ti on of the obj ects in the form of one central image (1) while a three- mir ror design p roduces
refl ections of reflecti ons. By duplicating the pattern t o infinity, innumerable images are created
throughout the entire fi eld of view. This is the version we fondl y remember as childhood toys (2).
In both formats changing the angle of the "V" determines the number and complexity of the
patterns .
... 1 The interior of a two-mirror
kaleidoscope by Allen Crandell
... 4 An assortment of state-of-the-art
kaleidoscopes from the collection of
Cozy Baker
... 2 The interior of a three-mirror kaleidoscope by Carolyn Bennett
<III 3
Pieces of glass used in a
Charles Karadimos kaleidoscope
Although all kaleidoscopes are composed of the basic
elements, there are many styles and variati ons (4). The
pattern changes when either the scope or obj ect case is
rotated. The end pieces fall into four main categories. "Wheels"
are made of glass or acrylic and can be embedded with stained
glass, gemst ones, and all types of found obj ects. "Cells," or
obj ect cases, are fill ed with free-falling items or liquid filled
with fl oating items. The stuff inside the obj ec t cases is
limited only by imagination. Along with beads and gem-
st ones, twisted threads and shards oflampworked glass, there
can be dried fl owers, feathers, or shells. "Marbles" or "crys-
t als" are oft en hand-blown especially for the scope. Lastly,
the array of color can be derived totally from polarized white
light. Oft en confused with a kaleidoscope, a "taleidoscope"
uses only a clear lens at the end and fractures whatever it is
pointed t oward into a kaleidoscopic image .
In 1986 Cozy Baker, of Bethesda, Maryland, fo unded the Brewster Society, an internati onal
organization of designers, collectors, and lovers of kaleidoscopes that has ser ved to revitalize
thi s important art form. The organi zation publishes a quarterly newsletter to keep enthusiasts
up to date on kaleidoscope events and holds an annual convention. Along with writing four
definitive books on the subj ec t, Cozy has acquired
the world's premi er coll ecti on of over one thousand
contemporary and antique kaleidoscopes (5).
In her book Kaleidoscope Renaissance Cozy writes, "As the
demand for customized scopes increases, the innovati ons
keep pace. Kaleidoscopes are being installed in ceilings
and skylights of homes, built around fish tanks and
water fountains, constructed into silos and formed from
ball oons. " And, as thi s book att es ts , these magical
devices have become the design inspirati on for quilt
artists as well. .... 5 Antique kaleidoscopes from the collection
of Cozy Baker
An unexpected consequence of my interest in Inaking kaleidoscope quilts is my friendships
with kaleidoscope makers. Our mutual admiration society yields opportunities to barter kaleido-
scope-inspired quilt blocks for the real things and conversations that often turn t o our shared
inspirations (6, 7, 8, 9). At first I was so be'vvitched by their handiwork I assumed they were either
geniuses or wizards. Gradually I began to decode the technical stuffbehind the magic, and I found
the artistry .
.... 6 The graph diagram for Peggy's Piece
surrounded by the templates for this block
.... 7 Peggy's Piece: A single piece-ol-the-pie
... 9 Back of Peggy's Piece
<III 8
Peggy's Piece: pieced kaleidoscope exchanged in
barter for kaleidoscope by Woodland Glass
Our medi a are so di fferent, yet the design strategies foc us on simil ar considerations. The two
major ingredients in a kaleidoscope are the mirror system, which determines the number of
reflections, and the pieces in the obj ect case. I liken these components to the number of triangular-
shaped wedges that r adi ate from the center of the quilt block and the fabric.
Som.e scopemakers approach their found obj ects in a manner similar t o my own attitude
t oward fabri c. For example, Charles Karadimos' descripti on of the effect he aims for as "control-
ling the r andomness" mirrors my fabri c manipulating tendencies. Coordinating the interi or
colors to harmonize with the exterior casings rerninds me of choOSing the "just - ri ght" backing.
Working out successful design soluti ons by trial and error turns out t o be a learning style
common to both of our creative processes.
Realizing that over time I had formed an opinion about the differences between six, eight, or
t en divisions made me curious about whether scopemakers had a preference for different angles
of symmetry. Of course they do! Charles Karadimos and Kay Winkler like a thinner wedge. Charles
considers this effect more apt t o maintain an adult' s attention longer because it is subtle and
sophisticated. "The more intri cate the patterns, the longer you want t o sit and look at it ," say
Charles. "It gives you the feeling that something even better is going to happen next ."
In his opinion , it is easier for scopemakers t o ac hieve color balance and randomness than intri-
cacy and refin ement . His scopes range between eight- and fourteen-fold symmetry. He considers
the magic los t if the vie\ver can recogni ze the pieces in an endcase (10, 11). Kay specializes in ISO
two-mirror kaleidoscopes made of stained glass . This mirror configuration gives a multifaceted
twelve-point image that resembles a rose window (12, 13).
... 10 Interior of Charles
Karadimos kaleidoscope
... 11 Interior of Charles
Karadimos kaleidoscope
... 12 Interior of Kay
Winkler kaleidoscope
... 13 Interior of Kay
Winkler kaleidoscope
And then there are those, like Peggy Burnside of Woodland Glass and Shelley Knapp of Knapp
Wood, who prefer a larger section . Both scopemakers are known for obj ect cases fill ed with
refined pieces of flame-worked glass that have lots of texture. A vast palette of colors and di chroic
glass gives the scopes Peggy makes with her partner, Steve Kittelson , their characteristi c range of
t ones and jewel-like images (Figure IS). She favors six points because it allows stronger interplay
between the colors and enables the viewer t o see the definiti on of the pattern. In addition, she
prefers an even , rather than an odd, number of points.
Shelley, known for her instinctive use of color, dedi cates extra time t o creating a di verse ar ray
of deeply defined pieces in the obj ect case. This is the par t of scopemaking she likes best. Her
favorite division is fi ve or six, because the generous size shapes a view that accommodates glass
sc ulpted pieces. For her, the magic derives from how the pieces react t ogether.
You see, my instincts were right in the fi rst place. Kaleidoscope makers may use the rituals of
science rather than spells and charms to produce their ext raordinary effects, but the results are
pure magic.
.... 14 Interior of Evolution, by Randy and Shelley Knapp
.... 16 Interior of Falling Star, by Randy and Shell ey Knapp
.... 15 Interior of Mystic Rapture by Burnside/ Kittleson
.... 17 Interior of She Dances With Fire by Randy & Shelley Knapp
Titles oIqllilt s alld kilieuloscope illlatJes are listed ill italics. Photos are lelelell ced ill bold iilee type LOII' el case "d" /luI/cates a detail.
all -o\'er prints, 52, 60, 102
conforming to the angle, 38, 39
c reating a 45° angle, 35
determining the size, 107
drafting an angle, 36-37
importance of an
accurate angle, 35, 40
apex of the tri angle. 36, 42, 70
asy mmetri ca l tc mplates. 56, 73
axis of reflection , 36, 44, 97
axis of symmet ry, 36, 44, 97
backing, 83
Baker, COZ), 139. 140
ba lance, 92
batting, 83
Hennett, Ca ro ly n, 139
Hent ley, W.A., 25
bilate ral symmetry, 97-99
bo rde r print , 100
brainst o rming, 124
Bre\\'ste r, Sir Da\'id, 138
Brewst er Societ)', 140
Broadway Haiku. 28
Burnside, Peggy, 142
Bush, Charl es, 138
ce nte r axis. 36, 37
aligning fabric, 42.
chec king final \\'edge. 77, 78
positioning t emplates, 41
circle. definiti o n. 34, 71
clues. tracing. 42
co lo r characte ri sti cs, 94
co lo r choi ces. 93
colo r disco rd. 95
contrast , 93
co rne r. creating the
using a compass, 81
using a protractor. 79-80
using a ri ght tri angl e. 8 1
using a rul e r and compass, 8 1
C randall , All en. 139
cun es. creating. 72
design principles. 91 -92
design process
cJe\·elopment. 39,66,69, 106, 124- 125
patch I. 43-44
pat ch 2,46,48
pat ch 3, 50
patch 4, 54 , 58-59
patch 5. 62
using strai ght lines, 38, 75
di chro ic glass. 23, 96
directionals, 103- 104
dri\'e r, 52, 64
elements of a good design , 9 1-92
elements of a kaleidoscope, 88-89
E"ell COII'girls Get Yel/oll'. 106
E,'oilitioll, 142
prima donnas, 97- 101
all -o\'e rs. 102- 103
directiona ls. 103- 104
nO\'e lt\, prints, 105- 106
fabric sc issors, 31
fabri c selecti o n, See se lec ting fabr ic
Fal/III£! Star, 142
first patch, selecting fabric for, 42,100,110
foca l point , 91
fra ctu red patches. 58
ga rli c scope. 106
Gleick, James, 26
grain. fabric , 70
graph paper, 31
grid, using to meas ure, 40
Haiku , Broad\\'ay, 28
hexagonal design , 34, 76, 79. 82
hints, tracing, 42
huppah. 16
infinite images, 89
intri cat e deta il , 88
kal eidoscope
detcrmining the size. 38
e leme nts of. 88-89
hi story of, 138
pa rts of, 138- 139
Kaleu/oscope. 138
Kal eidoscope bl ock. 138
Ollce UpOIl a Box oI Crayolls, 14- 15
Stailled Glass Alltholog)" 13,9 1, 107
Crystal Callop)" 16, 107
The TlimiliH POillt, 7, 17
The Natllral Order <if" Chaos, 18d, 19, 107
The SIIII, the MoolI ... alld the Stars.
20-21 ,7 1, 85, 94, 106d
Pllblic Radio Da:e, 30, 82,
l'{later lrolll the MOOII, 22-23,
Bd, 109d, 125d
SIIOII'jill/, 24-25, 86d, 94d, 107
Up Close al/{I Far AII'a)" 9d, 26, 84,
86d, 9 1, 94, 107
Ral/{/olll Acts oI Color, 27, 84, 95d, 108d
M)'St , 28, 83, 90d, 96, 109
Eccelltric C/rdes, 29, 71,84,85, 86d, 107, 126d
Karadimos, Charl es, 139, 141
Kittelson , St e\'e, 142
Knapp, Randy and She ll y, 23. 109, 142
labe ling qu ilts, 85
Libe rt \' of Lo ndon
Pill o\\' Commission, 12, 125
Liberty of Lo ndon
Red Ianthe, 6. 7. 12
definiti on, 71,82
in art. 92
luminosity, 89
marking the fab ri c, 43
marking the quilt. 83
mirro r, use of, 127
mirro r- image, 44, 89. 97.101. 110
naming quilts. 86
nO\'elty prints, 105
oc tagonal design, 34, 76, 79
Omni grid 98L Ri ght Triangle, 81
Omnigrid Rul er and Compass, 8 1
quilt backing, 83
quilter'S bl oc k, 124
quilting designs, 83, 84
quilting rnethods, 83, 84-85
adding sea m allowance, 41 ,58
chec king the final wedge, 77
how to make a templ ate, 39-41
marking, 42 pa per scisso rs, 31
Peggy's Pi ece, 140-141
Peiperl , Adam, 90
pencils, 31
permanent marker, 32
photographing quilts, 86
photomi crographs, 25
piecing approach, 48
pi ecing opti ons,S I
radial design , 34, 59, 91
Reynolds, Mark, 106
rhythm, 92
Rioux, Bob and Sue, 4
rotary cutter and mat , 31
ruler, 31
matching, 54-56
pOSiti oning on fabr ic, 42
ten-sided deSign, 76,82, 109
three mirro r sys tem, 139
transferr ing the design to the grid , 44
pi ecing kal eidoscope halves, 78
pi ecing kal eidoscope wedges, 77
pi ecing sequence, 39, 60-65, 69, 75-76
points, redefinin g, S 1,73
seamlines, where wedges connect , 42, 110
Sea Parrot , 4
selec ting fabri c, SO, 52, 58, 61 , 62,
66,67,95-96, 11 3
Seuss, Dr. , 106
ali gning with grid, 36
sum of angles, 79,82
trimming seams, 54
TwiliBht , 23, 109
two-mirror system, 139
Posta, Lynn Della, 16
pressing seams, 52
sewing guide, marking of, 32
sewing machine, 32
Ultrasuede, 85
unity, 91
prima donna fabri cs, 52, 61 , 63, 78, 97
placement of, 59
She Dall ces Wit h Fire, 142
signature hands, 86
spreading effec t , 94
value, 93
protractor, 31
adding corners, 79-80
checking angles, 82
drafting angles, 37
strip pi ecing, 52, 60, 64, 65, 71
symmetry, effects of, 59, 77, 88
vari ati ons using the same fabri c, 111 - 112
lining up reference marks, 36
pse udo-symmetri cal prints, 100
taleidoscope, 139
templ ate material , 31
template scisso rs, 31
wedge, di viding the, 38
whole v. sum of parts, 89
Winkler, Kay, 141
Wood land Glass, 142
The Brewster Society
Studi o B
9020 McDonald Dri ve
Bethesda, MD 20817
(30 I) 365- 1855
The Cotton Club
P.O. Box 2263
Boise, 10 8370 I
(208) 345-5567
e- mail:
Cotton@mi cron.net
Mail o rder source for tex-
til e designs with repetiti ve/
symmetri cal motifs by
Paula Nadelstern fo r
Benartex, large protractors
with easy to read numbers,
see- tluu template material ,
rulers and graph paper
pads with eight-to- the-
inch-grid, books, notecards,
and gift wrap by C& T
Snow Crystals
by W.A. Bentley and W. ).
Hum ph reys
Write for a free catalog.
Dover Publi cations, Inc.
Dept. 23, 31 East 2nd Street,
Mineola, NY J 1501
1460 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
Inquire about textil e prints
designed by Paula
Nadelstern for Benartex.
International Fabric
3445 West Lake Road
Er ic, PA J6505-3661
(800) 462-3891
Write fo r fr ee catal og,
including Liberty of
London tana lawn and
fusible interfacing.
Pieces of Eight (Dianne
P.O. Box 4306
Sout h Colby, WA 98384
(360) 87 1-7756
e- mail: silk@sil verlink.net
Hand-dyed machine
washabl e silk.
Mi ckey Lawl er
83 Ri chmond Lane
West Hartford, CT 0611 7
Write for pri ce list of
hand-painted fabri c.
B&J Fabrics
263 W. 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 354-8150
(212) 764-3355
Thi s is my favorite store
in the garment distri ct.
Batiks Etcetera & Sew
What Fabrics
200-B West Main Street
Wyt heville,VA 24382
(800) 228-4573
FAX (540) 228-9297
www. batiks.com
e-mail: info@batiks.com
Write for swatches of
unique batiks including
repetitive symmetri cal
For a list of other fine books from
C&T Publishing, ask for a free catalog:
C&T Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 1456
Lafayette, CA 94549
(800) 284-1114
Email: ctinfo@ctpub.com
Website: www.ctpub.com
C&T Publishing’s professional
photography services are now
available to the public. Visit us at
For quilting supplies:
Cotton Patch
1025 Brown Ave.
Lafayette, CA 94549
Store: (925) 284-1177
Mail order: (925) 283-7883
Email: CottonPa@aol.com
Website: www.quiltusa.com
Note: Fabrics used in the quilts shown
may not be currently available, as
fabric manufacturers keep most
fabrics in print for only a short time.
Kaleidoscopes & Quilts Download
Copyright © 2009 by C&T Publishing, Inc.
ISBN 978-1-60705-027-8
Published by C&T Publishing, Inc.,
PO Box 1456, Lafayette, CA 94549.
All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be used
in any form or reproduced by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems—without
written permission from the Publisher.
Acceptable uses of this ELECTRONIC PRODUCT:
1. Purchaser is entitled to print out as many copies of this ELECTRONIC PRODUCT as
they wish for personal use. Photocopying, digitizing, and all other forms of copying to
“share” or “distribute” the ELECTRONIC PRODUCT, whether for profit or not, is strictly
2. Purchaser may not transfer the ELECTRONIC PRODUCT to any other person, via
the Internet, email, on disk, in electronic or printed form or any other form without
the written permission of C&T Publishing. Purchaser may not make the ELECTRONIC
PRODUCT available over a network where it could be used by multiple computers at the
same time.
3. Purchaser may not rent, lease, transfer, lend, or share the ELECTRONIC PRODUCT.
Limited Warranty: Limited Warranty on this ELECTRONIC PRODUCT. C&T Publishing, Inc.
warrants the ELECTRONIC PRODUCT will be delivered by C&T Publishing, Inc. free from
defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for a period of ninety (90) days
from the date of original purchase. C&T Publishing, Inc. will not replace the ELECTRONIC
PRODUCT due to Purchaser changing computers or accidentally deleting ELECTRONIC
PRODUCT or for any other loss of the file that is considered out of the control of C&T
Publishing, Inc. Your exclusive remedy under this Section shall be, at C&T Publishing,
Inc.’s option, a refund of the purchase price of the ELECTRONIC PRODUCT.
Contact us at 800-284-1114 or www.ctpub.com for more information about the C&T
Teachers Program.
We take great care to ensure that the information included in our products is accurate
and presented in good faith, but no warranty is provided nor are results guaranteed.
Having no control over the choices of materials or procedures used, neither the author
nor C&T Publishing, Inc., shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to
any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this
book. For your convenience, we post an up-to-date listing of corrections on our website
(www.ctpub.com). If a correction is not already noted, please contact our customer
service department at ctinfo@ctpub.com or at P.O. Box 1456, Lafayette, CA 94549.
Trademark (™) and registered trademark (®) names are used throughout this
ELECTRONIC PRODUCT. Rather than use the symbols with every occurrence of a
trademark or registered trademark name, we are using the names only in the editorial
fashion and to the benefit of the owner, with no intention of infringement.
Note: This digital file contains patterns that may not print true to size and may require
sizing adjustments (inchmarks are included on patterns for reference). Depending on
your viewing application or device, printing desired page may result in multiple printed
I|bet Atts 8
M|xed Med|a
Need|e Atts
Cteate 8 1teasute
Not|ons 8
On||ne Þtoducts
wra www.ctpub.com n 1651 Challenge Drive, Concord, CA 94520
u.s. vott rarr 800.284.1114 n :nv’t 925.677.0377 n rnx 925.677.0373
from C&T Publishing
C&T PUBLISHING is proud to offer you innovative
books and products to inspire your creativity. Look for our products
at local quilt shops, craft and art supply stores, or fine book-sellers.
We have been working hard for the last several years to make
our operations friendlier to the environment. We were certified
as a California Bay Area Green Business in 2007. Since then, we
have taken other major steps to green our operations, most notably
by printing our catalogs and other sales materials on recycled
paper. Our catalogs and many of our most popular books are
now available as downloads that you can view online. Tis is an
important part of our efforts to save natural resources and reduce
our carbon footprint.
Have an idea for a new product?
We are always looking for original ideas for books, DVDs, and
related products. Visit our website and click on “Submissions”
to submit your proposal.
for purchasing an eProduct from C&T Publishing!
We appreciate your business!
1ank you
PAULA NADELSTERN brings you the definitive
book on kaleidoscopic quilts. She combines
the symmetry and surprise of a kaleido-
scope with the techniques and materials
of quiltmaking. The color and com-
plexity of Paula's quilts invite the
reader to return again and again.
Filled with actual images of
kaleidoscopes, the book covers the elements of design
and techniques used to create the multifaceted, lumi-
nous, and random nature of a scope's interior on the
flat surface of a quilt. Paula writes clear, straight-
forward instructions with wonderful humor. She
focuses not on rules but on guidelines that will assist
you in the creation of successful designs.
In addition to her numerous awards, Paula has received
Artist's Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the
Arts and the Bronx Council on the Arts. Her work has also been
showcased in publications and exhibits worldwide. She lives in
New York City with her husband Eric and daughter Ariel.
Paula weaves the magic of kaleidoscopes into the very fabric of her quilts. Quilters and kaleidoscope
enthusiasts alike will appreciate Paula's insight, humor, and creativity.
COZy BAKER, founding president of The Brewster Society, an organization for
collectors and lovers of kaleidoscopes, and author of Kaleidoscope Renaissance
Kaleidoscopes&Quilts is a visual feast-with detailed instructions presented in a personal
and practical way.
LIBBY LEHMAN, studio art quiltmaker
I've admired Paula's workmanship and design for many years. In this book, she not only explains
the intricacies of her prize-winning techniques, but also inspired me to see the possibilities in fabric
in a whole new way.
MARY LEMAN AUSTIN, Executive Director Quilter's Newsletter Magazine

ISBN 1-57120-018-5
7 34817 10142 0

9781571 200181

You're Reading a Free Preview