A Sampler Sampler…?

January 30, 2011

My sewing room is a complete mess.  I am now spilling into adjoining areas and Phil mentioned something yesterday about a ‘suite’. One of the reasons for this is I’ve been engaged in some extreme  ‘sew play’ in the last week since Lyn suggested I take some classes in making a Sampler quilt by machine. Initially  I was reticent because I have not made one successfully. My first quilt was great fun and I learned a lot. It was a Sampler but I don’t like the way it looks. I think  Samplers can be tricky. Anyway the challenge is underway and I’m really enjoying it. What makes a successful Sampler?   I’ve  seen  some wonderful Sampler quilts in books, in the shop, on the web ( I loved this one -a piece of art) and I’ve tried to work out some ‘rules’. It seems to me that there must be something quite strong unifying the work for a Sampler to look great. The tricky thing is that this (or these) element/s may be very different in each quilt. Some of the things that seem to work to create a unified ‘ whole’ are

  • strong unifying theme e.g. an era; a story; style of fabric
  • block design suiting the style and era of fabrics
  • unifying colour scheme
  • sashings, posts and borders helping to pull things together
  • balance of colour values consistently across the blocks
  • similar shapes and size of pieces within the blocks and of the blocks
  • similar colour value across the quilt minimizing the effects of different shapes and styles within the blocks (think Kaffe!)

There must be so many more and maybe I’m overthinking this, but it’s a start. Please if anyone has other ideas, let me know.

I’m hoping that the participants in the class can learn a lot but especially make a quilt that they really love and have fun while they are doing it.  I expect that all the quilts will all be very different; as different as the people in the class. I thought I would make up one top and a few different blocks in different styles as examples  of the completely different ‘looks’ which are achievable  even when making the same blocks.   I am now sure I have eclectic tastes because I  could not choose which of the styles I like best…. so I worked on them all for a while until I was in a complete mess. I continued on with the ‘Wedgwood’ top because it is the easiest. It seemed to call for big simple shapes and I’ll use white borders and posts with little bits of blue.

(This will not be a practical quilt for our ‘lifestyle’ which has recently slipped to ‘ animal farm, anything goes’. One of our lovely customers,  when she saw me choosing the white,  described  a Punch cartoon in which a woman was showing some people around her house and when it came to her bedroom she commented “it was a bit chilly so I threw some more dogs on the bed” . The customer and I had never  met but she certainly had some insight.)

relaxing just after a bath

In ‘stormy sail boats’ I’ll keep the colour values fairly medium/dark, with a very restricted colour range. Hopefully this will enable me to have a range of different blocks, some simple, some complex  and there will be  lots of triangle sail -like shapes. I do have a potential sashing in the  ‘ocean highlights’ drawer which may be called upon. In the last very scrappy version (which is really fun), I plan to put in a range of solids and a huge variety of scraps and solids.  Is it a mid 20th century style sampler? I’m not sure but I’m choosing blocks popular then. The values will be pretty ‘medium’. Anyway back to the ‘work’… By the way, one of the participants came in on  Thursday and chose these amazing fabrics for her Sampler. It will be  fun!

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3 Responses to “A Sampler Sampler…?”

  1. Pratima Says:

    Kathy, reading this post on sampler quilt has been like taking a personal class with you.
    I guess maintaining a common element be it color or concept through out, is the key for success. Your blocks are so varied and beautiful. I’m sure each of your students will find something to aspire to in any of them. Love your blue and white blocks. Wonderful choice of fabrics!
    Cleo is oh so sweet!! I enjoyed looking through bear and Cleo’s pictures on flickr too. I couldn’t stop grinning ear to ear 🙂

    • Kathy Says:

      Thanks again Pratima -you are so sweet and supportive- I am really thinking out loud at the moment. Until I’ve actually done one I’m just guessing. Still I remember with medical students the teaching is often ‘watch one, do one, teach one’ and there doesn’t have to be too much time in between! Love your rice recipe(I was unable to leave a comment yesterday -it was 40deg so this week I’m finally trying your melon recipe and in a few months the rice! Bear is hysterical. He has rubber joins and drapes himself around the house in crazy positions. I was a confirmed dog person but now I’m either/or. Thanks and best wishes xx Kathy

  2. pratima Says:

    Kathy, no worries. I’m so excited that you’ll be trying the melon recipe and nice to know that you like the rice recipe too. Thank you 🙂
    I was just reading your new post. I’m so sorry about the devastations happening in Australia and else where. I hope the new cyclone turns out to be a mild one.


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