The Spicerack Sampler

I'm releasing a set of block patterns called The Spicerack Sampler! Here is my process from idea to drafts to fabric pull!

I had a dream!  A dream of a sampler quilt using classic block designs, but with a modern flair!  So I started scouring through books on vintage and classic blocks.  My most-referenced book is Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs. Some consider this a "quilter's bible."

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My thoughts on how to give this quilt a modern look went as follows:

  1. stick with two colors
  2. choose modern colors
  3. use solids or a very near solid, like ombre or grunge, for texture
  4. include plenty of negative space
  5. make use of asymmetry 

So as I was narrowing down my block choices, I chose designs that would work with just two colors.

Then I went into EQ8 and started drawing up these blocks and coloring them in.

I also wanted to have a fair representation of different types of classic blocks, so I made sure to pick basics (or variations) like the Log Cabin, Churn Dash, Rail Fence, Jacob's Ladder, Monkey Wrench, Economy Block, Half-Square Triangles, Quarter-Square Triangles, and of course, some sort of Star.

And I fell in LOVE with the Storm-at-Sea block.  When I saw it, I knew I HAD to have it in my sampler.

So back to EQ8.  I drew up my two-toned blocks and set them on a lime-green background.  I felt really drawn to lime-green as a modern color.  That and also raspberry.  These colors stuck out to me when Annie Hudnut gave a lecture to our quilt guild.

Here is my first draft:

Lime green sampler quilt mock-up first draft

It was a good start, but something was missing.

So then I felt drawn to mustard yellow and came up with this:

Mustard yellow sampler quilt modern second draft

My next thought was that maybe I needed to add some texture to the design with a fabric like Moda's Ombre Solids or Grunge. And perhaps if I used a slightly darker shade in the blocks, that could help set the blocks off the background.  Here's my next draft with all Moda Ombre Solids, the background in pink and the blocks in red and black.

Pink red and black sampler quilt third draft

And this is where I started to lock up with indecision regarding colors. I was so unsure so I just started trying loads of different combinations. I'll spare you each one.  Plus, finished quilts don't look the same as mock-ups, and I wanted to be SURE before I bought and CUT into fabric! I'm sure at least one of you can sympathize with me!

And the red, black, and pink combination made me think of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  That wasn't the look I was going for.  Remember the lime green or raspberry?

So I took a trip to my local quilt shop to see some of these fabrics for myself.  Turns out they didn't carry the Moda Ombre Solids that I had my mind set on, but they did have Grunge! And they had a lovely lime green and raspberry, called Decadent and Flamingo, respectively.

So I came home and put together this mock-up:

Lime green sampler quilt with pink and cream blocks fourth draft

This was making me really happy! Since I had dropped the complete two-tone idea, my blocks were popping off that background color! And it helps the pop effect that green and pink are opposites on the color wheel.  And with this color choice, my blocks had clear, square definition.  Another win!

So I sat down to order my fabric. And that's when I went back to the drawing board. Ha! Adding up all the fabric needed for the blocks, background, binding, and backing was coming to a pretty penny.  You quilters know what I mean.  It didn't feel right to spend that when I had a pretty good stash of solids here already.

So I rummaged through my solids and came back to my original designs of lime green and mustard yellow and added in a cyan/seafoam blue.  And as often happens for me, I start thinking about what I have in my stash before I pull it out.  I knew I had some Kona Mushroom that I loved, but hadn't been able to use yet.  It's such a lovely warm brown tone.  I pulled it out and set the three other colors on it to see if they went together.  They did!  And pairing those solids with Kona Bone brought it all together.  I believe they worked so well together because each of these are warm tones of their respective shades. 

Fabric pull of solids for my sampler quilt. Brown background, blue and cream, mustard yellow and cream, and lime and cream for the blocks.

Since I had about a yard of each of the solids, I decided to do one column of blocks in each.  So for 12 sampler blocks, that's 4 in each color.  This is a Moda Bella Solids in a seafoam-like blue (not sure of the name as it wasn't labeled when I ordered it). The yellow is Moda Bella Solids Mustard, and the green is Lime Kona Cotton.  The coordinating cream fabric is Kona Bone and the background, as mentioned before is Kona Mushroom.

Then just days after pulling these fabrics together, I saw the new Songbook line from Moda by Fancy That Design House.  The Midnight Posie Pocket was just perfect as the backing!

Moda Fabrics Songbook Midnight Posie Pocket by Fancy That Design House

So I promptly ordered the Kona Mushroom and the Songbook Midnight to have all my fabric ready to go for my Spicerack Sampler!

Stack of fabric for my Spicerack Sampler quilt.

The one on top is what I'll use for the binding.  It's Bluebird Park by Kate & Birdie Paper Co. for Moda. I love that it's understated but it has a textured look.  I want the central focus in this quilt to be the sampler blocks.

Here is my final mock-up draft with these fabrics:

Sampler quilt with brown background and blue, yellow, and green blocks. Final draft Spicerack Sampler.

I'm so excited to get started on this quilt! I'm going to release each block, one per week, here in my shop. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be alerted as they're released! I'd love to have you join me in making these blocks!

I will detail my process as I make each block and construct this quilt, too.  I have plans for hand quilting and machine quilting on this piece.  Stay tuned!

Have you ever made a sampler? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment for me below.

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