Wednesday 1 May 2024

Harmony in quilt making

When the theme of Harmony came up on the wheel, my mind immediately went to music and I had imaginings of quilts with music notes, or intricate lines weaving in and out of each other in waves like sound waves amplyfying each other.  I was very surprised that I went in a different direction. 
I think its because I was having fun just making quilt tops with no purpose in mind other than to make.  My mind enjoyed being in the moment of fabric selection and playing with colours to get them to flow and live well together, and it occurred to me that is Harmony too.   

I think it is something we do subconsciously as quilters (unless we are using contrast or asymmetry to draw attention to something specific), we strive to make the pieces fit together in a way that is pleasing or balanced.  
I was in a bee of 12 people, and the 11 hive mates made me drunkards path blocks.   I got a 5 pinks and a mixture of other colours and I was struggling to come up with a cohesive design for them.  So I decided to make 2 quilts.  Out of the 12 blocks 1 had a dark centre, and I love the block but it was fighting me in every way I used it, trying to get it to play nice with the others.  Until I added in more dark.  I call this quilt Garden Paths, as I imagine the diagonal lines as paths and the triangles as raised flower beds. Now it feels to me that the dark centre belongs and all is resolved.  Harmony achieved.

So with that in mind I had another challenge this quarter.  A friend asked me if I would be in a bee for her and make a block for her quilt inspired by Portuguese tiles.  I had the opportunity to visit Portugal in April when we went for a short city break to Porto and it was glorious!  Beautiful weather, lots of walkign up and down hills, tasting port wine and eating very well.  There was also the chance to see lots of different tiles, all in various shades of lovely blue with white and smatterings of yellow here and there. 

Some were very intricate and some were painterly, depicting life in the city.  So I had a go at designing my own tile, and I came up with this design that I thought would repeat really well.

And here it is tiled as a quilt.

On its own though as an individual piece I thought the secondary line made it feel unfinished.  It belongs in a group and the line leading off to nowhere felt wrong to me, but I liked the idea of it, so I cropped it.  It still frames the central motif but doesn't pull you out of the frame.  This made me feel better.  Is that Harmony too- feeling in tune with your work?

And tiled it could look like this with grouting lines (aka skinny sashing) in between.

So I had a go at making it.  It was trickier than I thought and the applique is far from perfect but I think the idea works. 

Apologies it's not quilted or finished as a piece of art.  I gave it to my friend for inclusion in her quilt and I didn't have enough time to make a second one.  It's interesting where the theme will take you and I really enjoyed the journey on this one.


  1. It’s beautiful, Ruth. Great idea. I’m traveling right now, and I’ve seen some beautiful tile work along the way. It inspires the quilter in me too. This is lovely. Nice job. Barbara @ Cat Patches

  2. So many great thoughts on harmony, and I enjoy seeing the flow of your work! Each quilt is unique. I love the tile block!

  3. I love all your projects for this theme, and also, thank you for the virtual trip to Portugal!

  4. Your tile block is really beautiful. I enjoyed seeing your other quilts and photos and hearing about your exploration of harmony :)

  5. I like the way you used drunkard's path block. The blue quilt is going to be gorgeous.