100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet-nating

Can you believe we’re at Volume 5 of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks? That means we’ve published 500 blocks in these special issues since 2009—wow! From wondering “what if . . .”, 100 Blocks has grown beyond anything we imagined three years ago.

With 500 different blocks, that also means there are 500 different names for those blocks. When the designers submit their blocks, we ask for name suggestions. Sometimes we have to change their suggestion because it’s already been used. Sometimes we have to make up words to find one that works, like Facet-nating. Sometimes we’re as delighted by a designer’s block name as we are by the block (ok, we’re funny that way about words, but we are editors!)

Through the years the designers continue to get more clever and more creative with the blocks they submit to Quiltmaker. I just want to give a big shout out to everyone who has participated in 100 Blocks: these issues get better and better because of you—thanks for sharing your talent with us!

So let me tell you about my block in this issue. I saw two lines of fabric from Quilting Treasures that just called out to me. I love dots . . . I love florals . . . I love lime green and look how well they play together:

Contempo Dots by Quilting Treasures

QuiltingTreasuresFantasia 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

Fantasia by Quilting Treasures

I knew I couldn’t use all of these prints in one 12″ block, so I started by designing a two block quilt, where the blocks would create secondary designs. I picked one of the blocks and began auditioning fabric for it. Here’s the block with just a rough idea of colors.

facet nating block art 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

As I got ready to audition fabric, I looked at the overall shapes in the block at their finished sizes—I wanted to extend the green segments into adjoining blocks as triangles, so I now looked at the block as triangles in 3 sizes, a big square in the center and some strips at the outside edges.

facet nating block art21 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet natingI cut enough shapes at the finished sizes to audition the fabric without cutting each patch to its exact size. Where there are small black triangles (4) and medium gray triangles (2) in the drawing above, I cut triangles to fit the gray spaces (2), knowing I could cover them when I was trying them in the smaller black spaces (4).

fabric to audition 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

There are several key elements to successful fabric placement in a quilt.

One is value—the lightness or darkness of a fabric. The value of a fabric is relative to what’s around it: a dark fabric can make one fabric light or a medium fabric can make the same fabric look medium. The bold, graphic design of these fabrics was calling for high value contrast. Because of the blacks, whites and bright greens, it was pretty easy to get good value contrast from these fabrics. (Other times you may want low contrast, it all depends on the outcome you’re looking for.)

Another key element is scale—the size of the designs in the fabric. These fabrics have a large range in scale from tiny dots to big dots. I wanted variety in the scale to create a different kind of contrast in addition to value contrast.

Let me show you some of the options I looked at. Each photo shows one fabric change at a time. It helps to take pictures as you go through this process so you can refer back to a fabric arrangement that you liked.

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there’s a lot not working well here: the scale is about the same in positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 . . . position 4 doesn’t work at all, the design is cut up too much to be seen

QTaudition2 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

new fabric in position 4 is better . . . the light print in position 2 almost disappears

QTaudition3 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

new fabric in position 2–but there’s still a scale problem with the flowers and dots being almost the same size in the fabrics in positions 1, 2 and 3

QTaudition4 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

new fabric in position 3 is working better–stronger value contrast between it and positions 4 and 5 . . . it’s a tone-on-tone so it gives your eyes a place to rest among the variety of prints . . . let’s see what I can do now about positions 1 and 2

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this is starting to work: positions 1 and 3 work well together . . . now what to do about position 2?

QTaudition6 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

small dark dots at position 2 contrast well with large light print at position 1 AND with the green tone-on-tone at position 3 . . . now positions 2 and 4 contrast in value, but are the same prints so there’s little scale contrast there

QTaudition7 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

larger dark dots at position 4 AND the lighter small dots at position 5 . . . I like how this looks with strong contrast in value and scale throughout the block!

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now why did I cut the green patches as triangles? I want to see how they play against a border and into adjoining blocks or sashes . . . you can start to see it here, but the rest of this design is for another time.

All of that is what took me to my final block:

QM100BlocksVol5 Facet natingDudley 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

Facet-nating. Block #428., Designed by June Dudley. Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 5.


facet nating block setting 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

Facet-nating block repeated in a 5×5 setting

Now for a totally different look, here’s another line of fabric that I really like and think would play well into this design:

ReflectionsGudrunErlaRedRooster 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

Reflections by Gudrun Erla for Red Rooster Fabric

I’ll take you on another auditioning process, but this time let you study the pictures to decide what you like and don’t like. In this set of auditions the left and right side of each photo is different.

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option A: left – option B: right

RRaudition3 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating

option C: left – option D: right

Tell me which teal option you like best and please feel free to use made-up words icon smile 100 Blocks Volume 5: Facet nating . . . I’ll pick a winner from the comments left by 12 midnight MST on Sunday 5/6 for a copy of 100 Blocks Volume 5 and prizes from today’s sponsors Quilting Treasures and Red Rooster Fabrics.

And the teal-errific winner is: #33 michele. Congratulations!

Update 5/7/12: The beauty of the second exercise is that there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on which choice speaks to you–some like more yellow, others like less yellow. And there are still many more lovely combinations possible just with that fabric. That’s one reason I’ll take photos of this process so I can review the options. Sometimes it helps to take a bunch of pictures and then review them at another time with fresh eyes.


Did you know that we’ll be giving away ALL of the blocks made (and usually signed) by the designers? 25 people will each win a set of 4 randomly selected blocks. The contest opens 5/10/12 at quiltmaker.com and runs through 7/6/12.

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