BLOCK Friday: Broken Dishes Quilt Block – Fons & Porter


The Broken Dishes quilt block is one of those quilt blocks that looks challenging, but in fact, is fairly straightforward. The patch in this traditional quilt block is a square and the entire block is made up of half-square triangles. The idea, traditionally is to alternate contrasting triangles, which tends to make for an eye-catching quilt and can provide for some impressive quilt designs.


Take Grandma’s Broken Dishes, for example. Look at all of the gorgeous Broken Dishes blocks – they leave a lasting impression! You can see how the contrasting colors work together so that your eye jumps around the quilt.

Grandmas Broken Dishes Quilt

This quilt is a piece of art with thoughtful placement of complementary colors (opposite colors on the color wheel) urging us to look from one quilt block to another.

Color Wheel

Did you know that we can’t focus on two true complimentary colors at once? Careful using this trick in your quilts, though – you may end up with too much of a good thing and onlookers might end up feeling a bit disoriented, as if they’re caught in a visual blizzard. Think of it this way: complementary colors provide the strongest possible contrast for one another – a little goes a long way. Grandma’s Broken Dishes uses this technique perfectly. See the red and green blocks in the bottom left corner of the quilt? Just a quick note of contrasting colors and then we’re off to peruse the rest of the quilt. Lovely!

Our next quilt, Tea Party, doesn’t follow the same color scheme, but it employs a different approach to getting the praise it deserves.

Tea Party Quilt

This quilt uses a different pair of prints in each of the 20 Broken Dishes blocks assembled to complete the quilt. It has a symbiosis to it, creating a relaxed feel, despite the powerful punch of the red. The blue prints used in this quilt were the perfect choice to counteract the energy of the red prints and leave us feeling calm, but rejuvenated.

Finally, we have a quilt that has been described as exuberant and I must agree. Ring Around the Posies is a cheerful quilt that gives me a lift when I look at it. I love it when a quilt makes me smile! The spirited color choices within the Broken Dishes blocks, as well as the bright borders, play well together. And, did you notice the corner blocks in the border? These bring the liveliness of the Broken Dishes blocks to the outer boundaries of the quilt. Fun!

Ring Around the Posies Quilt

Whether you want your quilts to make a statement, create a calm retreat or bring energy to the room, color, placement and a great Broken Dishes quilt block can get you the results you’re looking for. If you’re interested in making a Broken Dishes quilt and wouldn’t mind a bit of assistance, the Fons & Porter Half and Quarter Ruler does the math for you to make cutting triangles easy. Nothing beats a valuable notion. If you’d like to see how it works first, watch the free Sew Easy video to see a demonstration by the Fons & Porter staff.Half and Quarter Ruler Sew Easy - Half and Quarter Ruler

If you decide to make a Broken Dishes quilt or have one that you are particularly proud of, share with us below in the comments! As you know, we’re big fans of quilts.

Carrie Sisk, Online Editor, Fons & Porter


Happy Quilting!

Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter Online Editor

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