Tessellations-Solving the puzzles

28 09 2012

I love puzzles, and especially the puzzles associated with putting fabric together.  There is a challenge to finding just the right fabrics, to using just the fabrics I have at hand, or to succeeding at some other Susan-imposed limitation that I think is necessary.  Whatever the puzzle, I am in!!

So it seems appropriate that the puzzle aspect of tessellations would appeal to me as a quilter.  I had seen many quilts by some of my favorite EBHQ quilters, especially quilts by Rebecca Rohrkaste and Mabry Benson, so I thought I , too, should try this fun game.  In addition to a small handful of baby quilts, here are a few of my favorites.


The first was this one, using some wonderfully complex fabrics and lovely colors, with just enough value contrast between the fabrics to allow each one to shine.

Tessellations, circa 2002

Tessellated Dots

After finding myself with piles and piles of dotted fabrics leftover from making Maggie’s graduation quilt, I put tons of them together in this huge quilt.  The colors are so cheery and bright that I love to have this hanging on one of the walls in our home.

Tessellated Dots, 2007
63.5″ x 76″
Photography by Sibila Savage

Tessellated Dots, detail


Tessellated Pinwheels

Still with a few more piles of dotty fabric remaining (helped along by subsequent purchases; I never met a dot I didn’t like) and pairing these dots with other bright geometrics, I started on this hand-sewing project that could provide me with hours and hours and hours of stitching during the TV times and the vacations and the road trips.  It’s an English paper piecing project using a design I found in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, which is full of gems if you are willing to take the time to pore over this tome.

I have given this quilt the subtitle “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”, because it did seem like lots of fun to keep making these really cute little pinwheels by putting six diamond around a hexagon, made relatively easy by using the EPP method.  Even while making many, many pinwheels, I did not realize the hole I was digging for myself until I decided it was time to start sewing the pinwheels together.   Had the idea of sewing them together occurred to me earlier in this process, this quilt would have been much, much smaller.  Twisting and turning the paper-lined patches to nestle next to each other in this pesky pattern was a difficult maneuver that had to be done way, way, way too many times.

Tessellated Pinwheels, 2009
60″ x 74″—Photography by Sibila Savage

The borders for this quilt were chosen for only one reason:  purple was the only color that was used so little in the quilt that other colors would show up when the pinwheels were next to it.  Also this dark purple was strong enough to hold all these wiggly, jiggly pinwheels in place.  Click on the photo and then click again to get a close up of the quilting, which turned into another unexpected nightmare.  I quilted each pinwheel individually using threads that matched the fabrics in the pinwheels, since there was no thread that could coordinate well with all these brights.

Turns out it was a good idea to make this quilt because I love it, but it was much more work than I thought I was signing up for.

Click here to see more EPP projects by others.

WIP update:

Remember those flowers from last week, the ones waiting to find a home onto which they could be appliqued—they have been multiplying!  Sometime I’ll stop–perhaps now that I realize that I am going to have to sew them all together. Oooops-Wasn’t that the lesson I was supposed to learn from the pinwheels.  Oh, well . . .

Photo Credit

Check out the new photo at the top of the home page.  It’s one of my favorite shots of ME, taken by my husband, Paul Hennessey.  Love those old-fashioned irons, too!!




3 responses

28 09 2012

all lovely! your garden grows….

2 10 2012

I love the way you use color and patterns to bring order out of chaos. These tesselation quilts are fantastic.

9 08 2013
Vegetable leftovers and two works in progress | Susan Dague Quilts

[…] It is now just the perfect hand sewing project for the next thousand hours.  See the end of this post from a year ago for a view into how this all […]

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