Monday, July 9, 2012

Totally Tubular Quilts by Rita Hutchens

We've always been intrigued by Seminole patchwork. The traditional patterns are created by sewing, cutting, and rearranging multicolored strips to create intricate designs. Although the designs and techniques have been well documented, there have been relatively few innovations in modern times.  Thus we were fascinated when we came across the quilts of artist, author and international quilt teacher, Rita Hutchens.  Her tubular strip-piecing techniques, which are a cross between Seminole and Bargello, were used to make the quilts shown here.

Diamond Tubello, 14 x 22", by Rita Hutchens

Since 1980, Rita Hutchens has been fine tuning her design and patterning skills while developing her own techniques. She is the author of Totally Tubular Quilts, which outlines her strip piecing methods. In essence, the method involves creating strip sets which are sewn into tubes, then cross-cut to create long rows of triangles of any size or angle. Unlike most other Bargello methods, there is no waste with this method! In the beautiful mini quilt shown above, the finished squares are only 3/8-inches; details of this quilt can be seen at Rita's shop on Etsy.

Mirror Image Study, 17 x 24", by Rita Hutchens

 In "Mirror Image Study", mirror image bias tubes were cross-cut and assembled to create a dynamic, streak-of-lightning design.

Ziggity Doo Dah, 37 x 49", by Rita Hutchens 

In creating "Ziggity Doo Dah", above, Rita says:  "I wanted an ethnic feel using bold color and wonky pattern. Pattern components were constructed using a Curved Tubular Strip Piecing technique. The quilt ‘grew’ intuitively after each component was added. Stripes were used to give the quilt movement and direction." This quilt was exhibited at the La Conner Quilt Festival in September 2011.

Close-up, Ziggity Doo Dah by Rita Hutchens at Etsy

As shown in the close-up photo, above, a variety of different weight threads were couched, bobbin quilted and used for embellishing, quilting and outlining, emphasizing design elements and adding texture and dimension to the quilt.

Totally Tubular Triangles, a workshop by Rita Hutchens

We love the contemporary design and colors of the quilt shown above, which is the subject of one of Rita Hutchens' workshops. This quilt was featured in her popular class at the 2012 Australasian quilt convention. Rita will have a special exhibit and will present workshops and a lecture at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in California in October 2012.  

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Rita Hutchens. At Rita's website, you can browse her colorful quilt galleries and order a copy of her book; also, at her Etsy site, you can purchase individual patterns for sawtooth borders, flying geese and other fun motifs to get you started on a project of your own.

For more information, also see Rita Hutchens' videos at YouTube.


  1. This is a message, not just about the lovely quilts, but to let you know that the problem with comments seems to be with my web browser. Somehow Firefox does not link up for comments.

  2. Thanks for this post. I saw some of Rita's quilts at the AQC in Melbourne this year, and absolutely loved them. Your post reminded me, and sent me looking for Rita's book, which I found on sale today and grabbed.


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