Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Q.I. Classics: Autumn Leaves

Autumn is one of the best seasons to enjoy the glorious colors of our changing environment. Mother Nature brings out her prettiest deep greens, sunny golds, and vivid oranges and reds before beginning her winter repose. Over the last few years, we've assembled a collection of quilts to celebrate the beauty of autumn leaves as portrayed in the textile arts. Here are some well-loved classics.

Third Weekend in October, 85 x 110", by Ruth Powers at Ruth Powers Art Quilts

"Third Weekend in October" captures the essence of sun-dappled warm hues. Ruth sprinkled fabrics with lighter values diagonally across the quilt and placed some leaves overlapping the borders. This technique gives the quilt a very natural, realistic, outdoors look, much as we might view a display of leaves on our front lawn. We think that this artistic, unstructured look is one of the many keys to this quilt pattern's success. Ruth writes that "Third Weekend In October" was released in 1997 and has consistently been Innovation's best seller. For the pattern, visit Ruth's pattern page; the wall hanging version is available here.

Welcome Home, 64 x 64", by Alex Anderson at Alex Anderson Quilts

Here's a delightful neighborhood of cheerful houses done in russet and gold. Internationally-famous designer Alex Anderson has brightened the traditional fall quilt by adding contemporary colors of aqua blue and rose pink which make the maple leaves and houses sparkle against the dark background. Easily pieced using half square triangles, "Welcome Home" has become a classic best-seller from JWD Publishing. You can view all of Alex Anderson's books and patterns at Alex Anderson Quilts. Also, at The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, you can sign up for podcasts, contests, a block-of-the-month program, a quilt galley, and a store full of wonderful products.

Scrappy Leaves, 77 x 83", by Ilene Bartos at Ilene Bartos Designs

If you love the idea of an autumn leaf quilt, but you want to add in some summer and winter colors in addition to traditional autumn hues, then this Scrappy Leaves pattern will be perfect for you. Ilene used purples, pinks, blues, and greens to fashion this rainbow colored quilt. She selected 132 different leaf fabrics and cut them into 2.5 inch strips. Scrappy Leaves is the gorgeous cover quilt for Ilene's book, Maple Leaf Quilts. Her book includes 12 different maple leaf quilt projects, and focuses on imaginative and original ways to construct Maple Leaf blocks.  Ilene also shows some beautiful quilts in her Gallery of Leaves, including the bright and sunny "Scattered Leaves" quilt below.

October, 48 x 64", by Barbara Persing and Mary Hoover at Fourth and Sixth Designs

Award-winning quilt artists from Jersey, England, Barbara and Mary were born the 4th and 6th children in their family. After moving to the United States, they developed their quilting talent into a full time career. One of Barbara and Mary's trademarks is their successful use of dazzling, pure colors against a contrasting background. You can see this skill applied in the "October" quilt, as the brilliant leaves are appliqued on a background of soft neutrals.  A stunning reminder of the beauty of autumn and winter, the "October" pattern is available at JWD Publishing and also from the catalog at 4th and 6th Designs. Below, you can see the beautiful fused applique technique and thread painting on the close up of one of the leaves.

Indian Summer, 60 x 69, by Judy Niemeyer at Quiltworx

In this quilt, with its energetic color combinations of orange, teal, burgundy, and olive, the clean geometric lines create delicate pinwheel images. As the eye glides over the pinwheels, they seem to rotate gracefully, symbolizing the dance of leaves as they drift in the breeze to the ground. Artist Judy Niemeyer remarks on her Quiltworx website, "Indian Summer was designed as a tool to teach foundation paper piecing in an afternoon class. I wanted to design a quilt that did not require figuring  yardage or picking out color. This quilt is surprisingly fun and simple to make."  For a glorious paper-pieced quilt in fall colors, also see the Autumn Splendor design by Bradley and Judy Niemeyer.

Little Old One Room Schoolhouse,  23 x 27", by Ruth Powers at Ruth Powers Art Quilts

The traditional schoolhouse of the American frontier, complete with a bell tower, beckons us back to learning, as leaves swirl in the early autumn breeze.  Quilt designer Ruth Powers offers this charming scene as a pattern on her website.

Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists.


  1. Three of these have been on my someday list....mind you, that is a longterm someday! (The first Ruth Powers, Alex Anderson, & Judy Niemeyer.)

  2. Beautiful quilts celebrating my favorite season!

  3. I completed the 'Third Weekend in October' and I mean the bigger version! I tried to use a different fabric for each leaf with only a few repats for the small fragments. Many of the fabrics have leaves in them. A lot of fat quarter collecting! Saving up to get it machine quilted. Donna


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