Monday, July 30, 2012

Butterfly Quilts by Sheril Drummond

Sheril Drummond lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where she publishes her blog, Serendipity, sells her beautiful patterns, designs and creates quilts, teaches yoga, and gives workshops on quilting. Sheril's outstanding work has been accepted into major quilt shows including the International Quilt Festival in Houston and the AQS shows (see Three Friends, which we featured at Quilt Inspiration, and Remembering Barbaro, which was featured at All About Applique).

Anastasia butterflies in Flights of Fancy by Sheril Drummond

Sheril began sewing in early childhood, but when she moved to Kentucky, she took a quilt class in using the "stained glass" method of creating appliqued quilts. Small pieces of fabric are fused onto the background fabric, with just a small amount of the background between each piece of fabric.The small amount of fabric that shows through gives the look of a leaded stained glass window. This stunning quilt above was shown at the 2009 Pacific International Quilt Festival. We think the results of Sheril's technique are spectacular!

Close-up, Flights of Fancy by Sheril Drummond

The fabulous butterflies on the original Anastasia quilt are actually an arm's length long, but Sheril's pattern is 21 x 18. Sheril notes that you can make the butterflies larger or smaller according to your own personal taste. All of the butterfly patterns you see here, plus other equally fabulous ones, are for sale by Sheril. For more details, please contact Sheril by email at the profile page of her blog.

Bridgette Butterfly, 22 x22, by Sheril Drummond

We think that all of Sheril's butterfly quilts are gorgeous. However, we are especially fond of "Bridgette", because the layout design of the luminous batik fabric creates a lovely swirling kaleidoscope effect. Sheril is now giving lessons on the internet on how to create these dazzling stained glass applique quilts. For a very reasonable fee, Sheril will be your personal tutor and will provide individualized instruction on making your own quilt using the method shown here. For more information, please see Sheril's "Serindiptiy2" blog .

Franchesca Butterfly, 43 x41, bySheril Drummond

While the size of the actual quilt is 43 x 41, the vibrantly colored Franchesca butterfly itself is size 33 x 18. Therefore, you can vary the size of the quilt by changing the appearance of the flower or by inserting a smaller bouquet of multiple flowers. Also, notice that Sheril originally appliqued the fabric for this butterfly on a brilliant red background, which is why red lines show in between the fabric segments. You could also applique the fabric on a pure white background or tangerine background depending upon the hues in your surrounding room decor.

Image credits: Images shown are with the generous permission of artist Sheril Drummond.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Butterfly Quilts by Debra Gabel

Fiber artist, teacher, author, prolific designer, and owner and founder of Zebra Patterns, Debra Gabel has created a stunning series of vibrant butterfly blocks. Graceful and elegant, these butterflies can be sewn as an individual block, or combined with 12 other butterflies into a dazzling Butterfly Quilt, size 64 x 80.

Blue Swallowtail, 20 x 20, by Debra Gabel at Zebra Patterns

Debra began sewing in early childhood, began quilting as a teenager, and earned her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts as a Graphic Design major at the State University of New York. You can see the result of Debra's talent and her formal training in her hundreds of patterns, including the Blue Swallowtail butterfly above. We love the perfect proportions of this very eye-pleasing layout and the sprightly, cheerful flowers which are different on each block.

Flying Handkerchief, 20 x 20,by Debra Gabel at Zebra Patterns

Debra has designed blocks for the butterflies with their descriptive, exotic names, such as the "Green Congo", "White Angel", and "Flying Handkerchief" shown here. The use of black and white and the fine lines of the butterfly's wings give a sophisticated, almost Tiffany stained glass or Art Deco style effect to this block.  Like all butterflies, this block is created using the fusible web applique process. However, you can alter this pattern for hand-turned applique by adding an outside seam allowance to these pieces.

The butterflies shown here are available online in kit form, containing laser-cut pieces with attached fusible web, plus background and border fabric, from Quilter's Paradise.

Monarch Butterfly, 20 x20, by Debra Gabel at Zebra Patterns

Here's one of our favorite butterfly blocks, the dazzling Monarch. This beautiful insect is designed to look so life-like, that it seems to float right off the block. The paper patterns for the butterflies are very clear, sharp, computer-drawn in full size, and professionally printed. You will really appreciate Debra's easy to follow, well written instructions, with careful attention to detail.

In addition to Debra's website, Zebra Patterns, she also publishes her excellent Zebra Patterns Weblog, which is full of useful advice for aspiring fiber artists and pattern designers. We love all of Debra's work, and in a previous Quilt Inspiration article, we featured her wonderful travel-themed Stamp Quilt patterns.

Note: Deborah has very generously donated two of her butterfly patterns, the Purple Spotted and the Monarch, for our Giant September Giveaway, coming up here in 7 weeks. One lucky reader will win these fabulous designs, so stay tuned to Quilt Inspiration for more information !

Monday, July 23, 2012

Made in Hawaii: Barbara Bieraugel Designs

From her home in Hawaii, Barbara Bieraugel designs appliqued and pieced quilt patterns which are often tropical or nature-inspired.  Many of her patterns were designed from flowers in her gardens in Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii. Her pattern range includes colorful tropical fish, butterflies, flowers, sea turtle or honu, and other Hawaiian themes. We were drawn to her beautiful batik quilt, below, which combines appliqued butterflies with pieced blocks.

Butterflies for Amy, 51 x 51, by Barbara Bieraugel

The butterfly is the symbol of transformation. Barbara explains that "Butterflies for Amy" was made in honor of her cousin, Amy, as she was in treatment for leukemia. "The symbolism of the butterfly seemed to be quite fitting for her health crisis.  We are so glad that her treatment worked and I feel every sale of the pattern is sending her all the good wishes across the miles."  A quilt pattern and a fabric kit are both available. Barbara also has a lovely wall hanging version, Painted Lady Butterfly, and a Butterfly in Black and White, designed from the same pattern.

Monstera Morning, 18 x 21, and Tropically Hibiscus, 17 x 17, by Barbara Bieraugel

Monstera, also known as the split-leaf philodendron, grows in the wild in Hawaii.  The distinctive leaves are featured in the artistic Monstera Morning pattern, which is shown in two colorways. Tropically Hibiscus is Barbara Bieraugel's newest quilt pattern; this small wall hanging is the first in a series of tropical flowers. Both pieces can be made with hand applique using the back-baste method, which Barbara will teach at the 4th annual Quilting On The Beach retreat in February 2013 (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii). The retreat also features classes by Barbara Olson and Melinda Bula; a shop hop around the island; and other fun events.  What a great opportunity to see the Big Island !

Paddler's Petroglyphs, 32 x 35, by Barbara Bieraugel

We love this distinctive wall hanging, designed by Barbara Bieraugel, which features four different petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings, known in Hawaiian as ki'i pohaku). In fact, the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Pacific is on the Big Island of Hawaii. In addition to Barbara's Paddler's Petroglyphs pattern, check out Paddler's Heritage, which includes the petroglyphs along with an outrigger canoe!

Barbara's Hawaiian applique patterns include the Ulu (Breadfruit), Angel's Trumpet, Hibiscus, Torch Ginger, Heliconia, Orchid, Pineapple, Bird of Paradise, and many more designs. You can read about many of her Hawaiian applique projects at Barbara's blog, and browse the complete pattern catalog at Barbara's website.

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Butterfly Quilts by Diane McGregor

From Calgary, Canada, teacher and quilt artist Diane McGregor designs for her family-owned company, Castilleja Cotton. Castilleja is the Latin name for the Indian Paintbrush flower, which blooms in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Diane's home province.  The vibrant hues of this flower reflects Diane's passion for the colors and fabrics of her gorgeous art quilts.

Stained Glass Butterfly, 23 x 33 by Diane McGregor

Like all butterfly quilts on this page, this Stained Glass butterfly quilt pattern is available for purchase at Castilleja Cotton. It is made with the easy-to-learn fusible applique technique, which produces beautiful, quick results. (There are some good online tutorials for fusible applique, like the one at Connecting Threads.) Here, Diane has chosen radiant analogous colors of grape, red-violet, lavender, and magenta, which produce a great contrast against the icy blue-green background. However, you could also use a warm palette such as scarlet, rose pink, deep orange, and apricot against a lemon yellow or gold batik background.  For some help in learning to select fabrics, check out the Castilleja Cotton blog.

July Butterfly,  16.5 x 16.5 by Diane McGregor

Do you love to make textile art, but have only limited space for sewing ?  If that is the case, you can still turn out projects that make a high impact on your decor and display your personal taste in color and design. This July Butterfly pattern with its deep purple shades against a tropical, aqua and green hibiscus-splashed background, evokes memories of summer days near the ocean or lake. By using several other of Diane's patterns for dragonflies, flowers, mountains, or sea life, you can create a series of accent pillows or a wall montage of individual blocks.  Over 500 patterns on a wide range of subjects are available at Castilleja Cotton.

Artistic Butterfly, 19 x 19, by Diane McGregor

We love Diane's designs, and we think this butterfly is especially pretty ! Here's a wonderful way to use small pieces of your favorite brightly colored stash fabric in all sorts of unique color combinations. The muted, subdued, colors of the background really help the high-chroma, glowing colors of the butterfly pop right out. All of Diane McGregor's butterfly projects take small amounts of fabric and make beautiful wall hangings or quilts which will brighten up your home.

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quilt Inspiration: Butterfly quilts (and free block patterns!)

We've been chasing butterflies all around the globe (butterfly quilts, that is).  Our butterfly expedition begins in Australia, then goes to Japan, to the U.S., back to Japan, and back to the U.S.  In the process we've discovered some delightful quilts in traditional and modern styles - and a superb vintage quilt we think you'll love.  So let's begin our journey....

Butterfly Quilt by Lisa Cox at A Spoonful of Sugar Designs (Perth, Australia)

This dynamic quilt really caught our eye. The bright colors look great against the black background, and we love the use of typography prints. Because the blocks alternate directions, the strips appear to weave in and out, giving an almost dimensional look to this quilt.  You can see all the details at Lisa's blog post.   She explains that the project was inspired by the Butterfly Scrap Quilt in the Japanese sewing book, From Quilters Studio (see image below, and Lisa's post about her inspiration here).

This book is one of several acclaimed books written by Kumiko Fujita (written in Japanese).  The butterfly scrap quilt is featured on the back cover of the book, above right.  (Note: As of this writing, you can sometimes find a copy of the book at Ebay or Etsy (try this site); you also can find a selection of Kumiko's fabrics, including text prints, at Ayumills.)

Butterflies Just for Fun by Nanette Merrill at Freda's Hive (Alpine, Utah, U.S.A.)

Here is a fantastic butterfly quilt by Nanette Merrill, done in a unique layout. She picked a great black-and-white hounds tooth print for the sashing, which complements but does not overwhelm the blocks.  To see details of the blocks, check out Nanette's blog post.

In her post, Nanette explains that she had noticed the butterfly quilts in Japanese quilting books, but she was inspired to actually begin the quilt when she saw a tutorial she liked. That tutorial, by Amy Lobsiger at Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts, lays out a method of making slightly wonky butterfly blocks. (Note:  In her post, Amy explains that the tutorial was inspired by Sarah Wheatley at choccybangles [Australia].  Doesn't this just show how inspiration travels?  You can see a photo of Sarah's butterfly quilt at Material Obsession.)

Butterfly Quilt with Applique, seen at Yokohama Quilt Week 2009, photo by Kathryn Krentz at KMKrentz

After musing over modern butterfly quilts, we were thrilled when we came across this great photo by Kathryn Krentz.  Kathy took many photos of show-stopping quilts in Yokohama; you can see more at her post, Yokohama Quilt Week: A Feast for the Eyes.  The floral applique adds a charming, traditional touch to this quilt.  The full quilt also was featured in the Japanese quilting magazine, Patchwork Quilt Tsushin (Japan), No. 164 (October 2011) as shown below.

As of this writing, this edition of Patchwork Quilt Tsushin is available online at eQuilter and at Super Buzzy.

And now, back to the United States....

Butterfly Quilt by Michele Lancaster at Nostalgic Cafe (Belle Isle, Florida, U.S.A.)

This vibrant butterfly quilt was made by Michele Lancaster, who says:  "Butterflies were flitting all over blogland this summer (2010). I thought they made such fun use of scraps, that I started making blocks in my spare time. I ran out of black Kona, so these blocks were destined to be a small quilt."  We love the way in which Michele used three colors of gingham strips to tie the blocks together. The yellow/green gingham really "pops" in this quilt.  For more details, see Michele's posts: Butterfly Flimsy Finished and I Drank the Kool Aid.

Last but not least, on her blog Michele has shared a wonderful photo of an antique butterfly quilt in her collection. This vintage quilt really knocked our socks off!

Antique quilt, collection of Michele Lancaster at Nostalgic Cafe

This beautiful hand-made quilt is different from other butterfly quilts we've seen*!   Not only is the arrangement of the blocks different  - with the blocks arranged in large squares - but the blocks have different proportions, with a much wider strip in the middle.  Each large square is composed of 8 blocks, which are arranged around a central white square. Some of the fabrics - such as the black-and-white polka dots, and the green/orange/yellow print - are repeated in different areas of the quilt,  providing a cohesive look to the design.

We were fascinated by this quilt, and we asked Michele if we could draft the blocks; she graciously agreed.

The vintage block corresponds to a 3 x 3 grid, with the 'body' making up one-third of the block and each wing another third.  This works well for block sizes that are divisible by 3.  The vintage blocks are approximately 4.5" square; when assembled, as shown in the lower right photo, they make a 13.5" square.   We have also created a 6" butterfly block for those who prefer a larger block; when assembled, the 6" block makes an 18" square.  The diagrams include templates for traditional piecing as well as a foundation piecing diagram. The 6" pattern has been tested by Michele; to see her real-life blocks, visit the Nostalgic Cafe.

  • Download the 4.5" butterfly block here 
  • Download the 6" butterfly block here 

Image credits:  Quilt photos are shown with the generous permission of the artists, Lisa Cox, Nanette Merrill, and Michele Lancaster; and Kathy Krentz (Yokohama photo). Special thanks to Michele for the inspiration and assistance with vintage butterfly blocks. 

*Note: Per Barbara Brackman, this block pattern dates to about 1890 in print.  Among the block names: Homespun, Beggar Block, Cats and Mice, Spool and Bobbin.  In BlockBase it is 1758a, 1758b, 1758c.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quilts with Attitude

We love spiky quilts, which are perfect for paper piecing.  One of our favorite artists in the genre is Deb Karasik.  Deb's designs are totally unique !  Imagine art deco-style motifs that look like eyelashes, and medallions punctuated by daggers. Deb's methods make it easy to create those long, narrow spikes. There is even a design with no curves ("Look Ma, No Curves") and a quilt that brings to mind an infamous Venus Fly Trap ("Audrey III").   Which of these is your favorite?

Phat Tuesday, 70 x 70",  by Deb Karasik

Here is a show-stopper, and the subject of a recent workshop by Deb Karasik at the Madeline School.  As Deb says:  "Phat Tuesday will let you achieve that show-stopping look, no matter what color choices you make!"  The pattern is available at Deb's website.

Look Ma, No Curves, 44 x 44", by Deb Karasik at Deb Karasik

This fabulous quilt has plenty of spikes, but it doesn't have a single curve anywhere.  In addition to patterns, Deb sells her own Perfect! Paper Piecing Paper which we are dying to try.  Here's what we know:  the paper is extremely translucent, which makes fabric alignment easy (this is critical, in our opinion);  it is compatible with laser and inkjet printers; and it is made of 100% cotton fibers, which means that it will not dull your fabric scissors or sewing needles.  Note:  you can see a totally different colorway at Deb's Gallery and at Pointless Quilter.

Inner Light, approx. 40 x 40",  by Deb Karasik

This small wall quilt, "Inner Light", is one of the projects in Deb's book, Quilts With Attitude. The book explains error-free foundation paper piecing with step-by-step instructions, and includes 13 original patterns, plus a dose of quilting philosophy.  In her author's statement, Deb explains:  "I'm constantly told that I do things wrong in quilting. I don't care, it works for me. I firmly believe that life is too short, so just do it. Don't think about what you COULD be doing, SHOULD be doing, or WOULD have done....just do it."

Wayward Geese, 60 x 60", by Deb Karasik

In this award-winning quilt, undulating rows of geese point toward the center, while spikey geese - which look like arrows - weave in and out of the spokes. The unusual spikey blue border really complements this quilt. Deb Karasik's description of the quilt reads:  "I wanted to make a quilt that was not only visually intriguing, but constructively challenging."  Finished in 2006, this quilt won the award for Best Use of Color at the 2007 Road to California show. 

Audrey III, 68 x 68", by Deb Karasik at Deb Karasik

"Audrey III" just might be our favorite of Deb Karasik's designs (so far). We love the color scheme and the gradations which create a luminous effect in the center of this quilt. Deb explains the name of this dazzling quilt:  "I was stumped trying to name her, so I looked to my online Yahoo! group for help, after posting a picture of her.  Several thought they could see a 'Venus Fly Trap' look, so we called her Audrey, an homage to the character in 'Little Shoppe Of Horrors'."  The pattern is available at Deb's online shop.

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Free Pattern Day: Sailboats

Are you familiar with the sailboat quilt block ?  The pattern has been around for 80 years and it is still a classic. We've found some charming free patterns for sailboat quilts, nautical flags and anchors.  Note: This post was updated on January 16, 2016.

Naturally Nautical quilt, 64 x 78", based on a blue and white antique quilt, free pattern at Quilt Mag

Make A Splash quilt, 72 x 78", free pattern (including anchor applique template) at United Notions (PDF download)

Carefree Curves Sailing Quilt by Carol Porter, 24 x 32” or larger, tutorial by Nancy Zieman

Anchors Aweigh quilt free pattern by Tula Pink

Sailboats and Irish Chain quilt tutorial at Sunset Family Living

Sailing by the Stars quilt, 62 x 62", free pattern  (including mariner's compass star foundations) by Project House 360 for RJR Fabrics

Anchors Aweigh quilt, 60 x 63”, free pattern by Amy Gibson for Windham Fabrics

Sailing Day wall quilt, 17 x 34", free pattern by Jamie Fingal for Hoffman Fabrics

Float My Boat, 58 x 64", free pattern at Timeless Treasures

Sail Away quilt, 38 x 42", free pattern at Riley Blake Designs  (PDF download)

Boating Fun quilt, 44 x 52”, free pattern by Ann Wanke for Windham Fabrics

Bartholo-Meow's Reef Sailboat quilt, 44 x 44", free pattern at Moda Fabrics (PDF download) Fabrics

Barnegat Bay quilt, 64 x 80", free pattern by Heidi Pridemore for Marcus Fabrics

Sailing Away quilt, 50 x 68", free pattern by Diane Nagle for Benartex (PDF download)

Little Boys Toys Table Runner or Wall Hanging, free pattern by Lyn Brown

Into a Sea of Blue, designed by Jean Baker White for McCalls Quilting

Sailboat quilt by Wendy Vosters


Nautical Flags quilt, 58 x 77", by Lynne Goldsworthy for Makower UK

Nautical Flag Napkins tutorial at the Purl Bee

Fairy Tale Sailboats tutorial by Penny Layman at Sew Take A Hike for Moda Bakeshop

Sailboat quilt block, free pattern by Janet Wickell at

Ship at Sea quilt block, 6"or 12", free pattern by Janet Wickell at

Miller’s Mariner block, free pattern at Quilt Views

Sailboat, 6” block, free paper piecing pattern at eQuilters

Image credits:  All images are copyrighted by their owners. Please respect their generosity in sharing their free patterns, and the restrictions they have placed on the use of these designs. Complete information can be found at the designers' websites provided in the links.  If any links are broken, we'd love to know; email us at quiltinspiration {at} gmail {dot} com.
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