Monday, March 22, 2010

Cubic construction

One of the beauties of tumbling blocks patterns is the seemingly infinite, and interesting, variations that are possible. Today we're showing several of our favorite contemporary quilts that incorporate tumbling blocks in some form: small or large, hollow or solid, floating or tessellated.

Hollow Cube, by Carol Capshaw

In Hollow Cube, the faces of the large tumbling blocks have been cut out, leaving a frame around the openings. The openings are filled with triangles, which are shaded to represent the back, floor, and sides of the cubes. The olive green and dark blue background has been rendered in textured batiks, giving it the quality of a landscape. We love the quilt, and the name of Carol's blog, To Be Fearless. We hope that Carol's workshops at OQSO include tips on fearlessness!

Blue Cubes, 65 x 76, by Martha Borders

In Blue Cubes, Martha has separated the tumbling blocks from each other so that they appear to be floating. The beauty of this elegant quilt comes in no small part from the hand-marbled cottons, which are arrayed in colors ranging from forest green to teal and turquoise blue. The swirled marbling reminds us of the deep blue sea.

Note added on December 22, 2010:  the website at has closed.  See a profile of Martha Borders at

Twin Towers, 32 by 24, by BJ Reed

The two large blocks in the quilt above are a remembrance of the Twin Towers in New York City. The blocks are constructed with crazy patch piecing, using fabrics in shades of rust and blue with red accents. BJ combined hand-dyed and painted fabrics, commercial batiks and geometric prints, satins and lames. The linear quilting on the building surfaces adds shading and dimension. The pattern for this wonderful quilt can be obtained at Piecemaking, LLC.

Hexagonal Rhythm, 1 meter square, by Jane Wilson at Jane's Quilts

In this original wall hanging, Jane has combined hexagons with tumbling blocks and elongated cubes, all in muted primary colors. The juxtaposition of shapes, and the angled arrangement of the houses, gives this piece a lively sense of movement or "rhythm". For more information and detailed views, visit Jane's Quilts.

All images are courtesy of the artists.

The hollow cube pattern is from Sara Nephew's Big Book of Building Block Quilts, available at Soft Expressions.


  1. What good timing! I just finished hand piecing a tumbling blocks top and was looking for different ways to set the next top. Great inspiration!

  2. Thanks for your comment! We'd love to see your quilt when it's done (send a link or photo...) Also see our post a few weeks ago (February 26) on Y-variations of tumbling blocks. There are so many variations of tumbling blocks, and all of them are great.

  3. Thanks for featuring my quilt. I had a rewarding time designing my "Twin Tower" quilt pattern. I've always been enamored with three dimensional quilts.

  4. Thank you for showing my quilt Blue Cubes. It was a fun quilt to make and only one of many I have made over the years featuring cubes. While my design is traditional, the other quilts you have shown point out the wonderful variety one can create with a simple pattern.

  5. Thank-you for the beautiful selection of quilts this week. I was inspired by the Monet's Garden series, especially "Serenity Bridge" by Mirinda Stewart and "Monet's Garden Walk" by Lenore Crawford. The Lorrie Faith Cranor quilts were awe inspiring. It struck me that "Circular Reasoning" with its designs within designs, circles, squares, overlays, and cross was put together with logical, linear reasoning. I loved the above quilts, but found all of the quilts truly wonderful.

  6. Eileen, thank you so much for your thoughtful and analytical comments. We really appreciate your insights on quilt design and construction.


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