Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Into, Through, and Beyond : Attic Windows Quilts

The Attic Windows pattern is one of the most popular and best loved of all three dimensional quilt patterns. It is captivating because it draws the eye into a "shadow box" effect that leads us to believe that we are peering either into or out of a window frame.

Successful Attic Windows quilts employ three aspects of the color scale: value, hue and chroma. The word value is used to describe the lightness or darkness of a color. Hue is used to describe the warmth or coolness of a color. Chroma is used to describe the purity or brilliance of a color.

Attic Windows quilts can be designed to either give the impression of standing outside looking in, or standing inside looking out, depending upon how the fabric palette is used.

The Inundation of Spring, by Lynne Hatwell

Lynne Hatwell, from Devon, England, creates a captivating work in a tribute to poet Emily Dickinson's line: "The inundation of spring enlarges every soul." In this pattern, two trapezoid shapes frame a square block, giving the illusion of a multi-paned window with a scene in the distance. Here, it is easy to imagine that we are outside, with friendly butterflies, looking into an enclosed, private flower garden. The quilter uses two different values of blue fabric, to give the illusion of sunlight illuminating part of the window frames. She employs large scale prints very effectively, providing the impression of real springtime blossoms.

Birds of a Feather, by Alice Kay Arnett

Alice Kay Arnett of Wyoming uses the cool hues hues of white and charcoal gray fabric on her window frames. These wintry tones give the impression of standing inside at dawn, looking out, as the birds awaken and the first rays of sun dispel the night sky. She has added interest by varying the size of the window panes in order to display more of the bird at work in their natural habitat. The traditional feather quilting on the panes adds to the delightful effect of this quilt.

Aquarium, by Jacqueline Johnson

Jacqueline Johnson of the Empire Quilters in New York City explains "For a long time, I owned a cat, but wanted fish. My solution- this fabric aquarium." Jacqueline has effectively created a cat's eye view of tropical fish as they dart and glide through the water. Her quilt makes very effective use of the strong chromatic colors of turquoise and aqua blue. They possess high chroma because they are pure, bright, undiluted colors. Because these blues have not been muted or shaded by adding brown, gray, or black, the viewer sees them as vivid and intense colors. Jacqueline has used this intensity to effectively portray a vibrant world swimming with life and movement. This charming quilt is enhanced by the value contrast of the light green and dark blue window panes, which increases the three-dimensional effect.

Image Credit and Links: The Inundation of Spring, courtesy of Lynne Hatwell at Dove Grey Reader; Bird of a Feather, by Alice Kay Arnett at Alice Kay Quilts; Aquarium by Jacqueline Johnson, courtesy Empire Quilters.


  1. Great Attic Window quilts!! I made one where all the center squares were navy with tiny white stars, I called it Night Sky - it was awesome, wish I had a picture.

    Great free patterns too, thanks!!

    1. would you be willing to give out the pattern for the red, white and blue star attic window quilt? It is very beautiful! My e-mail is Thank-you so much!

  2. I also would be very interested in the pattern for Birds of a Feather. It is stunning with having different size windows. My email is thanks so much!!!!


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