Anna Grossnickle Hines                                                                                 Home    Guide
Assembling the Pieces Quilt
from PIECES: A Year in Poems and Quilts
Pieces is the theme quilt for the book with "pieces of the seasons" symbolized by the snowman, bird, butterfly and pumpkin in a patchwork of seasonal color.

To make my quilt I paper-pieced the four symbols, framed them in half-square triangles in a medallion pattern, then filled the rest of the quilt with half-square triangles... about 652 of them!

The quilt is approximately 11 x 15 inches, not including the border.  My triangles started out as squares 11/8 inches on a side. After stitching, two of them make a 5/8 inch square. 

Creating the quilt was an adventure. What follows here is a bit about that, along with an invitation and  directions for your own adventure, including size and design options. 

Click here for DIRECTIONS without the background and options.

I drew my symbol designs, then experimented on the computer, playing with what I might do with the colors. 

I did these experiments in a simple Corel Draw program that came loaded on my computer. Now I use PhotoShop, which is probably not the best for this sort of thing, but it's what I have and know at this point.

This is the very crude computer design that was in the dummy when I showed it to my editor. I was a beginner in using computer programs, but found them helpful in working out some of my ideas. 

The grids I experimented with at first were very simple, with staggering rows alternating, one with the triangles all vertical, the next all horizontal. 

Would you believe I that I started sewing before I realized that each square could be placed either vertical or horizontal and that it could make a huge difference in the design?   Just a little slow!

I printed out a grid with squares on point and played with the lines to come up with this design.

  • You could make the quilt using squares and forget about all those little triangles.  That's what I did for the quilt on the cover of the book which uses these symbols plus four more.
  • You could also make a simpler quilt by setting the symbol blocks, which are 21/2 inches square, with 21/2 squares and triangles.  (Start with 3 inches for seam allowances.

If you'd like to print this grid and play with the direction of the triangles click for HTML or PDF
This is the design I came up with.

I chose to use a color wash technique, going from light around the dark symbol medallions, and dark around the light ones, using appropriate seasonal colors in each corner.  However, looking at the interesting patterns possible with the half-square triangles, I might do it differently if I had it to do again. 

It's probably very good that I did have a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the color at that point because when you add the variables of value and color in a design like this the possibilities are virtually endless.

Below are the beginnings of two possibilities ...

If you'd like to use my lines to play with the color and value possibilities you can print this "coloring page" or download this gif file.

After downloading the file "piecestocolor.gif" you can open it in PhotoShop, Corel Draw, Paintshop Pro, or any simple drawing and painting program such as "Paint" in the Windows--Programs-- Accessories folder. Click on the paint bucket or "fill tool", choose a color, then click to fill the spaces. Fun! Give the file another name when you save it and you can do it over and over again.

If you prefer you can print the coloring page as a PDF file.

Ready to make a quilt?
Printable patterns for these four symbols plus four more that I used on the cover, can be found by clicking  here for JPEG or here for PDF files.
You'll also find directions  for framing the symbols in medallions as I did on my quilt. 

Another Option:
  • If you'd rather not work quite so small, you can adapt the patterns on those pages for making the designs from paper. Each of these makes a 4 inch square. You could then use 11/2 inch squares for your triangles, which would be 1 inch after stitching, making the quilt about 17 x 21 inches. Use the smaller patterns as reference for dividing and sewing the sections of each symbol.  
Making the symbols and, if desired, the medallions. 

Next make your half-square triangles. To do that, place two squares right sides together. Stitch along diagonal center line. Trim one side to 1/8 inch seam.  Open and press. 

If you are making a lot of half-square triangles in the same color combination, there are tricks. I don't know them, but lots of other quilters do, so ask around.

Since mine were all different, I basically laid out the squares first to see the overall movement of color, then stitched my triangle squares. 

I used a sheet of foam, 18 x 24 inches, for a layout pad.  Flannel works well, too.

This is the diagram of my design. I marked off rows and blocks of triangles with a yellow highlighter as I finished them, to help me keep track of where I was.  Very important and not always easy!
Here I am in my makeshift work station. I have a much nicer place for sewing now. Beside me is the guide pictured above. You can even see the highlighter by the sewing machine.

Don't be frightened by the frustrated pose.  This was a figure-it-out-as-you-go project and I had lots of "do-overs".  As my Aunt Esther says, I made frequent use of the "frog tool", "Rip-it! Rip-it! Rip-it!" 

Working this size precision is important.

This is a diagram of how I worked... more or less.   Starting with a medallion square, I stitched the row next to it, sewed it to the square, then stitched the next row, attached it, then the next and attached it, and so on.  Working from the orange square to the green, and outward from the blue and yellow squares, I constructed the three units. I sewed these together, then added the corners one row at a time. 

If you decide to have your own adventure with this design, I hope you have a wonderful time!

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To PDF Seasonal Symbol Patterns