Yum yum! Scrap quilting recipes (+ giveaway!)

Welcome to the Patchwork Palette Quilt-Recipe Challenge!

Patchwork Palette Quilt Recipe Challenge

Ever followed a recipe? It feels safe, doesn’t it? You make it once, following the directions to a T. Next time, maybe you switch things up a bit—a dash of this and a sprinkle of that. You continue to experiment with the recipe a little more each time you follow it. Pretty soon, the recipe isn’t what it once was anymore—it’s yours!

Patchwork PaletteThat’s the idea behind the new scrap-quilting book from popular quilt designer Donna Lynn Thomas. Through her easy-to-follow fabric “recipes,” you can pack oodles of fabrics into a quilt but still feel in control of the process—and feel confident that the quilt you’re making will be a keeper.

You might be wondering, “A recipe, huh? Will that really work for scrap quilts?” We figured you might ask (because we asked it ourselves). We were so intrigued by Donna’s methods for choosing quilt colors that we issued a staff challenge, using Donna’s “Back in Time” pattern as our test. Below are her two versions of the quilt:

Back in Time quilt
Same blocks, completely different looks. The quilt on the left was made using Donna’s "Color Family" recipe; the quilt on the right, “Paddle Star,” follows her "Rainbow" recipe.

Three fearless quilters from Martingale’s staff volunteered to try Donna’s techniques for themselves. They sewed, they told, they let us take photos. Let’s see what they created—and hear how they liked whipping up quilts using Donna’s three fabric recipes.

Challenge Quilt #1: from Ursula, technical editor

Ursula's Back in Time quiltTell us about your fabric-selection process. Which color recipe did you use?
I followed the "Color Family" recipe, where you choose a different color for each position in a block. It was so easy compared to choosing colors for other quilts I’ve made. Once I decided on the color families—blue, purple, gold, brown, and a beige background—I didn’t have to stress out over where to place each color. The blues and purples would be the focal point of the blocks, while the golds and browns played a secondary role.

What did you learn about choosing fabrics as you followed Donna’s color recipe?
Choosing the fabrics for each color family was easy. For the four blocks in the sample, I needed four fabrics in each color. My local quilt shop has an extensive selection of batiks and it didn’t take long to find what I needed. I followed Donna’s advice about combining colors, value, and scale of print. If I were making the 16-block quilt, it would have been just as easy to pick out 16 fabrics in each color family. Once I had my fabrics, I arranged them to be used in each block and proceeded to cut away.

What do you think of the color-recipe results?
Normally, choosing colors for a quilt is very stressful and I can agonize for hours over where to put what color. But being able to pick five colors I like and knowing where each color would be placed was a breath of fresh air. I know I’m going to use the “Color Family” recipe in many future quilts.

Mixing fabric prints in quiltsIs there anything you would do differently next time?
Yes—read the directions more carefully. I must have had a senior moment when I read the material requirements. I made the blocks as instructed and thought they looked great. I was so pleased that I sent Donna a photo of the blocks. She loved my color choices, but there was one eensy-weensy problem: I’d used the same background fabric for all four blocks. Back to the quilt shop I went! Now that I knew how to make the blocks, making three new ones was a piece of cake. And it was worth the effort. The blocks look so much better with a different background in each block.

Challenge Quilt #2: from Mary, marketing coordinator

Mary's Back in Time quiltTell us about your fabric-selection process.
Since I wanted to use Christmas fabrics to make a table topper, I used the "Mixed” fabric recipe. I wanted a scrappy but controlled look, so I used the same background fabric in all the blocks. When I first put the blocks on my design wall, I placed all the fabrics in the small stars in different positions, but it was too “jumpy” for me. So I followed Donna’s tip and made all the small stars the same. Donna’s cutting instructions are for one block, or one set of blocks, instead of for the whole quilt, which makes it easy to choose new fabrics for each set.

What did you learn about choosing fabrics as you followed Donna’s color recipe?
Donna covers color theory in Patchwork Palette, and includes helpful information on value and scale. Plus, she writes in a casual, fun voice and gives clear examples that most any quilter can follow. For instance, in describing an example of using scale, she writes: “The block on the top right probably makes your teeth grind.” Ha ha, she’s right!

What do you think of the color-recipe results?
Following Donna’s recipes made choosing fabrics easy. I really like how my new Christmas table topper turned out, with no teeth grinding at all. Thanks, Donna!

Challenge Quilt #3: from Cathy, author liaison

Cathy's Back in Time quiltTell us about your fabric-selection process.
I used the “Rainbow” recipe—the totally scrappy recipe. Scrappy quilts are always challenging for me. For several days, I had color combinations lying all over the house. Sometimes I would walk by and be really happy with one; other times I would move scraps around. Finally I said, “I’m sewing on Friday no matter how things lay out!” I picked the group I liked best.

What did you learn about choosing fabrics as you followed Donna’s color recipe?
Using the recipe, I learned to chill—just pick something to start with and add fabrics without pre-judging. You’ll be surprised at how many things look great together.

What do you think of the color-recipe results?
I think the color recipes are a great way to choose your fabrics and color combinations, especially if you find yourself questioning your choices, or if you don’t know where to start.

Sounds like Donna’s got three converts—her recipes turned out some delish quilts! You can see all of the quilts from Patchwork Palette (each with alternate colorway options) in the slideshow below.

How do you choose fabrics for scrap quilts—or are you in dire need of a recipe? Tell us your techniques in the comments and you could win a copy of the Patchwork Palette eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. Good luck!

You can also purchase Donna’s book today and instantly download the eBook for free.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Judy, who writes:

“I am a beginner quilter and I have found out the hard way that choosing the right color combinations is the essence of an exciting, beautiful quilt. I have tried to educate myself with books on color value and ‘temperature.’ I’ve purchased color cards and value finders but then felt overwhelmed with all the options! Donna’s book sounds like a PERFECT solution for me! Like your post described, I’m a recipe follower – I follow it exactly the first time and then ‘tweak’ it to my liking next time around. What a fantastic solution to choosing fabrics for beautiful quilts. I can’t wait to get Donna’s book!”

Judy, we’ll email you about your free eBook. Congratulations!

Candy Dots and A Touch of Americana quilts

"Candy Dots" (Rainbow recipe) and "A Touch of Americana" (Color Family recipe)

Carrie's Box and Carrie's Fantasy quilts

"Carrie's Box" (Color Family recipe) and "Carrie's Fantasy" (Rainbow recipe)

Delft Baskets and Pink Posies for Charlotte quilts

"Delft Baskets" (Color Family recipe) and "Pink Posies for Charlotte" (Mixed recipe)

Garden Glory and Hidden Stars quilts

"Garden Glory" (Mixed recipe) and "Hidden Stars" (Color Family recipe)

Gems and Black Diamonds quilts

"Gems" (Mixed recipe) and "Black Diamonds" (Color Family recipe)

Goose Chase and Goose on Rainbow Pond quilts

"Goose Chase" (Color Family recipe) and "Goose on Rainbow Pond" (Mixed recipe)

Pineapple Fizz and Granny's Sherbet Social quilts

"Pineapple Fizz" (Color Family recipe) and "Granny's Sherbet Social" (Rainbow Recipe)

Pipe Dreams and With This Ring quilts

"Pipe Dreams" (Rainbow recipe) and "With This Ring" (Mixed recipe)

Roses for My Love and Chartreuse Masquerade quilts

"Roses for My Love" (Mixed recipe) and "Chartreuse Masquerade" (Color Family recipe)

Starry Splendor and Turquoise Nights quilts

"Starry Splendor" (Mixed recipe) and "Turquoise Nights" (Color Family recipe)

Turnovers and Chain Link quilts

"Turnovers" (Mixed recipe) and "Chain Link" (Rainbow recipe)

When the Wind Blows and Fresh Breeze quilts

"When the Wind Blows" (Mixed recipe) and "Fresh Breeze" (Rainbow recipe)


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