Colorful, quick, striking – solid quilts!

Projects from Solids, Stripes, Circles, and Squares

Welcome to the world of Pippa Eccles Armbrester, a new designer of modern quilts who’s creating a buzz. There’s good reason for all the fuss about her modern patchwork quilt patterns:

They’re colorful. They’re quick. They’re striking. They’re solid!

Detail from Solids Stripes Circles and SquaresBy now you’ve noticed that interest in solid fabrics has skyrocketed. Most every fabric company has a line, and they offer color choices that would put a rainbow to shame. But when it comes to quilting with these basic beauties, playing with solids can seem more challenging than playing with prints. Why is that?

One reason could be that solids instantly make a statement. If a print could talk (and yes, I know, some do), it might say, “I’m a blend of lots of colors and motifs—come play with me!” A solid fabric says, for instance, “I’m YELLOW.” It’s a straightforward, strong statement, isn’t it? One that you’d think would be hard to humble in a quilt.

But the fun of making solid quilts lies in how you can mix and match—or mismatch—to your heart’s content and always come away with dramatic results. For instance, you can create a bright and lively multicolored scheme, as in this “Scattering Squares” quilt from Pippa.

Scattering Squares quilt

Or, you can completely transform the same quilt design by going monochromatic. Make a solid-fabric quilt in a calmer color scheme to match your living room, your bedroom, or simply your mood.

Grass Green quilt
“Grass Green”

Tied with Pippa’s love of solid fabrics is her love of hand appliqué. She uses traditional needle-turn and reverse appliqué in her designs, and her approach makes it easy to learn both. Below, Pippa shares her step-by-step technique for how to appliqué circles by hand. Tell us it isn’t as hard as it looks, Pippa!

You can see all the projects from Pippa’s new book, Solids, Stripes, Circles, and Squares, at the bottom of this post.


How to Appliqué Circles
An excerpt from Solids, Stripes, Circles, and Squares

Pippa Eccles ArmbresterI used to find appliqué intimidating, but it’s surprisingly fun and easy once you get the hang of it. It’s also one of the easiest ways to incorporate curved shapes into your quilt designs, breaking free from the geometric limitations of patchwork alone.

All my appliqué is done by hand. I find it to be a nice change of pace from machine stitching, a bit more methodical, slow-paced, and soothing—plus it’s portable! I never go on vacation without an appliqué project in my bag. And I find there’s no better way to unwind at the end of the day, whether it’s hand stitching in front of the TV or over drinks with a friend.

Use thread that matches the color of your fabric so that your stitches won’t show. I use a small, sharp hand-sewing needle such as a quilting needle (called a Between), or a Sharp. Some quilters prefer a longer needle for appliqué, such as a milliner’s needle or straw needle.

1. To prepare the piece for appliqué, trace the template onto your appliqué fabric (if using a print rather than a solid, trace onto the fabric’s right side) and cut out the shape, adding approximately ¼" outside of the drawn line for a seam allowance.

2. Lay the appliqué on top of the background fabric. Pin it in place using straight pins or small appliqué pins, depending on the size of the shape; be sure to pin both in the center and around the edge, allowing enough space near the drawn line for turning under and stitching.

How to applique circles 1

3. Cut a piece of thread approximately 18″ long. Thread your needle and knot the end. Insert the threaded needle into the back of the appliqué piece so that it comes out on the front just inside the drawn line. This will hide the knot underneath the appliqué piece when you’re done turning and stitching.

How to applique circles 2

4. Fold the edge of the appliqué piece under along the drawn line about ½" to 1″ ahead of your needle. Be sure that the drawn line is turned under and is not visible at the fold. Insert the needle into the background fabric next to the folded edge of the appliqué, and then bring it through the folded edge of the appliqué piece about ⅛" away. Take small stitches every ⅛", catching just the edge of the folded fabric. If you’re right-handed, you’ll be working counterclockwise; left-handed stitchers will work clockwise. Continue in this manner, folding under along the drawn line as you go.

How to applique circles 3

TIP:  Folding the Fabric Under
You can use the needle to turn the fabric under as you stitch. This process is called needle-turn appliqué. I prefer to fold with my fingers. But you should try both methods to see what works best for you.

5. When you have stitched around the entire shape, take a few more stitches past the starting point for extra security. Take the needle to the wrong side of the work and loop through one of the appliqué stitches; knot around it twice. Insert the needle underneath the appliqué piece and bring it back up a couple inches from the knotted edge, pulling the thread through the background fabric. Trim off the excess thread.

How to applique circles 4


Solids, Stripes, Circles, and SquaresThanks for showing us your appliquéd-circle technique, Pippa! You can visit Pippa’s blog here.

Are you accumulating a stash of solid fabrics (or do you want to)? What are your plans for them—appliqué, patchwork, a little of both? Tell us your solid-fabric story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Solids, Stripes, Circles, and Squares eBook.  We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won.

Purchase Pippa’s book today and instantly download the eBook for free.

Comments are closed for this post.

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

“I’m just finishing off my first solid-only modern quilt, and I love it. I used to only see solids as good for sashing, but now my mind’s been changed for the better! I’m actively working on increasing my little solids stash.”

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

Nested Squares quilt

Nested Squares quilt

Spots on Squares quilt

Spots on Squares quilt

Stacked Stripes quilt

Stacked Stripes quilt

Twice Spliced quilt

Twice Spliced quilt

Rainbow Road quilt

Rainbow Road quilt

Bouncing Beach Balls quilt

Bouncing Beach Balls quilt

Diced Diagonals throw pillow

Diced Diagonals throw pillow

Half-and-Half throw pillow

Half-and-Half throw pillow

Fruity Rings pillowcase

Fruity Rings pillowcase

Dots and Dashes lounge pillow

Dots and Dashes lounge pillow

Spirals and Spots table runner

Spirals and Spots table runner

Little Log Cabin coasters

Little Log Cabin coasters

Woven Patchwork place mats

Woven Patchwork place mats

Dancing Dots table runner

Dancing Dots table runner

Shifting Stripes rug

Shifting Stripes rug


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