Reproduction-quilt lovers, are you ready for a decidedly different quilt-block book?
Save your scraps, pile up your precuts, and iron your yardage—The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology is a BIG quilt-block book that will inspire you for years to come!
If you’re like us, you’re “long”ing to stitch these one-of-a-kind rectangular blocks—the unexpected shape is rocking our quilty world!
How did this compendium of rectangular quilt blocks come to be? Coauthors Carol Hopkins (of Civil War Legacies fame) and Linda M. Koenig dreamed up a challenge for their Indiana-based quilt group: design 4″ x 5″ blocks using only reproduction fabrics in blue, black, red, and double pink. That’s what inspired The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology—and the results are breathtaking.
At a whopping 208 pages, the book is packed with brand-new block designs—
—as well as classic favorites, all reinvented to fit the 4″ x 5″ shape:
Block photos are so close up, you can see the color and print choices that each quilter made, right down to the teeniest polka dot. And once you’ve made your blocks, you’ll get inspired to set them with examples of magnificent sampler quilts in the gallery. When you buy the book, you’ll get online access to even more settings (trust us, they’re gorgeous).
Did we mention that the anthology also includes ideas for using the blocks in your own quilt group or club? Create a block club just like the authors’ club and have a blast—with this last-a-lifetime book, you’ll never run short of ideas!
We’re thrilled to have Carol Hopkins as a guest writer today, here to tell you the remarkable tale of how the anthology came to be.
But first . . .
FABRIC GIVEAWAY! Carol Hopkins and our friends at Marcus Fabrics curated the American Swatch Book fabric collection—a line of classic prints designed by Judie Rothermel—to pair perfectly with The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology. And we’ve got a bundle to give away to one lucky winner!
Like many quilters, I count my quilting friends among life’s treasures. Over the last 25 years or so, I’ve been fortunate to share my passion for making small quilt blocks with reproduction fabrics through block exchanges with a special group of friends. Our exchanges focus on creating blocks of a certain size, pattern, or color, such as 3″ multicolored sampler blocks, tiny Shoo Fly blocks in assorted blues, 6″ red-and-green sampler blocks, 4″ pink-and-brown stars, and blocks on which we wrote favorite sayings or quotations.
It Started with a Block-Exchange Idea
When four of us met for lunch a few years ago to discuss our next exchange, we’d just finished a year-long exchange of 96 small Weathervane blocks using only plaids, checks, and stripes. To make our next exchange less time-consuming, we agreed on a simple block consisting of a plain rectangle surrounded by a one-inch border on all sides. Easy enough, until Linda Koenig had an inspiration while driving home, and then sent us a note with an invitation: “Design and assemble 4″ x 5″ quilt blocks using reproduction fabrics in blue, black, red, and double pink. Make four different blocks to share/keep each month, for nine months.” We were hooked when we saw the four sample blocks she enclosed. How hard could this be?
We were hooked and dove into making blocks. But we soon realized the challenge! It’s not hard to design a 4″ block. And it’s not hard to design a 5″ block. But to design a block that’s 4″ in one direction and 5″ in the other? That was trickier, and that’s what made it gratifying.
Blocks from The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology
Linda showed our blocks to another group of her quilting friends, and they decided joined the challenge. In all, we ended up with 182 blocks: some based on adaptations of classic square quilt blocks, and at least 50 new, never-before-seen blocks.
More blocks from The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology
A Book is Born
When I showed the first few months of blocks to the folks at Martingale, they loved the innovative approach and agreed to publish a block book with full-sized photographs and step-by-step cutting and sewing directions for each block, along with a photo gallery of quilts made from the blocks. Thus, the The 4″ x 5″ Quilt-Block Anthology was born.
Sadly, Linda passed away from a devastating illness before the book went to press. She saw the page proofs, but never viewed the book’s beautiful cover featuring her wonderful quilt, the result of a brainstorm on her drive home from lunch. We all greatly miss her friendship and her creative, perfectly pieced quilt designs.
Next Stop: Fabric
The original 4″ x 5″ blocks were made from a wide assortment of fabrics from the exchange participants’ decades-old stashes. Since there was no existing collection in the marketplace suitable for recreating the 1880s look of the fabrics in the blocks, Jennifer Keltner, Martingale’s Chief Visionary Officer, and I approached Marcus Fabrics about asking Judie Rothermel, one of the pioneer designers of reproduction fabric lines, to create a collection that would capture the color palette and prints used for the blocks in the book.
Marcus Fabrics agreed to develop a new collection, and Judie shared with me approximately 70 fabric swatches of blue, red, pink, black, and shirtings from her private collection of antique textiles. I felt like a kid in a candy store getting to see so many beautiful old fabrics, many of which contained prints never before available to reproduction-fabric lovers. Narrowing the choices to 22 prints was torturous, because, as I’m sure you can imagine, I wanted them all! In the end, the fabric line, which Judie named American Swatch Book, is a collection that beautifully reflects the colors and prints used in the original blocks.
So, what do you do when you have a book of wonderful quilt blocks and a fantastic new fabric line? My response was to create the “It’s Not a Square” Block-of-the-Month Club. The club pairs blocks from the book and the new fabric line to make a 72-block sampler quilt. Available through quilt shops this fall, the club will offer full-color, detailed block guides to create six blocks each month from The 4" x 5″ Quilt Block Anthology using American Swatch Book prints. Information about the fabrics and the club is on its way to local quilt shops now. Watch for the book at your favorite shop, and ask about the club!
What a whirlwind story, Carol—thank you for sharing it with us!
Now, on to the giveaway! For your chance to win the American Swatch Book bundle plus a copy of the The 4" x 5″ Quilt Block Anthology, tell us:
a) I’d go with what the original makers intended: blue, black, red, and double pink.
b) I’d follow the color guide but throw in a few surprises.
c) I’d try these blocks in modern fabrics—the quilts would be just as spectacular!
Tell us your answer in the comments—
we’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And remember, when you purchase The 4" x 5″ Quilt Block Anthology at ShopMartingale.com, you can instantly download the eBook for free.
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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Connie, who says:
“I love the scrappy look of my collection of reproduction fabrics. I love a challenge of the 4 by 5 blocks. I would love this project.”
We’ll email you about your prize, Connie—congratulations!