Simple modern quilt designs (no art degree required)

Modern and traditional styles of quiltmaking continue to ebb and flow into one another, and Amy Ellis designs quilts from both ends of the spectrum. But what many of Amy’s fans love best is her knack for making chic, graphic quilts that are just plain easy to sew. In short, her simple modern quilt designs don’t require an art degree—or a quilting one!

Projects from Modern Basics II

Whether you’re a beginning modern quilter who wants to build your skills or a seasoned traditional quilter who wants to give modern quilting a try, Amy’s new book, Modern Basics II, is filled with speedy solutions. And her tips for fitting quilting into your busy life will inspire you to make the time. Of her latest designs, Amy says:

Amy Ellis“These quilts were made at my kitchen table, between mealtimes, and intermingled with the daily ups and downs of family life. You don’t need to have a dedicated sewing space to make these quilts; stow your machine, iron, and ironing board close by, and use them as needed. I have an open countertop that I use for cutting. When I’m not cutting, that space is the staging area for the project I’m piecing. I can easily prep pieces for the next step from this area, without setting up the iron or sewing machine—and I can work there while my family is busy around the space.”

Modern Basics II builds on the popularity of Amy’s first book, Modern Basics. So you can see how simple Amy’s quilts truly are, we’ve divided her designs into three categories: easiest, easier, and easy! See the beautiful breakdown below.

This week only, get a special deal on Amy’s books:

BOGO sale! Modern Basics I and II


EASIEST: Looking for a beginner quilt, a gift or charity quilt, or something to start and finish over a weekend? Amy’s stylish strip-pieced designs make great go-to patterns.

Stepping Stones quilt
“Stepping Stones.” Amy used a Moda Charm Pack for the 5″ squares in this quilt. Link alternating blocks with strip-pieced segments along the edges.

Color Waves quilt
“Color Waves.” Amy used a silk/cotton blend in this design (Radiance by Robert Kaufman) and says the fabrics were a dream to work with. They give sparkle and shimmer to a very simple block.

Patchwork Weave quilt
“Patchwork Weave.” Combine easy strip piecing with a few extra squares and rectangles in this optical illusion of a quilt. The repeat blocks are square; can you see where they begin and end?


EASIER: Amy gives a complex look to her quilts with clever techniques, like foundation piecing and on-point settings.

Improvised Herringbone quilt
“Improvised Herringbone.” Who says you have to piece an entire top? These large foundation-pieced blocks offer lots of impact when stitched to a quiet background fabric. Show off fat quarters or scraps from your stash.

Modern Cross-Stitch quilt
“Modern Cross Stitch.” Spotlight solid shot cottons in this quilt like Amy did, or choose 15 of your favorite fat quarters to make the Xs in this vivid quilt.

String Maze quilt
“String Maze.” This quilt may look like a labyrinth, but it’s made from repeats of just one block design. Paper pieced for accuracy, the blocks are rotated to achieve a more complex look.


EASY: If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge—but one that you can honestly say you’ll follow through to the end!—start your search here.

Star-Crossed quilt
“Star Crossed.” Amy’s method for making the flying-geese units in this quilt result in no exposed bias edges, and no waste. Choose 10 half-yard cuts to make each block unique.

Sunrise quilt
“Sunrise.” Pair squares with a simple folded-corner technique to achieve those pointy points.

Confetti Crossings quilt
“Confetti Crossings.” Use just two units—squares and half-square triangles—to stitch this design. Amy includes instructions for cutting the half-square-triangle pieces with an optional GO! cutter and the 3″ finished half-square-triangle die.


Modern Basics IIIn Modern Basics II, Amy also offers instructions for resizing each quilt. Turn a larger quilt into a baby quilt or throw, or turn a smaller project into a twin- or queen-size quilt with her simple directions.

What go-to techniques do you use to make easy quilts? Strip piecing? Foundation piecing? Strictly squares? Precuts? Tell us your speedy story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Modern Basics II eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. Good luck!

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

“I keep 10.5 inch muslin squares by my machine and as I have leftover strips after a project, I made String Block squares. I start by sewing down a bright colored fabric on the diagonal, in the middle, and work my way out from there. Once I have enough blocks, then I make my quilts forming geometric designs. My friends think I work for hours, which I don’t. It’s a matter of taking one strip at a time, whether it’s a fat or skinny strip.”

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


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