It’s back! 53 animal quilt blocks to paper piece (+ giveaway!)

More than 15 years ago, an adorable book filled with patterns for quilted animals debuted—and caused nothing short of a stampede. It quickly sold more than 150,000 copies (just think of all the animal offspring it generated!). Ever since the book went out of print, quilters who missed the original have been waiting patiently for it to become available again. Now the wait is over. The ultimate book of animal quilt blocks is back!

Animal quilt blocks from A Quilter's Ark

Whether you’re fond of animals on the farm, at the zoo, or in the wild, the cute critters in Margaret Rolfe’s A Quilter’s Ark will help you put smiles on the faces of the young and the young at heart. You can easily stitch these 4″ x 4″ paper-pieced blocks with amazing accuracy. Here’s the scoop on the original book from Margaret’s fans, via reviews:

  • Animal quilt blocks from A Quilter's Ark“I’d never paper pieced in my life and this book covered all the bases”
  • “A great buy if you want to quilt animals fast and easily”
  • “Blocks turn out beautiful every time…so easy and very addictive”
  • “Truly beautiful works of art—unique and magnificently simple construction”
  • “Easy to use and has excellent (and well-designed) paper-pieced animals”

Today Margaret is here at Stitch This!—all the way from Australia!—to welcome back her quilt-book classic, and to share how learning to paper piece inspired her to write A Quilter’s Ark.

Margaret RolfeI am delighted about the re-release of my best-selling book A Quilter’s Ark. It has set me thinking about my journey through my passion for making pieced animal designs.

It all began when I was trying to make a flower design that was not restricted to squares, rectangles, and triangles. The lightbulb moment came when I realized that you could easily sew any shape, provided it was always done by sewing straight lines. The Y-shaped junction was a problem to sew—not impossible, but fiddly. With appropriate design, including careful attention to piecing order, odd shapes could be added to odd shapes, all with straight seams.

Crimson Rosella Parrot blockMy first animal design was an Australian parrot, the Crimson Rosella (left), a beautiful bird that visited my garden. After that I was off and running—designs for Australian animals and birds, zoo animals, farm animals, dinosaurs, and North American animals and birds all followed. Each design was its own challenge. I like to make designs with as few pieces as possible, to make them as simple as can be while still retaining the character of the animal or bird. The Ohio Star has 21 pieces, so I try to make my blocks with this many pieces or fewer. It’s not always possible, but that is my aim.

Before the rotary cutter, blocks were made using templates. But rotary cutting changed everything in quilting, making cutting traditional blocks quick and simple with no templates. So what was going to happen to my animal designs? Quilting friends came to the rescue by telling me that my blocks suited foundation piecing (also called paper piecing, with paper being the most commonly used foundation). I was slow in the uptake but eventually caught on. Foundation piecing was the way to go! The technique didn’t involve changing the designs, but it necessitated some changes to the original piecing orders. My book A Quilter’s Ark resulted, offering more than 50 of my animal and bird designs, all prepared for foundation piecing.

More animal quilt blocks from A Quilter's Ark
From the table of contents: some of the animal quilt blocks in
A Quilter’s Ark

Foundation piecing makes these blocks quick and simple to make. The small pieces are easy to manage and the results are perfect when it comes to little points. The fun is to make quilts using the designs. Just a single block can be made into a charming little wall hanging with the addition of simple borders.

Single-block animal quilts from A Quilter's Ark
Stitch fast, fun, one-block quilts

Animals can also be combined, for example, into a zoo combination. You can create custom quilts using the blocks of your choice, or you can follow the step-by-step patterns for the four quilts in the book:

Ark Quilt
“Ark Quilt”

Farm Quilt
“Farm Quilt”

North American Animals Quilt
North American Animals Quilt”

Australian Animals Quilt
“Australian Animals Quilt”

You can play with repetition of the blocks, combining them with traditional blocks or sashing. They also suit row-by-row quilts. The possibilities are endless!


A Quilter's ArkThanks for sharing your story about A Quilter’s Ark with us, Margaret!

Which animal block from A Quilter’s Ark would you make first, and for whom? Leave your answer in the comments and you could win an eBook copy of A Quilter’s Ark! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

Papers for Foundation PiecingPurchase A Quilter’s Ark today and download the eBook instantly for free. Remember to add a stack of Papers for Foundation Piecing to your shopping cart too—you can start sewing as soon as your print copy arrives.

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

 “I would make the Eagle first – my neighbor’s 8 year old son has cancer but you’d never know it – he is so brave – he soars like an eagle and is never afraid to keep on trying. I’d like to make him another chemo quilt, as he has grown over the last year or so.”

 Connie, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!


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