5 Ways to Stop Making Boring Quilts

River Eddies

Hi Everyone! A big welcome to all the new readers!

5 Ways to Stop Making Boring Quilts.  If you are totally satisfied with your quilts then there is no need to read this post.  If, however, you are vaguely dissatisfied with the design, colors, or any aspect of your quilt, then read on!  Disclaimer:  this is only what I have noticed in my years of teaching. Please do not take offense at any of this or lose your sense of humor about any of this- it’s all meant to be helpful.  If you disagree, please use the comment section to state your views.  I would love to hear your point of view too 🙂

So here goes…

1. Make sure there is some kind of main idea you are emphasizing.  I know sounds so obvious, right?  But so often, we have too many ideas in a single quilt, and the viewer gets overwhelmed or confused, and eventually bored.  This piece is clearly about the plant, and the variety and movement of the leaves within it.

Fossil Points by JoyStrings
Fossil Points by JoyStrings


2.  Include enough variety.  Again, obviously!  And yet, you’d be surprised at how many quilts I have seen that lack variety in shape, line, color.  While repetition is often the hallmark of a unified quilt, too much repetition or sameness creates- you got it, boredom.  Just look at the variety of color, value, sizes and shapes in this beauty.

'Lichens on Limestone II' by Liz Brooke Ward
‘Lichens on Limestone II’ by Liz Brooke Ward



3. Do use more than the middle range of values. Value contrast is your hidden friend.  I say hidden because it’s not always obvious unless you know how to look for it.  Use at least 3-5 values in every quilt.  Otherwise, the shapes and important elements in your quilt will not emerge from the pea soup that is your quilt!  This is often the culprit when your quilt lacks sparkle or depth.  Check out the exciting range of values in this one:

by Maximo Laura
by Maximo Laura


4.  Color.  Use colors that have some variety of intensity.  Using all bright colors or all muddy colors is not as exciting as mixing it up a bit.  Try pairing your favorite neutrals or greyed down colors with your brights and watch those brights pop.  Look at the dull colors next to the more vibrant colors- doesn’t that make them look even more lustrous?

Manhattan Sunset by Bärbel Lehrke
Manhattan Sunset by Bärbel Lehrke


5.  Movement. Get your viewers eyes moving around the piece.  Imagine how much more exciting your art will be when you can have elements that force the eyes to move around to catch areas of interest.  An area of tiny yellow flowers scattered here and there will move the eyes around more than a static row of  flowers.

Diane Melms, USA, Jubilo
Diane Melms, USA, Jubilo


Understanding how to use these ideas and many more can really take your art quilts from meh to mah-ve-lous!

For more information on these ideas, a great book to read is Elizabeth Barton’s Inspired to Design.

Also, I have an online class called Dancing with Design that gives you practice on all these topics.  You can read about it here, https://app.ruzuku.com/courses/7940/about and do one of the modules for FREE.  I will let you know when the next full course opens up this Fall.




Blame it on Rio….

The Rio quilt is already on it’s way to Curitba, Brazil!  It will be in a SAQA show, and I’m really proud to be represented there.

Here’s how I made this quilt:

Making the Rio quilt




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Susan and I on set

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About RoxaneRoxane-Web-Images-007

Roxane is a full time studio textile artist, teacher, and author, with two girls, who are both growing up too fast!  She recently appeared on Quilting Arts TV, and has been accepted to teach in Houston.  She is also a BERNINA ambassador. Her work is in several private collections and she loves doing custom commissions.  For more info go to http://roxanelessa.com.

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One thought on “5 Ways to Stop Making Boring Quilts

  1. These are great examples to go with the ‘rules’ of color and composition! applies to any type of art… thanks for sharing

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