Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kaleidoscopic: Summer Breeze Quilt Sew-A-Long

Today I'm introducing a modern spin on the Summer Breeze pattern, which was just released by Fat Quarter Shop! It's a traditional kaleidoscope pattern that uses two Creative Grids rulers. I had always wanted to make one of these quilts (the color play is fascinating), but I wanted to invent my own version. Below, I'll give you the instructions to tweak the pattern to add negative space as I did.

I really wanted to use my Sunnyside by Kate Spain fat quarter bundle - and use it I did! I only have a few FQs and scraps left. To add some variety, I mixed in several fabrics that complemented the tones in Sunnyside. I especially love how well Cotton + Steel and Cascade by Jessica Levitt play with the other fabrics.

This quilt's visual impact calls for a "constant" fabric (in the pattern, it's cream). Instead of using one color or a solid, I sought out the black Alison Glass text print and black/gray Pearl Bracelets (this one I had waiting in the wings of my fabric stash). I was a bit wary of how they would play off of each other, but randomized, they worked effortlessly together.

This is a fun and exciting quilt to make, and I would recommend it for intermediate sewists (as does FQS). There is a lot of precision involved (if you so choose to be precise; read on for my opinion on that) plus many bias seams and some bulk in the middle of the blocks (which I managed to minimize with trimming as I went along). I chose to participate in this sew-a-long because it was a repetitive and relaxing project to add to all summer. It is not a quick sew, but it is satisfying in the end! I CAN say that it's a quicker sew if you add negative space like I did. ;)

On precise-ness: this type of pattern is usually very exact, so as to show the progression of the kaleidoscope across the quilt. I am the first to say I am not a precision sewist. I CAN sew with precision (and always do for commissions), but often, on my own projects, I choose not to. Why? Because I find it more fun that way, and I like the "wonkiness" that comes from improvisation and seams that don't line up exactly.

That is why I threw all caution to the wind while sewing and trimming my blocks. The seams don't line up, but does it make a difference in the look? I don't think so. In fact, I think it adds another level of depth. In places, it looks like the kaleidoscope has shattered. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Funnily enough, many of them lined up regardless!

I would encourage anyone who is trying a high level pattern to let go of perfectionism and just make! I do LOVE the Creative Grids rulers and I can see myself using them for future projects {Kaleidoscope and Dresden Plate ruler} {8.5" square ruler}. The center point on the square ruler was especially useful for trimming. Now I just need to invest in a rotating cutting mat!

I quilted this quilt with design in mind; the negative space is emphasized by step-like quilting. I used my walking foot for that part. I could have added even more lines but I'm happy with the minimalistic look. I forsook using a guide other than the seam lines because I love to just "go for it" (as I mentioned above). Why mark out quilting or use a guide when you can just let it happen, knowing it will still look great? I always encourage my quilting students to let go of inhibitions because that's the best way to get better (in my opinion!).

The rest was free motion quilting a mix of flames and spirals to give the pattern some movement. That kind of quilting is so relaxing to me! I used Aurifil #2710 (light blue) for both the top and bobbin threads. I usually use 2600 Dove Gray for lighter quilts, but I liked the pretty blue sheen this thread cast. I've become a lot more adventurous with colored thread this year!

On the back, I threw in several extra blocks I had made, combined with coordinating yardage from my fabric stash. Pieced backs are my favorite! I used up several large scraps and pieces; somehow it all works together. This could be a quilt in its own right!

"Modern" Kaleidoscope/Summer Breeze Quilt Directions

We're simply making less blocks and adding more negative space for a graphic pop, almost as if the kaleidoscope disappears! Note that I added some triangles (extras from block sewing) in one of the strips. Feel free to do that, as long as the pieces you add continue to be 8.5" wide.

1. Make 28 blocks as described in the pattern.
2. Using 1.5 yards of solid fabric (extra included), cut strips of 8.5" wide x WOF.
3. Follow the diagram below to piece the quilt into rows*, then press seams open.

*You will need to sew some of your 8.5" strips together to achieve the lengths described. Instead of precisely cutting all of your solid strips, you may just want to leave them longer than they should be, sew the top together, and then trim it down. Much less to worry about!

4. Sew rows together and press seams open. This quilt will come out to 56.5" square. If you'd like to make it the size of the original Summer Breeze quilt (56.5" x 64.5"), simply add another row to the bottom: 8.5" x 56.5". You have enough fabric if you're using 1.5 yards.

If you decide to make this version of the Summer Breeze quilt, I'd love to see it! You can email me here.

Candid shot, thanks to my husband!


If you like the look of the Summer Breeze quilt, you can purchase the pattern right here from Fat Quarter Shop! Below is a thorough video tutorial to use as you make the blocks, and then you'll see a list of several other talented quilt makers. Make sure to pop over to their blogs and see their versions of the quilt. Happy sewing!

Summer Breeze Blog Hop:
Melissa from Happy Quilting
Nicole from Modern Handcraft
Sherri N. from Rebecca Mae Designs
Sherri M. from A Quilting Life
Jessica from Quilty Habit << you are here!
Leanne from She Can Quilt
Afton from Quilting Mod
Kathryn from Kathryn Jones Quilts
Stephanie from The Modern Sewciety

Disclaimer: My sponsor Fat Quarter Shop provided me with the pattern, rulers, and payment for this post. All suggestions, opinions, and extra directions are mine. Don't take me too seriously - just go make the quilt and have fun. :)


  1. I do love the negative space you added. Very nice!

  2. Great design and I like your choice of the constant fabric(s).

  3. I have always loved kaleidoscope quilts and it is fun to see the variations. I love how you added the negative space. Also the dark part gives your quilt so much depth!

  4. I like the negative space too! Amazing the different variations you can get with one pattern and a couple rulers!

  5. Really great fabric choices you made there! And I also like the negative space - it makes it so much more personal.

  6. This is fabulous!! I agree sometimes mismatched seams really make something more interesting and unique. Letting go of perfectionism and sewing freely is much more me too :)

  7. I really like the just go for it approach. Even if the seams don't match exactly, most of the time they are close enough that the eye fills in a match for you when the quilt is viewed from a distance. Only you know where the big mismatches are. It's a beautiful quilt.

  8. I love your take on this pattern! I never would have thought to use the black fabrics, such an awesome idea. :) And the quilting is spot on, great finish!

  9. This quilt is gorgeous!! Love it!!

  10. I love this quilt! I really like how you changed things up with the negative space. I find your version much more visually stimulating. I also like your just jump in and do it attitude.


Let's start a conversation! I love comments and I'd be happy to reply to all who have an email address accessible. Thanks for commenting!


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