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  • Writer's pictureKaren

The Rise of the Sampler Quilt

Updated: Jul 8, 2021


This week in Karen's Quilt Circle, I spoke with Barbara Brackman, author of Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. It was such a fascinating interview about the history of quilt blocks, and I couldn't help but reflect on my own experience with sampler quilts.


My very first finished quilt was a sampler quilt. It was a Block of the Month series from my local quilt shop, Sew-Sisters. It was made from Northcott Stonehenge fabric. And inexperienced me, thought making a King sized quilt as a first quilt made sense since my bed was a King. Though I never cared for the fabrics individually, they came together very nicely. I had so much fabric leftover, I used it all up in the back making my first Afterquilt. My longarmmer took both the sampler front and pieced back, both on point and she somehow made it all work. It resides on my bed to this day, and it’s nice switching between traditional and modern depending on my mood.



I have made other sampler quilts since then. The Farmer's Wife (1920), Aviatrix, Jen Kingwell’s Long Time Gone and Tula Pink’s City Sampler.


As this week’s Kinship Fusion Sampler QAL kicks off on July 1st, I realized how much the sampler method suits me. I like the variety as I bore easily with repetitive work. I like how you can play with colour layouts and fussy cutting. And if something doesn’t work out, no problem. There will be a different block tomorrow. I also like checking items off the list - crossing the days off feeds my momentum.


My goal for this year’s #100days100blocks is to use my Tula Pink fabric stash.

As I auditioned different fat quarters, I had to laugh at myself. Initially, I thought I was using up the complete stash. I now realize how large it is and I’ll now be happy just to make a dent. My colour palette of purples, blues and lime green will be new for me. And once I had my colours I spent a night playing with Prequilt playing with block layouts



I have spent the last month finishing off projects so that I have the space to enjoy myself. I had to make some executive decisions on certain items like this quilt. It was a travelling quilt project. I had always hoped to add one last border on it but I decided it was fine as it was and loaded it up on the long arm. I had a backing piece and batting that fit it perfectly.



As I mentioned earlier, this week’s Karen’s Quilt Circle interview is with Barbara Brackman, author of the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. Barbara has been collecting quilt block patterns for over 30 years and her new book is a must for anyone that likes sampler quilts. All the variations are amazing. You can purchase your copy here https://geni.us/8UzQf (amazon)



So I’m off to put my first blocks together. Looking forward to seeing the blocks that you come up with too.


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It's funny but I only meant to make one quilt. It was for my husband so the sofa would be comfortable for his afternoon nap. I made it entirely by hand using velour fabric in 3 colours, mainly 4 patch but used a centre strip of applique and windmill blocks. I made cardboard templates from cereal boxes. I enjoyed it so much that I'm now addicted and have rulers instead of cardboard and a machine as well as a needle. I haven't made a sampler quilt though I have the patterns for a quilt along I wanted to join but never got started. Maybe next year I'll finally get around to it.

Thank you for letting us into your sewing,…

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Hi Karen. My daughter Anna, new to quilting, uses your YouTube films to learn all kinds of tricks. We both live in the Netherlands, she in the very south and I live in the very north, so we don't often get a chance to quilt together. I let her know whenever I have seen something I think she will enjoy on your site. As we are Canadians originally from the Waterdown, Ontario, we love watching your films on YouTube. We have both tried some of your stash buster quilts which are great if you need a quick ( baby) gift, and no time (or money) to invest in a big new project. I just started one today using lots of…

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Enjoy your retirement

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Hi Karen. Thanks for sharing all your journeys with us and your knowledge, tips and tricks. I’ve learned quite a lot watching your videos and think I have moved from beginner to intermediate… in this blog you have a pic of the Mariners compass quilt. Is there a pattern you can share or point me to? It’s one of my favourite blocks and I’ve made a mini wall hanging from a class many years ago however, I now want to make a king size with this block so would appreciate this pattern. Thanks again, Nadia (from Dundas, Ontario)

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Fantastic! I can wait as I have a bunch or other projects to finish anyway. Thank you!

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Miembro desconocido
29 jun 2021

We are making a major move from the MidWest (Illinois) to the Pacific Northwest (Washington State), and cleaning out my own "stuff", plus two sets of elderly parents "stuff", the three boys "stuff" from their move out/move in/move out, left behind "stuff" from mom, etc., and having been the "trailing spouse" of an active duty military man, the "stuff" has been almost overwhelming to conquer! I need less 'hobbies'! Today, I started on my "sewing room". I knew I left it for last for a reason, mostly because there would be a lot of "stuff" that I really MUST part with. The first decision was to lower the amount of sewing machines I have. Difficult. 7 (Singer), 4 serg…


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Miembro desconocido
02 jul 2021
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My son promised to let me set up everything in his 30' x 40' shop in the backyard! WooHoo!!


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