I finally joined my local quilt guild. I've put it off for years because guilds have a "rep" of being full of as much drama as dog and pony shows.
I myself endeavor to be a drama free zone whenever possible. So joining a guild, of my own free will and choice, was stepping onto thin ice for me.
I talked my sister into joining with me. (She's the social butterfly of the family.) So together we attended the Guild Fair in July.
There were classes, a quilt show, vendors, a garage sale and prizes. It was good. We were glad we went.
The last "class" of the day was more of a trunk show. It was two gals from Riley Blake talking through their experience of learning to quilt as an effort to make friends to where they are now. The story was interesting and the quilts were fabulous.
I was very surprised, however, when they were promoting their new line of fabric, at how many of the supposedly seasoned quilters in the room, were unfamiliar with the concept of using fabric panels. Even my sister, who has been a quilter since the dawn of fabric, or so I thought, asked how to cut it up.
I decided it must be time to talk about our friend, the fabric panel.
A fabric panel is exactly what it sounds like: it's a panel of fabric printed to use as a single, whole block.
Sometimes they are intended to be cut into smaller blocks, as in this vintage nursery rhymes panel. Each block was about 8 inches. Since I only had 5 blocks, I just added a single border to each one, then sashed it along with the four filler blocks. Easy and finished in an afternoon.
My DIL claimed it. I told her she'd have to give us a granddaughter first. Since the granddaughter will be turning 1 in September I guess I need to get this on the frames.
More often panels are intended for use just as they are.
This cute James and the Giant Peach panel was ready to use. I put a couple of accent borders to widen it, then quilted it, with no batting, and minky on the back. It turned out pretty darn cute and cozy.
Here's one I did for another child. Nothing but a panel and a border. Morning Glory Farms, from Connecting Threads, was the first one I did. So I learned a few things since then. Mostly what I learned is, if you need a quick and easy gift, panels are a great solution.
Another fun fact about panel quilts is you don't actually have to use a panel to make a panel quilt.
I joined an Ostrich Round Robin group last year. I didn't have a medallion I wanted to use for the center so I pulled out this cute novelty fabric and used it just as I would a panel. In the end I called the quilt Exploding Monkeys and gifted it to the newest grandson. Of course, he loves it. What baby wouldn't with all that bright color and those cute monkey faces looking back at you?
Another great things about panels...
If you don't have one on hand, you can make your own.
My Ghoul-friend here was machine appliqued to the background fabric and used like a panel. She haunts my front window each October.
Now... what you really want to know:
Panel quilts DO NOT have to have boring borders. My online friend Amy Stirrup has jazzed up her panels with pieced borders. Check out the applique in the corners. So cute!
And here's a clever one from Amy using an offset panel.
There are panels you can cut. This one from Missouri Star Quilting Company for example. It looks pretty awesome! If you are going to do this, make sure to place your cuts so you won't be cutting your focal object in half. This panel quilt would be less appealing if the deer's head was cut in half.
Ready to give a panel quilt a try?
Here's a free pattern and video tutorial for us visual learners.
Now you know. Fabric panels can make simple gifts, or they can be the focal point of a stunning quilt.
I recommend an image search of Panel Quilts. You'll love the beauty and variety made by so many clever fabric artists.
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See you next time!
PS. Wanna see where I hang out when I'm not at Seamless Piecing?
The Quilt Pattern Magazine is an online, monthly magazine where I publish some of my designs.
AND... it's not just a magazine. It's also a delightful, private, online community called Pattern Pastiche. Some of the best and nicest quilters around hang out there along with others, like me, who just want to rub shoulders with them.
It's a safe place to ask questions and get mentoring from those who know and care.
AND... If you go there from here you can use a special discount code just for Seamless Piecing readers. Here's the link. The code is: SP