Riley Blake Fabric Challenge 2019: Twirl and Swirl

This year's MQG/Riley Blake Fabric Challenge featured fabrics from Christopher Thompson's new basics collection: Blossom.  MQG hosted a sign up for members to receive a challenge bundle which included 5 fat eighth cuts of Blossom on White Navy, Blossom Baby Pink, Confetti Cotton Denim, 1/8" Stripe Denim, and Shades Robin (top to bottom as shown below).
2019 Riley Blake Fabric Challenge Bundle

Per the challenge rules, members were encouraged to make a quilt or quilted item of any size using at least three of the featured Riley Blake prints, as well as any additional Riley Blake prints or solids.

As per my usual Modus Operandi, I waited until the week before the deadline to get started on my entry.  I had a new spiral design idea in mind but wasn't 100% certain of the technicalities involved.  While my friend Gayle, generously gifted me her challenge bundle, I still had limited quantity of the challenge fabrics and little opportunity for ordering additional yardage in time for the entry deadline.  So I made a prototype using fabrics from my stash with similar color/patterning.  Interestingly, I noticed that my go-to fabric combo for making prototypes is pink and black & white stripes.
Prototype Making

After the success of making my first wavy spirangle block, I was excited to make more and ready to start cutting into the challenge fabrics.
Cutting Into Challenge Bundle

Each session, I would pair two different fabrics to make up 3-4 wavy spirangle designs.  On Wednesday, I ran to a local quilt shop in search of additional Riley Blake solids or prints to add more variety in terms of value and patterning.  I found the Blossom print in both Holly and Black, and added some black and white (both 1/8" and 1/4") that I had in my stash.
Spirangles Multiplying

The improvisational nature of these blocks makes them sooo much fun to create.  There is very little planning ahead, but rather small design decisions within each step of the construction process.

Now that I had exhausted all the challenge fabrics, the real challenge was determining a layout.  I kept experimenting with different layouts but struggled to find one that made me happy.
Coming Up with an Exciting Composition

With the deadline rapidly approaching, I started to simplify the overall size and layout.  Instead of a using all 13 blocks, perhaps a 9-patch would work?
9 Patch Layout Possibilities

While these options were getting better, none of them knocked my socks off.  Another hour was lost, and time was running out, so I simplified again with a 2x2 layout.  While I used all 5 challenge fabrics in the block making process, I found it difficult to get the pink blocks to play nicely with all the other blocks, so I eliminated them from this project and will likely incorporate them into a future quilt.  Instead, I focused on all cool colors paired with a neutral (black, black and white, or mostly white print).  Several different fabric combinations were auditioned for possible border to expand and frame my design.
Four Patch Layouts

The entire quilt needed to be made using Riley Blake fabrics, including the binding and quilt back.  I found some remnants from the 2015 Riley Blake Fabric Challenge featuring The Cottage Garden collection to use for the quilt back.
Quilt Back is a Throw Back to the 2015 Riley Blake Fabric Challenge

For the quilting, I stitched echo C-curves into one half of each spirangle block using a matching Aurifil thread.  Not only did I achieve gorgeous texture, but leaving half the spirangle design unquilted allowed it to pop.  A geometric spiral was stitched into the border.
Quilted Spirangles

The binding, complete with a fun corner black and white stripe accent, was added with less than 24 hours to spare.   And my entry was submitted with 4-5 hours to spare!  Phew!

I had sooo much fun making these wavy spirangle blocks, and my head is already spiraling with new design variations!!  So stay tuned for future wavy spirangle designs coming from my studio!!
Twirl and Swirl, Finishes 25" x 25"


  1. I love your design. If you decide to teach a class let me know. I think you should be the grand winner. I live in the so. bay area. Is there a guild that is the member of the MQG?

    1. Thanks Lyndalee. The judges have their work cut out as I've seen some pretty awesome designs showcasing the challenge fabrics. There are 2 local MQG chapters: South Bay Area that meets down towards Santa Cruz and the Silicon Valley that meets in Milpitas. Several of the local groups allow you to attend one meeting for free so you can get a sense of what they have to offer. Stay tuned to see if this turns into its own workshop--although I invite you to sign up for Free Styling & Spiraling workshop at PIQF this October 18--which was the inspiration for this design.


Post a Comment

I am delighted you took the time and thought to leave me a comment. It may take a day or two for your comment to appear as I moderate them prior to posting to filter out spam and inappropriate content. Cheers!