Thursday, August 19, 2021

Focus Squared

 I remember a conversation I had with someone early in my journey as a quilt designer.  When she suggested I should try partnering with fabric companies, I couldn't fathom how to do that. I had always designed first, then looked for fabric that would work well with the design.  I was convinced I couldn't be inspired by fabric first.

Guess what?  I was wrong.  Maybe seeing so many different fabrics on a regular basis while working at the local quilt shop for five years had something to do with it.  In the past few years I have begun working with fabric companies to cross-promote their fabric and my patterns. Those collaborations usually begin with a call for design submissions accompanied by digital fabric swatches of upcoming fabric lines.  Sometimes I have an existing pattern that would work, but often it's fun to start fresh and just play with those swatches.

That's how Focus Squared came to be.

Blue and cream floral quilt hanging on tree branch

My pattern cover quilt is actually the sample I made to test the pattern I wrote to showcase a particular fabric in Connecting Threads' new Garden Gems collection, but as the actual fabric was not available before the pattern was due I selected alternate fabrics at my local shop.  Having to use alternate fabrics for the test also reassured me that the design is not completely dependent on the fabric I designed with.  I really want my patterns to be useful beyond a single fabric collection!

Here's a better view of the design.

Blue and cream floral quilt draped over iron railing

Here's how the design looked when I submitted it to Connecting Threads for consideration.  My intention was to really showcase one bold print, the kind you don't want to cut up too small. 

Framed floral squares in a quilt layout

I think the staff at Connecting Threads may have had a color scheme in mind to fit in with the rest of the quilts in the catalog spread.  While the design caught their eye, they asked me to recolor it with different coordinating fabrics.

It uses the same floral, but the alternate coordinating fabrics give it a much different feel.  This is the version the company prepared as kits, available now on the Connecting Thread website.

Lynn (@momofpeaches) kindly offered to test this pattern.  She had a print she had been hoarding for a while, and chose to showcase it in her test quilt, using colors in the print to choose the other fabrics..

I really think this design works well to showcase a favourite print.  It isn't limited to floral print.  I'm still very tempted by a Christmas version using Timber Gnomies by Shelly Comiskey from Henry Glass  fabrics.  I may never get to it (so many ideas, so little time!) but if you do I'd love to see a picture.

I'll leave you with a few more pictures of my sample Focus Squared, because, well, it's blue!  Need I say more?

The Focus Squared pattern is available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop.  For a print version, ask your favourite quilt shop to order the pattern for you.


  1. That's a beautiful quilt pattern, and I love it in blue! I really like that the focus blocks are large enough to actually see the pretty focus fabrics. Great job! ---"Love"

  2. What a terrific selection of quilts showcasing different fabric ideas. A great quilt design that can be imagined in so many ways.

  3. I like seeing the difference fabric makes in a pattern. Beautiful quilt!

  4. It is a great design to show off a lovely fabric. I can think of a couple of prints in my deep stash that I haven't known how to use, but I loved them enough to hoard. Great pattern. I can even see it as a kids quilt in primary colors, with each square featuring a different juvenile print in the same color family--kind of like an "eye spy", but with larger focal blocks.

  5. I love the pattern and it is perfect for showing off feature fabrics.

  6. These all look cool. What a difference the colors make! There's all sorts of big prints that would be fun to do with this!

  7. Joanne this is another wonderful pattern. It was fun to read your story on working with fabric companies.

  8. Very pretty! What a great way to showcase a beautiful fabric. Love it in blue =)


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