Tu-Na Quilts: Fall Into a QAL Block Six Released Today

I have two blog hop posts scheduled this week. If you’re looking for the Christmas in July blog hop post, my post is scheduled to publish close to the midnight hour on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 11:59 PM CDT. You can find it here after that time.

Welcome to the release of the sixth block for the Fall Into a QAL. Before we know it, fall will really be here.

QAL button

This QAL is brought to  you by Partners in Design: Where Friends and Fabric Meet.

Partners in design

Presenting the Pie Block

tunaquilts 1a

This block is 12.5″ unfinished.

Because, who doesn’t like Pie? This block is designed by Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting.  Click here to download your free pattern. Remember it is free only as long as the Fall Into a QAL is in process. Don’t delay, download your pattern today.

Making This Block Just a Little Easier

It’s beginning to look a lot like fall when I look on Facebook. I’m enjoying seeing your festive blocks. I’m also reading that some of you aren’t happy with the way your blocks look.

I’ve been quilting for many years and have learned a lot by doing things the wrong way or wishing I’d have done something differently or used a different color or different fabric designs. Although I’ve learned a lot already but still have much to learn, my decision-making difficulties still happen but with less frequency.

Last time I offered some suggestions on selecting the right colors for your block/quilt as part of Lesson 1: Let’s Take the Wheel for a Spin. This week let’s traverse the unknown and diverse landscapes of fabric designs in our quest to building a better-looking block/quilt.

Tu-Na’s Tried and True Easy Guide to

Fabric and Color Selection for Quilt Blocks

“The beauty of the universe consists not only of unity in variety, but also of variety in unity.”  Umberto Eco

Lesson 2. Variety is the Spice of Life

According to Merriam-Webster, this idiom (Variety is the spice of life) pertains to adding variety to get the most enjoyment and fulfillment out of life. Let’s take that bit of wisdom and see how it pertains to quilting in order to create beautiful blocks and stunning quilts.

How to get your money’s worth

When deciding where to buy your fabric, whether it’s from an online store, etsy, a big discount store, or a local quilt shop, purchase the best that your money will buy.

Become familiar with the names of manufacturers that produce quality material such as Moda, Quilting Treasures, Island Batik, Robert Kaufman, Northcott, etc. It takes a lot of visits to different shops to discover which ones you like.

A good quality of quilting cotton will have a tight weave and will be more durable making the project last longer. It will also be easier to sew and press. I don’t purchase fabric that I can see through when holding it up to the light. If I’m making something for practice or testing a block pattern to see if I’d like to make a whole quilt with it, I can get by with a lesser quality/cheaper fabric. But if I’m making a quilt for a gift that may become an heirloom, I want it to last so I choose good quality fabrics.

I use a variety of fabrics for my quilt fronts and backs; 100% cotton, flannel, and minky are my favorite choices. Note: If you’re using flannel, be sure to select a tightly woven high quality flannel and prewash and dry it in the dryer. To prevent fraying, zig zag the cut ends. Here’s a bit more that I learned about quilting cottons.

100% Quilting Cottons

Modern cotton fabrics can be divided into batiks, prints, and solids. You’ll often find them in separate displays in quilt shops. Some shops even specialize in one or the other.

1. Batiks

If you haven’t seen how batiks are made you might enjoy watching the process here. Batik fabrics are tightly woven and can range from tone-on-tone to those with specific designs. Up until recently, we were cautioned not to mix batiks with other cottons for various reasons such as color fastness. Now, I’m seeing more and more quilts containing a mixture of batiks and prints and solids.

tunaquilts 12a

This bundle offers fabrics with prints that are large scale, medium scale, and small scale. In addition, there are two that would be considered tone-on-tone and even some lines (although they aren’t straight). But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Note: I’ve spoken to some longarmers who prefer not to quilt a quilt made entirely of batiks-both the top and the backing. The reasoning given to me was that since batiks are tightly woven, they are much harder to quilt. If you plan to use batiks in both places, check with your longarmer first to make sure it’s not an issue for them.

2. Investigating the world of prints

Prints are those fabrics that contain floral, novelty, nature, and geometric design elements. Sometimes they are grouped into themes such as 30’s Reproductions, Christmas, Civil War, and even Bright and Modern.


These are examples of 30’s Reproduction prints. The fabric design is typically on the small scale although a few of them might be considered medium when set next to a small scale design. Generally the colors are subdued and they feature animals, toys, people as well as flowers.

Any fabric print can be directional or non-directional. Pay attention to directional designs when you consider using them.

  • Directional fabrics have the printed design only going one way.  There is a very definite up and down way to lay the fabric. If you get upset if the horses will be standing on their heads or the raindrops will be falling sideways after being pieced, don’t use it. If you can be careful as you cut and sew to arrange those pieces to keep those animals trotting on the ground or the spring rain falling gently from above, use it. I am careful of using directional fabrics when I make Half Square Triangles as I often end up having them go the wrong way.



These directional prints can be a nightmare if I’m concerned about keeping them oriented in the right direction.

I’ve sewn quilts where I intentionally mix up the orientation of directional prints because I want the pieces going every which way so I don’t end up with a one-way quilt. For those quilts, it doesn’t bother me if the horses are galloping off all sides of the quilt. However, on other quilts, I’ve worked hard to keep those feet on the ground.

Geometric designs can be dots, lines, shapes, etc. Dots can be perfectly formed polka dots, wonky dots, random dots, circles, a pattern made with dots, etc. This is the same for other geometric designs. Many quilters use a fabric with lines either cut on the straight of grain or on the bias to bind their quilt.

tunaquilts 7a

Dots can come in all shapes and sizes!

Weighing in on sizes

Just like people, the designs on printed fabrics come in a variety of sizes. This is referred to as scale and ranges from large scale (which often has a large repeat of the design), to medium, and finally small scale designs. To find the design’s repeat, locate a certain point of the design and then find it again. Some fabrics have repeats of 14 inches or more. These extremely large scale prints are difficult to use in sewing quilt tops but are useful in other applications such as bags.

  • Large scale prints are harder to use in a quilt made with small pieces as the prints tends to become lost when cut. These prints can make a quilt look out of control as there’s no place for the eye to rest. Choose only one large scale print in your block/quilt to prevent this messy look.

When a large scale print is cut into small pieces, some of those pieces will have different colors than others. Just be aware of how those pieces will look after you cut them. However, if you want to highlight a large scale print, use it for the largest pieces in your block.

tunaquilts 3a

Some of these large scale prints have large repeats making them not a good choice for smal quilt blocks.

Borders and backings are also good places to use a large scale print. Fussy-cutting is another way to handle large scale prints. This way you can control how it will look in your project.

  • Medium and small scale prints are easier to work with in a quilt but can produce monotony. Keep reading on how to prevent that from happening.
tunaquilts 4a

These small scale prints are good choices for small pieces in a block.

However, a block made with only small scale prints can become boring as there is nothing interesting for the eye to settle on. A quilt made with all the same size of polka dots, even if the colors are different, would make anyone dizzy. That’s why you’ll see different scales of polka dot designs in my blocks. Therefore, a quilt made only with several prints that are the same scale can loose its focus. Our eyes need a place to rest. Our brains need to make sense of the work.

3. Solids need not be boring

Modern quilters tend to use more solid fabrics than prints and even make quilts entirely of solids. That’s where a good basic understanding of color theory helps quilters to create texture and interest (see Lesson 1. Let’s Take the Wheel for a Spin) without relying on printed designs.

Solids can create the contrast that is necessary to highlight a feature, or help something to stand out, in your quilt.

Tone-on-tone fabrics can give the appearance of a solid with added texture. These fabrics have a design printed with the same color as the background but in a different tone. This gives your block visual texture. These tone-on-tone fabrics can be used as a solid or in addition to a solid fabric in  your block/quilt.

tunaquilts 8a

These tone-on-tone prints can be used as solids.

Making quilts with pizzazz

It’s relatively simple to produce a block/quilt with great eye-appeal. After choosing the color scheme for your fabrics, consider what kinds of designs those fabrics should have. Making sure to include various designs in a variety of scales within the block/quilt will help create interest. 

Tu-Na’s Secret Recipe to Adding Spice to Quilt Blocks 

To make beautiful and even stunning blocks/quilts, use a variety of fabrics with the following design elements in your blocks/quilts:

  • large scale print
  • medium scale print
  • small scale print
  • dots
  • other geometric design
  • solid or solid-looking

A block/quilt doesn’t have to have all of those listed above but should include a nice variety of them. We’re looking for contrast and balance to make it interesting.

But how can one be sure it will look great?

Take your time when selecting the fabrics that you will use. Once you’ve made your selection, hang them up and stand back. Try other fabric color and fabric design combinations until you arrive at the one you really like.

Make a sample or test block to see if it looks good and if you like it before you continue to make all the ones needed in your quilt.

Audition your choices with what you already have. When making a sampler quilt (this Fall Into a QAL could be called a sampler as no two blocks will be the same), lay out all of your blocks you’ve already made alongside of your choices for the next block. Stand back and look. Try different fabric design combinations until you arrive at the one you really like.

Ask others for their opinion but remember that quilting is an art and you are the artist. In the end, it’s really your own opinion that matters.

Buy a fat quarter bundle to use in your quilt while you are still learning. They not only contain fabrics from the same line or collection that look good together (because they were designed using color theory) but also offer a variety of fabrics with different scales, tone-on-tones, dots and other geometric designs. Add in one or two other fabrics to help round out the selection. You’ll be putting combinations together in no time.

Practice putting fabrics together. When you’re at your favorite quilting shop, find one fabric that you like that has lots of different colors in it and ask the clerk for help in picking out other fabrics that go with it.

Tu-Na’s breaking the rules

Yes, I know that I’m already breaking my own rules by working only with dots for this quilt. However, I’m very carefully selecting the fabrics that I use in each block.

tunaquilts 9a

I tried out this combination first.

First, for each block I pick out one fabric with large dots and count it as my large scale print. Then I pick out a fabric with dots that read the same color (tone-on-tone) which counts as a solid, and another one that would provide good contrast, and finally fill-out the required amount of fabrics with other various sizes and intensities (some have more concentration of dots than others) which act as the medium and small scale prints. We’ll see at the end of the QAL just how successful I am or if I’ll wish I had chosen a safer route and played by the rules.

tunaquilts 10a

I liked the idea of a red gingham tablecloth even if my daughter-in-law thought green would be better. I tried out other fabrics for the pie parts.

Coming next: Lesson 3: Adjusting the Volume (a focus on choosing background fabrics—also called low volume fabrics) will be available in about a month when I return from vacation.

Join this QAL

You can join in anytime. Each 12.5″ (unfinished) block will be released every other Tuesday with the last one scheduled for release on October 16th. You are free to make these blocks any way you want. However, if you are wanting to enter the contest, be sure to read the rules found in the Enter to Win section below to make sure your entry counts. 

The patterns will remain free on the respective designer’s blog until November 13, 2018. Designers may choose to keep them free after that time or make them available for a charge in their pattern shops. The final link-up for a finished top containing all 12 of these blocks (it doesn’t have to be quilted) for the mega giveaway is November 13th at 11:59 EST.

Enter to Win

A winner will be selected at random from all the blocks posted. Details are listed below.




A pattern of your choice from Powered by Quilting. Thanks, Sherry! You might like to check out her Circular Illusions pattern; it looks awesome!


Four half-yard cuts of assorted Boundless Fabric Solids from Craftsy.

Entering to win the prizes above is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Everyone (You must be 18 to be able to enter to win prizes) gets to participate because International entries are welcome! You do NOT need to have a blog to enter. Hosts and designers are not eligible to win.
  2. Make a Pie block using Sherry’s pattern. Take a picture of it. Slight variations of the pattern are ok such as embellishments but keep your block true to the designed pattern if  you are entering the giveaway. The block should definitely be recognizable as one made from this free pattern. Deviating too much (or substituting a different block entirely) will cause your entry not to be counted. If you have questions if it’s allowed for entry into the giveaway, please ask me before you cut.
  3. Post a picture of your completed block before 11:59 PM EST, August 6th either on the linky party found on Sherry’s post here, on the Facebook page, or on Instagram #fallintoaqal.

Winners are drawn from the eligible pictured blocks and prizes are awarded every other week. A mega grand-prize using all 12 of the block patterns sewn into a quilt top/flimsy (quilting not necessary) will be awarded at the end of the Fall Into a QAL.

See These Hosts for Inspiration and Tips

on Making the Pie Block

*Block Designer — Sherry of Powered by Quilting. Please visit her blog to download your free pattern.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

These are our prize sponsors throughout the QA. The sponsor for each bi-weekly prize varies. The Final Grand prize bundle and sponsors will be announced 10/16/18.


In addition, the following members of Partners in Design are also providing prizes:

Come on Back for the Next Block Release

Join me on August 7th at 12:00am EDT for the release of the seventh block designed by Bobbie of Snowy Days Quilting. You won’t want to miss this one!!

Don’t Miss Out on My Previous Fall into a QAL Posts

Tu-Na Quilts: Big Announcement!!! (QAL introductory post with a schedule of when the blocks are released and a sneak peek at the fabrics that I’ll be using.) Yes, I’m seeing spots!

Tu-Na Quilts: Block One—Hedgehog

Tu-Na Quilts: Block Two —Harvest Basket

Tu-Na Quilts: Block Three — Bonfire

Tu-Na Quilts: Block Four — Sunflower with Tu-Na’s Tried and True Easy Steps to Making Accurately Pieced Blocks

Tu-Na Quilts: Block Five — Acorn with Lesson One: Let’s Take the Wheel for a Spin of Tu-Na’s Tried and True Easy Guide to Fabric and Color Selection for Quilt Blocks

tunaquilts 2a

What I Learned Today:

  1. There’s a lot to think about when selecting fabrics for a block or a whole quilt.
  2. One has to know the rules in order to know how to break them. That’s how great discoveries are made.
  3. I must like long titles.
  4. Tu-Na Helper and I seem to only plant trees that bear fruit that’s pie worthy.
  5. Tu-Na Helper is very lucky that I know how to   bake a cherry pie .
tunaquilts 11a

Oh, yes, this freshly-picked, cherry pie was delicious! Can’t you tell by how much it overflowed? There is a direct correlation between the deliciousness of a pie and the amount of gunk left on the bottom of the oven!

Question: What kind of pie do you like? When it’s early fall and the apples are ripe, I make a lot of apple pie. In the late fall, I make pumpkin pie. When the lemons ripen on our tree in the winter, I make lemon meringue pie. Rhubarb pie is delicious in the spring and our patch produces abundantly. The past couple of summers I’ve been making cherry pie using the cherries that we pick from our trees. Now, I just need to find a money tree!

If you want to be notified when my next post publishes, please consider joining my reading family by using one of the three methods available on my sidebar to subscribe: email, WordPress, or Bloglovin.

Thanks for stopping by and do come again.

Karen, Tu-Na Quilts

At this time I am not affiliated with any company, services, or products that I mention here on my blog. I just happen to like them.

Linking to:

Pie block linkyherehere at Powered by Quilting

Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

WIPs at Silly Mama Quilts

BOMs at Katie Mae Quilts

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

Moving It Forward at Em’s Scrapbag

23 thoughts on “Tu-Na Quilts: Fall Into a QAL Block Six Released Today

  1. dezertsuz

    Your block is fabulous! I can hardly wait to make this one. I like cherry pie, warm with cream – yum, yum! But there aren’t many pies I turn down. =) You always include such interesting information. I have to come back and read this again earlier in the day, when my brain is 100% alive. LOL


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  3. Leslie Schmidt

    Well, Karen, once more you have created a block with so much life and interest. It’s so cute. I’m a big fan of cherry pie, too. I also like lemon meringue. I guess i am drawn to something with a little bit of tartness to enliven the flavor of the crust. Your pie looks yummy!
    I really appreciate the depth of information you provide with your posts of this quilt-along, as well as your regular posts. You present it in such an easily readable form. Thanks!


  4. Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting

    Super cute block! Your hubby is one lucky guy, with all those pies coming his way. And yes, as a longarm quilter, I always hold my breath when I get a batik top and batik backing quilt to quilt. Getting good tension with such tight weave can be a challenge. But once a tension swatch is finished satisfactorily, it’s all good.


  5. inquiringquilter

    Oh your cherry pie looks delicious! Yum! Your block is delicious too, because you chose your dotted fabrics so carefully. It’s important to remember tone (light, medium dark) and scale when selecting fabrics and with your tutorial, all your readers will now know how to do that!


  6. Demaris Soso

    The blocks are super cute, and the pie is looking delicious. Just looking at it makes my
    mouth water for a taste. You are one busy and interesting young lady.


  7. ferrarifabricluck

    A lot of thanks designing, engineering, manufacturing and installation of tensile fabric structures at commercial and residential locations, such as, car parking, auditorium, swimming pools, malls, aircraft hangars, gardens, hotels, homes, and universities.


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  9. Kathleen McCormick

    You are doing such a nice job on this “series” of basics for new quilters. Love your version of this block!


  10. Kate

    A very fun block! Very good info on fabrics and fabric selection. So far breaking the rules looks like it’s working for you. I often break the rules, but didn’t really mean too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


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