Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric

Posted by

I’ve been making quilts since 1968. Until 1986 I was a dabbler who tried every traditional block she read about. That’s when I met a gorgeous, bilaterally symmetrical Liberty of London print, the inspiration for my detour toward a kaleidoscopic quilt series. But the charm of the traditional quilt has always stayed with me. Combining the complexity of my Benartex fabric collections with quilts of simple construction yielded results that seemed book-worthy—although (between us) I’d always rather be making a quilt than writing about making it.

An Agreement of Butterflies, designed and pieced by Paula Nadelstern, quilted by Rebecca Gore, 34 1/2’’ x 35 1/2’’, 2015

Let’s establish upfront: I am a Patternista—I made that term up, but to me it means I have an extreme aesthetic and intellectual fascination with patterned textiles. I design them, I collect them, and my art quilts are filled with repeated decorative designs. Finding an unexpected relationship between two patterns or creating a pairing that yields a more exquisite or whimsical result than the individual patterns on their own stirs my imagination and makes me happy.

The appeal of this design strategy led me to one of my signature techniques: a tendency to obscure the piecing seams rather than highlight them. This design strategy is one of many explored in depth in my new book, Fabricadabra—Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric, along with my personal piecing policies and functional fabric categories. The large gallery section showcases a diverse array of stunning 36”-square quilts made of simple shapes. The quilts may seem complex, but the clear layout illustrations beg to differ. Not all of the quilts were made or quilted by me. I got a lot of help from my friends. I hope you’ll find them creative, wonderful, and inspiring.

A Visual Palindrome, designed and pieced by Paula Nadelstern, quilted by Beth Carney, 36” x 36”, 2013

Layout for A Visual Palindrome

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

  • Fabricadabra
  • Paula Nadelstern

View Comments

Save Time & Effort with Becky Goldsmith's Essential Circle Tool!

In the video below, Becky Goldsmith introduces you to her fabulous Essential Circle Tool from Piece O' Cake Designs. No more searching for the right size plate to make perfect circles! Need one right now? You can buy the Essential Circle Tool on our website. Then watch the Essential Circle Tool tutorial Becky created, and create the (free!) Balance Quilt [...]

Read More »

Different Approaches to One Quilt

Most people take a quilt class to improve their skills and to spend time with friends. Both are excellent reasons to take a class, but there’s another, often-overlooked reason to take a class: you get to see how other quilters approach the design. And it’s not just the students in my classes who enjoy this—I do too! Not long ago [...]

Read More »

Break Out of Your Appliqué Rut!

The best thing about appliqué is that there's so many ways to do it! It can be modern or traditional, pinned or fused, raw-edge or turned under. Teeny and cute or big and bold, combined with piecing or shining on its own, embellished or plain... the possibilities are endless. But it's also all too easy [...]

Read More »

Paper Piece a Forest of Perfectly Precise Trees

Let paper-piecing queen Carolyn Cullinan McCormick show you how to tackle her Trees, Trees and More Trees quilt with ease! For even more patterns, check out her book, In the Pines—A Forest of Paper-Pieced Quilts. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

Color Theme of the Day: Monochromatic Golden Yellow

We absolutely adore the color golden yellow, so we've chosen it to be the star of its own color theme of the day! In its many tints, shades, and tones—a selection of which you can see below—golden yellow ranges from a pale peachy color to a deep rich, brown, from a buttery yellow to a [...]

Read More »

Adventures in Chain Pressing!

Hi, everyone! Can you believe that August is here already? Here in North Carolina, autumn will soon be upon us with all that we look forward to: back to school, cooler temperatures, the changing of the seasons, and the turning of leaves into glorious colors. Summers are busy for many, and sometimes quilting takes a backseat during the [...]

Read More »

Crazy-Quilting Handwork—Anywhere, Anytime

Lately it seems as if everyone is always on the go and crunched for time, trying to fit in a little sewing between finishing work and making dinner or while waiting in the doctor's office or at the bank. Maybe that's why portable handwork has become so popular again—from wool appliqué to English paper piecing [...]

Read More »

Tips and Tricks for Appliquéing a Dresden Carnival!

In the video below, Yvette Marie Jones, one of the authors of Dresden Carnival, demonstrates her favorite appliqué tools, as well as several of her best tips and tricks!Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

Starting from the Beginning with Free-Motion Quilting

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut sometimes”?  It pretty much sums up my quilting career. Like most professionals in the quilting industry, I didn’t set out to be a professional quilter. It’s not as though that option is in the list of potential careers.  I didn’t grow up with family members [...]

Read More »