Winter Illusion Quilt




This is the border fabric of a newish range from Dashwood called Norrland by Bethan Janine. I liked this fabric the first time I saw it. OK the bear isn’t very English but us Brits who only see snow rarely get very sentimental about snow fall and snow scenes and this lovely fabric had it all. In fact it’s hard to find a Christmas card or image that doesn’t contain snow somewhere.  Here in  middle England we had the first significant snowfall the other weekend we’ve had in years and whilst it was lovely to walk in and changed the garden overnight…..




… the stark practicalities of disrupted traffic, failed refuse collections, icy roads and pavements soon begins to pall. So the romantic versus the practical impact of snow is very much a two sided coin.  But focusing on the sentimental side and back to this fabric originally  I was after a Christmas fabric for some place mats and I thought these would go down well and suit the décor in the kitchen. But this fabric got side tracked and ended up something else completely

A number of things came together.  The annual mini quilt  Challenge of the Modern Section of the Quilters Guild is themed on Fooling the Eye.  What a great theme but actually I found it quite tricky to find an idea that fooled the eye enough but I could live with up on the wall. While illusions are interesting to look at I don’t find them particularly restful indeed some look so wrong that they seem out of balance.  Mind you having said that just casting my eye round the room I’m sitting in, no fewer than 4 out of the 8 pictures in the room are out of kilter so clearly I’m living with imbalance all the time!

Anyway I came across an interesting idea of taking a fabric and then completely changing the design by deliberate cutting and piecing, a method called the One Block Wonder. One such example had incorporated  the original fabric so you could see quite how different they looked, hence the illusion it was two fabrics but in fact just one.

Update: Annie who has commented below mentioned that the original idea for the One Block Wonder came from a book of that name by Maxine Rosenthal in  2006. In fact together with co author Joy Pelzman they wrote other books on the technique looking particularily at cube illusion quilts. They are all still available. I found this charming interview with Ms Rosenthal  at the start of a QAL hosted by Jen of Quilter in the Closet    She has this great mantra that she enjoys making complicated quilts that are actually easy to make. Couldn’t agree more with that sentiment!

An example of this technique is given below. This comes from a great website about this technique and gives you the chance to upload fabric and see the transformation without all the hard work! The first picture is I would say of a pretty ghastly fabric…


But when cut and pieced it becomes altogether different


The plan had been to try this method back in the summer and I wanted to find some truly ugly fabric to transform into a thing of beauty.  I must surely be one of the few people who have ever been to the Festival of Quilts, the UK’s largest quilt show, actively looking for ugly fabric! And no I didn’t find any!

The transformational effect is achieved by very carefully placing six layers of fabric on top of each, matching up the pattern  and then cutting it in strips and then cutting those strips into equilateral triangles. In Linda’scomment below she’s made the clever suggestion that in her experience hand basting the layers makes for better accuracy. I’m sure it would counter the inevitable shifting of fabrics as you slice through six layers. In full this is what Linda suggests

“The best way I’ve done this is to use a #7 Millner’s needle (it’s long and thin but sturdy) to pierce a notable point in the fabric – leaf tip, heart point, something you can identify in every layer. Run a thread through all the six/eight motifs in the layer and tie a knot off. Use a new thread each time you baste a new motif. I baste every four inches or so … after the first few, the layers start to line up and it gets easier.

Sounds like a tedious process but it doesn’t actually take long … and you get much more accurate cuts.”

Thanks Linda if you need more info Linda is happy if you want to contact her on Lindaschiffer (at) gmail dot com

49F101D7-09D3-416C-96E6-98206288FD8D So having cut 6 equilateral triangles they are then sewn back together to get a hexagon.

The fun doesn’t stop there.  When you sew them together they can go in three different ways because there are potentially 3 corners to act as the central point. So 6 equilateral triangles when sewn together can look this different



I had great fun selecting which looked best and sewing them up. I wanted to have these hexagons, reminiscent of snow flakes around the original fabric.

DDDC9121-5926-4C3D-8033-194FB1D9F3F5.jpegThen I thought I would copy an idea of another instagrammer @sheilamcdonachie of using the original fabric like it was an attic window block. In other words looking at the scene as through a window  with the judicious placement of grey strips.  I tried to mock this up with grey strips to see what worked best.


I settled on the lighter greys. Then to mitre them to get that 3D look. The trickiest bit by far was ensuring the strips were all equal in width/depth and an evening was spent producing this…



…and another chunk of time making it fit the square hole in the middle. Well points had to be sacrificed..


I went with simple quilting, with or despite the help of Skye, as there is a lot going on in this quilt but I wanted to emphasise the hexagon shapes.


There’s a double layer of woollen batting to give it texture but I cut a hole out of the top piece the size of the snow scene  to give the hexagons the appearance of being in front with the scale and perspective of the  deer and view as seen through a window in the distance.



Now of course the question is will people see the double illusion – both the two distinct designs but from one fabric and the window.  Not sure, but as a Christmas snow scene it will at least stir the sentimental side of those, like me,  who love the idea of a snowy landscape provided they are safely in the warm!


Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean Crazy Mom Quilts.

12 thoughts on “Winter Illusion Quilt

  1. I like your snowy quilt quite a lot! It appeals to me that you have used the same fabric in two such different ways. 🙂 I’ve made any number of hexie blocks this way (I usually hand baste the layers together carefully as I find my multiple cuts of the same part of the print line up better that way).

    Happy Holidays!

    🙂 Linda


  2. That is AMAZING! I really enjoyed reading about all the thoughtful steps taken in producing your picture, thankyou.
    I echo your feelings about the snow, and wish we could wake up to a white Christmas morning, but it’s not to be this year.
    Merry Xmas, and happy quilting.


  3. The snow photos are lovely. Snow creates such a beautiful look.
    It is fascinating reading the process you took to make your quilt. The fabric is delightful and I thin your really made the most of it with your blocks and design. A lovely finish.


  4. One Block Wonder is a book written by Maxine Rosenthal. It was published in 2006 by C&T. Many quilters have used the technique in her book to make quilts. The website in your link gives no reference to Maxine Rosenthal or her book and I can’t find any information on the site as to who owns or runs the website. The quilts always come out great, but I think credit for the technique needs be given to Maxine Rosenthal!


    • Thank you Annie for your comment. You are absolutely right I will add in a reference to Maxine Rosenthal’s book which I hadn’t come across before. Most of what I’d gleaned was from a One Block Wonder QAL run a few years back where I found the website and a Pinterest search where there were some amazing full size quilt examples. In looking at illusion quilts, again on Pinterest (what would I do without that resource!), quite a few are also based on the 6 pieced hexagon.
      Thanks again for your comment.
      Best wishes


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s