Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Mariner's Compass Medallion - Part I

I’ve been fussing with this project on and off (mostly off) since I bought the lovely kit of fabrics (Judy Rothermel’s Regency Collection) at the New England Quilt Museum during the 2007 AQSG seminar. I’ve had it even longer than I realized!
 The neat stacks were so appealing… nicely folded in color groups with pretty ribbons around them….it seemed a shame to mess them up! So I let them sit for some time just as they were!
Eventually I took off the ribbons and unfolded them for pre-washing and pressing. I do pre-wash fabrics to be used in my quilts. I’d like to know ahead of time if a fabric is going to bleed and ruin the quilt the first time it’s washed. …. and I do love pressing them. It gives me a chance to really ‘see’ and appreciate each piece

I decided to come up with my own design rather than follow the simple pattern included in the kit. I quickly realized this was not going to be a ‘Quilt in a Day’.

I decided on the medallion style. I love the British framed quilts and since the fabric line represents the early 1800’s I chose the Mariner’s Compass for the center. This block has been around a long long time. In fact, the first known Mariner’s Compass quilt was made in England in 1726. Judy Mathieson
, a recognized expert on this design, notes that the Mariner's Compass is seen in “a large proportion of existing quilts from the Atlantic coast area”. The connection to the sea was very important to them.

The process slowed down as I researched variations and sizes of the Mariner’s Compass patterns and played around with fabrics and placement. I ended up making templates and hand piecing the block.

Somehow, even with all that effort, it turned out smaller than expected - just 13"


I surrounded it with Flying Geese and set it on point with the blue print to enlarge the central focus.

I studied examples of this style from my own library as well as the internet. I was focusing on the types of frames or borders seen most often. I sketched my favorites and made notes in my Project Book.

 I added a checkboard border

 . . . then a plain border composed of a few different brown prints.
At this point it measures 41" square

I've laid down some Hourglass blocks as my proposed next frame. I think I like it.....

I'll need to make a few more.

Doing my own thing is so satisfying on one level and yet can be so frustrating! So many decisions to be made along the way slows things down. Besides, I like to have many quilting projects going at once. I like variety. Sometimes I am in the mood to sit at my machine, other times I want to hand quilt or embroider. There are so many pleasures to be had with this wonderful ‘art'….or 'craft'. (that’s a can of worms I won’t open today) It’s not my style to see one project through without being distracted by another….unless there is a deadline! I say this to prepare you for a bit of a wait for Part II. The goal is double bed size, wool batt and hand quilted.

Maybe you will nudge me occasionally with, “How’s that Medallion Project coming?

Coming Next: Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy - Picnic Quilts


  1. It is very pretty. I like teh shade of light blue. She (Judy) was on The Quilt Show and I enjoyed the episode. I have been blocked myself lately. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. That is going to be one very nice quilt.

  3. Beautiful start! Medallions are a great choice to 'add a round' when the spirit moves you. Looking forward to part 2.

  4. beautiful start of a great medallion.
    I find these quilts are fun to make but I do get stuck after a few rounds, I put it away and when I take it out again sometimes I find the solution for the next few rounds
    I love your design book thats a great idea to keep a journal of things you like in quilts


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