Civil War Anniversary Challenge #1 – Contemporary

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As you probably remember, we issued a challenge to our staff – and our customers – about a month ago. Well, the first wave of finished challenge blocks are in and we wanted to share them with you!

Just to refresh your memory, we asked (er, told) our staff to make one traditional quilt block twice; once using only traditional fabrics and once using only contemporary fabrics. We selected a “focus fabric” and had everyone base their color selections off of that, then they got to sewing. The block: Aunt Eliza’s Star. The results: 10 very different quilt blocks, but let’s just focus on the contemporary ones for this blog post. Our next post will be about the traditional ones – there’s just too much to talk about for one post!

First let’s start with a photo of our focus fabric.

Contemporary Focus Fabric

As you can see from the photo (kinda… these aren’t the highest-quality photos, so keep that in mind as you read on!), the focus fabric was a brown and orange batik from Galaxy’s “Java Batiks” line. It also has some hints of yellow throughout the orange swirls. Now that you know what we based our fabric choices on, let’s get to discussing the blocks! I’ve also framed each block with the focus fabric, to give you a better idea of how they look together.


This block was made using 3 batiks. The person who made it took advantage of the fact that blue and orange are complementary colors. She used this fact to introduce a new color into the block – blue!


The person who made this block stayed very close to the colors already present in the focus fabric by using brown, orange and yellow batiks. The 4 corner squares and the center square are more brown than they appear in the photo. This person’s choice for the light, medium and dark fabrics also make the pattern very clear and the star really pops out.


The person who constructed this block decided to go in a slightly different direction. Her light, medium and dark fabric selections are still very clear and they work in the pattern, but she decided to try to pick up the red tones in the oranges and browns of the focus fabric. She was the only one who mixed a batik (her light fabric) with regular cottons (her medium and dark fabrics).


This block was made using 3 batiks in the yellow-orange family. It is the most subtle of the 5 blocks in that it seems to stay in just one color family. The star is still easy to see and some people tend to prefer more subtle color variations.


Our last block was made using 3 batiks. The maker of the block says that now that it’s finished, she would rotate the quarter-square triangle blocks 90 degrees so that the graphic pink/maroon fabric forms the star. Like the maker of Block #3, this person wanted to try to pick up some of the red tones in the orange and brown focus fabric.

I’ve numbered each block (in no specific order) and am now going to ask you to tell us who you think each block belongs to: Barb, Hilary, Mary, Eleanor, or Lynn. Some of you know us very well and know our tastes. At the same time, this may be a nice opportunity for others to get to know us better!

So what did you do for the challenge? What do you think of our blocks? Anything you really like? Would you have done something differently? How do you think we should finish the blocks (we’re thinking about putting together a wall hanging)? Share some photos of your blocks with us on Facebook or e-mail them to and we may use them in a blog post!


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