My finished version of "The Color of Squares" by Juli Irene Smith

Mid Century Modern

In 2018, Quilt Projects by S Adams

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First things first… I totally copied this quilt.  I found a picture online and tried to duplicate it as closely as possible.  I changed the colors, but still tried to copy the relative values.

My brother bought new living room furniture, an orange recliner and an avocado green couch, that are Mid Century Modern in design.  The look is quite handsome, but the purple batik carpenter star quilt I made for him years ago doesn’t coordinate very well at all!  So I started googling for Mid Century Modern quilts.  I found many that I liked, but a lot had paper piecing or appliqué and those just aren’t my thing.  Then I ran across this site with the winners of the Mancuso “Mid-Century Mod” National Modern Quilt Competition in Palm Springs in 2016.   The quilts were stunning!  And this one called “The Color of Squares” by Juli Irene Smith really caught my eye.  I loved everything about it!  But for my brother’s living room, I would have to switch the colors a bit, substitute green for orange, and orange for blue.


Figuring out how to duplicate this quilt was extremely challenging.  If I had more confidence in my own color choices I might have just tried winging it.  But I really wanted to capture the same look, so I printed out the quilt as large as I could without the picture completely pixilating.  Then I measured the pieces with a ruler (yes a good old fashioned wooden ruler).  Then I entered all the measurements into Excel (of course I did) and made Excel do the math.  I rounded all the sizes to the nearest 1/4″, made sure none of the pieces finished at smaller than 1/2″, and made sure that all nine blocks ended up the same size by adding or removing a 1/4″ here and there.  I also scaled it up to the finished size I wanted and added the 1/2″ seam allowance.

I picked my colors based on the number of light and dark oranges and blues in the original and tried to use my lightest green wherever she used her lightest orange, etc.

This gave me a list of pieces that I needed in each color, but figuring out how to cut them without wasting a ton of fabric was the next challenge, since almost none of the pieces in each color were the same width.  I could cut a 3″ strip of dark green to get a 3″ by 4″ piece, but then there were no other pieces 3″ wide.  I certainly couldn’t waste the rest of that nice wide strip!  So back to Excel to sort and figure out what the next smallest width was and how many pieces I could subcut out of that strip.  I ended up with a list of about 100 strips and all the pieces that could get cut out of each strip.   I worked on just one block at a time, and only cut pieces when I needed them.  This meant I had partially cut strips throughout the process and I had to number those to keep them straight.  The prep work was enormous, but thank goodness for Excel.


You would have thought with all that prep work, that assembly would be easy.  But keeping things straight was still a challenge, and I had to partially pick apart one block when I realized that I had accidentally switched the top and bottom pieces.


When it was finally finished Karen and I chose a pantograph called Turbulence that sort of mimicked the quilting on the original quilt (one large spiral).  I thought about quilting it myself and trying to do the big spiral, but the minky is so heavy that I thought better of it.  And just to make it hard on myself, I decided that I wanted the binding colors to match up with the black and light grey background colors.  That meant putting the binding on in three different sections and then doing multiple joins to connect it all up.  It was a complicated project but I love the finished product!

Of course I had leftovers that begged to be made into a pillow, so I tried my hand at a string quilt block.  I put more leftovers on the pillow back, and made another pillow from a fabric that I had originally bought to use as binding.  The quilt and pillows look great on his couch!

The Project Photos


The Project Details…

Pieced By: Me
Piecing Done: April 2018
Quilted By: Karen Walker
Quilting Done: August 2018
Pattern: N/A – attempted to copy “The Color of Squares” by Juli Irene Smith
Fabric Line: Various solids
Size: Quilt: 70 x 80 inches
Pillows: 16 inches square
For: Brother Ron
Occasion: New Mid Century Modern living room furniture