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Check out more modern medallion quilts here! The quilt I made below was adapted from a quilt found in that Medallion Workbook.
What's A Medallion Quilt?
A medallion quilt, by definition, is a quilt composed of a central motif surrounded by multiple borders. The borders can be pieced, appliqued, or embroidered, in any number of combinations. This style of quilting became popular in America in the early 1800s after being introduced by European colonists in the late 1700s.
These medallion quilts, referred to as framed quilts in Europe, included both symmetrical and asymmetrical styles. The center motifs in the early medallions were often made from either appliqué, wholecloth printed fabric or a pieced design. To make the center of the quilt the focal point any number of borders were added to create a framed appearance.
Medallions remained a popular quilting style until the mid 19th century when patchwork rows and repeating block patterns became the leading technique for quiltmakers. With the revival of modern quilting, a resurgence of medallion quilts has occurred as well.
The Making Of A Modern Medallion
Heather Ross designed much of the fabric used for this quilt. If you aren't familiar with her whimsical illustrations, take a minute and check them out. I'll wait. (See Heather Ross here)
Amazing! Right?? Snails, frogs, lily pads, flowers, unicorns, who isn't loving this?! All of her fabric collections are fantastic, but there was something really, really special about one particular line. Upon first glance I wanted this Far Far Away fabric. No, no. I neeeeded it. If you're a fellow quilter/fabric hoarder, you know the feeling. I was dreaming of frogs jumping over tiny princesses; of unicorns dancing in fields of flowers; of...am I using semi-colons correctly? hmmm...I just have no idea.
What was I saying? Oh yes, dancing unicorns. haha! I'll leave my daydream on that note and get back to this medallion quilt. This magical Unicorn Medallion! (also a great band name? Talk to me if you're interested. I'll need royalties.)
The inspiration for this quilt came from a tiny 2"x2" fabric scrap of a little girl.
When I started gathering up fabrics and dreaming up designs, I did not have a recipient in mind, but I knew she was going to be special. I knew this because with every block sewn and every border that grew this quilt bigger and bigger, I kept getting more and more excited. The anticipation of seeing this quilt come to completion was getting intense (haha this is where you laugh to yourself thinking about quilting being really intense)!!
A couple weeks ago my husband, John, and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. Lucky for us, some of our good friends share the same anniversary. Not only that, they were willing to share it with us (Thanks, Katie and Matt :))! During that time, it was brought to our attention that their 9-year old niece is about to undergo a bone marrow transplant in hopes of curing her rare form of blood cancer (here is a link to her Facebook page and here is a link to her video).
Hearing this story and seeing the sadness in our friends broke our hearts. Once they had left and gone back to their home in Michigan, I looked up Lola's Facebook page to see if there was any support we could give. The moment her picture popped up, a spark went off in my brain - she's the little girl in the center of my quilt. My 2"x2" inspiration. Heather Ross! How did you do it?! There was no doubt in my mind that I had made this quilt for her all along.
One simple way to help Lola and others like her is to join the registry of bone marrow donors. It's surprisingly easy. But be warned, once you join you will suffer from warm fuzzy feelings and sudden bursts of joy 😉
The base of this pattern came from The Modern Medallion Workbook. After completing the central block, I decided to go roque and design my own borders. At the time I thought this was a really great idea, but then I started getting into some math. ugg. Unless you're a math wiz, figuring out quilt dimensions can be a challenge.
The slip-a-roo around that in a medallion quilt is to use scrappy borders. As you can see, aside from the Flying Geese border, every other border has been scrapped together or is solid. If you create scrappy borders, you can sew pieces together and then trim them down to fit. Viola! No math!
I did, however, really want to make a border of Flying Geese...and those needed to fit exactly. So here's my advice for all you rogue medallion-make'n quilters out there:
If you plan on designing your own medallion, and also don't love quilt math, try using a scrappy border or a solid border to give you an easy base dimension. For example, if you know how to make 6" wide Flying Geese blocks, create a couple borders on your medallion to give you a size easily divisible by 6 – 42" possibly. Make sense?
Good luck making your medallions and feel free to leave a comment below with any questions about fabric, math, going rogue, frogs, princesses or whatever! xo