Guest Blog: Designing your own mini-quilts by Kathreen Ricketson

Kathreen Ricketson from Whip-up (I’m sure you all read Whip-up) is sharing a post for the Guest Blog today all about things to consider when designing a mini quilt. Kathreen has a new book out called Whip-Up Mini Quilts (published by Chronicle Books), so she is quite an expert when it comes to designing & creating mini quilts.

Win your own copy!
The book includes quilting basics, tips & tricks, patterns and more. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, make sure to leave a comment on this post to win a copy.Β  I will choose a random commenter to win and this giveaway will end Friday, June 11th at 11:59 pm EST.

In addition to making an appearance on Indie Fixx, Kathreen is doing a blog tour to help spread the word about her beautiful book. Many of the participating blogs are doing giveaways as well. Here’s the schedule.Β 

June 1 – CRAFT June 8 – Hand Made by Alissa
June 2 – Crafty Pod June 9 – My Love for You
June 3 – Chronicle Books June 10 – Film in the Fridge
June 4 – Indie Fixx June 11 – The Haystack Needle
June 7 – Craft Sanity


Β By guest contributor Kathreen Ricketson

When you are thinking of designing your own mini quilt there are a few steps in the design process. First of all you need to think about who or what you are making the quilt for. It might be a baby shower gift or it might just be you experimenting with a new technique and trying out some of your design ideas. If you are making the quilt for a specific person or occasion then you will have stricter parameters to consider – and these can be a big help in narrowing down your design choices. However if you are making the quilt for your own personal creative satisfaction then this opens up an enormous range of design possibilities. In both of these cases you still need to consider a few basics of design:

1. The design elements: Will you be using a pattern, a traditional block design or improvised piecing? Will you be adding extra decorative embellishments such as embroidery or stenciling – what techniques will you use to make your quilt? These are all important questions that will effect the design of your quilt. You may want to keep it simple and use a basic traditional block design or experiment a little. Whatever you decide you should consider your skill level and the time you have available. Just remember that the quilt top is where most of your handwork and design elements will appear. It is usually either pieced with patches of fabric sewn together in a design or appliquΓ©d with pieces of fabric sewn on top of a background. Sometimes these elements are used together and combined with other techniques as well. You might use embroidery stitches, fabric painting, or any other fabric manipulation you like-there is no end to the creative possibilities.


Two heads are better than one is an example of the block design being the major feature of the quilt top – the colors and fabrics are secondary concerns. Another example of the design elements being the major feature is the Granny’s delight duo where motifs are embroidered and stenciled on the quilt top.

2. The fabrics will you use – recycled fabrics – often using old clothing or linens in your quilt can add layers of memory and meaning. Or you might be using fabrics from your favourite designer range or even some vintage fabrics or scraps from your basket. Whatever your preference be sure that the fabric you select for your project is suitable for its eventual use. If you are planning to turn your mini quilt into a place mat for your dining table, then choose sturdy, machine washable fabrics. However, if your mini quilt is for display, then feel free to use more of your precious delicates.


My shibori sampler is an example of a pared back colour palette combined with basic techniques – however it is the fabric used that sets this quilt apart – hand dyed fabric samples are the highlight of this quilt. The keepsake quilt is another example of the fabrics taking centre stage – here an improvised sewing method was used with recycled clothing as a fabric.

3. Colour is a major design element of any quilt and mini quilts are no exception. There are many places to get inspiration for new color combinations. Use the good ol’ color wheel for tried-and-true combinations. (Read up a little on color theory if you are unfamiliar with the color wheel.) You can also take your cue from the colors that appear in a patterned fabric that you love, or you can take a walk around your garden or a park and pick out the colors of your favorite leaves and flowers. A fun but slightly more involved method, if you have access to a computer and photo-editing software, is to “pixelate” a colorful digital photo. Zoom in until all you can see are pixels, or blocks of color, and use these as inspiration for your fabrics. There are also some online color-palette-generating tools, which are fun to play with if you’re stuck (a couple of examples can be found Here and Here).


Powerline sky has intricate piecing, however it is the colour combination that makes this quilt pop. English flower garden uses a few different techniques but is the emphasis on the colour elements that really shine in this quilt.


  1. I’d LOVE to win this book, because I’ve always been interested in quilting, but never had the technical quilting know how to be able to actually make one.

  2. I was sure I already commented on this! Anyway, I’d love to win this book, thanks for having this giveaway!

  3. wow.. this book would fit so well on my studio’s library πŸ™‚ I’d really love to win a copy. Since i made my first mini-quilt, i became hopelessly addicted to it πŸ˜›
    Thanks for the chance of having one on my own πŸ˜€

  4. Have a great vacation, I’m on a mini vaca in Santa Fe. I’d love to win this book!

  5. I’d really love to win a copy of the Mini-Quilts book – I have little talent and no creativity and starting a foray into quilting with a mini-quilt would be the best option for me, I think. Even if I don’t win a copy, I’ll have to buy one so I can figure out what to do and how to do it.

  6. I’ve been following the tour and this book seems to be ‘right up my alley’. I love to quilt, but shy away from the words small and/or hand when attached to quilting :0) The descriptions of the book sound that the instructions are clear and easy on the “beginner”

  7. Wow, those quilts are amazing. I would really love some help working in mini. The few I’ve tried have been nice, but not stellar, and I’m in need of some expert advice. Thanks for the great give away.

  8. The more of this book I see the more I know it has to be on my list. It looks absolutely wonderful and so full of information!

  9. I would *so* love to be the randomly chosen winner of this book! I’ve been playing with mini quilts since I first saw Susan Shie’s work but I love traditional quilting and would like to learn more about combining the two. Thanks for the design tips, too.

  10. Excellent! Thanks for introducing me to this book. Definitely going to check it out.

  11. I love mini-quilts and how much quicker they come together than full-sized ones. Plus, my kiddies love using them for their dollies and trains. πŸ™‚

  12. The powerline quilts are stunning – particularly when displayed next to each other.

  13. I would love to win this book! I’m new to quilting and some bite sized exposure to different techniques is just what I need!

  14. Wow! I can’t wait to make some of the projects–I’ve never done minis. I would love to start now.

  15. I just love the look of mini quilts, they are so sweet. I’d love to make some to decorate my walls instead of pictures.
    Teresa x

  16. This is really cool – I always wanted to try quilting, and I have even bought some fabrics already….

  17. My co-worker’s mother just made me two gorgeous quilts. I’m dying to try and make my own!

  18. I’ve considered making a mini-quilt yet somewhat fearful about it. If win this quilt, then should help me get moving on a project. Thank you for the giveaway for the book.

  19. These quilts are beautiful and the idea of a mini quilt is just up my alley – I have been wanting to make a quilt and I think this may be the perfect place to start!

  20. I’ve been making fuul size quilts for a while now but somehow I’ve never gotten round to making a mini quilt – this book looks fabulous!!


  21. I have been meaning to make myself a quilt for about 3 years (when I finished my first/last one, for my then newborn niece), this post on quilt design has been quite helpful since I have so many ideas in my head that I don’t know where to start!

  22. Love this book- I followed their previews over at whip up all last month and have had it in my amazon wish list since it’s been available! thanks for sharing a copy with us1

  23. I’ve just started quilting (upon becoming pregnant, cliche right?!) and would love to win this! Sounds right up my alley! After all, they say to start small…

  24. I would love a copy of this book… I have been wanting to try out quilting for a while but never knew where to start!

  25. I saw this book and knew right away that it would be interesting! I love the idea of quilts as art.

  26. This book looks fantastic! I’ve never quilted, but have been wanting to learn how. I love the concept of using mini-quilts to practice new techniques.

  27. I like miniquilts a lot, because they are fast to make and offer so many ways in trying out your creativity.
    So, I hope I win this book ;o) Keep my fingers crossed.

  28. I love mini quilts, and try to make one using traditional patterns. Looking at the cover of the book, I think it is time to go modern and try some contemporary patterns. The ones on the cover look fantastic. Thanks for this opportunity.

  29. Holy cow! Those are some lovely quilts. I keep looking at quilts and wishing that I could make one, however I just don’t think I have the stamina to make something big enough to cover a bed. I love the idea of smaller art quilts, especially the power lines quilts. Thanks for sharing this book with us!

  30. I have been wanting this book since I saw it. The ideas look wonderful !! Perfect sized quilts.

  31. Wow, these quilts are amazing. I’d love to try some of these techniques. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  32. I saw the picture of the shibori mini-quilt and am intrigued as how to make it. I would love to win the book. Thank you.

  33. As a mother of four: 17, 18, 18 and 21 this book really fits the bill with its creative, contemporary quilts. And mini…who doesn’t love a little immediate gratification! Thanks for putting this publication out there for those who want something not quite so tradition.

  34. Oh those are sooo CUTE!! want to try it but how do I start?? Would love to have “the book” to show me how. Thanks for taking the time to do a great posting.

  35. I have been coveting this book since I first saw it. Is it OK to do that? Hope so. If I don’t win it, I will surely have to buy it. Got my fingers crossed!!!

  36. I’d love to make some mini quilts as a way of trying some different techniques without taking in a huge project.

  37. looks like the perfect book for my DD & I to get started on our learning to quilt plans. Thanks for the chance to win!

  38. Oh those powerlines are simply amazing – whoever thought powerlines could be beautiful!!! Love it!!!

  39. I have been wanting to learn to quilt for a long time,so this would be perfect…I would do this side by side with my 3 daughters who are alos old enough to learn to quilt….this would be fun!

  40. I used to quilt a long time ago and these mini quilts are such an inspiration to get back into it.

  41. This book is great inspiration! I just took a course in journal quilts, and small quilts are a great way to try new artistic ideas. Thank you for the giveaway!

  42. i love this! my fiance and i are having a quilt themed wedding this summer (decorating with, fabric square escort cards and guest book, etc.) this would be a lovely addition to the collection we have going!

  43. How fun and refreshing the “two heads” are! So not my grandmother’s quilt…!
    Love “powerline” too. Reminds me of laying down in the back seat looking out the window on long car trips with the folks. : ) Both pieces speak so much to me. Thanks for making them!

  44. I’ve been following this blog tour, and man, do I want this book! The more I read about it the more I know I have to own it for myself!

  45. I’ve been wanting this book every since I saw it. IT SEEMS SO AMAZING!!!!! I think I would make 100 quilts~

  46. I’ve been seeing this book all over the web and i would love to have it. thanks.

  47. I love everything I’ve seen from this book so far, it’s all so gorgeous. I’ve never made an actual quilt, I think starting with mini projects would be a fantastic way to ease myself into it. =)

  48. This books looks more and more interesting the more I read about it! Loving the tour too. . . .

  49. I say Kathreen’s book at the Melbourne Stitches and Craft Show- it looks fantastic, and a great way to learn a variety of new quilting techniques.

  50. i saw this book in the bookstore and really love the projects in it, the powerline quilt is my favorite πŸ˜€

  51. I’ve always wanted to make a mini quilt and this book looks really inspiring.

  52. The powerline sky quilts are amazing!! The details of the lines and the birds are quite beautiful. I wonder if I could do one with birds perched on the lines. It looks like a cool book.

  53. I sooooo want this book. I’m itching to try mini-quilts and I love all the projects I’ve seen so far!

  54. I’d love to win this book! I’ve wanted to start quilting for a while now..

  55. These make me so happy! πŸ™‚ I’ve been working up the courage to try quilting, and this seems like the perfect way to get started. I would love to win a copy!

  56. I ‘d love to win a copy!
    I will get a a sewing machine from my neighbour, and will start to learn sewing, which is a big dream of mine.
    And it would be so great to learn with those cool mini quilts, pillow covers etc…

  57. I just love the idea of mini quilts. When I was little I use to help my grandmother make flower garden quilts. When I say “help” of course I mean I scatter all the sewn flowers on the floor and skip around on them like lily pads. Oh the patience of grandmothers! Maybe I will try a mini flower garden quilt to give to one of my dearest friends. She is decorating her new nursery in a faded vintage turquoise, pink and yellow color palette. A sweet mini quilt would be perfect!

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