It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go – Part 3

all about brown design as you go Riley Blake Confetti Brownie 300x225 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3In Part 3 of It’s All About Brown I’m continuing my quest to incorporate brown fabric in a village theme quilt, along with a scrappy collection of bright solids, tone-on-tones and prints. I’m taking a very organic improvisational approach to the design of my village, creating a block or identifying the pattern patches as I go, joining similar themed blocks as I would making a row quilt, although placing rows in the round. Spiraling from the center garden of flowers and a row of fences, I currently plan to add trees, buildings, and a sky of sunshine. Who knows, there may be other items in my village.

Something to think about…

ColorFabrics 150x150 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3With my improvisational approach to the design of the village, I’m discovering the biggest decision that I need to make along the way is “How much brown is too much?” and “When is there enough brown?” I don’t want the color to be overwhelming, but I do want it to be obviously present and complement the other colors of the quilt.

Join me…

Now that I’m gaining momentum on the project, I’ll reveal parts of the village pattern over the next couple of blogs, including patch measurements and templates as I use them for a row. I encourage you to sew along if you’d like to create your own village quilt. Of course, I hope you will also experiment with brown. Don’t be limited by a final overall dimension for the finished quilt, rather challenge yourself to create as you go and make it the size you want. Feel free to add embellishments! (I’d love to see photos of your progress. See the email address below.)

Center Applique Flowers

all about brown design as you go Single Flower 300x289 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Flower Design

I showed you my design for the flower center in part 2 of the series. I hand appliqued all the flowers and leaves onto the solid brown fabric using a method I learned from Erin Russek, one of Quiltmaker’s Associate Editors, for turned-edge applique. (Erin’s our resident applique guru. Be sure to read about thread for applique in Erin’s September 19th blog post. And her post scheduled for October 17th shares her applique technique.) I made 6 flowers for my quilt center. The finished size of the center is 30” x 30”.

Materials and Cutting Instructions

Brown Solid

  • 1 square 32” x 32” (This square is trimmed to 30½” x 30½” after applique)

Assorted Red, Pink, Blue, Aqua, Purple and Yellow Solids and Tone-on-Tones
From each color:

  • 1 circle 2¾”
  • 1 circle 2”
  • 1 circle 1½”

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones
For each flower:

  • 8 petals

Making the Flower Petals

all about brown design as you go Flower Petal 271x300 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Flower Petals

I selected a different green tone-on-tone fabric for each of the petals of a flower, using the same set of 8 fabrics for all the flowers. I cut out 8 plastic templates so I’d have a full set to complete a flower. Next, I traced the petal onto the wrong side of the fabric and clipped the curved edges. I placed the plastic template onto the wrong side of the fabric petal. After mixing 4 parts water to 1 part starch together in a small container, I pulled the edges of the fabric over the edges of the template and brushed the turned edges with the starch solution. Once dry, the starch solution helps hold the shape of the petal in place for easier hand applique.

Making the Flower Centers

all about brown design as you go Flower Center Circles 225x300 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Flower Centers

I cut out three different sizes of circles using Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates and an assortment of solid and tone-on-tone fabrics. To give the flower centers extra dimension I also used the middle circle template to cut out 2 layers of batting. Placing the template on the wrong side of a circle template I used a running stitch to enclose the template around the fabric. Once all sides of the circle were gathered I brushed on the starch and water solution to hold the edges in place for hand applique.

After all the flower centers and petals dried I arranged them on the brown background fabric, gluing them in place with drops of Roxanne’s Glue Baste It. I finished the flower center using the turned-edge applique technique. I finished the center by trimming the background fabric to 30½” x 30½”. (Refer to photo of finished flower center below.)

all about brown design as you go Applique Flower Center 150x150 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Applique Flower Center

Click here to download the applique templates for the flower centers and leaves. Note, you can use these same templates for fusible applique instead of hand applique.

Fence Row

I designed my fence row to look like one we frequently find surrounding many ranches and farms, straight wooden posts connecting 2 rails. I discovered a print fabric of children in my stash so just for fun I added a row of them as if they are overlooking the fence. What’s a village without children, right? This row was a simple piecing exercise. I made 8 fence sections with a post (Fence A) and 4 fence sections without a post (Fence B). The finished sections are 6” x 10”.

all about brown design as you go Fence Sections 300x270 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Fence Row Sections

Fabric and Cutting Instructions

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones

  • 16 rectangles 1½” x 9½” (A)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (F)

Brown Solid

  • 16 rectangles 1½” x 9½” (B)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 5½” (D)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (G)

Kids Print

  • 8 rectangles 2½” x 9½” (C )
  • 4 rectangles 2½” x 10½” (H)

Blue Sky

  • 12 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (E)

Fence Row Corner Trees

all about brown design as you go Pine Tree Patches 300x291 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

Corner Pine Tree Blocks

To be honest I just didn’t want to calculate how I would make the fence to turn a corner so I looked for a tree pattern in Electric Quilt to fill in. I found the perfect block with Pine Tree.

As you can see in the photo I used more of the brown solid, green tone-on-tones and blue sky fabrics for the trees. I also used Brenda Henning’s Triangulations™ method to make the triangle squares required for the block to speed up the piecing. You can also make 8 triangle-squares at a time using the “Sew Easy-8 at a time Triangle Squares” method. Check out Carolyn Beam’s “Sew Triangle Squares Many Ways” video too for more techniques. I made a Pine Tree block for each of the four corners of my fence row. The materials and cutting list below uses the method that makes 2 triangle squares from 2 squares of different fabrics.

Fabric and Cutting Instructions

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones

  • 20 squares 1½“ x 1½” (A)
  • 28 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” (for triangle squares) (B)
  • 6 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” cut in half once to make 12 triangles (C)

Blue Sky

  • 4 squares 1½“ x 1½” (A)
  • 28 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” (for triangle squares) (B)
  • 4 squares 3¾“ x 3¾“ cut in half twice to make 8 triangles (D)

Brown Solid

  • 4 rectangles 1½“ x 2¾” (E)
  • 8 rectangles 1½”x 5½” (F)

What’s next…

Be sure to come back for my next blog post on the 20th of October. I’ll show you the joined flower center and fence and also describe the next row of my brown quilt quilt, adding buildings.

all about brown design as you go Part 3 Giveaway Bundle 300x279 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3

COMMENT to WIN a Bundle Give Away!

In the meantime, post a comment to win a bundle of brown, green and bright color tone-on-tones. I’ll announce the winner on my next blog post.

And… if I’ve tempted you to make a brown quilt, please share a photo with us to share with our readers. Email:

COMMENT to WIN a Bundle Give Away!

 Happy quilting!

 tricia patterson signoff It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3


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24 Responses to It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go – Part 3

  1. Pingback: It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go - Part 4 | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  2. Linda E in AZ says:

    I love brown fabrics, especially the really dark, greyish browns. They combine so wonderfully with lots of colors. It is too bad that for many years you couldn’t find a piece of brown fabric anywhere. Our color fads do complicate a quilter’s life!

  3. Joye says:

    I like brown in most quilts. I have been sewing with some 1800s repros and there are some pretty browns in my blocks. Thanks.

  4. Jennifer says:

    We put our house up for sale in late summer and my collection of yummy browns, as well as all my stash, are packed up ready to be moved. All I left out to work on are my scraps. I miss them all so much!

  5. Karen A says:

    I’ve used brown in several of my quilts and one of my favorite color combos is brown and turquoise.

  6. Kathleen Kingsbury says:

    I used brown on my first quilt. Never pieced a quilt block before making this quilt. This is the quilt I learned on. I’ve received some nice comments on it. You can see it here:

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  7. Ann Flower says:

    Don’t use much brown but will try a little more in future.

  8. Carol W says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching the use of brown!

  9. Cathryn H says:

    While I admit that brown is not one of my favorite colors, I have used it in a couple of quilts. It works well for sashing fabric on a boy/man quilt, it’s almost a must for tree trunks, a fence post, a cow or horse or dog, definitely for dirt. Actually, I guess it does belong in quilts!

  10. Susan Salo says:

    I’m actually finishing up a quilt for our livingroom that is predominantly brown. It has lots of neutral creams and several brown patterned fabrics. I love it and can’t wait to finish it!!

  11. Diane Oakes says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of brown. A few years back, I started making some art quilts and needed brown for landscaping. Now, it is slowly becoming part of my collection. Love all the ideas you shared. Really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks.

  12. Diane Paul says:

    I recently made a batik quilt for one my daughters. It had gold and oranges in it and I used a honey brown fabric as the sashing. It pulled all the different batik’s together nicely.

  13. NancyB from Many LA says:

    I love the Fence Row Corner Trees!

  14. Sandy K says:

    I love the applique flowers. Thanks for the starch tip.

  15. Vicki H says:

    I have quite a few browns in my stash and usually use them in ‘guy’ quilts.

  16. Linda Webster says:

    I don’t use brown much in my quilts. Your applique flowers look beautiful with a brown background!

  17. Ruth Gawlikoski says:

    To think that using shades of brown and tan to make a version of Lori Baker’s Ooh Rah quilt seemed great – and it did look good. But oh do I love the fence row with the children. I cannot wait to make a block or two as a start of a top. I too have a children print that I think will work. Thanks a lot!

  18. Pat K says:

    Thank you for all your helpful instructions. I make lap quilts for seniors in nursing homes, and a fellow quilter recently gave me some fabric that is primarily brown. It will probably end up going in one of the next lap quilts.

  19. Heather says:

    I love brown, but never think to use it as a background. Hmmm……creativity flowing….

  20. Ria van Duuren says:

    brown is not a color i would use a lot. As a background I think it’s dark. I like a ligher background for my quilts. The tree is very pretty.

  21. Shasta says:

    That is a pretty bundle of fabric. I really like brown quilts, but have to say I haven’t used it much as a background for a quilt.

  22. Karen says:

    would love a win – the fabric looks great. I ‘ve got a package of those circles and use them all the time.

  23. Cindy Fraher says:

    I often incorporate brown in my quilts. Just finishing up a fall themed quilt. Lots of room for brown in it!

  24. KT says:

    So fun following along–can’t wait to see the finished quilt! Thanks for sharing!

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