Skip to main content

Transparent Squares Quilt Block Tutorial

If you are new to transparency in quilting or need a refresher, this is a simple practice block to make to play around with fabric choices and the effects of transparency.
Transparent Squares Quilt Block

I posted a video on IGTV that explains the very basics of transparency in quilting. A short simplified version of what I shared is that transparency is the ability to see through layer(s) of an object. It can be real or implied. So in quilting, you can use fabric color choices to make implied transparency.

The most basic way to achieve transparency, in my opinion, is to choose dark, medium and light values of one color. Understanding color structure is important, but being a master of it is not required to play around with transparency. For example, if a grey fabric has a lot of cool color blue undertones, then you have to be cognizant of how that specific fabric color plays with other colors. Also, it’s important to realize that while many colors are available in fabrics, it’s not infinite. So, do the best that you can with what you’ve got!

For the transparent squares quilt block, two squares slightly overlap. Where the overlap occurs, there is an implied transparency effect. Choose a dark value fabric for the top square, a light value fabric for the bottom square, and fabric that you feel is a blend of the two for the medium value square. A simple version would be to use black as the dark value, white as the light value and grey as the medium value. The sample in this tutorial uses dark pink, medium pink and light pink with a white background. The unfinished block size is 6 ½” x 6 ½”.

Fabric requirements:
(1) 2 ½” square dark value fabric
(1) 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle dark value fabric
(1) 2 ½” square medium value fabric
(1) 2 ½” square light value fabric
(1) 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle light value fabric
(2) 2 ½” squares background fabric

Layout the pieces according to the picture below.

Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew together the rectangle and square from row 1, all three squares from row 2, and the square and rectangle from row 3. Press. See picture below.

Sew rows 1 and 2 together. Press. Sew row 3 to the bottom. Press.

You have created transparency using fabric!

You can add a small border around the block if you like, as I did with the small black, grey and white version pictured here.

You can make additional blocks and start to play with multiple colors. In the picture below, you’ll see that when the blue and yellow bars cross, the resulting intersection makes green.

If you’re looking to try a quilt pattern that uses simple transparency effect, I have two recently published patterns. The first is available to members of The Modern Quilt Guild and is called Signal Quilt – it’s pictured below. Where the long and short bars meet there’s an intersection of transparency.
Signal Quilt designed and pieced by Jessica Plunkett. Photo: Leah Muse Photography. Used with permission from The Modern Quilt Guild. The pattern is available to members of the MQG.

The second one is in issue 34 of Make Modern Magazine and is called Altered State Quilt – it’s pictured below. Where the squares intersect, there is transparency.
Altered State Quilt designed and pieced by Jessica Plunkett. Photo: Jessica Plunkett. The pattern is currently available in issue 34 of Make Modern Magazine.

In both examples, I decided as the artist and designer to create the implied transparency. It adds a different dimension to both quilts!

If you make a transparent squares quilt block, I’d love to see it! Tag me on Instagram @maeberrysquare and use #transparentsquaresblock.


Popular posts from this blog

Fanny Pack Sew Along

 Welcome to the Fanny Pack Sew Along! Tina and Jessica look forward to sewing with you!   The Fanny Pack Along is scheduled for June 6 – July 1, 2022. Participants will be able to choose their own pattern for this sew along. We have provided a list of patterns below. Each week, Tina and Jessica will share a prompt to keep you sewing along. Note that participants are welcome to work at their own pace – including finishing early or finishing after the sew along ends. As always, we will end the sew along with a “fashion show” of sorts on Instagram, where participants are welcome to share their final fanny packs. Will you wear yours around your waist as party people of the 90s did or are you super on trend and will sling it over your shoulder?! We can’t wait to find out! SCHEDULE You are welcome to work at your own pace. We like to build in time for life to happen.  Week 1 - Gather materials (pattern, fabrics, and other supplies) Week 2 - Cut fabric and interface fabric Week 3 -

Quilt Coat Along

Welcome to the Spring 2021 Quilt Coat Along , hosted by TinaCurtis and Jessica Plunkett ! We are excited to bring together sewists to make one of the hottest fashion trends around – Quilt Coats. We'd like to start by acknowledging that quilt coats are not a new thing, they were found all over the world being made by people of color and of all different cultures. Below are examples from the International Quilt Museum and the Public Library Quilts page. We appreciate the beauty of both of these garments and are thankful for the rich history they lend to our current mainstream trend. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Public Library Quilts (@publiclibraryquilts) This is a low key sew along – while we have a relaxed six week schedule to try and keep you motivated, you are welcome to work at your own pace. Here are a few key details about the sew along if you’re interested in participating!