March: Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr – Transparency Bungalow Block

The collaboration of  the husband and wife team of Bill Kerr & Weeks Ringle since the late 1990s helped usher in the Modern Quilt Movement we enjoy today. With a nod to traditional quilt design, self described “Modernists” and champions of quality workmanship, they have taught and inspired quilters to use artistic design principles and color theory to choose fabrics and create innovative quilts which reflect today’s culture and are relevant to life in the 21st Century.

 In 2005 Ringle & Kerr featured the transparency quilt “Boomerang” in their book Modern Quilt Workshop. Creating the illusion of transparency using fabric became popular with modern quilters and in 2011 their book Transparency Quilts  was published which featured the quilt “Bungalow” from which this month’s block is based.

4″ x 8″ Bungalow Block

The key to creating the illusion of transparency with fabric is color value. 

  • To audition fabrics, place them together side by side to find pleasing combinations with differences in value. A color wheel and other color tools are very helpful at this point (Figure 1).
  • You can squint at the fabrics to better see the values or use your digital camera to create grayscale photos.
Figure 1: Common tools for evaluating color & value.

Step 1: Select Fabrics for a Block 

It only takes 4 fabrics to create a basic transparency block (see figure 2): 

  • Darker value fabric A
  • Medium value fabric B (will be the “transparent” mix of fabrics A & C)
  • Lighter value fabric C (will appear to cross fabric A & create the transparency)
  • Background fabric D in a neutral or contrasting color.
  • Using a Gray Scale Value Finder is a quick way to ensure there is one or two value levels between fabrics A & B and B & C.
Step 1

Step 2: Cut Fabrics for Finished Block Size 4”x8”

  • Darker fabric A:  Qty 2 – 6.5”x 1.25” 
  • Medium fabric B: Qty 1 – 6.5” x 1.5
  • Lighter fabric C: Qty 2 – 1.75” x 1.5” 
  • Background fabric D: Qty 2 – 6.5” x 1.25” & Qty 4 – 1.75 x 2”
Step 2

Step 3: Create Center Section

  • Stitch together the five 6.5” long strips in order D1-A-B-A-D1 (see Figure 1).
  • Press seams away from center toward the long edges.
  • Square up with ruler and trim length to 6”.  
  • The center should be 6” x 4.5” at this point.
Step 3

Step 4: Create Two End Sections

  • To make 1st end section stitch three patches on the 1.75” sides in order D2-C-D2 (see Figure 2).
  • Press seams toward center patch.
  • Repeat for 2nd end section.
Step 4

Step 5: Complete the Block

  • Stitch end sections to center section.
  • Press seams to outside.
  • Square up block as needed, it Block should be 8.5” x 4.5”.
Step 5

  Design Option: Use grey for fabric C to create a less monochromatic color scheme.

And Finally . . . Here are some quilt design ideas for the Bungalow Block.