Marsala Mini: Mini Quilt #13

March 30, 2015

Pantone’s color of the year for 2015 is Marsala, a warm red with brown undertones.  Every year, I look forward to finding out the color of the year, and I knew that this year I would explore the color in the form of a quilt.  I was even more excited when I heard about the Pantone Quilt Challenge at On the Windy Side and Play Crafts.Marsala Mini Front View

The Pantone website features a quote by their executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, describing marsala as a color which “enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability. Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us into its embracing warmth.”  The challenge for me was that marsala isn’t a color that I’m particularly drawn to.  However, I learned long ago that there is no “ugly” color- it is all in how you use it.  I certainly wouldn’t label marsala with the U-word, but it is skating a bit to close too brown for my taste, and so many red-brown fabrics can look depressing or even dead.  Fortunately, last fall I picked up several fat quarters of marsala-like fabrics from a clearance bin.  Maybe my subconscious is better at picking up color trends than the rest of my brain, but I was sure glad that I had these when the color of the year was announced!  I mixed those with a few other marsala-y reds to come up with my basic palette. Marsala Fabric

When I am not immediately inspired, I will often do some sort of free writing or word association with the topic or theme.  For me marsala is associated with things like wine, curry, tomato sauce, roses, lipstick-  sensuality, volume, and curves come to mind.  The more I thought about this color, the more I thought that marsala calls out to be used in an Art Nouveau inspired design.

In looking at some Art Nouveau research, I landed on this tile design.  For me, the curves of this design seemed to be the perfect match for marsala.ANTD-080_i

I popped the image into the computer to create three graphics that would help in the creation of this quilt.  The first was a line drawing for the main pieces of fabric.  I printed this image on freezer paper so I could cut apart the image, iron the pieces to fabric and press the seam allowances around the paper.  This allowed me to assemble the quilt top using English Paper Piecing style techniques.Marsala Mini line drawing a

Over the line drawing I added a layer showing the smaller pieces of fabric that I would later add using wonder under.  I also printed this off on freezer paper to make it easier to cut these shapes.  (Hint:  Freezer paper won’t stick well to the paper backing of wonder under.  I ironed the wonder under to the back of the fabric and the freezer paper to the front.  It was really easy to cut these fairly small shapes, and you could even leave the freezer paper in place to add stability to the fabric after the paper wonder under backing is removed.  Once the fabric is ironed in place you can peel back the freezer paper.)Marsala Mini line drawing b

The final graphic I created was a color image which I used to help determine general fabric placement.  After quite a bit of experimentation, I decided that marsala paired beautifully with oranges and deep, muted violets, blues, and greys.Marsala Mini color

The main construction of the top was done entirely by hand.

Main Marsala top construction with tan appliqués in place

Main Marsala top construction with tan appliqués in place

With the main construction complete, I adhered the smaller pieces to the quilt using Wonder Under before using a machine blanket stitch to sew around the edges of the appliqués.Marsala Process B

Here is the back view of the quilt top- I just love seeing “behind the scenes” on this sort of construction!Marsala Process B back

The quilt back is improvisationally pieced using marsala colored fabrics.

Marsala Mini back view

Marsala Mini back view

For the quilting I decided to do fairly heavy quilting echoing each shape in the design.

Marsala Front detail

Marsala Mini front detail

Marsala Mini back detail

Marsala Mini back detail

I am pretty sure that this is my favorite mini I have done in this series, so I am really glad that I went out of my comfort zone to embrace marsala!  What do you think of marsala?  Are you making a project using marsala this year?

Quilt Stats

Title:  Marsala Mini

Size: 13″x17″

Techniques:  English paper piecing, machine appliqué, improvisational piecing

Quilting:  Echo stitching done using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008

Fabrics:  Kona in wine and charcoal; Alison Glass prints; Basketweave, Whisper, and a couple other prints from Riverwoods Collection by the Troy Corporation; Carolyn Friedlander Botanics print; several prints and batiks from unidentified fat quarters.

Batting:  Warm and White Cotton Batting

Thread:  Pieced with Gutermann Mara 100 color 245 (a warm clay/taupe color), Machine appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in color 257 (a dark plum sort of color), Quilted with Connecting Threads Essential cotton thread in Red

Binding:  Strips cut on the bias in 2″ widths, machine sewn to the front, hand sewn to the back

What was new:

Using English paper piecing techniques on irregularly curved shapes

Quilt 13 / 50

Quilt 13 / 50

Goal #12 is Finished!

Goal #12 is Finished!

I’m linking this post up with Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt InfatuationFabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Pet Project at Pink Doxies, Show Off Saturday at Sew Can She, and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts.  Please stop by to see all of the lovely work being created!



  • Reply
    Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
    March 30, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Beautiful! I can definitely see the Art Nouveau influence when you point it out, but at first glance (and now looking back), it is very feminine and reminds me of a woman’s back that is beautifully corseted or who has an enviable natural cinched waist, which works well with the subtle seduction description. 😉

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Wow! OK, I confess, I am not a marsala fan, nor a mini quilt aficionado, but in this case I make exceptions to both those! This is very beautiful and a great demonstration of colour, technique and design. Nice job! You deserve to win!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I wasn’t sure I liked this quilt at first (I’m not drawn to art nouveau much), but after seeing your inspiration, process and the up close photos it is so interesting! And the quilting just brings it all together, it is a lovely piece!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Wow, Cassandra!! This is wonderful!! So interesting reading the process you went through in making this beautiful little quilt. Your use of color, the curves. . . the quilting!!! The result is stunning! Good luck in the challenge although I don’t think you are going to need luck!!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 12:53 am

    I’m visiting from Let’s Bee Social. This is beautiful. Love reading about your entire design and construction process.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Very beautiful use of the color.

  • Reply
    Lorna McMahon
    April 1, 2015 at 6:58 am

    You hit this one out of the park, Casandra. I agree there are some strange colours out there…. They look somewhat unappealing on their own, but when you pair them up with the right choices, they sure shine! I really enjoy seeing your progress and detail shots of this mini. The back is as beautiful as the front! And reading about your processes is always so informative. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Many thanks for the detail on how you made this amazing quilt. I saw it under Pantone challenge page on IG (or was it Flickr) and was really curious about how you could get so much detail and colour in so little space! I hadn’t connected the quilt with this blog so was thrilled to see your detailed prep stage by stage. Also great to see the colours you’ve pulled together to such great effect. Marsala is not an easy one. I’m struggling…..

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    This is wonderful! I’m more of a fan of Art Deco than Art Nouveau, but this has come out amazing, the sexiness of your shape plays so well with the marsala colours you chose. 🙂 Loved seeing the back of it too, seams ‘n’ all! 😉 I’m trying to do a large marsala quilt and agree that it’s not an easy colour to work with!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    It is interesting design but I’m more drawn to back side 🙂

  • Reply
    Carrie Ottmers Wikander
    April 1, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Stunning,simply. Best use of marsala I’ve seen yet!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Man that is an intense pattern and it totally works with the colors. Love it!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Such a complex design to quilt and then I saw the size. Don’t know how you did it even though you shared the steps. Nice work!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    April 5, 2015 at 11:31 am

    When I saw your link in Pink Doxies, I saw an Elizabethan-style woman’s dress (I see Yvonne also saw the corseted figure I did). When you put the Art Nouveau tile pic as your inspiration, I totally see that too, but for me this is utterly feminine and I adore it. I see a glass of wine, the “legs” running down the sides of the goblet…what a fantastic and beautiful piece you’ve created!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I love, love, love it. Your process was illuminating. Thank you so much for your description.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2015 at 5:32 am

    This quilt is really beautiful!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    this is incredible!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I so admire the artistry of this quilt. Really interesting blog entry too.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I keep coming back to look at your quilt! I love the curves and how they intersect!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I really loved reading your design process for this quilt, so much thought went into it! I love the art nouveau influence, and the colors you chose to work with marsala are beautiful. Wonderful quilt!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    VERY COOL! I love everything about your quilt.

  • Reply
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