Magic Stack n Whack Fabric – Crazy Kaleidoscope Quilt Pattern


Stack and whack quilts are so much fun to create. They are full of motion and imagery that traditional quilts just don’t have.

You may have heard them referred to as kaleidoscope quilts because of the unique image the pieces create. They really do have a kaleidoscope effect.

What Is Stack And Whack Quilt?

Stack -n- Whack quilts refer to the technique used to cut the fabric for each quilt block. If you have seen a Stack-n- Whack quilt, you have undoubtedly noticed it’s unique almost kaleidoscope like appearance.

Whether it is made up of pinwheels, circles, fans, diamonds – whatever – the quality they all have in common is the “movement” of the kaleidoscope.

How To Choose Fabric For Stack And Whack Quilt?

The key to creating a good stack and whack quilt is in the choice of fabric.  After all, it is the fabric that creates the illusion of movement. To choose a great fabric for your stack and whack project, here are a few selection tips:

  • Look for a fabric that has a large pattern. The bigger and bolder the pattern, the better.
  • Pay attention to the repetition of design in the fabric. Spotting the repetition is a key factor in stacking your fabric for cutting. Once you recognize the pattern’s repetition in the fabric, you can cut several rectangles to layer (or stack) them appropriately to begin your stack and whack project.
  • Don’t overlook the possibilities. You can probably get more than one stack and whack design out of your fabric. One Robert Kauffman print that features a cabin, water and flamingos actually resulted in three very different stack and whack quilts.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is. Making a stack and whack quilt is just like making any other quilt you have made. You follow a pattern, cut your pieces, and sew them together following the pattern. Don’t obsess over the concept itself if stack and whack is new to you.
  • In a way, it’s just a fussy cut. When it comes down to it, the stack and whack quilting technique is just a fussy cut – only potentially less fussy. When you cut your stack and whack pieces, it is not so important to get an entire design into the quilt pattern. Remember that it is an element of your printed fabric that will create the appearance of movement. Having an entire element of your printed fabric design is not the goal of stack and whack.
  • To keep your fabric lined up for perfect “whacking,” iron it first. Adding starch when you press your fabric will help the rotary wheel slice right through several layers.
  • Don’t layer more than four pieces of fabric at a time. Layering more tempts fate as far as one layer slipping just a little out of place.

When considering fabrics for your own Stack-n-Whack quilt, you will want to stay away from hand printed fabrics and batiks. While they are truly beautiful and very nice in many quilt patterns, they do not work well for the Stack-n-Whack method? Why? The inconsistency in design or motif repetition is too great. Leave your hand dyed batiks and other hand printed fabrics in your stash for a fussy cutting or another quilt technique.

How To Start Stack And Whack Quilting?

It is always recommended to try a smaller project if you are beginning a new quilting skill. So, why not make your first stack and whack project be a wall quilt or a pillow? An even smaller stack and whack idea is to create potholders. Each holder would be about the size of one quilt block. This small project would allow you to try out several various patterns and cuts of fabric. The smaller projects are always a great way to demonstrate to yourself how the process works. You will see how the fabric comes alive with movement simply by the cuts you choose.

Who Created Stack And Whack Quilting?

If you would like more information about Stack and Whack quilting, the technique was created and perfected by Bethany Reynolds. You can learn more about the technique at her website, www.bethanyreynolds.com. Bethany has written several books with full size stack and whack patterns. If you are one who likes to quilt on the go, it is possible to do this with the stack and whack technique as well. If you haven’t heard of quilting on the go, it’s a technique in which you add your batting and backing to your top pieces as you sew them together. So, once you have finished piecing a block, it is also quilted with it’s backing even in place!

What Is Stack-n-Whack Technique?

The success of your stack and whack quilt depends entirely upon your cutting of the fabric. This technique is actually called Stack-n-Whack. It is the registered trademark of its creator, Bethany Reynolds. Bethany is a quilting professional who has quilted since 1982. Before starting a family, she and her husband owned a fabric and quilt store. Bethany really knows her quilting. She has authored and co-authored several books and also designs fabric collections for Blank Quilting.

The key to Bethany’s technique is to stack several layers of printed fabric from which to cut – or whack – your quilt pieces.

For example,

  1. Find a print you would like to use in your quilt.
  2. Identify the repeating pattern or design on the fabric.
  3. Cut the fabric so that when you stack it, you will actually be stacking the repeating designs or patterns. You can comfortably cut up to six layers of fabric with a rotary cutter and mat.

This technique differs greatly from fussy cutting. In fussy cutting, a particular pattern, design or motif is isolated and cut from the fabric in order to be featured in the quilt. With Stack-n-Whack, the fabric motif itself is not important as a whole piece. What is important is the “movement” the pieces create when they are sewn together. This method does not always isolate a particular pattern or motif in the fabric, either. As a matter of fact, the motif is rarely whole or intact. There has been a lot of talk about “movement” of the Stack-n-Whack designs. If you conduct an Internet search for images of these quilts, you will see many circles and pinwheel designs. That is probably because the movement is so strongly visible in the circular designs. However, there are more “blocky” designs. They also create movement – maybe not in the form of the appearance of spinning or rolling, but there is movement nonetheless. With the blockier designs, the movement may appear to be more in the form of tumbling or leaning blocks.

Quilters are often (and most of the time subliminally) trained to select small prints for their works. You don’t have to do this with the Stack-n-Whack method. It is actually better to use larger designs. Remember, you will be cutting through most of the design. The larger scale will help create a wide, vivid movement in your finished blocks. Experiment with small scale and large scale prints to see the difference.

Stack-n-Whack quilting is a lot of fun. If you have never tried one, you should The fun technique delivers almost magical effects on your quilt blocks right before your very eyes. One of the best resources for Stack-n-Whack quilting is straight from the developer’s bookshelf. Bethany has written the “Stack-n-Whackipedia” which is available from your favorite craft and sewing stores as well as from her website, http://www.bethanyreynolds.com

By Penny Halgren of http://www.How-To-Quilt.com

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