Category Archives: fractured image

Fun with Fractured Images

I’m scheduled to teach a class on Fractured Images in a couple of weeks so this seems like a good time to update my class notes and look over my class samples.

Fractured images are created when four identical layers of fabric are cut into squares and sewn together. Three of the four repeats are trimmed different ways before being cut into squares. When the four sets of squares are arranged in a grid and sewn together, a striking ripples-in-a-pond effect emerges. Squares can be cut in many different sizes but 2” and 3” squares are the most common.  Bold floral designs with secondary motifs in the background and lots of contrast fracture especially well.

When I taught this class last spring at the Pine Needle, the shop had just received some fabrics in the Hickory House line by Faye Burgos for Marcus Brothers Fabrics. I was curious to see how one of the florals in that line would fracture and whether it would be more striking made from 2” or 3” squares. Here is the image before fracturing . . .

Hickory House floral, unfractured

. . . and here are the two fractured images side by side:

Fractured Images made from 2″ and 3″ Squares

The image on the left, which measures 13″ square, contains 81 squares, each square finishing at 1½”. The image on the right, which measures 14″ square, contains 25 squares, each square finishing at 2½”. Which one do you like better?

One way of cutting the fabric for a fracture is to pin the layers together, matching design elements, and then cut only the image intended for the fracture. What to do with the remaining fabric that’s already layered and pinned? Why, cut it into 4-Patch Wonder blocks, of course. (“4-Patch Wonder” is my name for a block made of four identical layers of fabric that are cut in squares and then rotated to make a pleasing symmetrical design. If you’ve looked at the quilts in my Gallery, you know that I’m a big fan of this faux-kaleido block, as well as its more sophisticated cousin, the kaleidoscope block.)

Look how dramatic these 4-Patch Wonder blocks are that were made with leftover Hickory House fabric:

These 4-Patch Wonder blocks are 5″ square
These blocks are 6½” square

Let me show you another fractured image made from a beautiful tropical floral fabric a friend brought me from Hawaii. Here is the image before fracturing. . .

Tropical Flowers, Unfractured

. . . and after:

Tropical Flowers, Fractured

This one was made a little differently. Instead of sewing the squares together, I arranged them on a piece of featherweight fusible interfacing and fused them in place. Then I covered the raw edges with grosgrain ribbon held in place with ¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam-2. I added a pink polkadot flange and a wide black border. The squares were cut 3″, by the way, and the piece is 21″ square including the border.

I haven’t decided what to do with this fractured image. I think it could hold its own as a finished piece, but it looks so good set on point that I can also see it as a center medallion in a larger quilt . . .

On Point

. . . perhaps accompanied by some of these 4-Patch Wonder blocks made from the leftover fabric:

4-Patch Wonder Blocks (6½” Square)


If you’ve never fractured an image before, I recommend that you try it. It’s a lot of fun, and I predict that it will forever change the way you look at fabric!

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, fractured image, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 5 Comments