Quilting Panels


Panels have been popular since the quilting resurgence in the 70's.  Quilting Contessa explores their many uses and good reasons for using quilting panels.

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Quilting Panels

Panels have been popular since the quilting resurgence in the 70's. They have lots of uses and good reasons for using them. Though some quilters refer to them as cheater quilts, they are a wonderful beginning for the modern quilter with limited time for piecing. They become a center medallion that saves much time for the quilter – probably the reason they came into being.

Quilting Panels


At a local quilt show yesterday, I saw the creative use of a center and side panels for making a wildlife quilt. Most of us wouldn't be able to take our own photographs for such a beautiful scene. This quilter pieced them without a pattern – bringing her own artful interpretation to the panels.

Attic window quilts are popular uses of panels also. There are many artistic approaches to this basic pattern, and you can probably find one by your favorite designer. Variations on the attic window include fracturing the panel in different ways. Because our brains are wired to see the whole picture even if it isn't there, we still see the panel scene in the fractured quilt.

Panels also make a good start for totes, pillows, and other décor items. I read recently about an artist that used a panel for the start of a thread painting.


My quilting spouse and I use different approaches to panels. He loves quilting with grid interfacing, so he may cut up his panels and surround them with fabric that he likes. Panel source: Country Road by Holly Taylor for Moda.

Take me home


I might use a panel as a background for some art project I have in mind. This butterfly was created first, and the panel purchased after to have a quilt for mounting the butterfly.



When you think about panels, don't limit yourself to one that are commercially produced by the fabric houses. Decorator pillows, pillow shams, or bandanas are good sources of panels and readily available at retails and thrift stores. My granddaughter wanted a sea otter and baby, so I ordered a pillow sham from a big box store.



National Parks often sell photo bandanas that make good central medallions for a quilt. Look around in bookstores and gift shops – something might speak to you.

While on a recent quilting retreat, one of our members bought a panel at the local quilt shop. The panel had an undersea theme – most appropriate for the region. BUT the panel was 3D!! It came with glasses like the ones at movie theaters. I'm not sure how many hours we spent putting on the glasses and viewing the panel, but I do know that any child would L_O_V_E any quilt made from it! (Undersea - Stonehenge Kids 3D Ocean Blue Multi Panel.)

Keep your eyes wide open! There are other 3D panels out there!


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The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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