Block 2019: Rolling Stone Variations


Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt blocks all year long. Last week we met Rolling Stone. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Rolling Stone and learn along the way what essential parts from Rolling Stone must exist in its variations. Let’s start by look at the original.

According to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the traditional Rolling Stone block was first published by Ladies Art Company in the late 1800s. Since then it’s picked up a few extra names, like Letter O, Broken Wheel, and Wedding Ring. Note the Square In A Square units in each corner and the Rectangle units as the main elements of the block. The traditional block is an equal nine patch, meaning that it fits on an even 3 x 3 grid. One way to create variations to a quilt block is by changing the block grid, which is exactly what happened with the first variation.

Rolling Stone – Traditional Alternative

This variation is accepted as a traditional alternative version of Rolling Stone, with the rectangles replaced by squares. This change alters the grid from an equal nine patch to an unequal nine patch with small center square. I also colored this one with one corner of the Square In a Square units colored the same as the neighboring coral square to create a ring. This ring shape is often the main element carried over into variations of Rolling Stone.


Rolling Squares

According to Barbara Brackman, Rolling Squares was published as a pattern in a column for the Chicago Tribune some time in the 1930s. This variation maintains the Square In A Square units, the ring, and the even nine patch grid, but changes the outer rectangle into Flying Geese units creating the illusion of a star. It’s fun to play with value on this variation, because depending on where you put the darks, lights, and especially “hot” colors emphasizes different elements of the block. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce some scrappiness to the block.


Wedding Ring or Mill Wheel

How one colors this block decides whether it’s a Wedding Ring or a Mill Wheel. The block I’ve made here is technically a Mill Wheel because the darkest value is in the corners and the lightest value in the ring, but switch those values and it’s a Wedding Ring. This is another uneven nine patch with a small center square, and what a fun one! Wedding Ring keeps only one of Rolling Stone’s essential elements: the ring. The Square In A Square units are traded in for four Half Square Triangles. I used two different colors for the corners to create a secondary pattern once set into a quilt.

I added a sashing to the quilt to help the eye rest between the busy Half Square Triangles. Sashing is a great way to play with the look of a quilt.


Kathryn A. Ash made the same block with traditional coloring for her quilt, Full Circle, and used Quarter Square Triangle alternate blocks to create a secondary design when she set the quilt on point. Another name for this block is Nest and Fledgling. I don’t know if Ash was thinking of that block name while making this quilt, but the Flying Geese borders fit the avian motif of this beautiful quilt perfectly.


Ready to make your own variation on Rolling Stone? We have instructions for Mill Wheel to get you started, but there are many ways to take the elements of Rolling Stone and reinterpret them your way!


Ready to quilt your Rolling Stone block? Check out quilting designs for quilt-as-you-go.


Show us your Rolling Stone blocks and variations in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you do!

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I love this green, blue aqua quilt. Is the full pattern available? Thanks