Quilt 2018 – Optical Illusion


The AQS Quilt 2018 project is under way…starting with an Optical Illusion Project!

Last week, you made a list of all the quilt making techniques you’d like to try in 2018 and put them in a jar. Then, you chose your own personal color of the year. Now, you are ready!

Our style for this month is Optical Illusion.

Optical illusion is the use of pattern and color to create the illusion of movement resulting in optical effects.

Optical Illusion quilts were a natural progression from the Op Art movement. In 1965, MOMA held a survey exhibition called The Responsive Eye inspiring artists across the spectrum from painting to fashion.

In Depth by Bobbie Fuhrman


In 1997, Karen Combs brought Op Art to quilts with her book, Optical Illusions for Quilters. In Karen’s quest for creating illusions, she explored traditional quilt blocks such as Kaleidoscope, Tumbling Blocks, and Storm at Sea.

Today we find this movement gaining popularity once again through Modern Quilting, which looks to Modern Art for inspiration rather than the use of traditional quilt blocks.

Passages by Christopher Florence


There are many types of optical illusions to recreate with fabric. Take a look at the Wikipedia page on Optical Illusions to start exploring ideas.

Here a few ideas to inspire you:

  • black and white
  • use of value (ombre fabrics)
  • adding shadow to create depth and dimension
  • use complementary colors to create vibration
  • play with scaling shapes to create perspective

Draw your technique from your jar, think about clever ways to play with your color of the year, and take mind-bending visual journey to the world of optical illusions.

Next week we will offer you a project you can give a try or use as inspiration (Update: we’ve linked to it below).

Give us a shout in the comments below letting us know your technique and color or share with us on our Facebook group AQS Project Parade.

Optical Illusion free pattern: AQS Bento Box Illusion Quilt

Take a look at how we did! Optical Illusion Show & Tell

Feature Image: The feature image used for this article is Harlequin Cube by Karen Combs.
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This challenge sounds fun & I love optical illusions! As a new beginning quilter, I could use just a little more guidance on what constitutes a technique (as opposed to a style). For example, would log cabin be a technique or a style? Landscape quilts? Applique? Would a fidget quilt be a style that might use several techniques?

Thank you!


I took a class in Daytona with Karen Combs. Her technique and skill and explanation made putting together the three dimensional quilt so easy .