The Splendid Sampler

Quilts Under Construction September 2018

Quilt Design Wall Improv Curves

It was time.

I counted up all my Quilts Under Construction again. I haven’t actually done it since my QuiltCon lecture a year and a half ago. A lot has come and gone, mostly come since then.

So many metaphors come to mind but I find them all negative. And I don’t see this as negative at all. Every single quilt or project on this list represents creative action. It’s all about process. If all I cared about was a finished quilt I would go to the mall and buy one. Nope, I would rather make, getting lost in the process and the mess of creativity. It’s all awesome. All positive.

I divide my list into 3 categories: Being Quilted, Quilt Tops, and Blocks. Those categories work for me. Once I have something quilted I am usually quick to bind, so it would only go on a list to get crossed off within days. (Okay, there is a certain satisfaction in that.)

Improv crosses
Drunkard's Path Quilt Blocks


  1. Tie One On version of Lilla Quilt

  2. Gremlins (Little Log Cabins)

  3. Firefly

  4. Mighty Lucky Year of Colour

  5. Itty Bitty Curves

  6. Solid Triangle Improv

  7. Euroa Quilt

  8. Splendid Sampler

  9. Hand Pieced Diamonds

  10. Small Wonders Flying Geese

  11. Bronco’s Blocks

  12. Places I’ve Taught

  13. Desks

  14. Evil Genius Triangles

  15. Kid’s Cloths/Gee’s Bend

  16. Neutral Values

  17. Studio Slash/Edges

  18. Mid Mod

  19. X Plus Blocks

  20. Pink Pinwheels

  21. Screenprint Log Cabins

  22. Pink and Black Broken Logs

  23. Respite

  24. Meadow Quilt

  25. Water

  26. Liberty Circles

  27. Sherbet Stars

  28. Beach Grass II

  29. Morning Make III

  30. Mila’s Name

  31. Bookof Negroes quilt

  32. God’s Eyes

  33. Pastel and Grey Slab


Whew! Biggest number yet. And I still love absolutely every project on this list. It just depends on the day for what I feel like doing. If I could function without sleep, tea, feeding my family, carrying on our family business, or generally anything else I could get a few of these further along. I’m good, though, making in the moments I can and doing all the other stuff too. You only ever make a quilt one stitch at a time.

Euroa Quilt Block

Splendid Sampler Wrap Up and Giveaway!

Splendid Sampler

A whole year later The Splendid Sampler finishes up! While I stalled in making blocks months ago, it was fantastic to see more and more quilters tackle all the techniques and tiny piecing of the designs making up the 100 blocks. 

To celebrate, our fearless leaders Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson are hosting an international giveaway. So are a number of the contributing designers.

For my faithful and new readers I would love to share a collection of patterns with you. Leave a comment below on what you loved and hated about The Splendid Sampler. Finish with your email address so I can contact you (my host does weird things and it is hard to get emails from comments just by clicking on them). Like this:

I'm not a fan of embroidery so those blocks always stopped me in my tracks, but I loved pushing my own technical boundaries! 

cheryl AT cherylarkison DOT com

That way spam bots won't get them but I can still contact the winner.

The prize?! How about a collection of digital patterns? I currently have 6 patterns and would be happy to send you a copy of each. Three of them are brand new to coincide with my Tag Fabric from Connecting Threads.

Oh Canada quilt

You will get my most popular pattern, Oh Canada. Plus the Sewing Machine Quilt and Kinda Herringbone. The three new patterns are for Hopscotch, Spiral, and Ellipsis. The last one is a fun mini that will likely appeal to grammar nerds like myself.

Giveaway is open until February 19, midnight MST. I will email the the winner the following day.

And don't forget to check out the main giveaway and celebration, plus the other parties around the world. 

The Splendid Sampler - In The Sunshine

The Splendid Sampler - Applique and Improv

In The Sunshine

18.5'' x 18.5

My 15th wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. One of the more entertaining moments of our wedding day (aside from the baby nearly born there) occurred as we walked down the aisle after the ceremony. After almost 6 years of dating it seems our wedding was a much anticipated affair. So our friends standing up there with us shouted out a coordinated, "Finally!!' 

After nearly a year of The Splendid Sampler I kind of feeling shouting Finally!! myself as my block debuts.

In the Sunshine was envisaged to celebrate my love of applique, a desire to not have really tiny pieces on this small block, and just a little bit of my true love, improv. And really, who doesn't love a flag waving in the sunshine?

Get the pattern here. Finally!

The Splendid Sampler

It was fun to play with my own fabric in this mini quilt. My first line, Tag, recently came out with Connecting Threads. I've made a handful of quilts already with just my fabrics, but the true measure of a fabric is how well it plays with others. So the background squares include my fabric plus a mix of stashed black and white prints. Then I dug into the scrap bin for the solid fabrics on the flags.

Now making a mini is hard for me. I get why people love them - boy is it fast from start to finish - but I prefer to Go King or Go Home! And when I am sewing for myself I default to improv piecing: curves, letters, slabs, and everything else.  That being said,  I really enjoy the switch up to designing patterns. It gets my brain working in a different way plus seeing the different results from other quilters is pretty thrilling! That's why I am so excited to see what each of you do with the block. This was a quick one to make, even with the needle turn applique. Get the pattern here. 

For those of you new here let me tell you a bit about myself. I live on intersection of the Rocky Mountains and the Prairies, in Calgary, Alberta. A pretty dreamy location. We get a proper winter - which I love - and it gets just hot enough in the summer. I'm such a Canadian! We have 3 nearly feral, outgoing, and active kids. My girls have followed me to the pool. In my youth I was a competitive swimmer then rower. After a decade working on environmental policy and sustainability issues I switched gears to staying with my kids and to become a professional quilter, writer, and a teacher. With three published books, online classes, national and international travel to teach on top of our busy lives I could say it is a fine balance, but it is more like a rocky seesaw that just can't quite make it even. But hey, I chose it and I'm making it work!

The Splendid Sampler, Applique, Improv Curves

So take a few moments to hang out here. Check out my quilt gallery for inspiration, read through the blog for a glimpse into my compulsion to create, and feel free to sign up for my biweekly newsletter. My mission here and in everything quilting is to inspire creative action in everyone, for everyone. I am what you see - bold, blunt, kind, generous, open, and a little bit weird.

PS If the curves make you nervous, check out my episode of The Quilt Show, where I break it down. 

The Splendid Sampler Confession


I'm totally behind in my Splendid Sampler blocks. This week marks the 50th block, halfway through. I've made 15.

The Splendid Sampler

Maybe you are in the same boat. You got really excited at the beginning and stayed on top of things. I did. Then I got bogged down by a couple of things. Life, just that motherhood/work/getting out of the house thing. Deadlines, just articles and patterns and trips out of the country. Then there was the embroidery. Oh, the embroidery.

For you it might be the paper piecing blocks, the few hexies, the applique or whatever. For many of us there may be one type of block or another that intimidates or frustrates. And it is pretty easy to lose steam when faced when one of those blocks.

I'm here to tell you that it is okay. Totally okay. The Splendid Sampler is supposed to be about fun. No one, absolutely no one is saying you need to make each and every block. Nor that you have to make them all within 48 hours of the pattern being released. Make the blocks you like when you like. Period.

Green Splendid Sampler blocks

If you, however, want to make all the blocks and find yourself feeling overwhelmed or totally behind here are a couple of tips to get back/stay on track.

  • Cut your fabric in sets of 5 or 10 blocks. That way they are always ready when you find yourselves with a moment to sew. Also, it means you can work on the type of block you are in the mood for rather than a specific one you feel you HAVE to do.
  • Swap techniques with a friend. If you have a friend who loves embroidery (anyone?!) but you love paper piecing do a little trade. Make hers and she finishes yours!
  • Let it go. Fall in love with the blocks that speak to you and don't worry about the rest. Make multiples and run with it.
  • Do what my husband always stresses to the kids (and me) when faced with something seemingly scary or extra challenging: calm down. We can do almost anything when we face it calmly.
  • Put the blocks you have together in a setting. See what they look like. If they seem pretty awesome to you as a pillow or a baby blanket then so be it.
  • Be inspired by Alyssa Thomas on Periscope. She posts every night with her blocks. And note, they can take her more than one night!

Our goal with The Splendid Sampler is for you to have fun, first and foremost. After that, the designers have included blocks that get them excited. That's why there is such a range of techniques and styles. We designed blocks that make us happy and hopefully shared that fun. So don't stress and try to have fun.

To celebrate this milestone a number of The Splendid Sampler designers are hosting a fun blog hop over the next few days. Make sure to check out the special milestone block and visit the blogs as there are a number of giveaways across the board. Including here.

Cheryl Arkison Patterns

I've got two patterns to share. Both may be techniques that you aren't necessarily familiar with - making slabs and improv piecing - or you are well versed. Either way, they are fun patterns! Enter your name in the comments below with the number of The Splendid Sampler blocks you've made so far. No shame here! The giveaway will be open until August 9th, midnight MST. The giveaway is now closed.