Castle Walls Block

by Judy Tucker

I was chatting about project ideas with a quilting friend the other day.  She told me that she wants to make a princess quilt but with an interesting twist. It's going to be very cute…but it's her project so I don't want to spill the beans about her idea.

That evening I was looking through the Fat Quarterly book, Shape Workshop for Quilters by Katy Jones, Brioni Greenberg, Tacha Bruecher and John Q. Adams.  With princesses still in my mind, I was very taken by John's block, "Castle Walls."

His block has an open square at the center.   Those open spaces in blocks always call to my imagination.

Now I'm NOT a pink and purple princess person.  In fact, that sort of princess makes me cringe.
I'm more of a 3 siblings (now they don't HAVE to be brothers do they??) set off to find their fortunes type. But I really liked the block.

It was only a short sideways step from Castle to Ivory Tower.  Now that was something I could work with!

The title came first:  "Burning the Midnight Oil in the Ivory Tower."   A scholar, rather than a princess, was going to go in the center of my block…or at least evidence of a scholar!

I started with a bookshelf.
I pulled out a number of strings from my string collection.  They were 3/4 inches to 1.5" wide.
From a 2.5 inch wide piece of Kona cotton "Snow" I cut cream rectangles the width of each of the string strips and sewed them together.

Then I sewed the strips together, staggering the height of the colored portion of the strip to look like books of different heights.

Then I trimmed the "books" to the size needed for the square needed in the center of the quilt block.

I sewed a 1.5 inch brown strip across the bottom of the strip set 3/4 inch from the lower edge of the strips.  Then I flipped the brown fabric down and trimmed it.  That created the book shelf. (See below).

I used 2 different cream colored Kona fabrics for the tower (castle) walls.   The green corners came out of my stash of 2.5 inch squares left over from other projects.  I choose green to make it look like shrubbery around the Ivory Tower!

Then I quilted radiating arcs with yellow thread to indicate the rays from a candle on the scholar's desk which is out of sight below the level of the bookcase.

And I used a boxy quilting pattern to emulate the stone walls of the ivory tower.

Last Sunday at J.P. Knit and Stitch I saw the small Boston Modern Quilt Guild Challenge Quilt wall hanging made by Alice Webb Greer.  She blogs at  She is one of the quilters featured in Rachel May's book, Quilting with a Modern Slant.   Alice sewed folded squares into the upper corners under the binding on the back of her wall hanging. A dowel can be tucked under each of the triangles to hang up the piece.  Very clever.  Lots easier and tidier than using a sleeve.

Here are the corners on my wall hanging:

A fun little project.  The Castle Walls Block and not a Pink Princess in sight!