Eleanor Dugan Quilts

Currently featuring the Polka Dot Series
and the 4-Arrows Quilt Instructions


Hot Spots: 33 Polka Dot Art Quilts is a meander through the dazzing world of polka dots with tips about construction, embellishment, and creating your own fabrics. Rated 4.5 stars on Amazon.com.
Click the thumbnails at right to see more pages.

Polka Dot Series

The first quilt in what would become my thirteen-year odyssey exploring polka dots was inspired by Mary Mashuta’s 2001 “Lotsa Dots” workshop. I redrafted her "Borrow from Peter to Pay Paul" pattern to allow the arcs to connect and thus form continuous, sinuous patterns. Quilt artist Nancy Crow advocates always working in a series to see how far you can go. Little did I realize that my playing with ombréd dots would take me so far—ultimately a series of 33 all-dot quilts.
The fabrics include commercial prints, plus fabrics that have been silk-screened, over-dyed, fused, embroidered, and/or embellished with buttons or fabric markers—anything to get the color combinations and dot sizes I need. Fortunately, friends and interested strangers brought me anything vaguely textile-y with dots from their stashes or run across in trash cans.

Special Exhibit, San Francisco Quilters Guild Biennial Show, March 9–10, 2013

Click the thumbnails below right to see more quilt slides.

All Plaid

But now, after thirteen years, I have abandoned dots and variations of the "Borrow from Peter" block entirely and set myself a new challenge. Perhaps for the rest of the decade, I'll see if I can create dynamic coherent designs, using plaid fabrics only, no solids or stripes to give the eye the usual place to rest. The initial block I am experimenting with is "Bolt of Lightning" variations.
Plaid One

Plaid One, 2014 - 46" x 59"
Partly constructed and entirely quilted by Dani Lawler

Plaid Two

Plaid Two, 2014

Early Work

Fracture Series

Red UpRed DownRed This WayRed That Way
I was always the bane of teachers because I took classes and then did something totally unrelated to the technique being taught. The four Fracture pieces started in a 1999 workshop by Susan Lea Hackett about how to piece floral and nature shapes. I used the opportunity to develop a technique for piecing, slashing, and repiecing over and over to produce complex mosaics of color. Susan had instructed us to bring 10 shades, light to dark, of two different color families. Because I had rarely used red in my work, I decided to explore what the color could do.

The Quilted Coat

Once I took a vest workshop with Bird Ross of Madison, WI. Now, a vest on me would look like a lampshade, so I used her class and liberating method to make a coat. Bird favors raw-edged piecing. I did one sleeve this way and discovered that I am just too o/c, finished the coat with finished seams. Within a year of wearing it on the streets of San Francisco, three different people stopped me, asking where I had bought it, and, when learning I had made it, asking if I would make them one. Two of the three were men.

Autumn Pond

A simple black and white maple leaf quilt by Pauline Burbidge suddenly began pulsating before my eyes. I thought I could see frogs interlocking with the leaves in Escher fashion. I worked out a more detailed block and experimented with color.

Exhibits & Articles

New York Exhibit


Special Exhibit, San Francisco Quilters Guild Biennial Show
March 9 & 10, 2013
See the SF Exhibit Video (above)
"Curves and Lines" — Nov. 16, 2012 to Jan. 7, 2013. With Cele Stauduhar. Conde Nast Bldg., 4 Times Square, NYC. The Durst Organization.
Click thumbnails to see more slides.
Rachel Kay Shuttleworth

Conference Paper

During her lifetime (1886–1967), Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth single-handedly amassed one of the largest and most extensive private collections of quilts and other textiles in Britain and possibly the world. Her family humorously dismissed her obsession as "Rachel's tat" (worthless rags), yet her legacy is now valued at $10 million and housed in an archive for researchers and scholars.
I presented "Rachel's Tat: The Extraordinary Teaching Collection of Rachel Kay Shuttleworth whose 18th Century Quilts Are Labeled 'Please Touch'" to the American Quilt Study Group, Lowell, MA, in 2007. The paper was subsequently published in Uncoverings 2007.
Eleanor Dugan, 1974

Quilt Articles

My Life in Rags:
From Costumes to Quilts
by Eleanor Knowles Dugan originally published in SF Art Forum, June 1986
Lots of people laugh. "Why," they ask, "do you take a big piece of cloth, cut it up into little pieces, and then sew them back into big pieces again?"
It's a reasonable question. The art and craft of quilting has progressed from a survival skill of the struggling to a pastime for the leisured and even, occasionally, an art form. Why do we still resort to the meticulous piecework developed by our forbearers back when a yard of machine-woven cloth cost a week's wages, and every scrap must be used?
Read More of My Life in Rags

4-Arrows Quilt Instructions

Featured in Quilters Newsletter, 2015

4-Arrows Line Drawing
This striking geometric block can be used in numerous sets and color combinations. Once the unique, template-free construction method is understood, each block takes fewer than three minutes to construct!
The inspiration for "4-Arrows" comes from a motif scratched on a 3,500-year-old Greek pottery shard. The design swirled in my brain until I perceived a quick-and-easy way to piece it as a quilt block, constructed from strip sets and half-square triangles. No templates. (I hate templates!) The secret is that part of each halved half-square triangle extends beyond the edge of the finished block and gets lopped off when you square it up.
Probably unable to spare page space to show my (ingenious) process adequately, Quilters Newsletter eliminated the strip sets and added templates. So I am presenting my original concept here.
Quilters Newsletter Article Page One

Quilt size: 73" x 84"
Block size: 8" (8-1/2" before assembly)

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Eleanor Knowles Dugan
San Francisco
(415) 433-7244
Point of Interest Icon
Learn about a new collection of geometric fabrics designed by Eleanor Dugan.
and discover an exciting new tool for novice and experienced quilters.
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Thanks to the creators of the Noun Project icons used on this website:
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