Margaret Blank – Circle(s) – Blue Plate Special

I’m always amazed by how the mind works.  Mine went around in circles as I pondered this latest 15 x 15 theme.  There are so many ways to interpret this topic!

I began by looking for a mathematical definition.  In the one I tracked via “Wikipedia”, I found an intriguing statement: “The eccentricity of a circle is zero”.  In common parlance, “eccentric” is an adjective meaning “quirky” or “peculiar” or “odd”, so I thought it might be fun to reproduce that phrase directly…using text inside circular designs.  I even made some samples in my sketchbook:

Circle sketches 1


Circle sketches 2

But no…that idea didn’t appeal when it came to translating it to fabric.

Shortly thereafter I heard and then read the poem To Be of Use by Marge Piercy which included the lines, “The work of the world is common as mud…But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.”  This thought seemed to dovetail with Carrie Newcomer‘s lyrics from her song Holy as the Day is Spent: “Holy is the dish and drain/The soap and sink, the cup and plate…And frying eggs sound like psalms/With a bit of salt measured in my palm/It’s all a part of sacrament/As holy as the day is spent”.

Cups, saucers, bowls, plates…all are most often circular.  I considered recreating a table setting, as seen from above.  The bare shapes, though, lacked personality:

Layout Option 1

Auditioning circular shapes

Imitating this layout in simple fabrics didn’t improve it.

“…frying eggs”…now…that might have something to it, combined with a cup and a plate…Worked in blue…something reminiscent of the daily special offered in diners and truck stops…often served on plates that were divided up into sections, and coloured blue… Hence the origin of “Blue Plate Special“.


My version doesn’t feature a divided plate, but it’s all done in shades of blue — with a touch of white — and is on the menu every day, often all day, at our local truck stop restaurant, The Whistle Stop (2012 Ltd.). It’s just off Alberta’s Highway 21, driving south from Edmonton…on the edge of Mirror.  If you’re driving by, do stop off for a hearty meal and a great cup of coffee!

BPS - finished

Blue Plate Special (C) 2016


BPS - Applique and quilting detail 1

Applique and quilting detail

BPS - Applique and quilting detail 2

Applique and quilting detail too

Materials: commercial cottons, fusible web, cotton thread.

Techniques: fused applique, free-motion and echo quilting by machine.


  1. What a great design using the “Blue Plate Special” a lovely touch of history. I wondered if you wrote the words on the fabric before cutting out the circle, your alternative design may have worked. great use of blue fabric.

    • Kaylene, the phrase is written across the top left of the piece…quilted to tone in with the background so very subtle. The writing was done after the cup and plate were placed. I was going to go with just the dishes; it was adding the cutlery, napkin and food that made the difference for me — even if the egg is the only part that is circular!

  2. Margaret what an original way of working out his theme. Very creative.


    Dishes, cups and saucers, we use it every day, I didn’t make this connection, but it is so logical…. You combined form and history and made a tasteful quilt of that, nicely done.

  4. Margaret thank you for sharing your thought pattern and design ideas. You have certainly come up with a very original design for the blue plate special. Well done.

  5. Yes we are surrounded by round shapes : I didn’t think about shapes from the kitchen !
    well done Margaret, and the story behind is so nice !

  6. Interesting idea and so wonderful to follow your thought process to the completed piece. Nice use of colour

  7. English quilter

    What a fun interpretation of the theme. Thank you for sharing your sketchbook ideas and how your concept evolved. A very clever interpretation and great use of a monochromatic colour scheme

  8. carolinehiggs

    A very interesting well thought through piece of work, great result!

  9. Margaret, I love it! The colors are wonderful. The evolution of the design is especially captivating.

  10. What a great thought process and certainly a great idea. Often the every day we take for granted

  11. I like the story behind. Nice to read the process an to see this result.
    It is good you kept it tone to tone. Well done.

  12. joanbrailsford

    I was very interested in your thought process and how you arrived at your final design. Living in the Potteries (the English district in which pottery has been produced for many years), I also considered using plates and cups for this challenge. However I couldn’t work out my ideas to a conclusion, and I congratulate you in succeeding admirably where I failed. You have produced a lovley quilt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: