Hollow Cubes - Those Fun Little 3-Dimensional Floating Tumbling Blocks

By: Penny Halgren

  hollow cube quilt blockPeriodically I get questions about how to make a hollow cube. These are fun little 3 dimensional boxes that look like the light is shining through.

They are relatively easy to make. The key is the placement of the color in your patches.

Lately, we have learned a lot about color and value, and how you can create a 3 dimensional illusion just by the way you position the fabric in your quilt:

    • Choose a light source that is away from your quilt
    • Using your light source, create a vanishing point and distort your shapes to create the illusion of following the vanishing point
    • Instead of looking strictly at color, focus on the value of the fabric - light, medium and dark

In the picture above, you can imagine that the light is coming from the top left of the block - the lightest fabrics are on the top of the cube and the inside bottom. The inside bottom can be light since the sides are open, allowing light in.

floating blocks quilt hollow cube boxes
This little wall hanging was made using left over hollow cubes. You can learn how to bind quilts with unusual edges using our new DVD Mentor - Creative Binding Techniques

The darkest sides of the cube are the ones in the most shade.

Because the light source is on the left, the back of the box gets more light than the back left side and outside.

As you look at the little wall hanging on the left, notice how the dark, medium and light fabrics are placed in the same relative place, since the light is also coming from the top left.

Even though there are 3 different designs of boxes in this wall hanging, since the placement of the color value of the fabric is the same, the overall effect of the wall hanging retains the 3 dimensional look.

Keeping this in mind as you make your blocks and place them in your quilt will create the success you want with your 3 D cubes.


quilt using hollow cubes

My Space Quilt using hollow cubes - these cubes were appliquéd onto a piece of black fabric with gold stars.

The pieces on the yellow cubes and blue cubes were sewn together wrong - with the sides switched, it would have looked like the openings were on the same side of the cubes. Oh well - I didn't realize it until the quilt was finished.

Happy Quilting!



Penny Halgren