Transparendo book by Karen Ackva

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to winner, Joanne Clark!

Quilt designer, instructor, and long-time EQ user, Karen Ackva, just published her first book! We are so excited for her and YOU because Karen’s giving away a copy to one lucky winner! Read all about the book below and enter for your chance to win!

Tell us about Transparendo – The Transparency Sampler Quilt. Only SIX fabrics are needed to achieve all those looks?!

Karen: Yes, only six fabrics are used in the transparency sampler quilt – five for the blocks and one background fabric. A lot of times we are drawn to fat quarters and fabric series being newly released onto the market. These prints come and go, but solids and tone-on-tones survive over the decades. Just look at Amish quilts. These vibrant quilts made of simple solids from clothing remnants retain their interest and allow the design of the quilt to shine rather than the fabrics. Using the same principle, solids and tone-on-tone fabrics will gracefully allow the transparent quilt blocks to stand center stage. Simply pick your favorite colorway or two colorways such as teal and coral, lavender and meringue, pumpkin and evergreen, red and blue, green and yellow, blue and green, etc. After picking one or two base colors, then pick a range of light, medium and dark within that family. The planning and agonizing over picking the perfect selection of fabrics has been minimized so you can get sewing. That’s why there are so few fabrics needed.

Of course, if you want, you still can use a different color range for each block using fabrics from your stash or a color story, fat quarter pack to make a rainbow-colored, transparency quilt, but that is a lot of organizing and planning. It is so much more fun to jump in without a lot of preparation.

What was your inspiration for this quilt and turning it into a book?

Karen: I would classify myself as modern traditionalist when it comes to patchwork and quilting. I do appreciate the look of traditional quilt blocks. However, I prefer to be original in my designs. Therefore, creating new blocks with a traditional feel is my focus for designing quilts.
Over the years I have tried to broaden my perspective on the Arts especially how colors interact with each other. Then, I came across the book Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers, a German-born artist, sculpture, teacher and theoretician of art who challenged his students to think outside of the box. Combining the look of traditional blocks with the transparent, color theories defined by Josef Albers were the inspiration for this sampler quilt. By taking transparent and opaque, geometric shapes, layering them on top of each other to illustrate quilt blocks, the Transparendo quilt emerged. I designed a few blocks and then decided this had to become a sampler quilt! Not all quilt blocks designed made it into the sampler. There were many more that didn’t support a coherent design when combined.
Now that a quilt design was created, I wanted to share it with the quilting world. New ideas of transparency can inspire the rest of the patchwork community. Traditional quilting is wonderful, but we also need to grow in concepts, construction methods, techniques and overall graphical designs.
And all too often, I find puzzling advice in the internet about sewing, patchwork and quilting. Now, please don’t confuse me with the quilting police. Lecturing is not my intention, but I do want everyone to be able to achieve their blocks easier, faster and without letting those swear words roll off their lips. Patchwork and quilting should not be complicated. It is an outlet for many who prefer to relax when sewing, even for me. Who needs the extra stress of trying to figure out complicated methods on how to sew a simple quilt block together or complex techniques and tools for sewing binding strips together? My book has straight-forward construction methods using all different techniques like stitch-and-flip, flying geese and creating half-square-triangle units. You are bound to learn something new even if you are an experienced quilter.

Transparendo Quilt by Karen Ackva

What role did EQ software play in the creation of the quilt and/or book?

Karen: Actually, it would be pretty hard for me not to consider EQ software for designing a quilt. I have designed thousands of quilts with EQ products. That is not an exaggeration. The EQ8 file for Transparendo contains more than 500 quilts and has over 2000 blocks some with different colorations. The ease of drawing a block, changing the color and placement in a quilt is so much easier with the computer than with pen and paper. With a quick tweak here and there, you can quickly transform an idea instead of redrawing, recoloring and cutting out by hand. You can also create stencils for quilting! How cool is that!

Image exported from EQ8

The program also allows you use solid colors with RGB (red-green-blue) coding that can be used in illustrations and color layouts when pattern writing to maintain consistency. You can capture a color or even add your own colors using the eye-dropper tool. This is a major plus for quilt designers wanting to write their own patterns. For instance, all those illustrations on the cover of the book, they were all drawn in EQ8 and exported into other graphic software programs. By knowing and using the RGB codes, I maintained consistent colors on all graphics throughout the pattern.

The templates were exported directly from the software and are scaled at 100% (actual size, no scaling). Most books will have scaled drawings to accommodate the book page size. I chose to use full-size templates for ease of the readers! The book is printed on DIN A4 paper to accommodate a 6 ½” template. I don’t want to resize templates and don’t believe you want that either.

Image exported from EQ8.

What the program does not do is write a pattern. It will give you the math about patch sizes and quantities per block, but it does not give you step-by-step instructions. As a seasoned quilter, I look for the best method of construction to provide ease for you, whether you are new to sewing or experienced. Simple, easy, practical patchwork is my goal.

I see the book is 78 pages! What do quilters get in this book?

Karen: The book contains 12 modern quilt blocks plus three additional, bonus blocks to create the featured Transparendo Sampler Quilt. Not only do you get several different colorway ideas, fabric requirements, step-by-step cutting and assembly directions for entire quilt and individual blocks, you also get an explanation of how the transparency effect is created which helps with patch placement.
The quilt is easy enough for beginners and challenging enough for experienced quilters. The sampler blocks start out fairly easy and grow with added complexity and skill. Each block is laid out over two pages – the left side with cutting instructions and the right side with assembly instructions. (The simpler blocks have just one page.) There is no flipping pages back and forth to understand.
The quilt is tested by some of the best quilters in Germany with decades of teaching experience who provided valuable feedback. We all learn differently. Some learn best be reading while others understand through illustrations alone and yet others learn from clearly numbered steps. Every type of quilter was thought about when writing the book. I also created a simple quilting stencil for all to use when quilting with a domestic sewing machine scaled to 100%.
Let’s not forget a little bit of eye-candy too. There is beautiful photography of all blocks, quilting and special techniques such as twisting seams throughout the book.
This book is packed full of valuable information, not just to complete the featured quilt but also to create future quilts. Considering the book has 15 different blocks, you can make 15 distinct, one-block quilts, all of which would make wonderful bee quilts as well!


Tell us about your upcoming sew along and how people can join!

Karen: I have had the honor to meet so many talented women and a few men who shared their knowledge with me to make better quilts. I would like to return my appreciation to this great community with retreats, sewalongs, meetings, swaps and patchwork events to keep that love going.
Starting in September, we are running a sewalong using the Transparendo Sampler Quilt as inspiration. There are no registration fees! Just sign up to the newsletter and get a copy of the book to participate. Follow along as you wish. Participate as desired.

You can find all of the details on my website or blog: or

We want the sewalong to be achievable for everyone. We all have busy schedules especially starting in the fall months with back-to-school events and holiday sewing. So, one assignment will be presented each week over a period of 15 weeks finishing at the end of the year to be doable by all. We will give advice and tips each week on our blogs and websites to help you create better blocks.
Who is we? My friend, Verena from einfach bunt Quilts will be translating for our German-speaking participants here in Germany, while I assist our English-speaking participants. If you live in Germany, you can also visit her shop for fabric as well as the book.
We are also offering a sewday in Southern Germany if you are in the area. More information is on the blog and website.
You can participate in giveaways along the way by posting a photo of your progress of the weekly assignment on Instagram or by sending a photo to me for review. Once received, you will be entered into a specified drawing along the way. Additionally, at the end of the 15 weeks, enter your finished quilt top for a chance to win a copy of the full-version of EQ8 from the Electric Quilt Company. One participant will be chosen randomly. Participation is open internationally. We look forward to meeting many new international quilters!


Where can people buy the Transparendo book?

Karen: The book can be bought at any book or quilt store that carries books. You can also order directly from the easypatchworkshop on/at Etsy. (If you would like to carry the book in your patchwork store, please contact me for wholesale orders.) Don’t worry if you don’t have the book at the start of the sewalong. There will be plenty of time to catch up. The beginning assignments are fairly easy and can be sewn in about one hour.


Karen will give away one copy of her book to a random winner. The giveaway is open to all participants and closes Wednesday, September 20 at 11:59pm ET. Winner will be announced in this post by Friday, September 22.

To enter, answer one of these questions (or both!):

Question 1: What color scheme would you use to make your Transparendo quilt?

Question 2: What artist/person has inspired you the most in your quilts?