Wild West Quilts

Tanka is a bison skull quilt made with a rugged flare.

This bison skull quilt was inspired by a visit to South Dakota.

First, as a mid-westerner, the beauty of this state is like nothing I’d ever seen. Particularly in the Black Hills, there’s wildlife everywhere, incredible terrain, and bison strolling along the roadside. It’s not surprising that animal skulls are a popular item. When I found this fabulous feather fabric with white background, I knew a bison skull quilt would soon be born!

Finding the focus fabric is the first step.

First, the fabric I chose, from The Quilt Shop in Chamberlain, SD, was a feather toss on a white background. Since the feathers are made using a fusible broderie perse technique, I knew the background around the feathers would be cut away, leaving only the colored feathers.

Turn the fabric over.

Second, choosing a great focus fabric means auditioning both sides! Turning this fabric, I saw that the feather motif showed just enough to give the skull interest. It didn’t overpower the feathers from the RIGHT side.

The skull is made from the REVERSE side of the focus fabric while the hanging feather decoration is cut from the RIGHT.

Mix it up with background fabrics.

The background fabrics for this quilt were really fun to play with! Don’t you just love that black and white fence row fabric at the bottom?

One of the fun parts of making these quilts is mixing up the background fabrics. This one has batik, southwest, gold circles on gray (but reversed), grunge and a fur look to really give interest to the quilt. It’s all about VALUE.

Tanka, in Lakota, means “big, great”.

Image of Bison Quilt Closeup

Read about our trip to the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park, statues, monuments and, of course, quilt shops in “South Dakota Quilts & More” (click here) !

It’s so much fun to #usebothsides of fabrics.

In conclusion, using both sides of fabric is a great way to learn about the nuances of value. You won’t look at fabric the same way again!

Shop HERE more than 50 patterns that use BOTH beautiful sides!


  1. Donna

    Love your fabric choices and the design, Karla!! And there is something quite hypnotic about this quilt!! ❤️

  2. Barb Egbert

    Wow! I love the color combinations and the quilting! I happen to be vacationing in Jackson, Wy. You really have captured the essence of the West! Love it!

  3. The Bee

    Thanks, Barb! I never realized how gorgeous it is out west!

  4. The Bee

    Thanks, Donna!