Hi, I’m Jane from the Beaded Garden and it’s my turn to bring you a blog post as part of the Escape and Create blogger team. My project brings together two things that are very close to my heart: fabulous, colourful, scrappy fabrics…and kitties! Here’s the story of this cheerful little quilt.
Although I only live 3/4 of an hour away in the heart of Suffolk, I’m ashamed to say that I’d never actually visited Escape and Create. I don’t mind buying quilting fabrics online, but there really is no substitute for seeing the scale of the pattern, the real-life colours and how different fabrics play off against each other. I wanted to choose the fabric for a new quilt so this was the perfect excuse for a little road trip.
My curiosity had been sparked by a post on Instagram, featuring the new Cool Cats collection from Makower. With cheerful help and ideas from the lovely Joy, I immediately settled on the panel at the heart of the collection, which is printed with eight designs across the width of the fabric. 60cm gives you four rows of blocks: 32 different images in total.
I added in three ‘scatter’ prints from the same collection and a rummage on the well-stocked shelves of pre-cut fat quarters soon yielded a handful of tone-on-tone blenders from other fabric lines to complement the Makower prints.
The original fabrics have a cute graphic quality, but the colours are a bit muted for my taste, so I wanted to spark things up a bit by adding in some more saturated colours. Yellow, orange and lime green are all ‘magic’ when you add them to quilts in small quantities. Then I picked out a couple of deeper tones: a charcoal and a greeny teal to provide some variation in value.
Finally, the key to the whole scheme was a half metre of the perfect red fabric printed all over with tiny, colourful stars. It’s another one from Makower and it’s actually a Christmas print! I sometimes sneak seasonal designs into my quilts, as long as they’re not too overtly Christmassy. (E&C edit: We love this! See Joy’s cardinal dress!)
Back home, I added in another Makower grey and a couple of low-volume prints from my stash. Overall I was aiming for a gender-neutral palette, avoiding too many ditsy, flowery prints.
The design for this quilt is deliberately quite simple as the main prints are pretty busy. The images on the panel are quite similar in scale, so it was important to introduce some visual ‘breathing space’ with different scale prints.
The solution was to create a series of frames for each image. The first stage was to cut apart the panel. At first glance, the blocks look square. But it turns out they are actually rectangles and there’s a variation in width/height of up to ¼” between the blocks.
Having settled on a consistent measurement, I trimmed them all to exactly the same size. That gave me 32 different blocks 5¼” wide x 5¾” high to play with.
Next I cut into the fat quarters to create 16 more 5¼” x 5¾” blocks, as well as the strips to frame them.
For each frame, I used:
- 2 strips 7½” long x 1½” wide
- 2 strips 6½” long x 1½” wide
Framing each block involved sewing partial seams. Sounds a bit scary? They’re actually quite straightforward once you’ve got your head around them.
1. Start by sewing one of the longer (7½”) strips to the side of the block using a ¼” seam. But only sew half way down this seam. Backstitch to fasten off the line of stitching. Finger press the top of the seam, with the seam allowances towards the strip
2. Sew one of the shorter (6½”) strips to top of the block, continuing across the top of the first strip. Press with the seam allowances towards the strip
3. Continuing around the block, repeat with the second longer strip
4. Add the second shorter strip, pressing as you go along
5. Finally, stitch the second half of the seam on the first side of the block, continuing across the end of the last strip
6. Give the finished block another good press and trim carefully to 7” wide x 7½” high
Why go to all that trouble? Using partial seams gives a neat result, but more importantly it means there are no points where bulky seams meet when you’re joining the framed blocks together!
Then it was just a matter of creating a balanced layout. Using 42 blocks on the front (7 rows of 6 blocks) left six blocks for the back of the quilt. Carrying something over from the front to the back helps to tie everything together and makes quilts more interesting whichever way you look at them.
The backing is a simple yellow print from my stash, with the ‘bonus’ row of blocks pieced into the fabric around a third of the way from the top.
With such a busy quilt top, I wanted to keep the quilting pretty simple. Using my walking foot to create grid accentuating the frames around the blocks. A simple fish shape adds a little bit of virtually hidden interest to the tone-on-tone fabric blocks.
I used my go-to Aurifil 50wt thread top and bottom, in a pale yellow which seems to blend well with light and dark fabrics alike.
I used the Makower red shooting stars fabric to finish the quilt with a double-fold binding, machine stitched to the front and then hand stitched to the back. There are lots of on-line tutorials for binding if you need any help doing this. (E&C edit: See one of our bloggers Stacey's tutorial here)
The quilt finished around 39” wide x 49” high once it was quilted.
If you want to recreate a similar quilt, this is what you will need:
- One panel of Makower Cool Cats fabric
- 10-15 co-ordinating fat quarters or long scraps (including Cool Cats prints if you wish). You will have plenty of scraps left over if you start with fat quarters
- 50cm of red star print for binding (this fabric is also used in the main part of the quilt)
- Wadding of your choice, at least 40” x 53” (choose a good quality low-loft wadding with a high percentage of cotton)
- 1.5m of backing fabric, at least 40” wide