It was love at first sight when I had my first peek at Lissa Alexander’s Rainbow Rows. Four-Patch blocks? Yes! Sign me up. The first step was narrowing down the color palette. I pulled out my huge stash of polka dot 2-1/2″-wide strips. The brights spoke to me…especially the red, orange, pink, and occasional purple dotted fabrics. I’ll combine these cheerful dots of all sizes with white-on-whites.
I like to sew together oversized pieces and trim them down to make uniform units. That’s the beauty of using the (already cut) 2-1/2″ strips. I sewed each dot strip together with a white-on-white strip, and cut the resulting strips into segments. I joined segments in a very random fashion to make oversized Four-Patch units. Yes, this method means a lot of trimming to size. But, the big payoff is that any irregularities in seams won’t show. Every single Four-Patch unit will be exactly the right size.
There’s another bonus of using 2-1/2″-wide strips. When I crosscut the strips, they are perfect 2-1/2″ squares, just the size needed for the alternating squares in each block.
On the design wall you get an idea of how the blocks will look. Next step, I’ll start sewing the blocks. Any guesses on the finished size of this project?
Something else I love about this project is that the units are simple enough that I can sew a few strips together in between other tasks. Sewing strips together is a great way to make use of “leader strips.” If the machine balks when I’m sewing the strips, I can just trim that part off, using the remainder to make segments for Four-Patch units.
–Jill Abeloe Mead, editor American Patchwork & Quilting
The APQ Quiltalong can be stressful… not exactly the quiltalong itself, but choosing which quilt!! First, how do you choose with three fabulous options?! But for the sake of my sanity, I decided to pick one (and not all three) and make some progress on that one in the two months of the official Quiltalong blog hop (though you can join the #APQQuiltalong anytime). I chose April Rosenthal’s Buried Treasure quilt, which I love for its colorful and high-contrast design.
One gray and bone-chilling day, my cousin Kathy and I stopped by a local quilt shop and I found this taupe-color print (official name Nickel Straw Flower from One for You, One for Me by Pat Sloan for Moda Fabrics). I loved the taupe dotted background and the graceful petals of the flowers, but I was entranced by the shades of red, orange, and yellow in the centers! They instantly made me think of summer, sunshine, and the warmer days ahead (WAY ahead)! Within the span of 15 minutes, I’d gathered 16 yellow, orange, and red fat quarters—batiks and prints—and was ready to get started. Even as I picked the colors and fabrics out, I was thinking, “This quilt is going to match nothing in my house, but I. Just. Don’t. Care!”
When it was time to start cutting and piecing, I read over the instructions (which I’d edited once before) and, me being me, I decided I would put it together a little differently. I prefer working with strip sets whenever possible, so I cut 2-1/2″ strips across the fat quarters, cut the strips in half so they were 10-1/2″ long, tossed them in a container, and sewed the strips together in pairs randomly. My only rule was that the strips couldn’t be the same, otherwise, I used what I grabbed.
I cut each strip set into pairs, then again, tossed the pairs in a container, and sewed together the pairs mostly randomly but making sure all four fabrics were different. You can see all of my little pairs pinned together, ready to sew! (Doesn’t that look organized? Don’t be deceived by those little piles; I’m more type B than A!) Once all the sets were sewn, I had one long string of pieced units—like a big pile of fabric spaghetti!
I did cut individual squares for the Floating Star unit and here you can see them stacked by color, marked and ready to sew! (OK, maybe a little type A.) I was less random in my selection of these squares, as I didn’t have a lot of extra squares cut, so I didn’t want to get to the point of being down to the last block and having two squares left of the same color! And I didn’t, but for those last few squares, I had to do a little shuffling.
I was so excited when I finished the two stacks of units—they looked so cheery in their container that I had to snap a pic! I spent part of a weekend on this quilt and got all of the block units together, as it goes together quickly (and would be equally quick if you were working with squares instead of strips).
Now I’m playing with the arrangement. You can see I arranged one quarter of the quilt on the design wall. I love April’s original arrangement for Buried Treasure, but I want to play a little more with the blocks before I sew them together.
So I want to say a big THANK YOU to April Rosenthal of Prairie Grass Patterns for designing such a great quilt (and for loving the color orange—talk about serendipity!). Lest you think I’m not equally enamored with the other two Go Four It! quilts, Lissa Alexander’s Rainbow Rows quilt is on my list as a future project (maybe in the fall and winter when I need something to combat the winter grays). I’m a little intimidated by Edyta Sitar’s super-small, super scrappy Scraptacular quilt, but maybe that can be a 2016 challenge project for me! Meanwhile, I love seeing everyone’s versions and adaptations of all three quilts in the #APQQuiltalong. And it’s not to late to join the fun! Pick your favorite and start cutting!
I’ve completely embraced the Four-Patch! After working on the Quiltalong quilt Buried Treasure (see my blog post about that here) and seeing so many amazing photos on Instagram with the hashtag #apqquiltalong, I decided to make another of the Quiltalong quilts. I decided to experiment with Edyta Sitar’s super scrappy Scraptacular quilt. In this quiltalong, we’re really encouraging all our readers to make the Four-Patch work for them. So instead of making Scraptacular full-size, I just used the blocks to make a cute coaster and trivet set!
I pulled inspiration from Scraptacular, the absolutely breathtaking and scrappy Edyta Sitar quilt in the April issue (shown above). She sets Four-Patch blocks on-point for a striking design. After making a few of the blocks, I noticed they were the perfect size for coasters, so the project that I had no size planned for turned out much smaller than expected (but still so fun to make!).
I’d been hoarded mini charm packs of the Doe collection by Carolyn Friendlander for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, so I decided to use two of them in this project. They have a very modern feel and include both bright and tone-on-tone prints, which was perfect for the effect I wanted. I wanted my quilt to have a scrappy feel like the original, so I chose two bright prints and two light prints for each Four-patch, but stuck with matching corners on the blocks. I loved playing with this fabric line and choosing colors and prints. From the two mini charm packs, I made four coasters and two trivets.
These look so fun stacked on top of each other. I’m definitely using this pattern to make more of these coaster/trivet sets as presents for the holidays! It would look so cute tied up with a bow! Plus, I made this whole set in a few nights, so it wasn’t a big time commitment.
Are you joining in our our Quilt Along? Not only can you choose from three beautiful quilt patterns in our April issue, but we also have free patterns for three smaller options online! (Get the patterns here.) Plus, we were encouraged to explore the Four-Patch and really make these quilts our own. Share pictures of your progress with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #apqquiltalong!
Lindsay, web editor
I’m so excited to participate in this year’s APQ Quiltalong! Last year’s quiltalong was so fun. After seeing so many inspiring pictures on Instagram of what people were making, I started the Tone It Down quilt. I dragged my feet picking out fabrics and had so many other projects started, that it got pushed aside. Hey, it’s a big quilt (and I promise I’m getting close to being finished!). So when this Quiltalong came, I knew I wanted to choose a smaller project so I could finish it faster! Luckily, with this Quiltalong, there’s so much freedom! Not only can you choose from three beautiful quilt patterns in our April issue, but we also have free patterns for three smaller options online! (Get the patterns here.) Plus, we were encouraged to explore the Four-Patch and really make these quilts our own.
I pulled inspiration from Buried Treasure, the happy April Rosenthal quilt on page 44 of the April issue (shown above). She combines Four-Patch blocks with Floating Star units for a simple, but lovely design. But instead of the X pattern she gets with her block placement, I choose to just do 1/4 of the quilt, so my blocks were all facing the same direction. I ended up with a table topper that was 20-1/2×28-1/2″, which was perfect to display on my dresser.
I wanted a planned scrappy project, so I pulled from my stash. My bedroom has a beachy feel, so I wanted to pull sandy creams and water blues from my stash. The creams are from the Linen Closet collection by Renee Nanneman for Andover Fabrics. It’s an older collection that I’ve been hoarding, and I love the little flower and bee details. The blues were a mix of fabrics from Moda and Connecting Threads. I started by cutting my squares. I organized my squares by light and medium prints (the medium prints were the three in the bottom left corner). I randomly chose the squares for the Four-Patches, but made sure to include at least one of the medium prints in each block for some variation in my blocks and to give little pops of contrast across the quilt.
I finished the quilt off with coral binding from the Hearty Good Wishes collection by Janet Clare for Moda (a personal favorite fabric collection). I had leftover binding from a previous quilt I did with her collection–it fit so perfectly with this quilt, that I used up the binding on this table topper. I love the finished look!
Are you joining in our our Quilt Along? Share pictures of your progress with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #apqquiltalong!
Lindsay, web editor
I’m blaming it on too many Christmas cookies, or maybe it was the egg nog, or the chocolate rum cake. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t my fault! I lost my way. That said, it took me two blocks to remember what it was I was supposed to be doing here. It was a low-contrast exercise, right? I get that it’s self-imposed, but I think I have a problem…a contrast problem. I’m addicted to contrast! Unbeknownst to me (until now), it’s a hard habit to break.
Left to my own devices and with little memory, apparently, I dove into my project and made these two beautiful blocks.
I was on a roll and feeling good about my progress, until I pinned them up on the wall next to my other blocks.
Yikes! What is that I see? Contrast!!! It’s oozing out all over the place. What was I thinking? The first four blocks I made are starkly different from the last three…what should I do? Well, here’s what I did.
- Had a good laugh. Seriously, I learned something about myself as a quilter. Old habits are hard to break. After years of looking for contrast in quilts, both personally (I like it) and professionally (because it is easier to see in photographs)—when relaxed and quilting, contrast is my natural go-to. To make myself get outside the contrast box, so to speak, I need to buckle down and really pay attention and remember what I’m trying to do.
- Thought about how to get back to form—or whether I should. You’ll have to wait until the next post to see what comes next.
Moving on, I do want to share one tip I have for working with more loosely woven fabrics like the ones I’ve chosen. It’s a tip that Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings shared with me a few years ago. Here’s the secret weapon:
Magic Sizing—I generously spray it on the fabrics when I press them before cutting, and use it again when I press the finished block. It really gives some stability to fabrics that might otherwise tend to ravel or curl. I’m a steam junkie, too, when it comes to pressing. So the combination of steam and sizing leaves me happy with the shape both give to my blocks.
Until next week,
P. S. I hope you’re having fun quilting along too. Please share your successes (and foibles) with the group by using the hashtag #APQquiltalong on any uploaded photos to your social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:
- Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
- Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
- Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
- Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
- Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
- Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
- Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
- Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
- Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!