I love all of the #APQquiltalong projects, so it was difficult to choose just one to make. (Confession, I didn’t choose just one—I’ll be blogging again soon about my other choice.)
While I wondered what the Quilts and More Easy Addition quilt would look like if I used just three colors, I ran across the perfect fabrics! I chose Peppered Cottons by Pepper Cory for Studio e Fabrics in Pepper (31) for the background, Morning Glory (28) for the corners, and Midnight (82) for the plus sign. If you’re not familiar with Peppered Cottons, they’re considered a shot cotton. Shot cottons typically have one color of warp threads (lengthwise threads) and a different color of weft threads (crosswise threads). So the thread ends you see on the selvedges will be a different color than the threads ends you see along the cut edges. In the fabric drying photo below, you can see the threads along the selvedges and how different they are in color from the finished fabric. From bottom to top: Pepper has the tan weft threads and black warp threads, Morning Glory has aqua weft threads and magenta warp threads, and Midnight has black weft threads and blue warp threads.
Following the tips on the information sheet about Peppered Cotton, I prewashed my fabric (with my beloved Shout Color Catchers), dried it partly, and let it airdry the rest of the way. I’m not typically a prewasher, but felt it was wise to follow the tips from Pepper Cory and Studio e Fabrics on this one. Also, following the information sheet’s suggestions, I starched. I do feel that prewashing and starching helped to make the fabric easier to work with and less wiggly through the process and gave it a little more body.
Then it was on to cutting and arranging the sample block and the math. Why math? First, because I wanted to make the quilt wider by two rows of blocks (so basically, square). Second, I thought since I was using only three fabrics, I might be able to do some strip piecing to make the construction go faster. Third, I’ve worked with cross-woven taffeta before (woven like these cottons are) and I remembered that sometimes the fabric looks different depending on the directions of the warp and weft threads. That caution was also mentioned in the information sheet. So I had to rethink the cutting so that I was treating each piece as if it were a stripe and that I wanted the stripes to all be running in the same direction. In the end, I’m not sure this step was necessary, but that’s just the way I work.
Then it was on to the sewing! I did end up making strip sets for the centers and side pieces for the corners, as you can see.
With all the sections put together, I was ready to make the blocks.
And here’s one finished!
I’m still not sure if I’ll bind it in the Midnight color or the Pepper, but I can’t wait to have it all together and on the longarm! Now to dream about how to quilt it…
How’s your APQquiltalong project coming?
–Linda Augsburg, editorial content chief
I’m so excited to participate in this year’s APQ Quiltalong! This is my third year doing the quiltalong and every year I’m overwhelmed by my choices! This year has 4 (seriously!!!) amazing projects to choose from. I made the pillow project to start (you can get instructions here), then decided to tackle one of the quilts (get more quiltalong info + see the featured projects here.)
I pulled inspiration from Grand Total, the stunning Pat Bravo quilt on page 46 of the American Patchwork & Quilting April 2016 issue (shown above). Pat used a slash-and-sew technique to add strips to squares, then joined all the squares to create one mega plus sign! I fell in love with this quilt the first time I saw it, but knew I wanted it smaller than the original. The original quilt uses 729 squares total. My smaller version uses only 144.
This quilt gave me an excuse to play with my mini charm squares. The original quilt used 3″ squares, but I chose from my 2-1/2″ squares for a no-cutting quilt design! I separated my charms by color and decided on this rainbow palette. Then I narrowed down my selection to my favorite prints (trust me, it was hard to choose!). I decided to arrange the colors so they made a gradient across my quilt in a counterclockwise direction. It look my hours to find the right arrangement. I took a lot of photos with my phone, and used the photo to see which prints stood out too much and which ones didn’t look right in their placement.
After arranging the plus sign colors, I choose scrappy neutrals for my background. I pulled mostly from one white-and-gray polka dot print, but added a few tan squares and a few gray squares to add interest. I added a few pieced background squares in each background corner for a fun burst of color.
The squares were just begging for straight-line quilting, so I did a cross-hatch design in the white corners and a chevron design in the plus block. I finished the quilt off with black-and-white binding! The fabric is the fun Sketch Basic Whiteblack from Timeless Treasures. I think the binding really helps the colors pop for a standout look I love!
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 Mayland, multimedia editor
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