Quilts from the Scrap Squad continue today with another scrappy rendition of a design in Quiltmaker’s May/June issue, on newsstands now. Grab it while it’s hot.
The Quiltmaker Scrap Squad is a select group of six QM readers who take one pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions of it to inspire others. You can see slideshows of past Scrap Squad projects.
Mountain Morning will be the featured quilt from this issue. It was designed by Jocelyn Ueng who is with It’s Sew Emma, and made in Bali Batiks from preferred partners Hoffman California Fabrics.
Today’s featured quilt is by Louisa Robertson from Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. You’ll want to check out her blog, Louisa Quilts.
Hear Louisa’s story in her own words below.
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You had me at “Mountain”! My family name is MOUNTAIN (descended from farming families in Lincolnshire, England). I always take a second look at any pattern with my family name in it. While I am proud of the name I admit to being a bit sensitive about it—by the time I was a tall teenager I was routinely directed to the back row of group pictures, and I blushed when my choir sang “When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur.”
Modifying the layout using Electric Quilt 7 software
The original Mountain Morning is calming with its gentle horizontal rows and quiet colours. I wanted to keep the mood of the quilt but also make it brighter.
I played with the layout in Electric Quilt. I inserted 1″ strips between the horizontal bands so that the triangles would not touch the horizontal bars, and I modified the bands that contained the bars to make them symmetrical.
I changed the position of lights and darks in half the triangles in the chevrons, and experimented with different background fabrics.
Then began the search for actual fabrics. I started with a focus fabric and pulled colours from that, starting with purple and blue.
While I had many fabrics, I did not have enough variety within a given colour family for the large pieces. Five-inch triangles!—that’s practically yardage! I tried expanding the range by pushing the purples into red-purples and the blues into teals. Heaps of fabrics took over the floor of the sewing room.
And what about backgrounds? I really wanted to work from stash—in my mind “scrap quilt” and “use what you have” go together. I realized that contrast would be challenging if I tried to make the background as scrappy as the triangles, but I did not have enough of any one background fabric for the whole quilt.
Fabrics being auditioned
By this time at least half of my stash was spread out on the floor, yet I couldn’t resolve what to do with those big triangles.
I dumped out the contents of the drawer of narrow strips and strings. Sorting these resulted in a good selection in my range. I would start with these strips and add to them from the bigger pieces of fabric already collected. I could solve the problem of the large triangles by constructing them out of many smaller pieces.
- Plenty of possibilities here — pulled out of the collection of strips and strings
The cutting step took a LONG time but by now I knew where I was headed. After selecting the fabrics I still had to handle each one, pressing it and cutting strips for the large triangles and one or two small triangles. Part of the process was deciding exactly which colour any given fabric represented—light/dark, grey/clear aspects all confuse my eye. I relied on my 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfrom to help me with the sorting.
Is this fabric purple?
I see more red — magenta is a better match.
Colours in quilting fabrics come and go, but my “well-developed” (as in old) stash had pieces from every era including hues that I probably would not find in the quilt shop right now. A down-side of using mostly “well-aged” fabric is that much of it is definitely grey in tone, not the clear colours that are so popular right now.
In hopes of counteracting the grey cast of some of the fabrics and to solve the problem of background fabrics I indulged in some shopping and found clearer colours for the backgrounds—stark white, yellow, pale green. The yellow and green are opposite my other colours on the colour wheel, so they are complements to the fabrics in the triangles.
Once I had cut all my pieces it took some time to re-sort my fabrics, refold them, and refile them in the cupboard! I love working with multiple fabrics but I have no illusions about it being an efficient way to make a quilt!
Things moved quickly after this. I arranged all my strips in a colour run and assembled them into strip sets about 6″ by 7″.
Small triangles and strip sets for larger triangles
I proceeded to cut two triangles from each set of strips. Since many of the strips were quite narrow, tips of some triangles inevitably hit seams. Usually it was a simple matter to undo a few stitches and perhaps flip a seam allowance to eliminate the bulk of extra layers at the tip.
Removing bulk from tip of triangle.
As I cut the triangles I paid careful attention to the direction of the cut to make sure there were both left-slanting and right-slanting triangles of each hue in the correct spots in the layout. The design wall helped.
Once the triangles were cut out and arranged, the rest was simple. I cut the background triangles. How easy this seemed! I could cut a strip and turn it into the triangles in a matter of seconds!
Chain-piecing and my design wall kept everything in order as I sewed background triangles to coloured ones.
Pressing chain-pieced triangles before separating them keeps them in order.
As I assembled triangle-squares into blocks I happily “spun” the centres of the resulting four-patches and it gave me a ridiculous amount of pleasure to further “spin” the seams when I joined these blocks into rows.
Block intersections “spin” to distribute bulk
Using the selvedge
Compared to the strip-pieced triangles, the bars were a breeze! But there were still some problems to solve. For one thing, the gold fabric was barely wide enough – I managed to get the required pieces for the white and gold strip sets by using a bit of the selvedge – it would be buried in the seam allowance, so I could get away with it.
The rectangles fit when they are cut the other direction.
Then I realized that I didn’t have enough yardage to cut the strips for the other bars! There was fabric remaining, but it wasn’t wide enough. A few sketches and calculations and I realized that if I cut the bars parallel to the selvedges I could make use of that extra fabric. There was even a small bit left to go into the scrap bin!
Close-up of strip-pieced triangles
The completed rows went together quickly, and my top was done!
I quilted with an overall design of leaves using a variegated thread. Leaves continue the “Mountain family” theme as my father was a tree grower.
Mountain Summer by Louisa Robertson
Binding is the original fabric from which the colour scheme started. Mountain Summer is 60″ by 77″.