Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of eight QM readers. They take one pattern from each regular issue and make scrappy versions to inspire you.
The featured Scrap Squad quilt in Quiltmaker’s May/June issue is Mandarin Express, below.
It was designed by Robin Waggoner from Spokane Valley, Washington. Robin and Sandy Odeen pieced it, and Robin quilted it. The batiks are from Hoffman California Fabrics.
Today’s featured Scrap Squad quilt is by Becky Ball from Blue Springs, Missouri. She blogs at Becky’s Quilt Obsession. You’ll hear from Becky in her own words below.
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I love this design—Mandarin Express has a four-pointed star that uses the triangle-in-a-square block differently from what I’ve done before.
I fell in love with a group of fabrics that was available for a very short time. I was able to buy just two bundles. I have no business buying more reds, but I did. These were mostly fat quarters. I couldn’t use just the bundled fabrics, so I added leftovers from other red and black quilts I’ve made (see them here).
I love including even little bits of fabric from other quilts. I pulled 39 fabrics to begin the quilt, added more as I went along. This was a more controlled scrappy than I usually make.
These reds were in the bundles I purchased.
Added these reds for texture.
Blacks…they were actually darker than they look here.
- Reds on white – love the ants!
Mediums and textures…
Reds on black…
All 39 fabrics—there were several changes by the time I was finished.
I drafted the quilt in EQ7 to play with fabric placement and borders.
1st plan EQ7 - some fabrics turned wrong
My final plan (tweaked many times during the process), looked really close to the final product.
Nearly final EQ7 plan
This pattern lends itself to making a lot of block components before ever starting the blocks. I began with star points. The first time I looked at the design wall I laughed at myself because I was putting them up the wrong way.
What kind of stars?
I fussed with the center for the stars. The pattern uses the stitch-and-flip method.
I used templates and fussy cut the hearts out of one fat quarter I had. Then I decided to frame them with stripes. I tried the stripes I had chosen, then tried some red stripes I had, and finally headed for the fabric store.
I found this red and white stripe with tiny black stripes in the Bullwinkle collection. I starched it heavily and then cut it so the stripes angled out from the center block—leaving bias on the outside—so I handled the patches very carefully.
Red stripe center squares
Alternate centers - they died
I made some other centers using the same fabric as the star points on the center unit’s corners. Some of the other Scrap Squad members were doing this and I liked how theirs looked. I tried it on my design wall, and the block died. I did find another use for them later.
After making a gazillion Four Patches (I kept having to find and cut more black fabric) I was ready to make star blocks. I did develop a pressing plan since the centers made these blocks directional.
On to the setting squares, simple Shoo Fly blocks. I loved how the blocks in the original quilt “glowed” because of the yellow in the centers and around the stars. With my color palette, the best I could do was add some white. I tried several ways, and finally ended up doing two setting blocks—one for the outside rows and one for the inside of the top. I used stitch-and-flip on two corners of the side center pieces of the Shoo Fly and turned them into floating Sawtooth Stars, and used the rejected centers I’d made earlier.
Floating Sawtooth star for edges of top
Center Shoo Fly block with reject square in a square
As I looked at my setting, I saw circles surrounding the side stars.
blocks on wall - no borders
I wanted to finish those circles, so I added a pieced border made of one-third of what would have been the next block. I added these pieces as I assembled the top.
Yes, I see the mistake.
I was glad I took time for a pressing plan, because the top went together easily after all the components were finished.
The final borders were easy. I had a long piece left over from cutting borders for another quilt, but it was only 8″ wide. I carefully cut it into 2″ strips and had enough for the black border—but not enough to miter corners.
The red border is a chuckle. I originally planned to use the red with black circles that inspired this quilt, but I hadn’t used any in the body of the quilt (just couldn’t cut it). I decided to continue with the batik I used in the setting blocks, a good choice.
I thought about how to quilt this a lot. I used spirals on the last quilt, but I just thought they would be great on this quilt, too, so that’s what I used. If I could quilt more things, feathers would have looked great, too. I had a red and black variegated Highlights thread for the top, with Glide red pre-wound in the bobbin.
I dreaded the binding longer than it actually took to do it. Another Scrap Squad member has a tutorial on “unstuffed piped binding” and I decided I was going to try it. I’ve had some pages of directions torn out of a magazine up on the wall for a long time, and kept avoiding it. Why?
I returned to the quilt store and bought more of that great stripe, and used it for the piping. I held my breath as I topstitched in the ditch with invisible thread and the same bobbin thread I used on the quilting. It turned out great on both sides.
It’s finished, I love it! Now if I can just keep my daughter from stealing it!
Black and white and red all over - a cliché