QM Scrap Squad: Bonnie’s Chain Reaction

The QM Scrap Squad is a select group of seven QM readers. They take one pattern from each regular issue of Quiltmaker and make their own scrappy versions to inspire you.

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain ReactionThe featured quilt from the March/April issue is Chain Reaction, a design by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced. Here’s the original quilt made in Pear Tree fabrics by Thomas Knauer for Andover.

downsizedchain QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction designed by Lee Heinrich. Fabric: Pear Tree by Thomas Knauer for Andover Fabrics. Appears in Quiltmaker March/April '12, No. 144.

Today’s featured Scrap Squad member is Bonnie Stapleton from Powhatan, Virginia. She blogs at institcheswithbonnie. You’ll hear from Bonnie in her own words below.


BonnieStapleton1 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction
Bonnie Stapleton from Powhatan, Virginia

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I saw this plate at the Louvre on vacation one year. It was so old, but the colors were still so vivid.

bonnie11 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

I had been planning to use these colors for a quilt. When I saw Chain Reaction I knew this was the time. It helped that I’ve been gathering fabrics in these colors for a while.

bonnie22 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

I pulled a pile of teal/turquoise fabrics and pumpkins, rusts and oranges with a neutral background. After making a practice block, I decided I didn’t like the light background and instead went with teals for the background and pumpkins as the X’s.

I figured out several things from making these blocks. First, it’s so much easier to see the 30º line if it doesn’t have yellow over the line as most of my rulers do. (Of course I was working on the last three blocks when I realized I had another ruler that didn’t have that yellow overlay!)

bonnie33 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

Second, I did make a little guide to help make sure I placed the strips far enough down. Once I figured this out I didn’t have to rip. I squared up my blocks as I went along—I hate squaring up at the end.

When I ran out of the two teal fabrics I bought another piece. Note to self: Buy more than half yard pieces—no wonder I am always making scrap quilts!

bonnie44 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

What to do with the excess slices?  I decided to sew them together and add them to the backing as “art.”

bonnie55 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

Some of the blocks went horizontally, some vertically.  I used a variety of leftovers.

bonnierecolor2 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

I loaded this quilt on to Ruthie, my longarm machine, and tried some freehand feathers. The only fabric I had enough of became the binding. Sometimes decisions are based on what is available.

bonnie77 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Chain Reaction

Bonnie's finished Chain Reaction bathes in the sunlight for photography.


Here’s my finished quilt out in the sun.

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What a beautiful piece, and what a departure from the other versions we’ve seen! There are at least two great lessons to take from Bonnie’s experience.

Make a test block! This is so important.
• Sometimes a light background washes out a beautiful color scheme. Bonnie wisely eliminated the problem and used just her two main colors for background and X’s.

Another job well done by the talented 2012 Scrap Squad! Just one more Chain Reaction and then we’ll be on to the next project.

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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13 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Bonnie’s Chain Reaction

  1. Audrey Lemons says:

    I downloaded the photo of this quilt a couple years ago. Love it but haven’t yet learned how to actually make it. It’s one of my favorites. I’m making quilts for my ‘yet to be born’ great grandchildren! I’m hoping this can be one of them. (if I get it figured it out)

  2. Claudia Berner says:

    I love those colors !

  3. Maureen says:

    This is the most gorgeous of all the quilts!! The colors are sensational and I usually am not a big fan of this color scheme!!

  4. Beautiful job, Bonnie! I love the colors! And I’m so glad you sewed those excess strips together and put them on the back – I wanted to do that with my own version but just ran out of time. : ) Thanks for a lovely version of my pattern!

  5. Fabulous quilt and a very interesting blogpost to read!

  6. Pam says:

    What a spectacular quilt! That gold binding really sets the quilt off…a great finish to a wonderful quilt.

  7. Donna Amos says:

    What a wonderful color scheme. Just like the plate that inspired you! The teal background is a perfect choice. Good job.

  8. Karlene says:

    Love the colors!

  9. Candy Beardsley says:

    Way to goooooo, Bonnie!! That’s one of my FAVORITE Color Schemes!! LOL…I have blocks for a Curved Log Cabin in those colors! Hmmmm, now I want to go back to them and put them together! LOL…

  10. Claudia says:

    My favorite! It glows. Looks very southwest, and warm….

  11. Regina says:

    Oh wow- so different with the background change – it looks great!

  12. Peg Spradlin says:

    I love those colors, Bonnie. What a beautiful quilt!

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