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.
The featured quilt from the May/June issue is Ladder of Success, designed by quilting legend and early QM editor Judy Martin. We’re so pleased to feature Judy’s design as part of our 30th anniversary celebration.
Today’s featured quilt is by Melissa Radtke from Dubuque, Iowa. This happy gal blogs at Melzee’s Meanderings. You’ll hear from Mel in her own words below.
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Hi! My name is Melissa and I’m an HGTV addict. When I was deciding on my colors for Ladder of Success, I figured why not look at some of the color trends from my buddies at HGTV. Keeping my stash in mind, I searched their color trends and there were two that caught my eye.
- Color Choice #2
After digging through my stash, I still couldn’t make up my mind, so the next step was to do some test blocks—maybe that would help with the decision.
I finally decided on #2. I really liked the teal and orange combination. But I felt that it really needed one more color. What to do, what to do…I’ll add some GOLD!!!!
So after the big decision on colors was made, it was time to get to work. I love the look of blocks on point and thought this quilt would lend itself to that setting. The original Ladder of Success has a lovely secondary design. I was afraid that setting the blocks on point might erase that secondary design.
I have EQ7, but am a rookie at using it. So it was time to play with the program and see how the quilt would look when completed. (How great is it to see how your quilt will look without the commitment! If all potential relationships were that easy, right?)
It didn’t seem to lose the secondary design that I really liked in the original. So on point it is!
Now some helpful hints for making Ladder of Success. As if you can’t tell by the pictures, there are A LOT of blocks in this quilt. Since this is a scrappy version, it prevents us from sewing strips together and cutting 2 patch blocks.
In my quilt, I have 7 different white fabrics, 8 oranges, 5 golds, 9 aquas, 3 teals and 1 light aqua. (I bought the aqua for another quilt and decided I really didn’t like it. I’m sure no one else has ever done that!)
If you read my blog, you know that I snow dyed some fabric this past winter and it was perfect in this quilt. I did have some pieces that were big enough for strip piecing. I cut some white strips 3 inches wide by WOF (width of fabric), and made sure my colored pieces were 3 inches wide with the length in increments of 3 (3, 6, 9, etc). Here’s what the strip piecing looked like:
Sometimes I would have 4 or 5 colored pieces on my white strip. It saves time from cutting 3 inch blocks and chain piecing them.
Then I just trimmed the end and cut into 3 inch segments. VOILA!!
Since I put Ladder of Success on point, there was the question of the setting triangles. Again the internet comes to the rescue. (What did we ever do before computers and the internet??) Yes, there is a formula for setting triangles, but why do the math when someone else has done it for you? (Does that make me a lazy quilter or a smart quilter? I prefer smart, thank you very much!)
The side triangles were 11 7/8 inch squares and cut diagonally twice. My sashing strips needed to be treated as a block also, so its side triangles were 4 7/8 squares cut diagonally twice. And my corner triangles were 6 1/4 inch squares cut once diagonally.
Here’s another little trick I’ve learned for centering corner triangles on blocks when sewing them together. Fold both the block and the corner triangle in half and finger press a crease in them. Match the creases, pin and sew.
When the top was finished, it was time to decide how to quilt it. My test blocks sure came in handy for these auditions. Here’s my audition of the quilting design.
I really liked the orange peel design and again you get that lovely secondary design. Ladder of Success has so many places to do some very fun quilt designs. Let your imagination go free with this one. Here’s what the back of my quilt looks like.
One more thing before I show you the final quilt. BINDING! I do all my binding by machine. That’s right. Other than the corners and where I begin and end, I don’t hand sew my binding any longer. Bonnie McCaffery had a great podcast on machine binding and that’s where I learned to do my binding by machine. She can explain it better than I—check it out and give it a try. You may find out that you don’t dread binding after all!
So are you ready to see if my Ladder of Success looks anything like I envisioned it in EQ7? I think it’s pretty close. It has a kind of tropical feel.
This quilt is easy enough for a beginner with outstanding results, but can be made more challenging for quilters with experience. It’s all up to you. I hope you enjoyed the climb up the Ladder of Success!!