QM Scrap Squad: Jackie’s Ladder of Success

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: Jackies Ladder of SuccessThe 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.

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Ladder of Success, designed by Judy Martin, made by Donna Smith.

Today’s featured quilt is by Jackie Hughes from Spirit Lake, Idaho. Jackie blogs here. You’ll hear from Jackie in her own words below. Be sure to read the bullet points at the end of the post to learn the most you can!

 

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Jackie Hughes from Spirit Lake, Idaho

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I didn’t have a set plan when I started this quilt, just some vague ideas. The quilt evolved as I went along!

I wanted to try a scrappy background and I wanted something different from the light background in the original quilt. I’ve done black before so I wanted to try another color. I’ve always loved Freddy Moran’s colorful quilts and I remember her saying “red is a neutral” so I decided to go with red.

I started pulling out red fabrics and I found a wonderful fabric; it quickly became my inspiration for the colors for my quilt.

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My inspiration fabric

I put two pieces of red on my design wall and started pulling precut squares, trying out colors and playing a little with design, too.

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Next step was to pull a bunch of fabrics in my chosen colors. I eliminated a few and then cut two strips, one of each size, from each fabric.

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I set a pile of the skinny strips by my sewing machine, grabbed a random red and a colored strip and sewed them together—this continued until my pile was gone!

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My skinny strips became colorful Four Patch units; the wider strips were cut into lots of squares.

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My strips sub-cut ready to be made into Four Patch units

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My stacks of squares

 

 

 

 

 

Every other square in this quilt is red, so I set up a red grid on my design wall and started filling in with colored squares.I tried some different placements.

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How about this?

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Or this?

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What if I put a colored square in the center?

After finalizing my design I started sewing blocks together but I had trouble getting the Four Patch units facing the right way. After numerous errors I colored my piecing diagram with a red pencil and things went much more smoothly.

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Oops! Some of these Four Patches are facing the wrong way.

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Coloring the background to match my quilt helped my brain keep things straight.

 

 

 

 

 

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Quilt top in progress

The borders in the pattern seemed simple enough but I quickly found I had trouble deciding which color to use there. I tried some of the colors in the quilt but they just seemed to distract from the center. I tried the smaller Four Patch units—still too much color. How about pink?

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I didn't like the pinks for the border

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The leftover Four Patch units

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally I had an aha! moment and I tried my original inspiration fabric. Yes, I liked it much better! A softer border for such a colorful quilt.

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I tried to make a checkerboard border like the pattern. My first trial with one of my red fabrics looked good, but when I sewed them with all my reds it looked muddy.

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I listened to my quilt and sandwiched the red print between scrappy red borders.

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My final border choice

Since I had a pieced outer border I stay-stitched the edges before quilting so the seams wouldn’t come apart.

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Quilting was simple stippling in all the red and pink areas. I did stitch in the ditch around the colored “ladders” so they would stand up a little taller than the background.

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My finished Ladder of Success quilt

And what to do with all my leftover pieces?

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My left-over ladder quilt!

Wow! She got another quilt from the leftovers! What a wonderful idea. And I’m quite sure that Freddy Moran would be pleased as punch with this quilt.

What can we learn from Jackie? Several things:

Listen to your quilt. Jackie followed her intuition as she worked and the results are fabulous!

Be brave. Thinking of red as her neutral paid off in grand proportions!

Use a design wall. Once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Audition, audition, audition. You can’t tell how something will work until you try it. When something does not work, try something else.

Don’t give up—creativity is hard work!

Leftovers are another chance to be creative.

There’s more to learn (Jackie’s a real whiz!) but that’s enough for today. More great Scrap Squad quilts in the days to come.

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Please join us daily next week for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Blog Tour!

 

 

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14 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Jackie’s Ladder of Success

  1. Alice Beers says:

    What a good lesson for this quilter wanna’ be. I am learning so much on the blog which I am just beginning to understand. I also love the 100 Quiltmakers magazine.

  2. Debra J. Smith says:

    What a great way to use up those scraps. My friends always say that scrappy is the best!

  3. Donna H says:

    This came out WONDERFUL, Jackie! Love the way you documented your process!!!

  4. Marge P says:

    Wonderful narration on your planning and thought process during this whole quilt. I really love this quilt, Jacy. I bet your family is really proud of you.

  5. Kathy says:

    Another amazing quilt Jackie!
    I love the colors, you are so creative!

  6. Claudia says:

    My design wall and my digital camera. I couldn’t live without either one of them. Great job.

  7. Karlene says:

    Love the quilt.

  8. Cheryl says:

    Pulling colors from your inspirational fabric worked beautifully! I especially like the way you walked through the step by step design process using colorful pics of the fabrics. Putting a red grid on the design wall and filling it in to discover the best possible design was a great idea … you’ve created another wonderful and colorful scrap quilt.

  9. Sarah says:

    Wow. Love those colors!

  10. Kris says:

    Nice work Jacy. You did this one proud. Love the red background.

  11. Nancy in Minnesota says:

    I loved reading how you worked through this. Thanks for documenting the process. Pretty quilt!

  12. It looks fantastic! Way to go!!

  13. Dorothy Antolin says:

    Jackie, you are a quilting genius!!! And you write really well too!! Thank you for a fun morning learning about your latest quilt ;-)

  14. Jean says:

    Beautiful in red!

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