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 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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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.
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.
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.
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!
My skinny strips became colorful Four Patch units; the wider strips were cut into lots 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I listened to my quilt and sandwiched the red print between scrappy red borders.
Since I had a pieced outer border I stay-stitched the edges before quilting so the seams wouldn’t come apart.
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.
And what to do with all my leftover pieces?
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!