The QM Scrap Squad is a select group of seven QM readers. They take one pattern from each regular issue of Quiltmaker and create their own scrappy versions to inspire you.
The Scrap Squad recently went to work using the Bella Amore pattern from the Nov/Dec issue. Below is the original Bella Amore, designed by Marianne Elizabeth, sewn by Pat Welch and quilted by Janet Lee Santeusanio. The fabric is Arabella Rose by Marianne Elizabeth for RJR Fabrics.
Today’s featured quilt is by Bonnie Stapleton from Powhatan, Virginia. You’ll hear from Bonnie in her own words below.
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How do you choose colors and fabric when you decide to make a new quilt? This year I’ve had the pleasure of starting six new quilts specifically for Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad.
First, I knew they didn’t want me to copy the quilt that was in the magazine. Second, they really wanted us to use our stash—to make these quilts scrappy. Third, we had a deadline.
So when the design for Bella arrived I checked my stash, and a print I had bought several years ago spoke to me. Here was my focus fabric. I knew that it might not go in the quilt in the end, but I really liked the color combination. Besides using fabric for inspiration, I’ve also used pottery, the color wheel, nature and photos to inspire the color choices for my quilts.
With this fabric in mind I started pulling fabrics to go with it: teals, soft green, burgundy, dark gold, rust and a neutral. Yikes, that turquoise really sticks out—it went back to the shelf. Looking at a photograph of my fabrics and at the quilt in progress is a great way to see if everything goes together and even if there are mistakes in the quilt. I ended up needing to purchase a few fabrics—the luscious gold/rust color on the left and a teal that was bought later on. And, of course, I ran out of the greens.
With these colors as my palette I moved on to making a block or two. I almost always make a sample block before I cut an entire quilt. In fact, I get bored cutting big quilts so I tend to do the cutting over several days or week interspersed with sewing.
Ugh, I didn’t like how light this block came out. I needed to tone that lightness down. I decided to use the dark gold in the corners. Once the second sample block was made I went ahead and made a few more sample blocks because I wanted to make some blocks different colors. They would be in the center of the quilt.
Something I have learned over the years is to keep my project organized and, if possible, all together. I have several of these plastic boxes designed to hold scrap book pages and paper. They work great for quilt projects, letting you store blocks flat up to 12″ finished, your fabric and directions. When I need to clean up the studio I can store everything back into the case and pop it on to a shelf. I can lock the tabs, grab the handle and take my quilting on the road. The only drawback? They will break if you drop them on their corners. (You know how I know this!)
Generally I am not a “unit maker.” I seldom will make all the units for a quilt and then put them together. I tend to make a few units, make a few blocks, cut a little, make some more units.
But with this quilt I decided I would get the units made first. For days I sewed and squared up only quarter-square triangles or half-square triangles. They are the only units this quilt has. I would sew during the day and square up during the evening. Once most of the units were done I started in on the blocks.
One thing I didn’t want to do was have big light-colored setting triangles around the on-point blocks. I ended up with way too many quarter-square triangle units, so I started fitting them into the space where the setting triangles would go. I realized that these extra units would fit perfectly—I didn’t even need to do any math.
If you look carefully at the photo to the left, you can see where three blocks come together. The teal half-square triangle has been added in as well as the two quarter-square triangles and the print. This is one of the auditions I did for the setting unit, but not the one I eventually chose.
I ended up using the dark gold as my first border and the corner setting triangles. I like how it helps the design to float.
If you go back to the first photo of my focus fabric you will notice I had already started cutting it. I don’t like to piece my borders and I knew I only had two yards. With this in mind, I was very careful cutting the squares for the center of each block. Rather than cutting across the width of fabric, I unfolded the fabric, refolding so a strip could be cut from the length of the fabric. I frequently do this when I want to preserve the full length of a fabric so that the left over can be used to cut a long border.
I quilted this with an all over stipple. The only issue I had with this whole quilt was where eight seams came together. I didn’t do a great job of nesting those seams. On occasion I had issues with bumps on the long arm. Rather than try to “flatten” the seam by stitching over it I should have avoided the seam.
I took the finished quilt on the road this Thanksgiving and took pictures at the Civil War battlefield known as the Battles of Bristoe Station in Bristow, Virginia. And then another at my son’s house. This quilt will be hanging on the dining room wall at my house for a while. I really love the colors and I’ll be happy to see this daily.
I have a feeling Bonnie will enjoy this quilt for many autumns to come. That pumpkin color is just spectacular! A wonderful job—and the last of the Scrap Squad’s Bella Amore quilts. Soon we’ll start revealing Scrap Squad quilts from the Jan/Feb issue of Quiltmaker. Stay tuned!