QM Scrap Squad: Mel’s Caribbean Vacation

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.

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Today we begin to reveal Scrap Squad versions of a new quilt found on the cover of the Jan/Feb ’13 issue of Quiltmaker.


QMMP 130200 DENISE 450flat QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Caribbean Vacation from Jan/Feb '13 Quiltmaker, designed and sewn by Denise Starck. Quilted by Hatty Brown. Fabrics: Dear Stella.

It’s Caribbean Vacation, designed and sewn by Denise Starck, QM’s Graphic Designer. It was quilted by Hatty Brown. The fabrics are Dear Stella.


Melissaradtke1 211x300 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Melissa Radtke

Today’s featured quilt is by Melissa Radtke from Dubuque, Iowa. You’ll hear from Mel in her own words below.

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Well, this is my last Scrap Squad quilt. Hard to believe that it’s been a year since I started this adventure. With each quilt I have challenged myself and learned so much in the process.

Caribbean Vacation taught me a lot about value. Value is the relative lightness or darkness of your fabrics. While this sounds like it should be something very simple, it’s not. As quilters we work with colors all the time and sometimes it all falls into place without even trying. At other times, no matter what you try—it’s not working. Sometimes the problem is value.

I love Asian fabrics and I really wanted to use my Asian stash in this quilt. In my mind I just knew it was going to be my best quilt yet!

DQ 001 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

My 5.5 inch focal squares

The beautiful Asian prints above were chosen as my focus fabrics.

DQ 002 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

My fabric stash

I found many precious bits and pieces to bring out all the colors in my focal squares. I set to work getting my first four blocks done. I was so excited to put them on my new design wall.

DQ 004 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

First 4 blocks done

Can you say YUK?!? How disappointing to know that what you were seeing in your head, really didn’t look so great in real life. And why did it look so bad? I didn’t have enough light and dark contrast between my fabrics. All the wonderful secondary designs that Caribbean Vacation has to offer were totally lost. The root of the problem was value.

So—back to the drawing board. There is a lot of contrast between black and white, so I thought I’d be safe with that choice. Searching through my stash I found some great black and white graphic prints that would be awesome as my 5.5 inch focal blocks.

black and white DQ1 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Black and white graphic prints

In my eye, black always makes whatever color you mix with it seem to just pop off the quilt. I figured why not use really bright colors and make them seem even brighter. Color, color, color!!

DQ 008 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

My really bright assortment

I’m sure that you are looking at these and thinking to yourself, gray?? I was thinking the same thing when I pulled the gray out of my stash. I really was not sure that I would like the gray with all these very color saturated fabrics. But it almost has a calming effect amidst all these very bright fabrics. (In fact—the gray blocks ended up being my favorite blocks and I thought it would be fun do this quilt in all black, white and gray. Maybe a future project???)

So just to give this quilt a different look I thought I would try setting my blocks by color diagonally.  Back to the design wall to see if I like it.

DQ 009 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Diagonal colors

I didn’t just like it. I LOVED it!!  (See what I mean about those grey blocks?)  The contrast between the black and white fabrics in addition to the very saturated colors of the other fabric really makes those secondary designs jump off this quilt. Boy, am I glad that I hated my first choice for this quilt!

Now that my inside  squares are together, what to do for my border?  Should I continue this colorful scrappy idea into the border?

border 002 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Scrap border

I like it, but I’m not in love with it. Is it going to make a busy quilt even busier? Possibly.  How can I continue the color into the border without making it too busy?

Finished DQ 003 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

I tried using four different solids, one on each side

Here is what I finally decided on…four different solids, one on each side.

Finished DQ 001 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

My final Caribbean Vacation

I was going to bind it in just plain black, but I found a multicolored check on a black background that was screaming to be used.

To quilt my Caribbean Vacation, I didn’t want to do something that took away from all of the great squares and rectangles. Here’s what I decided on to accentuate the quilt design.

Finished DQ 004 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

Quilt motif viewed from the back—it's very freeform

Well, that’s it for my Caribbean Vacation.  I may have started with a detour, but eventually I ended up at my destination.

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If Mel’s quilt is any indication, this is going to be a very fun set of posts! Her idea of colors plus black and white is so much fun. And haven’t we all had a dead end like she described with her Asian idea? It happens to everyone.

QM10113 QM Scrap Squad: Mels Caribbean Vacation

You’ll find Caribbean Vacation patterned in the Jan/Feb ’13 issue of Quiltmaker, which also has our most recent Project Linus quilt, our staff challenge quilts and a host of other patterns to try.

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10 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Mel’s Caribbean Vacation

  1. Helen in the UK says:

    This is stunning! I love your use of colours with the black/white fabrics :)

  2. Lorraine says:

    Hi Mel, really glad that you didn’t use your first choice – you were right about some colors just not working. I absolutely love the final binding on your quilt – who would have thought that there was just that perfect color match.

  3. Donna H says:

    I love the color transition, Melzee. And your write-up was such fun to read. Great job!


    Love it, you did a great job with the colors and placement. totally neat

  5. Carol Vickers says:

    I love it, Melzee — black and white is always a favorite of mine and with your brights – WOW! I’m so glad I encouraged (read pushed) you to apply for Scrap Squad – so many many quilters have had the good fortune to see your creative and artistic talents! This quilt is a real winner!!

  6. marybeth says:

    looks great! love the progression of choosing the colors.

  7. pat adney says:

    Melzee,you are a real artist and it shows in your interpretation of this quilt. I just love it and will have to add it to my list of UFOs! I am going to run and kit it up now..

  8. Marcia says:

    Setting your blocks diagonally by color was a SPECTACULAR idea! And the colors you chose were the icing on the cake! It all went together beautifully! You truly are a talented quilter willing to ‘step out of the box’ with your own individual take on a pattern (said while patting you on the back)! Take a bow for a job WELL DONE! :)

  9. Jackie O says:

    Awesome, Melzee!!!! Another winner!! You never disappoint!

  10. Karlene says:

    The quilt turned out great! Very nicely done.

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