QM Scrap Squad: Bonnie’s Caribbean Vacation

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies 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.

QM10113 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation


This quilt is found on the cover of the Jan/Feb ’13 issue of Quiltmaker.

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

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.

BonnieStapleton1 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation

Bonnie Stapleton


Today’s featured quilt was made by Bonnie Stapleton from Powhatan, Virginia. Bonnie blogs here. You’ll hear from Bonnie in her own words below.

*     *     *     *     *

I like “think” time when I’m going to start a new quilt. I spend a bit of time in the studio fondling stash fabric. Once I decide on colors, I pull what I can in hopes that I will have enough without purchasing more. I may change my mind about fabrics several times during my think time.

The cutting and sewing for Carribean Vacation came just around Thanksgiving. I was decorating the house for Christmas. Why not make a Christmas quilt, one where I could use short pieces rather than yardage? I pulled my box of Christmas fabric and gathered red, green and gold/beige fabrics along with some pretty prints for the center squares. I made up two sample blocks using different prints in the center.

sampleblock 1024x536 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation

Oops. Didn’t look so great to me. Too busy. Time to make a change. I purchased a couple of yards of a mottled red to go in the center. I tried making another sample block or two.  The less busy fabric really helped. I also attempted to draw the block in EQ7 so I could print out a color copy, but I never got the colors placed in the right location. I tried hand coloring and still didn’t get it right. I made a sheet with my color substitutions but I did that wrong, too. I started on the units despite this problem.

This was a great quilt to use chain piecing. I stitched lengths of 20 units and then doubled them up twice so that I could clip between the units, several at a time. After ironing I pinned them in groups of ten – an easy way to keep track of how many I had made.


snippingparts 300x225 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean VacationAs I put the blocks together I realized I hadn’t gotten the colors correct on the last drawing attempt nor on my substitute list. The weirdest part was that I hadn’t followed my own instructions correctly either—so I had the right number of pieces in the right colors. Definitely dumb luck. I was so grateful to have the correct number and color of blocks!

Because this block needed certain colors in certain positions I posted my “recolored” drawing of the block next to my sewing machine and I checked it frequently. Luckily I didn’t have a lot of  frog stitching to do: rip it, rip it!

drawing 852x1024 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean VacationAs I was piecing, I thought about the backing. The queen size quilt needed over eight yards of fabric and two long seams. Not my idea of fun! I found a great Christmas-green wide backing to use instead.

I loaded the project on Ruthie, my longarm, and thought about how I wanted to quilt it. I knew I wanted something special in the center of the blocks, but I hate to start and stop a lot. I found the solution in a simple heart-shaped leaf pantograph. I used the leaf on the borders and then did a stipple with loops in the center of the quilt. When I came to the center squares I quilted hearts in all directions. Sometimes I echo quilted them, sometimes I used only a single heart. It worked well to soften the straight lines in the quilt.

Because I use Renae’s Red Snappers™ to load my quilt, I was easily able to turn the quilt to do the side borders. (Available from quiltsonthecorner.com)

quilting 1024x768 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation

In no time I had the binding on and was sewing it down by hand. There was a waiting period before I could get pictures of  the quilt – we were having cloudy weather. One beautiful Saturday I hung it from my deck railing and got a picture of most of it. It’s hard to take a picture of a queen size quilt.

fullquilt QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation

I decided to use one of the sample blocks for my label. I took the block apart and substituted muslin in center. I added my info and backed it with muslin, right sides together. I stitched the edges, cut a small slash in the center of the backing fabric and turned it. I ironed it flat and hand sewed it on the back of the quilt. I quilted around the center block making sure I didn’t catch the front of the quilt.

label 300x280 QM Scrap Squad: Bonnies Caribbean Vacation

It’s been a great year and I’ve made more quilts this year than I have in several years. I wish the incoming Scrap Squad members a year as great as ours has been.

*     *     *     *     *

This Christmas version is so much fun! Please join me in thanking Bonnie for a job well done on the 2012 Scrap Squad. Just one quilt to go from the 2012 team. Stay tuned!


About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
This entry was posted in Scrap Squad and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Bonnie’s Caribbean Vacation


    Lovely what a wonderful Christmas quilt

  2. Cathy Buel says:

    Bonnie I love it. Nice job. Hugs

  3. Mary Ann says:

    Wonderful quilt Bonnie and I so appreciate all the process discussion. I think it does take thinking and mockups to achieve a successful scrap quilt. I have so enjoyed all your work this year and hope we get a chance to see more of your quilts in the future!

  4. Way to go Bonnie…great job! Will miss you on the Scrap Squad!

  5. Sandra B says:

    The Christmas version of this quilt is stunning. I love all the red and the quilting itself really enhanced the pattern. Just beautiful.

  6. Becky Ball says:

    Wow, Bonnie. This is fabulous! What a great way to get a Christmas quilt. So far, I’ve given all my finished ones away. Your quilting is excellent. I did, however, like your Christmas prints in the center, they are so beautiful, but I understand busy. Congratulations on a great year with Scrap Squad. You were my inspiration to volunteer this year.

  7. Cathryn H. says:

    Love the colors in this one! And I can relate to the “oops” in the stitching together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>