QM Scrap Squad: Colette’s Mandarin Express

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin ExpressQuiltmaker‘s Scrap Squad is a select group of eight QM readers. They take one pattern from each regular issue and make scrappy versions to inspire others.

QMMP 130600 cover 450 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express The featured Scrap Squad quilt in Quiltmaker’s May/June issue is Mandarin Express, below.

QMMP 130600 ROBIN 450 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin ExpressIt was designed by Robin Waggoner from Spokane Valley, Washington. Robin and Sandy Odeen pieced it, and Robin quilted it. The batiks are from Hoffman California Fabrics.

Today’s featured quilt is by Colette DeGroot from Olivet, Michigan. Visit Colette’s blog when you can. You’ll hear from her in her own words below.

*     *     *     *     *

colettemedium QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express

Colette DeGroot from Olivet, Michigan


This quilt was a pleasure to conquer. It had a little bit of everything in the pattern; half-square triangles, paper piecing, simple blocks…every diversity a quilt maker could ask for.

The most recent project on my design wall prior to Mandarin Express was a 1920′s-themed Dresden quilt. Since I overshot how much fabric would be needed for my design, I decided to use the leftovers for our next Scrap Squad project.

P1050126 300x168 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express

The leftover fabrics from a previous project

I have a computer-aided design program, but I’ve changed computer systems since I got it. So the program I have is basically useless. I had to turn to old fashioned design methods: colored pencils and graph paper. I wanted to make sure I had a color scheme in mind and enough of those colors in my leftover fabrics.

P1050127 300x168 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express

The three designs selected

I combined two of the designs above and was happy with it. I wanted a variety of color to create movement and to give it a little extra flavor.

Because I didn’t have enough of each fabric to complete some of the blocks, I chose to randomly tie in the blues and greens. Rather then assembly-line piecing, I made each block individually because I didn’t know how far the leftover fabric would take me.

P1050132 300x168 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express

Building the blocks individually

I was surprised at how much I could get from the minimal yardage I had. The picture below shows the progress when I had only used about one-third of the leftover fabrics. I knew at this point, and with a little math help, I could start to assembly line piece the rest of the blocks.

P1050149 300x248 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express

Getting the colors to flow

I was still playing with the whole green/blue thing and wasn’t really sure I liked them within the scheme of things. I reminded myself to just keep forging ahead; it would work itself out.

Here is the finished piece. I would have liked another couple of rows across to make the quilt larger, but was pleasantly surprised at the end result overall. I think we second guess the decisions we make while creating a new work of art, but I have to remember that this quilt will find its way to a child who will truly appreciate it.

P1050175 300x300 QM Scrap Squad: Colettes Mandarin Express


*     *     *     *     *

Colette’s quilt is a nice bit of springtime, something many people are longing for this week! Her idea of sewing one block at a time until you know you have enough fabric is really tremendous. Give it a try next time you use up some leftovers. Congratulations, Colette, on a job well done!

This entry was posted in Scrap Squad and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Colette’s Mandarin Express

  1. Cathie Denney says:

    Thanks for the great take on using your leftover fabrics on this project. I often find myself with bits (big ones) and pieces (even bigger ones) of fabric and it is wonderful to see how you set yourself a challenge and made it work! Wonderful!

  2. Colette says:

    Thank you to all the rest of you for your extremely supportive and kind comments. They lift me up every day, truly they do! I am enjoying the quilt making process for Scrap Squad, and yes, it has already gone by so quickly. I’m currently working on number three (today in fact) and know that once it’s completed, I’ll have reached the half-way point. Already???? Keep on quilting for a member of my ASQ guild posted that quilting is actually very good for your health. Who would have thought?

  3. Colette says:

    @ Michaele: I am just the opposite of you! I am actually a native Michigander and relocated to Arizona for a time to teach out there for a few years. Three years ago, we finally moved back to Michigan so we’re glad to be back home! However, the lack of teaching jobs in Michigan has resulted in my being able to quilt more…bummer, huh? Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who supports my little “habit”.

  4. Michaele jaime says:

    As a native Michigander now transplanted Arizonian- Congrats on a beautiful quilt. Really nice! Love that you shared the design stages.

  5. Christine says:

    Thirties, yes, but surprisingly modern. Congratulations!

  6. Sharon says:

    Very cool quilt. I enjoyed your instructions, step by step of how you put the quilt together.

  7. Jan Parker says:

    Yea Michigan! I’m from Kalkaska up near Traverse City!

    Great site! Really enjoyed and will come back. Jan

  8. Cathy says:

    Hi Colette. I love your quilt. It’s nice to see another Michigan Quilter on the Scrap Squad. I was a member last year. Enjoy your time. It goes by so quickly. Hugs

  9. Colette says:

    @Claudia: i actuall haven’t named this one yet, but I love your suggestion!

  10. Claudia says:

    Are you calling this quilt “Stairway to the Stars”?

  11. I love the way you broke down two blocks so we could see how the designing element works..thank you!

  12. Susan P says:

    I love the scrappy quilts…yours is awesome!!

  13. Mary C in WA says:

    Using what you’ve got is a good thing. I like this colorway!

  14. Lyn Kaufmann says:

    I love the beautiful quilt you made. I love you saying “guess I’ll forge ahead”. Can’t tell you how many times I tell myself the same thing.
    Thank you for sharing your work of art!

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>