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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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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!

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