QM Scrap Squad: Nicole’s Mandarin Express

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin ExpressThe 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: Nicoles Mandarin Express

The featured Scrap Squad quilt in Quiltmaker’s May/June issue is Mandarin Express, below.

QMMP 130600 ROBIN 450 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express

Mandarin Express, sewn by Robin Waggoner and Sandy Odeen. Quilted by Robin Waggoner. Fabric: Hoffman California Fabrics.

It 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.

nicole QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Nicole Brouillette from Cottonwood, California

Today’s featured quilt is by the youngest member of QM’s Scrap Squad, Nicole Brouillette from Cottonwood, California. Visit her blog to read more about Nicole and her longarm business. You’ll hear from Nicole in her own words below.

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I really liked the original colors and pattern for this issue’s Scrap Squad project. After some consideration, I came up with a plan. I’ve wanted to use black as my background ever since I attended my guild’s quilt show last year. And it is no secret that I love to use bright colors. This quilt might take the cake as far as that is concerned, and I love every bit of it!

Just look at this COLOR!

nicole1 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
I enjoyed this color so much, in fact, that I literally left my piecing room like this for a few days and smiled every time I walked by it!

nicole21 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
When I am cutting out a scrappy quilt, sometimes it can be confusing. There are a lot of colors to be used in place of one color in the pattern. So I use small post-it notes to keep it all organized.

nicole3 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Expressnicole4 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express







The designer of this quilt and Quiltmaker’s editors did an amazing job, so there isn’t too much to tell about piecing this quilt. It went together really well, especially if you like making a lot of the same thing at once! There are a lot of Four Patches…

nicole5 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
A lot of paper pieced units and square in a square…

nicole6 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
And a lot of half square triangles. I always trim the dog ears off of my HST’s. There were a lot of them in this quilt so I got to use my favorite spring-assisted scissors. Using a rotary cutter would take way too long for me! So, while watching a movie on my laptop, I sat and trimmed them all at once.

nicole7 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express

nicole8 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin ExpressLook at all of the pretty confetti.







Ah, progress! All of my units are finished and I can start assembling the blocks.

nicole9 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
I usually like to complete a step before I start another one, but I was so excited to see how these blocks would play together that I completed five of each block so I could peek at the results. Ok, I’m in love. The pattern looks great set as it is, but look how much it changes as soon as you put it on point!

nicole10 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
At this point, I couldn’t assemble blocks fast enough!!! The quilt quickly grew…

nicole11 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Well…setting the quilt on point means that I need to come up with cornerstones. I can easily do all black, so I decided to audition it. I cut 14″ squares.

nicole12 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Then I cut it in half diagonally twice to create the triangles.

nicole13 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
I put a few of the plain black triangles in to see how it would look and I felt it was lacking something.

nicole14 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Luckily I had an alternate plan. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, so I cut 3½” green squares, put them on the corner of the black triangles, and came up with this. Oh yeah! That’s better.

nicole15 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
I didn’t think that I would succeed in finding a border fabric that would work with this quilt. Luckily a friend of mine and I went to a quilt shop that hosts a “Longarmer’s Anonymous” class where we get together and talk about different techniques and tools.

I brought a couple of blocks with me and I found a fabric that was possibly made for this quilt!!! Black, purple, shades of green and yellow, and oh so scrumptious!

I added a small inner border to create a floating effect, and then my large border…and my top is DONE. The quilt has grown so much that I can no longer get a full picture of it in my small room! It measures 79″ x 105″.

nicole16 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Now off to quilting! I chose one of my brand new pantographs and a light purple thread and went for it! I wanted the quilting to show up on the black but not take away from all of that piecing in the center of the quilt, and I think that I accomplished that.

nicole17 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
Binding is something I take pride in. When I first started quilting I had no idea how to properly bind a quilt. I purchased a book on bindings and learned the tricks of the trade!

I cut 2½” strips, join them with a diagonal seam, trim the seam to ½” and press it open. Then I press the strip in half and start attaching the binding.

I use a 3/8″ seam allowance and it always turns out perfect! There is the same amount of binding fabric on the front as the back and the binding is nicely stuffed—no extra fabric without batting at the end of it. Once I get to a corner I stop at exactly 3/8″, then pull the binding straight up…

nicole18 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
And then go straight back down until the fold is even with the edge of the quilt. Then I start the 3/8″ seam and go all the way to the back edge of the quilt and then down to the next corner. Voilà…perfect mitered corners and bindings.

nicole19 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express

A quilt is not finished until it has a label…here’s mine.

nicole21label QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express
And finally…the finished product!

nicole201 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin ExpressWow, what a great job by this talented young quilter! Have another look at the original quilt:

QMMP 130600 ROBIN 450 QM Scrap Squad: Nicoles Mandarin Express

Very impressive! She truly made it her own. This is why there is such fierce competition for the Scrap Squad posts—these women are dynamite! Thanks Nicole, for your hard work getting this monster-quilt in on time! We think it was well worth it.

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30 Responses to QM Scrap Squad: Nicole’s Mandarin Express

  1. Virginia Hanson says:

    Love this quilt! The colors really speak to me. The border choice is stunning along with the black background. Wow…..

  2. Deborah Calyo says:

    Wow! This is by far my favorite version. Bonnie Hunter would be proud.

  3. Valorie Spanogle says:

    I love this it is beautiful!

  4. Barbara G says:

    I love the bold colors in this quilt. The activity the quilt exhibits is exploding with energy, yet not too busy. Thanks for the pictures and instruction. Keep on quilting.

  5. Diane Harris says:

    I wanted to respond to the question about becoming a Scrap Squad member for Quiltmaker. Usually in December, we will put out a call for applications via Facebook. People have a window of time in which to apply. You’ll want to “like” Quiltmaker on Facebook so you see the notices. We also post notices about other sewing opportunities such as testing blocks for us, or being part of our Back to School sewing team. These are ways to get your foot in the door. The competition for Scrap Squad has become fierce, but those who are not chosen sometimes have opportunities to test for us. One former Scrap Squad member is a regular home-sewer for us now, so for her it turned into a part-time job in the industry. The key is to connect with us on Facebook so you’ll see the postings in a timely way. Thanks for your interest!

  6. Claudia says:

    Love the sparkle. Great representative from the Lilac City!

  7. Leanne says:

    What a beautiful job! I love the original quilt, and this scrappy version. I love black with bright colours too. They always seem so bright and cheerful.

  8. MarciaW says:

    This is a gorgeous quilt!

  9. Charlotte Louise W. says:

    This is a great pattern. Nicole, you did a fantastic job. Also, great job with the photos and explanation of each step.

  10. Natalia says:

    Oooh, very beautiful! Wonderful colors!

  11. Annie K says:


  12. Wow — I love the effect from adding those little green triangles to the points of the setting triangles! That is SO cool. I have to remember that!

  13. Doris B says:

    I Love seeing this quilt set on point. The original look like stars and yours look like flowers. Great choices on colors. It,s hard to use bright pink without it taking over the quilt but you did it.

  14. GwenH says:

    Love your colors and fabrics Nicole, what a great quilt pattern, sure hope I can find a copy of this magazine, I don’t think my LQS carries this magazine!

  15. Carol Vickers says:

    Just beautiful. I love what you did with the black background and setting the blocks on point. I was a member of the original Scrap Squad and I love to check in and see what masterpieces you ladies are making.

  16. I love black and brights, so that really made this quilt for me! You did a fabulous job, Nicole!!

  17. Carla G says:

    What a fabulous quilt! Your colors are stunning! And the border fabric is a perfect match! I have a question though – do you machine stitch on the other side of the binding? I’m a beginner quilter and am trying to get it right… :) Thanks for showing this great quilt! :)

    • Nicole says:

      Carla, I hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. I will try to remember to include a picture in my next Scrap Squad post. Look for it in a couple of months! Good luck.

  18. Mary C in WA says:

    I like the lighter version. It is nice to see the younger generation doing great quilts!

  19. Both are so exciting and yet so different from each other.

  20. Cecilia says:

    What great choices for the colors. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Nancy says:

    I really like what you done with quilt I think I like it better then the original.

  22. Carole says:

    Love your colors! I liked the pattern when I saw it in the magazine but love it more with this color choice. Just shows how you need to admire the pattern but imagine different colors.

  23. Terri says:

    Adding this to my list of to-do. Beautiful – love the color choices.

  24. This quilt is truly spectacular!! And I so enjoyed the whole blog post about it too!
    Being a Scrap Squad looks like a lot of fun – how does one become a member? :)

  25. Patricia says:

    Beautiful work, Nicole!

  26. Jean Wenke says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are awesome.

  27. Sharon says:

    Oh, this one is my favorite!!

  28. Cindy White says:

    Midnight Garden just sparkles- great choices,

  29. Mary Val says:

    It’s wonderful! Fabulous job on Midnight Garden.

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