by Emily Klaczak
QM Scrap Squad
“Your quilts are too nice to sleep under,” said my husband Joe one morning, as he was making the bed. “Can you make one that’s not so pretty? One that’s just made from scraps?”
We had been using one of my scrappy quilts that summer, but it was made from predominantly blue and violet fabrics, to coordinate with our bedroom. I think that’s what he meant by ‘too nice’—it was too thought-out and it didn’t fit in with his idea of ‘scrappy.’ I think he wanted a quilt that looked as though I’d scattered the contents of my sewing room waste basket on the floor, and then sewed the pieces together as they fell. I wasn’t about to do that, but I did go to Bonnie Hunter for inspiration. She is one of my favorite scrap quilt designers.
In my personal pantheon, Pat Speth and Bonnie Hunter are the Goddesses of Scrapitude. They have inspired me to carefully sort, trim and store my scraps, and they’ve taught me that there is a place in a quilt for every bit of fabric, no matter how small the square (within reason!) or how strange the color or pattern.
I chose Bonnie’s Mai Tais in Paradise as my final Scrap Squad quilt. It was hard to choose from her many designs, but I was attracted by the combination of star and Nine Patch blocks.
I redrafted the pattern so that the blocks would finish to 10-1/2″ and was pleased to note that there would be minimal preparation of fabrics, since I had pre-cut my scrap stash into squares ranging from 2-1/2″ to 6-1/2″.
The alternating blocks for Mai Tais in Paradise by Bonnie Hunter for Quiltmaker
The Nine Patches and star centers were 2-1/2″ squares. I used 5-1/2″ squares for the half-square triangle blocks, trimming them to size after they were sewn together, and I cut 2-1/2″ strips from 4-1/2″ and 6-1/2″ squares for the rectangles within the star blocks and the Nine Patch block borders.
I mixed up the colors and prints up as much as possible and tried to avoid high contrast designs. I wanted the viewer to look at the quilt and see colors, not white flowers on dark green backgrounds or red balloons against light blue skies. And I also invited pastels to come and play with their bolder siblings; I didn’t want to use only beiges and creams for the lighter squares and triangles.
And there’s still plenty more where these came from!
Selection of the fabrics took more time than cutting, and then I began to chain piece the squares and triangles. I had recently recorded several hours of Doctor Who episodes during a BBC America marathon, and the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors kept me company while I sewed the blocks together.
I did change the pattern of darks and lights in the nine patch squares so that there would be more light fabrics; I didn’t want the quilt to be too dark.
I did change the pattern of darks and lights in the Nine Patch squares so that there would be more light fabrics; I didn’t want the quilt to be too dark. I took some care to lay out the completed squares so that I did not have similar colors touching at the corners.
On my “design floor”
I thought the quilt needed a border that would not call attention to itself. So I went back to the stash for tone-on-tones that read as solids.
I didn’t want anything too distracting in the border.
As I was sewing the blocks together, I thought of how I might quilt it on my home sewing machine. I had planned to quilt in the ditch around each block, and decided it might be interesting to quilt the alternating designs differently. So I did loopy bubbles over the Nine Patch blocks, and large squares on the star block, repeating the loopy bubbles in the center square of each star.
I usually do scrappy quilt backs but I found six yards of a medium blue star print languishing in my stash. Time to put it to work!
And here’s Joe with his finished quilt:
There he is, standing on a bench on our backyard deck.
Blogging for Quiltmaker as a member of the 2015 Scrap Squad has been an amazing experience and I feel honored to have been a member of this select group of talented quilters.
Donna, Julie, Kathy, Keri and Pam, it’s been fun peeking over your shoulders, watching your quilts come together. Diane, thank you for the challenges that you offered to us, and for your guidance and support.
And Joe, thank you for walking the dog, making dinner, cleaning the house, and making the time for me to create. And thank you, Quilty Pleasures readers, for following us on our quilting adventures. Love you all!!!!