The Quiltmaker Scrap Squad is a select group of six QM readers who take one pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions of it to inspire others. You can see slideshows of past Scrap Squad projects.
Today we begin a new series of quilts. The featured design is called Pup Tents, and it appears in the July/August issue of Quiltmaker. It’s on its way to subscribers now and it appears on newsstands next week by 6/3.
On its way to subscribers now, on newsstands 6/3
Pup Tents was designed by Janice Averill from West Haven, Connecticut. The pink version was made using fabrics from our preferred partners Quilting Treasures.
Today’s featured quilt is by Louisa Robertson from Merritt, British Columbia.
You’ll want to check out her blog, Louisa Quilts. You’ll hear from Louisa in her own words below.
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The Pup Tents block reminds me of tenting holidays when I was a child. We would drag out all the pieces – ropes, pegs, poles, canvas. Somehow by putting poles there and ropes here and banging in tent pegs at odd angles, everything would magically turn into a house to keep us warm and dry! I went through some of the same “how on earth will this turn into anything?” process with Pup Tents, working with it for several days to discover a design. I decided to feature the “goose” triangles in the block along with the network of diagonal lines formed by the smaller triangles. Then I flipped half the blocks vertically and was pleased with the symmetry that appeared.
Deciding on the fabric palette
Tenting made me think of summer, so I pulled out blues and golds, greens and assorted lights, with darker blue for an accent.
- Bits and pieces from past projects
My goal for this project is that it will be made from “true scraps” – genuine leftovers from my stash without purchasing anything new. I dig into boxes and bins and drawers to see what I can find in the colours I want.
The oldest fabric in the quilt is a scrap from a dress my mother made many decades ago. I also use the remains of a dress of my own, not quite so old, but still well into last century! Other fabrics include part of a recycled shirt, assorted calico prints from the 80s and 90s, a couple of batiks, some odd triangles, and pieces cut from the back sides of circle blocks.
I cut pieces and make test blocks to try out the colours and the piecing. I decide I can eliminate a couple of seams by combining pieces in rows 2 and 3, so I make two more blocks using that method.
Blocks made to try out colour placement and construction methods.
The results are okay, but I want more colour, so I add light green. My test blocks also demonstrate that accuracy in cutting/stitching/pressing is going to be very important.
Cutting the many pieces required is a long process, especially since “true scrap” pieces of various shapes and sizes are used. Much starching, pressing, measuring, cutting, trimming and counting is involved. I choose to cut the pieces for these blocks as triangles and trapezoids rather than the squares and rectangles described in the pattern. As long as crucial points are trimmed accurately during the cutting step, I find that the piecing is just as simple as using the folded corner method.
Pieces with trimmed corners
Here are all the pieces for my quilt – further evidence of how LITTLE fabric it actually takes to make a quilt! It also hints at how difficult is the goal of stitching up all the fabric in the stash in one lifetime!
Tray of pieces — enough to make the complete quilt top
Next, how to construct this thing? I start by printing out a coloured “map” of each block from Electric Quilt. Then I set to work making the required number of each unit and placing them in the correct spot on a cardboard base.
Adding gold to left end of the light trapezoid.
- As always, chain piecing and pressing helps keeps things organized.
Check each unit with the ruler. This one looks pretty good.
Oops! Time to reach for the stitch ripper!
The seams at this step are all diagonal, and finding the “sweet spot” for the seam allowance is a challenge. It varies a bit from fabric to fabric, depending the grainline or the thickness. My trusty seam ripper gets a good workout. I develop a routine – count pieces, lay them out, stitch seams, press, check with a ruler and unstitch/restitch as necessary, count the finished pieces, put them in the right spot.
Once units are made, the four rows that make up each block are constructed. These go together quite easily, thanks to the time spent making sure that each unit was accurate. Here are the stacks of rows for the two types of blocks.
Block 1. Can you see the mistake I didn’t notice until later?
Finally it’s time to start sewing rows together to make blocks. Making sure I’m working with only the pieces for Block 1, I carefully match the edges of Row 1 to Row 2, checking the match points at seams and triangle points. Again, everything lines up nicely. I stitch a few seams, then stitch a couple of Row 3 and Row 4 seams. I’m eager to see how the block will look. Lots of matching of points – most go pretty well.
Oh dear! Seam ripper time again!
Oh dear – what’s wrong? The blue triangles aren’t in the correct places! Check the map, check the units. It takes a while to find the problem – Rows 2 and 3 are made up of similar units but in a different order, and these have been interchanged in the layout. Out comes the stitch ripper again!
Some blocks on the wall
At last, blocks on the wall. I DO like them! Each Block 1 is stitched to a Block 2 – I try to ensure that the pieces touching along the edge are different fabrics. I match these seams carefully – I sure am going to be an expert at matching points and seams when this one is done!
- Adding the vertical strip between columns would simplify the stitching.
My original idea was to make columns of blocks and separate them with sashing. That looks pretty good.
BUT …. Look what happens when I offset that centre column and remove sashing.
Look at the interesting negative space between the gold and blue triangles!
Would I really want to do this, though? It would mean even more matching of seams — all the way down the quilt!
I take a deep breath and decide that yes, I will join the columns without sashing. After all, I have already matched umpteen seams and points, so a few dozen more shouldn’t be an issue. And with plenty of pins the job is done in no time (well, no more than 20 minutes for each seam).
I’m quite proud of the way the points matched, at least on this part of the quilt.
I may have figured out the REAL reason my quilts don’t get much bigger than 60″ by 80″ – that’s how much room there is when I push back the living room furniture to spread out the pieces on the floor.
Fitting navy and green borders to the quilt top
Borders are added. I am able to use a variety of navy pieces in the 4 1/2″ outer border.
Let’s piece a backing.
Backing — more fabrics used from the stash.
I quilt a panto design in the middle and some loops and feathers in the borders. These are a bit wonky – I call it my “folk art” style.
Quilting barely shows on patterned scrappy fabrics.
Quilting designs show more clearly on the plainer backing.
For the binding I use more navy with a touch of gold.
Summer Camp, 60″ by 75″
Here is my finished quilt — all ready for a summer evening.
Did I succeed in making the entire quilt from stash? Yes, I did! Only the green inner border and the navy binding are composed of single fabrics – and even those fabrics were not new purchases.
Thanks for reading!