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—great scrap quilts all!
The featured design from the July/August issue of Quiltmaker is called Pup Tents. This issue is on newsstands now. On the cover is a fabulous scrap quilt from that most famous of scrap quilt makers, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.
July/August ’14 on newsstands now
Pup Tents was designed by Janice Averill from West Haven, Connecticut. The pink version below was made using fabrics from our preferred partners Quilting Treasures.
Today’s featured quilt is by Beth Helfter from Pepperell, Massachusetts, who blogs at Quilting Hottie Haven. Beth has a unique voice and she’s told me she wishes there was a font for sarcasm. I think you’ll see what I mean. Enjoy Beth’s quilt story in her own words below.
* * * * *
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of matching points. I want to be known for keeping my designs “fun over fuss,” which means intentionally creating quilts with as few matching points as possible.
So you can imagine my mental state when I saw the Pup Tents assignment, mocking me from my computer screen with its one hundred bazillion matching points, blazing in gleeful mockery of my points paranoia.
Not that it wasn’t a lovely quilt. I appreciate stunning quilts of all styles, not just my own “fun over fuss” brand of
laziness quilting style. It was just the thought of how many seam rippers I would go through to make one block as shown—it was enough to cause heart palpitations.
And there were SEVENTY BLOCKS! But then I remembered that part of my job on the Scrap Squad is to remake designs reflecting my own scrappy style. I figured I could make this work. Or die trying.
My first few rounds with redrawing the design in EQ were overwhelming failures, I won’t lie. I was obsessed with trying to find a secondary pattern that worked for me using the original blocks, and it was going nowhere fast, unless you count “to the liquor cabinet.”
I finally gave up the dream and moved on to a more “me” solution – simplifying the block to just four Flying Geese and modernizing the design by putting them on a simple white background.
The colors are sad, but now we’re getting somewhere.
I finally felt like I was on to something I could live with, so the next step was to overcome my current aversion to Flying Geese. This was an unfortunate timing thing. I don’t hate Flying Geese. They are lovely and classic and fun to make – in moderation. Unfortunately by the time this quilt was assigned to us, I had already made four or five Flying-Goose-Heavy quilts since January, and I was a little pooped out.
Goose Pooped-Out, if you will.
But great quilt name, huh? Always a silver lining.
Since I had some Flying Geese blocks left over from a recent group project, and they happened to miraculously be the correct size, I decided my color scheme was going to be “whatever on white.” It made pulling fabrics easy.
Anything Goes – it’s not just for the musical theater stage.
Enter the minions. I whined one morning on my Eva Paige Quilt Designs Facebook page about having to make 280 Flying Geese units for this quilt, and suddenly people were actually offering to HELP! No way! You want to make some geese? HAVE AT IT, oh minions of mine.
I was beside myself! Since I love to run group projects anyway, this was a bonus for my regular participants, and I love them all to death for helping. Soon I was getting fun mail on a regular basis, and with each envelope I was able to cross more geese off the total number needed. Yay Minions!
I love happy mail.
Since I couldn’t expect the minions to do everything, although how awesome would that have been, I did spent many a day slaving away on my own geese. I used whatever method worked for the size scraps I had, but many were done using Triangles on a Roll “Sew and Flip” geese, because I had them available. I recommend them for sure. Makes even those of us who are really bad at points more accurate.
It’s like Paper Piecing for Dummies, really.
I also did some fast Flying Geese. I would argue that “fast” might be stretching it, but they too tend to be pretty accurate, so I really like this method for larger scraps. (See QM’s Fast Flying Geese video tutorial.)
Assembly line fun
After one million years, my geese were all “in da house” as the kids say, or did say about ten years ago. I may have stopped at 252. I may have been mentally spent.
All lined up and ready for action
There were several different ways I could approach the next steps of making the blocks. Different ways to cook the goose, you might say. I knew I wanted to have each of the places where the geese formed diamonds be coordinated with the same colors of scraps for each half of the diamond, but beyond that this quilt was not going to be “planned” in any way. This meant I could either add all the background pieces to the geese, make all the blocks, and hope that I had the proper colors where I needed them in those places, or do it all block by block and row by row to be certain.
In the end I decided to wing it. It only seemed appropriate. I added most of the background pieces to the geese in one day, making the longest chain-pieced strips of wonderment in my own personal quilting history.
Better than the type of goose poop one normal finds on the lawn, am I right?
But in all honesty I got bored of background piecing and started to make some blocks before all the geese were backgrounded. I’m just a rebel. So at any given time I had blocks, geese, and bits of background lying all over my workspace. If you still weren’t sold on the name I gave this quilt, I hope you are starting to see how it fits. It just took over and covered everything!
Goose Poop Central, on any given day in mid-May
It became apparent about halfway through the block process that flying by the seat of my pants might not be the best solution to putting the entire top together, so I started laying out rows and piecing rows and blocks as I went to get those cute little diamonds the way I wanted them.
See how every now and then there is a diamond/square that fell over shape and both sides of the shape are made from the same color? I love that aspect of this quilt and it was only going to work if I made one row at a time.
This top was put together without a lot of regard for matching points. That is just how I am. I had eliminated a lot of the original points in my decision to make the geese the main focus of the blocks, and as for the rest of them, well, we can pretend I had no idea where my seam ripper was. The beauty of a “modern” quilt, in my opinion, is that it can be anything you want it to be, cut-off points included. I embraced the beauty. Maybe you will, too.
For quilting, I went with straight diagonal lines using two threads I pretended to be surprised to find in my Christmas stocking last year. At least I got what I wanted.
Aurifil variegated threads are known around my studio as “the only variegateds that don’t cause me to swear a blue streak due to breakage.” I love them.
First I quilted diagonally in one direction with the orange…
I’m breaking my own rules and showing you a close up. Behold my horrific points.
…then went in the other direction with the teal.
Perfect quilting? No. Kinda cute? I think so.
I really wasn’t sure what would look best for a binding, so I used my go-to method of pulling chunks of stash fabric I knew were large enough for a binding. I decided on a simple black and white polka dot. I find that polka dots can often serve as the little black dress of quilting fabrics, and in this case they did not disappoint.
So are you ready for the big reveal? Once again I welcome back my daughters and company namesakes Eva and Paige to show off their Vanna White-esque quilt holding skills. And isn’t it fun to see how this angle of my backyard and deck changes from season to season?
This season features sweaty girls and dying grass.
A little closer up…
And my personal favorite, even though it isn’t straight on and is darker lighting and is trying to be too artsy, but I think it shows the design better and features happier girls who aren’t as blasted hot since they are in the shade so you are getting it anyway…
I feel like I’m almost seeing a secondary, “goose-tracky” pattern in there. Maybe I got my wish after all!
I really like how the white background replacing the various yellows in the original has made this a less busy design while maintaining the scrappy character. While I prefer more fabrics and more variety in a quilt to fewer fabrics or those from all one line, I think this quilt showed me that sometimes less is more, or to be more grammatically correct, fewer fabrics are more delightful to me. (The Grammar Nerd in me will never miss an opportunity to make sure the fewer/less thing is addressed.)
Thank you for checking in to see what I did to this assignment. I’d love to know what you think and what you will do with Pup Tents!
* * * * *
Get the July/August issue: Includes Pup Tents pattern, Bonnie Hunter’s pattern and so much more!