I’ve finished sewing together the blocks of the sampler quilt that I wrote about in my last post. As I suspected I would, I made a couple of changes to my original plan. I think they make it a better over-all composition.
My original plan was to have a strip of the green fabric along the right side, but I decided to use the main patterned fabric there. I think that balances with the strip above the bow tie blocks better than the green fabric would have, and I think the green would have been too strong. I also left out the small block of orange fabric that I had planned to insert below the 6 inch square of circle print fabric. This lets the fabric square with a 6 inch square of sashing fabric echo the log cabin blocks that precede it on the diagonal. I like having this sort of repetition in the design.
The blocks are all either 12 inches square or 6 inches square, so I used a 3 inch wide sashing in between. I used a 4 inch wide border all around to give the top a bit more of a frame than it would have had using 3 inch wide strips. The finished quilt top measures 51 inches by 66 inches.
A couple of friends asked me how I figured out how to piece the sashing to the blocks, and how to know what sizes to cut, so I thought I would share with you the sketch that I used for my calculations. I drew the blocks in my layout to scale on a sheet of graph paper, with 3 inches of space in between. I roughly sketched in the blocks and coloured in the green and orange bits with pencil crayons (the colouring was actually a part of my earlier design process, to see how evenly the two strong colours were distributed over the whole top).
Next, I drew dashed lines to indicate where the seam lines for the sashing strips would be. I tried to stick with the basic principles of quilt top construction that I’ve used so many times in the past – thinking in terms of building larger and larger units as I sewed them together.
Once I’d done that, I marked the finished dimensions of each sashing strip on the drawing. Then I made a list on a separate sheet of paper of each size of strip (adding 1/2 inch extra for seam allowance to length and width) and counted out the number of each I would need to cut. For example, I needed 5 strips at 3 1/2 inches by 12 1/2 inches. Working on another sheet of graph paper, I sketched out how to cut the strips from my fabric in the most efficient way I could manage. Then I cut all of the strips and squares except for the outer borders.
Once the strips were cut, I started to sew everything together in sections. First I took the 6 inch squares of sashing fabric and used them together with the log cabin blocks to create 4-patch blocks. Next I stitched each 4-patch block to the adjoining sashing strip and then to the 12-inch block next to it. I continued in this way until the top was all together, except for the outside border strips.
I didn’t cut the outside borders until the end. This allowed me to measure the completed top and cut the border strips based on the actual dimensions, instead of the intended dimensions in my drawing. I know my piecing isn’t perfect, and that all of my minor deviations in sewing would add up. If I had cut the borders earlier, they would have been too short.
I am now working on piecing a backing for the quilt. It will be my first pieced quilt back, so I’m having fun playing round with the possibilities. I hope to use up most of the scraps of fabric leftover from making the sampler blocks. I’ll report on that soon.