Making a quilt, part 2

I realized that in my last post, I didn’t say much about how I pick the fabric that goes into my stash.  For this series of quilts, I’ve been leaning heavily into large patterns – usually florals.  Lately, I’ve purchased a lot of fabrics designed by Amy Butler, Kaffee Fassett, Brandon Mably, and Joel Dewberry.  Their fabrics seem to give me what I’m looking for – a lot of movement and blending of colors  (I try to find pieces that have a general single hue feel, while still bringing in other hues into the mix.)

I took a look at the fabrics I’d chosen, and brought in a few more pieces.  That light green is back, and I added two more to up the orange factor.  I particularly like how the fabric on the right can bring the orange and green together.

I added these fabrics to the bunch

I added these fabrics to the bunch

Each quilt in this series (so far) has been made up of 100 blocks – 50 four patches and 50 log cabin boxes.  For each quilt, I cut one 2 inch strip and one 1 inch strip from each fabric.  This will give me more four patches than log cabins, but because I often go back to use my leftovers, I gear my cutting to making sure I’ll start with at least 50 log cabins blocks.

Strips of fabric arranged by value

Strips of fabric arranged by value

After I’ve cut, I arrange the 2 inch strips by value, and make two 9 inch cuts, leaving me with four 2″x9″ rectangles of each fabric.  I then set up the strips by value, usually starting with the darks, by my sewing machine.  This allows me to sew without thinking too much, while still getting a variety of different blocks.

Getting ready to sew the four patches

Getting ready to sew the four patches

I start from the dark end and work to the light end.  My goal is to create dark, medium and light blocks, with some blocks acting as transition between the values.  I don’t have a set pattern, but in general, I’ll grab the first available fabric (lets call it #1), and sew one to the next fabric (#2), jump a fabric to #4,  #5, and then jump just far enough that I’m getting a fabric that’s about half a step away in value (dark / medium dark / medium / medium light / light).  Looking at the photo above, I’d probably go for #7 (if the bottom is #1 and you count up.)  There’s no real science, and sometimes I’ll be totally wild and use #3, #5, #6 and #9.  Whatever.  It’s kind of meditative and fun, and since I work my way up the value scale, I don’t really have to plan much, and that’s how I like to sew.

Cutting the four patch pieces

Cutting the four patch pieces

In the photo above, you can see the strips that I’ve sewn together, along with my piles of cut pieces that are ready for the final seam.  I’ve found that doing large batches of cutting and chain sewing speeds up the process so that I can get to the really fun part!

organizing the log cabin blocks

Organizing the log cabin blocks

For the log cabin blocks, using the 1.5 inch strips, I make two 1.5″ cuts, two 2.5″ cuts and one 3.5″ cut.  That’ll be enough to make two blocks from each fabric.  I don’t pay too much attention to value when I arrange them with the center square, but in general, I don’t tend to pair the very dark with the very light.  Mostly.   And again, chain sewing and ironing helps me get through this section pretty quickly.

Next post – putting it all together.


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