Fabric Panels. You love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Whatever you think of a fabric panel, they are everywhere: quilt shops and in magazines, for quilts and for quilting, not just for kids but adults too. One might even consider them one of the pre-cuts on the market to help quilters make a quick quilt. If you are like me, you’ve resisted working with fabric panels for a long time, because they seemed like a short cut to real quilting. And, because fabric panels seemed to have a limited use; as is, or surrounded by border strips. At best, you could place a bunch of fancy blocks around the edges. I am wrong!
Wonderful things are happening with fabric panels today. There are so many to choose from, ranging from scenic landscapes, nature and animal-inspired to large graphic displays of color. You know what changed my mind about fabric panels? Two things: The Dream Big panel from Hoffman California Fabrics. I saw it at Quilt Market with lots of lovely quilting detail; thought it would be a great panel for exploring quilting skills. I immediately wanted to learn machine quilting with that panel. And second, the Christmas Crackers fussy cut throw quilt, designed by Rachel Hayes for the November/December 2018 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.
ABOVE: Christmas Crackers, designed by Rachel Hayes, Quiltmaker, November/December 2018
I know it might be hard for some quilters to ‘just do it’, but you really can cut a panel into pieces and open up a whole new world of quilty ideas. Christmas Crackers is a totally unique quilt because you can’t tell it’s made from a panel. In fact, it’s made with six of the same fabric panels. And, get this; the panels are dolls, dressed in Christmas colors.
Christmas Crackers Up Close
Rachel is so very clever. Made of pieced hexagons, if you look at the quilt’s design up close, you can see the tiny feet of the elves running in a circle, along with other whimsical shapes. She fussy cut the panels to put together pieces of the dolls to create a great holiday-fun quilt.
Remember I talked about the appeal of a panel earlier? Well, the really great thing about Rachel’s design is you can make it with any fabric panel that has small elements suitable for fussy cutting the triangles. (Check out the color option with the Christmas Crackers design in Quiltmaker November/December. And, consider the book panels that are available for a child’s quilt).
Christmas Crackers: Basic Steps
Here’s a quick view of the basic steps Rachel used to create her quilt.
Rachel’s design might be a bit fussy, but it is so creative it’s one quilt design worth a try. And, the ideas are endless when you think of all the fabric panels to choose from.
Be sure to check out the other quilt designs in the Quiltmaker November/December issue. You can see them in our Lookbook here. Better yet, download a copy of the magazine or request to mail a print issue direct to your door.
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