Six QM readers take one pattern from an issue and make scrappy versions. This team is called the Scrap Squad. Here’s the pattern we’re using from Quiltmaker Sept/Oct.
Today’s featured quilt is by Beth Kerr Helfter, who blogs at Quilting Hottie Haven. Beth tells her story below.
Beth’s Koi Pond Kaleidoscope
Things I liked when I first saw our latest project:
- The clean lines. Which I knew immediately I was totally going to destroy and dirty up in my plan to create a riotous study in color placement to prove that even the cleanest quilt pattern can get nuts with careful coloration.
- The teal fabric creating the little stars in the secondary design. Yeah, they were totally getting cut too, but I still liked them.
- The circles. THOSE I loved so much I was going to keep them and make more.
Things I didn’t love:
- The block size. Because it was a 12.5″ block with five “row-like” elements, those elements didn’t fit nicely into “normal” sized-pieces to cut. I don’t do well with abnormal sized pieces. So I redrew the block in EQ and made it a 10.5″ block with five rows of pieces all 2.5″ wide or tall. Easy fix. My quilt, my sanity, my choice. Don’t be afraid to do this, people!
- It’s a quilt made entirely of one block repeated over and over using the same fabrics in the same places for every block. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. I refer to this in my lectures as “one that makes me want to put my eyes out.” The entire point of Scrap Squad is to change that up, and it’s one of the main reasons I signed up.
- The actual “blocks.” I saw these blocks on a larger scale, and combined four of the original blocks (using my new, easier size) into one 20 1/2″ block, of which I would make six for this quilt. LOVED IT! Then I went nuts just coloring them in EQ to get a sense of what I’d be attempting to create with my color study.
- Number of blocks and borders. I counted and there were approximately 900,692 pieces in this quilt (possible slight exaggeration, but a staggering number nonetheless). I laughed hysterically and said, “No way. That will cut into happy hour on a regular basis.” Decided to make six of these 20.5″ blocks and see where that left me. I also knew I’d be extending the circle design into the borders because I just like complete circles, and the half ones in the original design were totally missing something. Like their other halves.
So, with all this decided, I took a nap. This was going to be a monstrous job, but finding this amazing focus fabric and some yummy shades to go with it already had me all hopped up to start as soon as I could find a well-rested moment to myself.
Those were the first fabrics I found, but as I built each block, I kept going back to my bins and pulling more fabrics. The end result is that this quilt contains more fabrics than any quilt I’ve ever made and has a mix of solids, batiks, and prints all working together. You know those purists who tell you that batiks and other fabrics can’t be put in the same quilt? Show them this and watch ‘em weep.
Instead of working in quarter blocks to create the 20.5″ blocks of my choice, I worked from the inside of each block, which was simplified to a piece of focus fabric cut 4.5″ square with stitch-and-flipped corners (here shown in lime green).
The next round was a little more work, mainly because of those long split rectangle pieces. I cut rectangles at 5.5″ x 3″ from both colors, matched them up and stacked them both right sides up, then sliced on the diagonal.
Then I created the individual “long diagonal” blocks and trimmed them to 4.5″ x 2.5″. Were they perfect? No. Did I care? No. It worked for me, the points were close enough, and I had no desire to make a template. It all added up to falling back on the whole ‘perfection is overrated’ thing. See how handy it is?
The next round of the block forced me to make some Flying Geese. I just can’t get away from them. They were more interesting than basic ones, and check out how I’m using a dark and a light of the coral, now combined with two different dark pinks.
Now we’re on to the big guns: The final rounds, each of which took way longer than I anticipated. In fact, each 20.5″ block took about three hours for me to cut and sew (because yes, I am a nut and was cutting and designing as I went). As I got to this outermost round in each block, I’d make these subsets.
A close look at these sets will show that for this block I continued to use the light and dark coral fabrics, used four similarly valued hot pinks, and added a new lime to the mix. And the focus fabric is showing up again. And that one teal one? You’ll see why in a moment. Patience is a virtue.
Whipped the cornerstones for the blocks together out of the teal and focus fabrics with a little smatter of pink and green, and voila!
The next day I was back at it, hopeful the next blocks would go more quickly. But because of my design and cut-as-you-go methods, they never did get faster. However, they did continue to be awesome.
Looking at the photo above, you might start to see where I was going with that random aqua piece from a few photos back. I promised I’d explain, but astute observation may prove words unnecessary. Or not.
For those who want them: The aqua flying goose unit in the middle of the photo and part of the block on the left corresponds to the outer “round” of the block on the right. The outer round of the block on the right also has a green flying goose unit next to the aqua one in the middle of the photo, and then another green fabric one at the bottom. Anyone want to guess what color the outer round of the block underneath the right block will be? (Yes. Green. You are all so smart.)
Don’t try to guess the outer round color for the block going under the left block, though. There was some ripping involved in that situation.
With all the attempts to keep track of my piles of fabric…
…it is no wonder mistakes were made. Can you spot the error in this block?
If not, no worries. It took me far (too long) to notice it too.
There was joy and celebration when my blocks were together as one.
Six blocks done, three years of my life sapped in the process of matching all those points (but you have to admit I rocked that), and it was time to move on to the borders. Creating the “finish” to each teal/focus fabric circle and block point along the edges, all of which would extend into a solid blue, was my ultimate goal. I had no idea how I was going to go about it until I got started. Then I decided to dance on my outdoor pallet table in joy when it worked out fairly easily.
Once I had the borders on I realized I could never in a million years do justice to this quilt, which I had grown to love like a fourth child, with my very minimal machine quilting skills. So I handed it over to my friend Michelle Banton of Little Pup Designs, and she not only quilted it with skill, aplomb, and the perfect variegated thread, but did it all in less than six hours.
She’s crazy nuts. And a great person to have around in a quilting emergency.
I had just enough of the focus fabric left to use for the binding.
This quilt is not only ripply and kaleidoscopy, but also has a slight Asian flair. So I decided to name it Koi Pond Kaleidoscope. We can pretend all the corals are little fish swimming around with their perfect points waiting for us to feed them breadcrumbs.
Have no fear – I haven’t forgotten. It wouldn’t be a blog post without a photo of my girls dangling my latest creation off the deck. This time it wouldn’t be complete without the third child photo bombing.
I hope you loved seeing how a little reckless color abandon on my part took this quilt from a more staid, clean design into a riotous celebration of scraps. While there were many moments along the way where I questioned my methods and sanity, this is by far my favorite quilt of the projects I’ve completed for Scrap Squad and it has inspired a new design.
I’m working on getting that off the design wall and into a completed quilt. Details will be on my own blog as they develop. Isn’t it great how one brilliant idea can lead to several more?