White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes | McCall’s Quilting Blog

Welcome back guest blogger and quilt designer Rachel HayesRachel’s quilt White Nights is featured in the March/April 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting. Read on and don’t miss Rachel’s giveaway at the bottom of the page!


Hello! I am Rachel M. Hayes and am happy to be back with McCall’s as a guest blogger. I wanted to share with you some details of my White Nights quilt, published in the March/April 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting.

First up – the name.  Don’t you just love trying to think of good names for your quilts?  I do.  I chose White Nights because a few years back I had the opportunity to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, during the annual summer celebration called “White Nights.”  It is the period of days, normally from June 11th to July 2nd, where the sun does not go below the horizon enough for the sky to become dark. It is fascinating to experience.  Night time looks like day time.  I thought that would be a perfect name for a quilt.  It is bright and bold like a summertime day with the prints and white, but the black reminds me the quilt is to be used at night time on a comfy bed for sleeping.

whitenights flat 500 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

White Nights finishes 94″ x 105″.

Now, a little background on why White Nights is a king size quilt.  My husband has been wanting a king size bed for ages.  I was not really interested in a king size, because, well, I was afraid I couldn’t make a quilt big enough for it. I finally convinced myself I could make it big enough and quilt it myself, so I started playing around with my EQ7 software and developed a block.  It took several revisions to be able to actually sew the block together.

Picture1 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

I settled on a 9” block, and in order for the black to outline the white squares, it required a lot of small pieces. On the positive side, all those little pieces allowed for a lot of variety in the printed fabrics.  At first, I thought this pattern would be too difficult, but I thought of other quilts I had made with even smaller pieces and realized most times, the smaller the pieces, the better the quilt.  Not always, I know, but sometimes don’t you want to challenge yourself and do something a little more complex?

I found the perfect prints in Amy Butler’s Dreamweaver collection for FreeSpirit.  The key to this quilt is to have all the prints about the same value – lighter than the black, and darker than the white.  This is what gives the pattern its visual interest.

Picture3 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

Strip piecing helped with some of the black and white sections, but I still had to cut lots of black and white pieces. I would get several sets ready for a few blocks at a time. Since I used fat quarters, I cut each fat quarter in all the different sized pieces needed and then selected from the various fabric options for each block.


Picture4 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

Another positive, once you learn to make one block, all you do is repeat.  Then just turn them to form the pattern.  I really like a one block quilt.  My little wooden iron came in handy for pressing the seams on the little pieces, and eliminated many trips to the ironing board.

Picture5 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel HayesI found a good method for making the scrappy borders.  I measured my quilt to be sure of the right measurements for the borders (sometimes we don’t always get that perfect ¼” seam, so it can be slightly different from the pattern), taped one end of my sewn border piece to the wall, and measured out with my metal retractable measuring tape. Borders for a quilt this large can be difficult to measure in a small work area. A retractable tape is a great quilter’s tool.

Picture7 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

This pattern is my favorite of all my designs. I love the black and white nine patches in the middle of all those bright colors. I used the pantograph Marmalade for the quilting.

Ok, so now a little more about the bed.  I couldn’t find a king size bed in the price range I wanted to spend.  When I found the farmhouse bed pattern online from Ana White, I figured if I studied and planned enough, then collected all the needed tools, I could build it.  To make a long story short, while the hubby was away on a two week fishing trip, I built the bed.  It was my first woodworking project, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Picture8 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

We have gotten lots of nice compliments on the bed and the bold quilt.

Picture9 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel Hayes

…and you can see I also made a wall hanging to match that hangs over our tub, not to mention the table runner (not shown) in the same pattern.  I meant it when I said this is my current favorite pattern.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the process for getting the White Nights quilt from my head to our bed.

Picture10 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel HayesIf you’d like to be entered to win a copy of the March/April 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting and this scrap bag of mixed prints to get you started on your own version of White Nights, go to my website and click on the blog tab.  You can see some more pictures of the quilt, then leave me a comment via the Connect tab.  I’ll draw a name by February 18th, so don’t delay!               -Rachel-

cover 200 1505 White Nights: A Visit with Rachel HayesThanks so much, Rachel. If you’d like to make your own version of White Nights and don’t yet have a copy of the March/April 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting, you can order print and digital versions in our online shop. The White Nights quilt pattern is also available separately as an instant digital download.

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