Last Hurrah: How Did I Do That?

TUTORIAL (Sort of):  Last Hurrah Quilt

48″ x 70″

Many of you have kindly asked how I do a quilt like Last Hurrah that I shared with you last week.  If you look closely, it is not strip pieced.  Yep, all single blocks.  But, don’t let that scare you off.  It isn’t that bad.


Here we go!

  1. Color Scheme–I wanted something sort of like a rainbow, but not a rainbow.  You can pick anything, really.  If you are relatively new to scrap quilting, you might find the backing fabric FIRST and then pick colors to go with that.  If you like the back, you’ll love the front!
  2. Raid your scraps.  If you have a pre-cut scrap bin sorted by size, it is a good place to start.  If not, consider leftover jelly roll strips, 5″ charms or layer cake squares.  They are easily cut to 2-1/2″ squares.
  3. The layout for this size (48″ x 70″) is 24 squares wide and 35 squares tall.  TRUE CONFESSION:  That size was chosen because it was the largest I could make the quilt with the backing fabric I had (3 yards).  Yep, that is the only reason.  This means you need at least 420 colored squares and 420 background squares.  You may have noticed that my background squares are also scrappy.  A good way to use up those little bits.
  4. Get your piles together.  If you have a specific color scheme, make sure you have enough of each color.  For this quilt I had 6 basic colors, plus background.  So, I needed at least 70 squares of each color.
  5. The color scheme I chose had a particular order.  A nursery rhyme song helps:  “Rainbow purple. Rainbow blue. Rainbow green and yellow, too.  Rainbow orange. Rainbow red.  Rainbow shining overhead.”  You don’t have to do a particular order.  Random is its own kind of beautiful.
  6. I stitched together sets of twelve:  purple, bk, blue, bk, green, bk, yellow, bk, orange, bk, red, bk.  It takes 72 sets.
  7. Group the sets together in 24 rows of three.  Yes, right now they are all identical, but that is about to change.
  8. As I laid the quilt out, I tried really hard to keep identical fabrics from touching, even at the corners.  But, that is just me.  It only matters if it matters to you.
  9. Next, unsew (pick out) the next color over and stitch that piece to the other end.  Each row will “move over” one color.  Next row, you will go two over.  Next row, three.  And so (sew) on.
  10. After I had a row prepared, I attached it.  That way I could see the quilt grow quickly and not misplace something or get out of order.
  11. If you use a similar color scheme to mine, you will quickly reach the point where you have a repeat row and don’t have to pick anything out.  YAY!
  12. Do all of this 24 times and you have a quilt top. Ta-dah!

Of course, strip piecing would be faster, but I like the increased variety of charm piecing and it uses more of my scraps.

Sorry I don’t have pictures, but I didn’t know you would all be so interested in the process and wasn’t careful about that.  Ask more questions and I will improve the directions as you offer suggestions.


Last Hurrah Of Summer

In a burst of celebratory energy after finishing the Irish Stars Quilt, I opened the 2-1/2″ squares box and threw this together.


It is fun to play with color.


Finished size is 48″ x 70″.  Just a happy throw.


With bicycles.


Class starts today (8/19).  I am ready!  What a great summer it has been!  Thank you for sharing it with me.

Vintage Project Layout: Applique Butterflies

The past several days brought the Vintage Applique Butterfly quilt started by my Great-grandmother, Mina Opal, to a completed top.

As I picked apart the previous setting, I noticed that there were 6 blocks where the butterflies were straight on the block and 48 blocks where they were angled.  Considering the care and attention to detail in the work generally, I was certain that was not an accident.  But, why?


Research revealed that that there is a layout for 54 blocks that has a six block center–a medallion!


After that the process went relatively quickly. I created a six block medallion and surrounded it with three part sashing, placing a nine-patch in the corners.  Most quilts in this style used either a single wide piece of sashing or additional background material, but I liked this look. Around and around we go!


Three layers plus a wide outer border of muslin as close as I could get to that in the background of the blocks.  It is lighter, but the texture is right and I think after quilting it won’t be too obvious.


I am preparing to scallop that outer border when it gets back from the quilter and marked a rough draft version to guide her work.  Yes, this quilt is being sent out.  It deserves the best, so I am giving it that chance.


Won’t my mother be surprised when she sees it again!


Another Vintage Project

This year is the year–of Vintage Projects.


Recently, my mother surrendered two quilts started by HER grandmother, Mina Opal, (my Great-grandmother) in the 1930-40s.  Today we will take a look at the first one.


Mina Opal created 53 applique butterfly blocks.  My mother added one.  She then added sashing and started to build a top (early-to-mid 1980s).  But she was unhappy with the results and put the whole project away for about 35 years.

ASIDE:  Now that I think about it, my mother quit on the quilt about the time Mina Opal became ill and died (1987). Hmm…I wonder if that had something to do with it?

Anyway, when it came to me I asked if there were restrictions on what I could do, because “It won’t look the same when I bring it back.”

With my mother’s (blind-faith) blessing, I have gone to work.  First, pick the entire top apart. It took days.


Clean up and iron each block. This was a tedious but useful process.  It helped me to see the work more closely and to better appreciate the skill and care Mina Opal and my mother, Verna, put into the quilt.  It also gave me clues as to the possible original intent.


It also gave me a reason to AGAIN use my new lint roller.  WHO KNEW one would be so useful?!  I don’t know how I did without one this long.


I chose the largest possible size (9″) for the blocks and squared up. This step was the hardest emotionally so far.  Cutting 80 year old fabric…arrgh!  What if I make a mistake?  But, I went slowly and only did a few blocks at a time.  And double-checked.  A lot.


Time for design decisions….Coming soon!