Monday, 8 May 2017

Continuing the NQC Quilt Block Challenge Quilt

Continuing from last week's post where I made a gaggle of flying geese to lengthen the NQC Quilt, this week is all about making the quilt wider.

The geese I made last week will be flying across the width of the quilt. But when I tried also laying out some geese flying up and down to widen the quilt it was clear that wasn't going to work. The geese going both side-to-side and up-and-down made it really hard to focus on any one element. It was as if the geese were trying to draw the eye both everywhere and nowhere at once.

I obviously needed to come up with something different for the sashing at the sides of each block. I came back to my original thinking for the sashing:
  • not plain sashing; 
  • keep the challenge blocks as the focus; and
  • leave some clear space between the blocks and the elements of the sashing. 
I also now had an additional requirement of making sure the side sashings were the same width as the top and bottom sashing or the overall layout would look strange.

A simple (and blurry) pinwheel block
made with 4x HSTs
I played around with a few different ideas and eventually settled on 4 inch square pinwheel blocks with a border of 2 inch wide pale grey.

There seems to be lots of different variations on a pinwheel, but the one I've chosen is simply 4x HST blocks arranged to form a pinwheel.

Yes, I know I've cursed about all the HSTs in the main quilt blocks. All the cutting and precision trimming was driving me nuts, and here I am making more of them! But I found a way to cut down on the fiddliness slightly - I used the 'Magic 8' method to make all of the required HSTs for my pinwheels. I've post a quick rundown of that method separately.

See how I made lots of Half Square Triangle blocks using the Magic 8 method.

Again in the interests of keeping a bit of clear space in the sashing, and because I really only have three focus colours plus background fabric to work with I decided to only do three pinwheels per sashing and separate them with strips of background grey. Each strip of pinwheels would then be stitched to an 8 inch cornerstone block and the quilt top could be assembled.

And here's where it started to go a bit wonky...

Each of the Challenge blocks have an unfinished size of 16.5 inches square. Once all joined together to sashings, borders etc with 1/4 inch seams, the challenge blocks should be finished at 16 inches square.

I only wanted 3 pinwheels per Challenge block and I wanted them to line up in three spots - with the top edge of the Challenge block, with the bottom edge of the challenge block, and with the centre-line of the Challenge block.

I knew I wanted the pinwheels to have a finished width of 4 inches (the same as the flying geese I've done previously).

So the math I used is as follows - please don't use these calculations - I'm showing you where I mucked up here!...

3 x 4 = 12 = the total finished length the pinwheels take up on each block


16 - 12 = 4 = the total extra space in between the finished pinwheels  that I need to match up with the length of the Challenge block


4 / 2 = 2 + 0.5 seam allowance = 2.5 = the necessary width of each background fabric strip used above and below the middle pinwheel 

Unfortunately I didn't even notice my mistake until I'd already made all the pinwheels, cut all the in-between fabric and stitched together the sets of pinwheels.

I'd also cut my 8.5 inch (8 inch finished) square blocks of background fabric for the cornerstones by that time.

Layout of each block -
Challenge block as main focus, and how each of the
sashing pieces should fit around it.
Can you see where I went wrong yet?

I was figuring out everything based on the finished length of the Challenge block - I should have used 16.5 - the UNfinished length!

So I ended up with 12 strips that were each exactly 16 inches long. Once I took away the seam allowances, they would only be 15.5 inches long.

Half an inch might not seem like a lot, but I can tell you that when you're trying to make everything line up as close to perfect as possible, it can feel like a mile!

After much cursing, and the sashing strips going into the 'time-out corner' for a day or so, I resolved myself to working with what I had.

Rather than pull them all apart and put in new separating strips (which would all need to be cut fresh), I decided to just add a teeny strip of fabric to the ends to make up the extra length, It's not ideal, but it works.

Thankfully the extra bits of background fabric are not too noticeable in the overall scheme of things and so it all worked out in the end.

Once those pinwheel side sashings and cornerstones were done I was able to put the quilt top together, and here it is!

NQC Quilt Block Challenge quilt top - with added pinwheels and flying geese sashing.

I'm absolutely thrilled with how it has come together. It's even better than I imagined it.


That is only a double sized futon the quilt top is laying on, and it is only draped over the back about 8 inches (the width of the top flying geese sashing).

It's probably big enough to lay out flat on the top of a queen size mattress, but I also need some drape to cover the sides of the mattress. It's still not big enough at this point and I'm not going to call it finished yet.

The easiest way to achieve the extra length and width I need right now is going to be to add an outer border.

Not sure what design I'll end up with for the border yet. I'm going to need to take a bit of time and work out how best to use the little bits of feature fabric I have remaining to put together some thing that ties in with the quilt top as it is, but also isn't completely boring and plain.

Watch this space.

Until next time.


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