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A Scrappy Take On My Picnic Plaid Pattern

Color gradients. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go there anymore?



Yeah, I went there. Again. I couldn’t help it, you guys! Gradients: So colorful. So orderly. So appealing to both the left and right sides of my brain. : )
So this is my latest addition to my always expanding collection of color-gradient quilts. : ) This is a scrappy version of my Picnic Plaid pattern (available here).
Here’s a shot of the original Picnic Plaid quilt. The original is strip-pieced in a narrower color palette, but I’ve had the urge to make it scrappier for some time now. So when Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter asked me if I would want to contribute a pattern to her 2016 Quilter’s Planner, it was the perfect opportunity to create modified instructions for a scrappier version of that design. (Sadly, the 2016 Quilter’s Planner is now sold out! Sorry!)

Of course, Steph was nice enough to quilt this one for me, and worked her usual magic on it. I’ve always loved this loopy quilting pattern, and now I finally have a quilt that makes use of it!

This quilt has what might be my favorite print ever for a quilt back: Zen Chic‘s “Notes” print in Charcoal on Fog. The binding is an older Zen Chic print called Barcelona. You can see a chunk of that print in the piecing above as well. I was really feeling the Zen Chic that day, I guess. : )

Regardless of which version of Picnic Plaid you prefer, it’s yet another great demonstration of how much print and color can change the look of any given design. Fun!

WIP Wednesday: A Quilty Christmas

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
So here’s what I was working on while I should have been, I don’t know, buying gifts or mailing Christmas cards or something.

Ever since I started quilting, I have intended to make a Christmas quilt for my family. And ever since I started quilting, that has somehow not occurred. But you might remember from last week that I finished a Christmas quilt top! Surely it should have been a short, straight line from there to a finished Christmas quilt. Right?

Nope. Somehow instead of one finished Christmas quilt, I now have two finished Christmas tops.
All I did was go into my local quilt shop, with the goal of buying a fun Christmasy print for a quilt back. Easy enough, right? Except then I spotted the Hip Holiday line by Josephine Kimberling. And I had to have it. A lot of it (or at least more than was warranted for a back).

Long story short, what started as a simple pieced back in some of the Hip Holiday prints somehow turned into a second whole Christmas quilt, of a design inspired by Katie’s Star Bright quilt. Because once I finished piecing this “back,” it occurred to me that it was totally not a back at all. Oh well.

So then I managed to whip up two quilt backs (actual backs this time), baste them both, and now quilting is in progress. I’m hoping to get at least one done before Christmas, maybe. If I keep ignoring those gifts and cards.

Enough about me. What are you working on this week?
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

Book shipping update: Vintage Quilt Revival is finally IN STOCK on Amazon! You can still get a copy in time for Christmas via standard shipping if you hurry. Makes a great gift! : )


Back It Up

As many of you already know, I love a pieced quilt back, and now Rebecca of Chasing Cottons is having a linky specifically for the backs of quilts. I think the back of a quilt is the perfect to experiment and improvise a little. Go crazy! There’s less pressure back there to pull off perfection. Anyway, Kati and Angela both put together fun collections of their pieced backs, so I thought I’d throw together a few of mine:


Fall Equinox

Juliet’s Urban Lattice quilt

Kissy Fish

Single Girl

Sliced Coins

Yep, backs always appeal to the minimalist in me.

In other news, summer is now in full swing at my house, with all the craziness that entails. This weekend was Miss E.’s dance recital—the event of the summer among 4-year-old girls around here. And in the coming weeks we have t-ball, swimming, tennis, zoo classes, birthday parties, travel plans … you know the drill. I’m hoping to keep up my usual frenetic pace of sewing and blogging on top of that, but … well, we’ll see what happens. It’s summer, after all. We don’t get that much of it around here—I have to enjoy those fleeting moments! So if I don’t post as often as usual during the summer months, you’ll know why. But even if I’m not posting as frequently, you can bet I’m sneaking in plenty of sewing after the girlies are in bed! And I’ll be sure to get pictures of it up sooner or later. Happy summer, everyone!


Supernova Quilt-Along: Making the Back

Welcome back to the Supernova Quilt-Along! By now I’m sure every last one of you has a completed quilt top, right? : ) Of course you do! Okay then, today we’ll be piecing the back.

I have a love/hate relationship with making backs. Love: The design possibilities, and the fact that you can make a quilt back in an evening. After spending so much time on a quilt top, you gotta love the instant gratification of the back. Hate: Dealing with gargantuan pieces of fabric. I tend to sew large cuts of fabric like a drunken sailor. That often includes the cursing.

But like it or not, making the back is a necessary part of creating a quilt. Even if you farm out your quilting to a professional, you will almost always need to provide the back yourself. So it helps to consider the back an opportunity to add to your design, rather than just another chore.

I usually have two goals when it comes to making a quilt back: 1) Use up as many scraps, excess blocks, and existing stash fabrics as I can. 2) Create a design on the back that echoes or compliments the design on the front. I also consider the back a chance to be a little more improvisational and free-flowing than I was on the front. Let’s face it, there’s just less pressure back there. If you end up hating it, you can always just fold the quilt with the front facing out. Problem solved!

So when it came time to piece the back for my Supernova, I started with some excess sub-units that I had on hand. I changed my mind about using these on the front, so now they were just hanging out on my design wall, lined up in a row, waiting to be useful. And do you see what I see? Yes! Zig zags!

I decided to extend the zig zag across the entire back of the quilt. To do that, I needed 9 sub-units. Since I already had four, I started by piecing the remaining five and sewing them all together, side by side, into one long row, as shown above.

Next, to complete the zig zag points, you’ll need some flying geese units.

Remember how we made the “half-goose units” during the first piecing step? You’ll make your flying geese units in the same way, except that when the half-goose unit is done, just add another square to the other side, as shown above.

Trim and press, and you should end up with something that looks like this.

Make 1 flying geese unit for each point of the zig zag. If you use 9 sub-units, like I did, you’ll need a total of 8 flying geese units, plus one half-square triangle on each end. So here are mine, all sewn and added to the design wall, in the appropriate spots to complete the zig zag.

To complete the zig zag, cut some 3″ by 10.5″ rectangles from your background fabric. Sew the flying geese units alternating with the rectangles, into one long strip, as shown above. Sew that row onto the zig zag row. Now, I won’t lie to you: Matching up bias seams all the way across on such a long row is not an easy task. Start by lining up the seams in the middle of the rows, pin, and work your way out toward the sides. My seams are far from perfect in a number of spots. But I was so enamored with how this giant zig-zag looks that I didn’t even care. Repeat with the bottom zig zag points.

Once I had the focal point of my back—the jumbo zig zag—done, I was ready to finish off the back. To do that, I laid out the front of the quilt face down on the floor. Then I just started spreading fabric over it to create the back. Doing it this way means you’ll get the size of the back right, and you can keep an eye on placement of various design elements in relation to the front. I started by laying down my zig zag, placing it off-center toward the bottom of the quilt. Then I added some strips from my Supernova scrap pile, as well as some Metro Living yardage from my stash. (Love, love, love Metro Living.) I then filled in the holes with my background fabric, Kona Coal.

Sewed it all together, and ta da, one completed quilt back! (Sorry for the truly awful photo.)

Supernova back

If you don’t want to tackle the zig zag, there are plenty of other design options for your back. Katie, who has already completed the quilt-along(!), did a great strip-pieced back (more details here). This is a perfect use for any leftover 3″ strips you might have.

Supernova bonus HSTs

And if you did the bonus HSTs while you were piecing your sub-units, that’s another design possibility. There are so many cool ways you can lay out HSTs—the possibilities are endless.

Supernova Quilt back - a Plus quilt

Or you could get really ambitious like Elizabeth, and make another whole quilt top for the back. Look—so awesome! Elizabeth and Katie, over-achieve much? : )

Quilt backs are a place where almost anything goes, and where you don’t have to do much planning. Just go for it! That freedom makes for a fun design process, no matter how you feel about giant pieces of fabric. I hope these suggestions have given you a jumping off point for your own unique pieced back. Can’t wait to see all of your backsides in the Flickr group!

Next week, we’ll have our final post in the series: Quilting and finishing. I’ll have some suggestions for different ways you can quilt your Supernova. That post will also be the site of our exciting final link-up! This is where you can show off your completed quilt. (Remember, completed quilts only—that means quilted, bound, the whole shebang). The linky will be open until May 12, and everyone who links up a completed quilt by then will be eligible to win the Castle Peeps FQ pack. Good times! See you then.