Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mandeville Kaleidoscope

My daughter Emily just moved into a new house on Mandeville Street (in New Orleans), a few blocks from where she was sharing a rental for the last several years. Here is a photo of the outside:

A mixture of bright colors is a common feature of many NOLA houses, and hers is no different (FYI: the door color is Bermuda Onion!). And it's hard to see, but that is a Cubs welcome mat!

So naturally she asked me to make her a quilt with lots of colors!

She wanted a comforter for her full-sized bed. As usual, we went back and forth looking at a lot of patterns, and finally settled on one called "Percolate". It features 26 different colors of Kona cottons (some in the layer cake package come with one square of each, others with two), made into half-square triangles, and then sliced and diced with silver strips.

Here is how each block is made:
First, the pre-cut colored square is sewed RST to the Snow background square.

Then, it is cut on the diagonal, opened, and pressed:

So each color square makes two blocks.

Next, 3 cuts are made. Each block then has a 1", a 1.5" and a 2.5" strip of silver inserted. So even though there is a "pattern", each block (and each quilt) is unique, since the placement of these strips is entirely up to the person making the quilt! Some of the blocks are cut parallel to the diagonally-sewn seam; others are perpendicular. Sometimes the strips are all on one half of the block; others are on both sides.

Here is how this one looks before the strips are sewn in....

....and after...

...and then trimmed to 9.25" x 9.25":

In all, there are 90 blocks (9 across by 10 down). The arrangement of the strips in the blocks forms a large off-centered multi-colored fractured diamond, looking just like a kaleidoscope!

As I mentioned above, the colored squares come pre-cut in a charm pack. That means that there are precisely the pieces of fabric needed for the blocks. Anyone who has ever made a quilt knows that mistakes are made. Whether you measure wrong, or cut a piece too short, or the straight-edge or rotary cutter slips, something always goes wrong. That's one reason why we buy extra fabric! But with this one, there was no margin for error. One wrong move would have meant disaster; there was no Plan B. So I had to go to another level of concentration and diligence. Luckily, I made all 312 cuts cleanly and correctly.

Since it is a comforter, and we all know how hot NOLA can get, my BQF Donna suggested that I use wool batting instead of the usual poly-cotton. This makes it fluffier and lighter. The only downside is that it makes it a little harder to quilt. I wanted to do minimal quilting to not counteract this fluffiness, so I ditch stitched on each side of the silver strips. Thus the quilting reinforces the overall diamond shape.

Here is the finished product, held on the front porch by Emily and her mom:

See the diamond? The center is on the left, below the mid-point.

And here it is in situ with colorful pillows:

Happy Home Emily!!!!!