Creative Mind Chris Vinh has created another beautiful quilt while giving our free pattern Modern Squares (which she designed) an update. Enjoy her guidance in creating your own version! — Judy
Guest post by Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts
Finding some special fabric often sparks an idea for a new quilt. I’d had my eye on the “Earth Made Paradise” collection by Kathy Doughty and one day I decided to revisit a pattern design I had used for some shop samples several years ago. As I worked on the project, I made some changes to my initial pattern used for the first quilts I made, which we used in our booth at Quilt Market to showcase fabrics current at the time.
Our updated “Modern Squares” pattern — download your PDF copy — instructs you to pick two feature fabrics, 6 to 8 additional fabrics, and one (1) solid color for your quilt top (border not included). For the feature fabrics, I chose one (1) yard each of Abundance in cool colorway and Budgie Babies, and half-yards of the rest of the Earth Made Paradise Collection. I chose my one (1) yard solid color fabric from the wide variety of Marcia Derse Palette Solids, Cloud (a creamy white)
Following the pattern’s cutting directions, I cut the required squares and strips from the feature fabrics (pictured above). I used the entire yard of the solid for 2-inch strips, and for the half yard pieces, cut two 8-inch squares and then the rest into 2-inch strips.
Having cut all the fabric, I laid out the 8-inch squares and selected two different fabric strips to go with each square, making sure to vary the combinations. There will be some duplication, but variety was what I was aiming for as I played with the options.
The blocks were pieced using the squares and strips using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. I love using my BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and the Sew Steady Grid Glider to help in making sure my seams are straight!
I use the full width of the fabric for the strips and trim the extra before pressing at each step of the piecing. This is where a Oliso Mini Project Iron and Felted Wool Pressing Mat come in handy!
While I usually strip piece when sewing patchwork, for this project I made one square at a time, which helped me to keep track of my fabric selections.
In piecing the blocks, it is important to keep the same sequence of adding the strips — first to the left and right of the block, and then the top and bottom. Use the same order/sequence when adding your second row fabric strips.
Following the same order for all squares will make for nicer finished blocks when you piece the quilt together.
Once all the blocks were sewn, I squared them up to make sure they were all the same size.
The next step is to cut each block into four smaller blocks by cutting in half from top to bottom, and then turning to cut again. Using my 12-inch OLFA Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat came in handy here — I didn’t have to reposition the pieces as I cut. Following our pattern, you will end up with a total of 92 blocks.
For me, the next phase of laying out the blocks to create the design is the fun part! I find I can get lost for hours repositioning blocks to get just the right layout. I focus on making sure there is a balance of color and pattern, trying not to have similar blocks next to each other. I knew this would be larger than my design wall, so I used the top of our bed to lay out the pieces.
Some may decide to lay the smaller blocks out randomly, but I chose to start with placing four of the smaller blocks from the same large one near the center. I then worked my way out towards the sides and tops, adding partial blocks in some case, only a single block in others, or adding several more ‘complete’ blocks to get a design that was pleasing.
At this point, I recommend taking a picture of what you think is the final layout and stepping away from your design process. Often I see something that stands out in the picture that may need to be moved around to assure a good flow of colors and patterns. This may take several tries, but it is worth the extra effort!
Once I have decided on my layout, I carefully stack the blocks by row. I begin with the top row, with the block that would be located at the far right side placed on the bottom. When I get to the last two blocks for that row, I pin the second block to the first where the seam should be. This helps to keep the blocks in proper sequence. I number each stack with a Post-It, adding an arrow indicating which direction is the top of the block.
I like to sew the rows together as I go along, referring to my photo, in the event that I might have turned a block or not sewn in the right sequence. If it’s necessary, it’s much easier to rip out one row at that point!
For the layout in my sample, there are seven (7) small blocks across each row, and a total of 10 rows. I never fret over left over blocks as they get pieced for use in the backing (see photo at the end of this post)!
At this point, I decided to add a border with a complementary fabric, and chose Dear Stella Moonscape in Burgundy (Moonscape is a favorite blender fabric of mine!). It helped to contain a busy quilt a bit and pulled out colors in the several of the fabrics. I purchased 1-1/2 yards of this fabric, as the remainder would be used to piece my backing.
Above, the completed Modern Squares quilt, designed & pieced
by Christine Vinh, featuring Earth Made Paradise fabric
from Kathy Doughty. Machine quilted by Sue Bentley.
For the backing, I used all leftover blocks, any leftover uncut focus fabrics, and the Dear Stella. My quilt’s binding is from one of my focus fabric. My only scraps from this quilt project fit into a zip-loc bag!
For the final finishing touch, Sue Bentley of SuZquilts added the perfect machine quilting to my quilt, as she always does!
This pattern is a modification of Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt, a free pattern by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting. Visit our previous blog posting to see Erica Jackman’s original version that used precut fabric bundles, a lap quilt that finished to 68 in. x 76 in.
Above, a view of my Modern Squares quilt — I love to piece my quilt backings (they are an improv quilt on their own) and this was a perfect use of leftover fabric squares.