The photo shown above is my Triple Four Patch quilt, "Insanity 3044", as it is shown in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. Most of the blocks in this quilt were acquired in a block swap. When I swap blocks there are always a few that don't seem to go with the others in the set. I put all of the blocks on my design wall and decide which blocks will be used in the current project and which will go back into the bag for future use. I make additional blocks in the colors or patterns that I feel will balance or add a spark to the quilt.
The Triple Four Patch block has multiple seams. If the blocks are sewn side beside this can create lumps. I decided I would use a sashing and press all of the seams toward the sashing for a smoother top. Blocks from trades are often not exactly the same size. If the sashing strips are all cut accurately to 6 1/2", and the blocks are adjusted to fit the sashing, the top has a much better chance of being square. Corner stones also help keep a top square. When I was making these decisions it did not occur to me how many more miles of stitching it would take to add all of the sashing and corner stones. Thus the quilt title became "Insanity 3044" because when finished this was the number of pieces in the quilt and obviously I was insane to consider such a project.
Pattern in scrap quilts is created by differences in value. In the Triple Four Patch block it is very important for the tiny light squares to be lighter than any other fabrics chosen for the block. This quilt uses many different visual textures. Stripes, plaids, dots, and florals are all examples. I have shown a close up of several of the blocks from the quilt along with the sashing and corner stones. This quilt uses many of what I call my "ugly" fabrics.
I decided a large jungle print, found in my stash and originally bought as blouse fabric, would make an interesting sashing. The problem with the print was the bits of white. I only wanted the white to be in the tiny block squares and half of the corner stones. For the sashing I fussy cut around the white areas.
Quilts that use a block from the quilt in a different color or value, to create the border, inspire me. In the photo shown above, I have placed a few of the blocks I originally made for the border on the quilt surface. It is impossible for me to make final decisions about a quilt until I see the pieces on my design wall. The first border blocks I made had reverse values from those in the quilt center. I used black for the tiny squares instead of a very light. I made 8 of these blocks and placed them on the wall around the center. I was not happy. The next step was to shop!!! Teal is usually a good color for scrap quilts so that is where I started. The teal I selected is actually a Christmas fabric with touches of gold. The fabric for the tiny gold squares came from my stash. This fabric uses several values of gold, which seem to me to make the quilt sparkle.
**** An offer: I have 8 of the green with black blocks. I could probably find more of the green fabric in my stash. If you have blocks that you would like to trade make me an offer.
Many of my quilts are designed from the inside out. When I start a new quilt I usually have an idea in mind but somehow things never seem to follow the plan. Once I am happy with a center I sew it together and then search for the "next right thing". I find that if I just keep trying different fabrics and blocks something will finally work.
When I cleaned my sewing room, I discovered the start of a project from a class taught many years ago by Judy Hooworth. I decided to try to use this UFO (unfinished object) as the center of a medallion quilt. The large block (four 8" courthouse step blocks with 1" sashing) had a finished size of 17". To make the planning of the quilt easier I added l 1/2" (cut 2") polka dot spacer strips to make the finished size 20". Having a center that is divisible by 2 makes calculating the size of blocks for the next border much easier. I decided to use hourglass blocks with a finished size of 4" (5 on each side for a total of 20 plus 4 corners). The 20 side blocks each have a quarter square triangle of polka dot that creates the illusion of a zig-zag border. Ten of these blocks have two orange fabrics and ten have two green fabrics. The corner blocks are made using 2 fabrics of each color. After adding the borders the top had a finished size of 28".
Repeating elements is one way to design a quilt. Fortunately I was able to find the black and white stripe and orange with yellow dot I had used in the center. I chose the 1 1/2" (cut 2") border width because to me it was the most visually pleasing. By making the border extend into the next pieced border the sides remained 28". I was then able to make seven 4" four-patch blocks fit on each side. I used a smaller version (4") of the courthouse steps blocks for the corners. At this point the finished size was 39".
I auditioned the polka dot for the outer border and was not pleased. The black and white print came from my stash. The fabric had been used as a back on a previous quilt. The width of the border was determined by the very limited amount of fabric. I decided to place the directional print around the top and used a partial seam technique to attach it.