Seeing Red

Just a quick update from NY.

I did some math. I hate math. I had some red 1.5″ inch squares. I thought “I can do something with these”. So I planned a queen-sized postage stamp quilt. I quickly sewed through my stash of scrap squares, then I cut a few more squares from random red yardage. I still only had 1 row of the quilt completed. Yikes! I decided to count how many squares I might need. Check my calculations:

  • Each mini block has 12 1.5″ squares
  • There are 15 mini blocks in each row. That means that there are 180 squares in each row
  • I’m planning on 19 rows to make the quilt queen sized
  • That’s a whopping 3,420 1.5″ squares

Well of course, that meant that I had to sort and count how many squares I already had on hand: about 1250.

I decided to cut all the remaining squares before I sew any more of the quilt. I want to make sure that all the colors and patterns are thoroughly distributed throughout the finished quilt. I’m getting there!


Little Bits

When I first started quilting I did not have much fabric. I hoarded all my scraps and, using Lori Holt’s advice, I started cutting them into “standard sizes” that would be available whenever I was ready with a project. After a while I had so many pre-cut scrap blocks that I had to start sorting them by color.

Late night surfing led me to Red Pepper Quilts where I was inspired by the vibrant colors of a Postage Stamp quilt. Later I spied another version of the Postage Stamp quilt blocks that used white space to break up the colors and tiny pinwheels that pointed to the corresponding color in the quilt. I knew I had to use that technique to dive into my ready-made blocks.

I waded through my stash of  1.5″ squares and tried to keep my sanity. Now I know that it’s better to cut strips, sew them together, then rotate them around to get this effect, but hey — I was a newbie, a dewy-eyed quilter, a Lori-Holt-following, Red-Pepper-Quilt-inspired greenhorn.

Plus I needed to learn how to sew a straight line — it was good practice to sew on these little bits and tear it out quickly when necessary (much more often than I care to discuss!).


Piecing all the blue bits together.


Pink postage block.

About two years ago I finished the top. It was so crisp and clean and bright! I was terribly excited! I started calling it the picnic quilt (can’t you just see mustard smeared across it?)…But it was smaller than I envisioned (56″x56″). It needed some seriously wide borders.


Quilt top inspired by Red Pepper Quilts.

I agonized about those borders for a long time — maybe  year or two??? The multitude of colors stumped me. I tried many black background rainbow prints, but they always looked too somber, and lots of them were juvenile prints. I finally settled on a green lawn-like dotted Swiss. And then I waited to cut out and attach said borders for another year.

But this week I have broken through my stasis. I love this quilt, but I let it languish unfinished for a long time. Now I need to cut out the binding and search for a backing. In my mind the backing has always been red gingham to go along with the picnic theme. What do you think? Too literal?


Picnic quilt top