Ok! The short version of my 2021 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt goes like this:
Having enjoyed following along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge last year I was definitely up for the 2021 Challenge. From January to October Angela nominates a colour each month and then it’s up to each maker to create their chosen blocks from fabric scraps of the designated colour. Last year I made nine patch and thirty-six patch blocks using 2½” squares. This year I decided to tackle my over-flowing box of string scraps, using foundation papers to make 8″ blocks destined to be arranged in an 8 x 10 block layout.
In March I tried to tame the box of strings (scraps take up even more space when they’ve been rifled through, don’t they!) I ended up sorting all the colours and trying to arrange them so the yellow blocks (for instance) would contain some yellow/orange strings and some yellow/green strings in the hope that the rows of rainbow colours would merge into one another. By the time I’d done all that sorting and hoping I just had to make all the blocks – never minding the Challenge schedule!
So here it is, my 2021 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finished 7 months ahead of schedule 😀
Quilt stats: Finished size – 64″ wide x 80″ long; Backing – ‘Tonal Vineyard’ mid-blue by Sew Simple; Wadding – Hobbs 80/20 Premium; Binding – ‘Chalky Stripe by Makower; Quilting thread – 50wt Aurifil 3817; Quilting design – 2″ spiral.
So that is the short version of the story of my 2021 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt. The long version contains a twist of horror that may require you to sit back in your seat, gulping down a sugary drink whilst cowering behind a bucket of popcorn! Are you ready?
Agghhh! Fabric cut on the bias combined with patchwork piecing! Agghhh! Munch that popcorn and try not to flinch as you see the photographic evidence in my bias horror show!
I purposely constructed my string blocks on to paper foundations to keep the seams straight and prevent the blocks becoming distorted. The strips themselves were nearly all on-grain offcuts laid diagonally across the papers. Once pieced I squared off the blocks and CAREFULLY removed the paper fully aware of the need to stop those cut bias edges stretching the blocks out of shape. I’m sure I handled the blocks with equal care as I pieced the patchwork top BUT when I came to preparing for basting all those efforts to avoid stretching the bias edges seemed to have come to naught! Once I’d smoothed out the layers of the quilt sandwich on our living room floor prior to pin basting (at 5 o’clock in the morning so as not to inconvenience other members of the household!) this is what I encountered:
Oh! Boy! And Eeeek! Even the most cheerful optimist wearing the rosiest spectacles would have to admit those humpy seams at the edge of the quilt could NOT be smoothed out by quilting alone! *sigh* Around the patchwork top there were seven seams standing proud, each with at least an 1″ of excess fabric. After a bit of thought I chose to tackle the issue by unpicking about 6″ into the seams from the edge of the quilt top.
I folded back the excess fabric, finger pressing as I went, pinning so the two edges met neatly. Then I had to carry the top to my sewing room to pencil in the seam lines before stitching them. It was a bit of a fiddle but definitely worth the time and effort 🙂
My early morning advantage was well and truly lost! Husband and son spent the next few hours gingerly stepping around the quilt sandwich as I worked away at pin basting the rainbow monster. By lunchtime the sandwich could be lifted off the floor and the living room restored to order. I laid the quilt on the table in my sewing room and added more pins for good measure. Thinking about those exposed bias edges all around the quilt top I took the time to sew large stay stitches as an extra precaution designed to keep all that fabric in place while the squishing and smushing of quilting through a domestic sewing machine was underway.
Stitching out the spiral design was slow to start with as there was so much fabric to push through the throat of the machine but gradually the curves became less steep and the majority of the sandwich was supported on the table I have placed to the left of the machine. I was relieved when the circles finally reached the long sides of the quilt as I then just had to echo semi-circles at the top and bottom of the quilt to fill in the corners. Not surprisingly on such a large quilt I did start to find excess fabric beginning to ruffle up against the pins and the stay stitches.
I checked the back and saw the fabric was also being pulled and pushed a little out of shape in a few places. I could have carried on but decided to stop, unpick the basting stitches where necessary before un-pinning, smoothing and re-pinning the corner areas of the quilt.
The final rows of echo quilting stitched out without incident. The binding was also added without incident. The horror show was over!
All’s well that ends well and all that! I’m determined my next few projects will be much smaller than this one, with not a bias edge in sight! 😀