This is the third in a series of sew/quilt-along posts about making a bargello quilt.
Once you have your strips cut (each pattern in Colorwash Bargello Quilts tells you how many strips to cut – Cascade requires 2 strips of each fabric, each strip 2″ x 20-21″), it’s time to sew them together.
Note: the original Cascade pattern calls for 19 fabrics. I am using 20 for this new quilt.
Use 2 different colors for your top thread and bobbin thread. You’ll see why later!
First of all, I highly suggest using a noticeably different color thread in the top of your machine than what you are using in the bobbin. This makes no difference when you sew the strip sets, but it will make a LOT of difference later…
I also have a few tricks I’d like to share that might help you avoid uneven strip sets, seam allowances that curl, or puckers or pleats in the seams:
A consistent seam allowance is a MUST. Quilters generally stick with 1/4″ seams. For this kind of project, an exact 1/4″ isn’t as important as a consistent seam allowance that measures the same width at any point along the seam.
Two styles of quarter-inch presser feet. I prefer the one with the blade, but either one can help keep seams consistent.
I also recommend a straight stitch throat plate, if you have one.
A zigzag throat plate (left) vs. a straight stitch throat plate (right)
I spend two entire chapters discussing selecting a palette of fabrics and using color, value, and visual texture to help arrange them to maximum effect in my book Colorwash Bargello Quilts. I won’t try to repeat all of that here, but I’ll boil it down to essentials.
Note: Since batik fabrics are generally more tightly woven (and therefore have a little less stretch) than other quilting-weight cottons, I highly recommend that you stick with either ALL batik fabrics or NO batik fabrics for your first bargello quilt. The slight differential in stretch can make matching intersections more of a pain than a pleasure when assembling the quilt. However, if you have lots of strip-piecing experience, press very carefully, and are accustomed to mixing these fabrics, than feel free to go ahead – I do it myself! I just want to warn you that it has the potential to make life a little more challenging…
I generally use 18 or more different fabrics in a Colorwash Bargello quilt. Don’t worry – it’s a lot easier to pick out that many fabrics than it sounds! It helps if you don’t overthink it at the beginning of the process. I recommend starting with either a focus fabric, a mental picture, or a theme.
The easiest type of focus fabric to work from is a medium-to-large scale, asymmetrical, multicolored print containing a range of values from dark to light. But don’t fall into the trap of overmatching the exact colors in your focus fabric! Variations in color, value, and/or intensity only add to the richness of your palette.
Once you have your focus fabric, mental image, or theme in mind, start gathering fabrics that share the same or similar colors, making sure to also grab fabrics that are lighter, darker, brighter or duller. It’s best to have lots to choose from!
I narrow down my choices by grouping fabrics into “runs” – 2 or more fabrics arranged from light to dark and “blenders” – fabrics that have 2 or more colors and/or values that can be used as transitions between runs.
Grouping my fabric into “runs” and identifying potential “blenders”
This is the first in a series of sew/quilt-along posts about making a bargello quilt.
For a little more background information, you can check out my previous post, Colorwash Bargello.
For this series, I’ll be referring to the Cascade pattern from my book Colorwash Bargello Quilts. If you don’t have the book or would rather design your own bargello quilt, you can still follow along and find a lot of (hopefully!) helpful information.
This has been one of my most popular bargello classes, as it can easily be completed in a day (or two days, if you are having lots of fun with your friends).
To help you start brainstorming a color palette for your own bargello quilt, I’d like to share some of the ways my students and friends have interpreted this pattern:
Centuries-old bargello needlepoint, also known as Hungarian point, flame stitch, or Florentine work.
Two examples of Bargello needlepoint patterns or Florentine work. (Left) typical curved Bargello motif, (Right) “flame stitch” motif. Image from Velvet-Glove (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) Public domain, via Wikimedia
Modern strip-piecing methods pioneered in the 1970s by quilt artists such as Barbara Johannah
Colorwash/watercolor quilting designers in the early 1990s such as Deirdre Amsden, Pat Maixner Magaret, and Donna Slusser.
I also recognize the influence of traditional quilt patterns such as Trip Around the World and Star of Bethlehem or Lone Star when the makers have used gradations of color and/or value in their fabric layout.
In my bargello-style quilts, I emphasize blending the colors and visual textures of the fabrics to create smooth gradations and transitions or “washes” of color across the face of the quilt, punctuated at intervals with areas of higher contrast.
Close-up of Aurora pattern from Colorwash Bargello Quilts showing gradations from light to dark and back again, as well as areas of higher contrast.
This sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to create a trio of customized pouches made from seat belt webbing. If you have never worked with seat belts before, this is a great project to get you started. Seat belts are shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable and easy to clean and sew. The pouches are fully lined and close with a zipper. These pouches are so versatile; use them for make up, accessories, for travel or for every day. You can even dress them up by adding a clasp ring for a matching tassel or wrist strap!
Here are a couple of pouches I made to coordinate with my teal feathers, tropical teal, and minty aqua tote:
The Market Tote sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to creating a customized bag made of seat belt webbing! Seat belt webbing is shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable and easy to clean and sew! The tote features 2 exterior slip pockets and a flap accent with metal ring. On the interior you will find a zipped pocket and zipped gusset closure. The handles are 23″ long with a 11″ drop. Instructions are included for 3 different size options.
Skill level: Intermediate Finished sizes: small: 14 x 9 1/2 x 3 3/4″ medium: 15 1/2 x 11 x 3 3/4″ large: 17 x 13 x 3 3/4″
What’s in the pattern: – 3 complete sets of instructions are included – one for each bag size (small, medium and large) – imperial and metric measurements – cutting labels and one pattern piece* for each bag size – a thoroughly tested design given the thumbs up by my amazing test team – quality computer-generated line drawings and concise, detailed instructions * all other pieces are cut based on measurements.
Here are the colors I chose for my first Market Tote:
I chose these 3 colors arranged in blocks for my first tote. Market Tote pattern options include instructions for 1, 2, or 3 colors and solid, stripes or blocks versions.
It has been observed that I’ll try to sew almost anything if it sits still long enough…
I get a kick out of trying new things, whether it’s new-to-me fabrics, or more unusual materials such Tyvek, used dryer sheets, specialty papers, or even very thin sheets of metal. One of my most recent discoveries is seat belts – yes, seat belts! The kind that you buckle up in the car – only in fabulous colors.
Sarah of Cozy Nest Design has developed a terrific series of patterns for stylish totes, bags, pouches, and even a wallet using seat belts. She also sells seat belt webbing by the yard or in customizable kits that correlate with her pattern line. She even has hardware!
I should note that in addition to Sarah’s ingenious seat belt patterns and supplies, Cozy Nest Design offers an inviting selection of inventive and creative sewing patterns for fabric, too.
One of the first things I did was order a set of seat belt swatches.
The Celtic True Lovers’ Knot has been appliquéd, quilted, and trimmed, and is now ready for the binding.
This would allow you to use the completed piece as a wallhanging. I did consider a wallhanging – I especially liked how it looked when I hung it on point – but I already have several of this design, so I thought it would be fun to turn it into a pillow, instead.
This method works not only with this Celtic project, but with any orphan quilt block or cool fabric that you might have on hand. If you use fabric that hasn’t been quilted, I recommend fusing a layer of Pellon 987F to the back of the fabric before proceeding. I like the extra shape and softness it gives the pillow.
How to Turn a Quilted Block into a Decorator Pillow:
Note: This is actually a pillow cover, as it is easy to remove for laundering – an important factor with kids and pets!Continue Reading…
This is the tenth in a series of posts that will take you step-by-step through the process of creating a Celtic Quilt.
The lines that form my Celtic and Celtic-style knotwork designs are formed by cutting bias strips of fabric and sewing them into tubes, which are then fused onto background fabric. For this project, I added the borders, layered the quilt top with batting and backing, and machine appliquéd and quilted the design in one step.
Now I’m ready to add a little more texture!
Since the design itself has already been appliquéd and quilted in one step, I’m going to start this stage by stitching in the ditch between my borders. This will further stabilize the quilt and help keep my borders straight. I usually recommend a walking foot for this step, but my layers are flat and stable enough that I am going to continue on with my standard presser foot.
Stitching in the ditch in the seam between the borders.