If it's today here, is it tomorrow there? (As I type this... yes, it is.)
If that's the case, I'm already late. Jane! Did you mean the 9th here? Or the 9th there?
Can I split the difference? It's 1:38 Sunday afternoon here - the time, not the temperature - and it's 6:38 Monday morning there. So here goes...
Do you know Jane?
I "met" Jane through the American Patchwork quilt-along earlier this year. I loved - okay, still do - her quilt.
Photo shamelessly "lifted" from QuiltJane.
I follow - sounds better than stalk - Jane on Instagram because she makes and quilts all sorts of gorgeousness. It just sort of flows out of her - in a counter-clockwise sort of manner because that's how it works "down under". The end of April, Jane made a beautiful quilt that she called a Nested Churn Dash.
Ditto. See above photo reference.
Genius. She "nested" four Churn Dash blocks to make a large 24" x 24" block using lots of Bonnie & Camille fabric. A girlie-quilt for Jane. (If you don't have the pattern yet, you can find it here. It's $2.00 for the PDF download.)
I figured a girlie-quilt for Carrie should follow. And because lots of other quilty-types figured they needed nests too, a quilt-along was suggested, organized and has commenced. So in my usual fashion, I invited myself to the party. Hi everyone!
It's official! I'm in!
For now... it's entirely possible I might be asked to leave. One block, that's all anybody had to make - a mini-quilt. But even before I arrived, I realized that there might be a problem... that I wasn't going to be following the "dress code". I wanted a big quilt. Okay, I wanted both. So that's what I did - I made both. There's just one problem right now, my "mini" isn't quilted. Or bound. (I see an update coming soon.) So I invited myself... didn't arrive on time... didn't follow instructions... and then didn't finish.
I don't get out much.
It's going to be a pillow - after it's quilted. My big quilt is with the quilter now.
This is what I did. The first thing was to decide on fabric - that was harder than I expected. First, I love Jane's quilt. And I have some of that fabric... and could certainly get more if needed. But I have a compulsive need to do something differently. That's especially true for sew-alongs. Not because I think I can do it better - as if?!? - but because half the fun is seeing how different two "like" things can be. After considering all sorts of options - those already in my possession and those still at a quilt shop - I came across a stack of fat quarters of Botanique by Joel Dewberry. I'd bought them who-remembers-when because I loved the colors - especially the navy and coral - and the big prints.
I decided to put these prints with a solid White background so that the colors would "pop" and the finished quilt would have a clean, fresh, summer-y kind of look to it. I also decided to mix the colorways and the values, using each print at least once. Oh, and I decided to use a single fabric for "each" Churn Dash - the half-triangle squares and rails would match.
So I picked ten prints - 9 blocks for my quilt and 1 for my "mini" - and cut a 2" x 21" strip. That was enough to make the pieces I'd need for the block centers - the 4" blocks. I also cut a 1 1/2" x 21" strip and set that aside for the border - more on that in a bit.
I tried to mix the colors and values but I think it's obvious I really liked the navy prints. When it came to pressing, I pressed the seams toward the "rail" part of the block - away from the center square and half-triangle squares. But when I joined the three rows to complete the block, I pressed those seams open. For whatever reason, my blocks just layed better that way.
I then picked ten different prints for the second round and made the parts.
One piecing note - I have a teeny tiny issue with seam allowance. As in, I'm a teeny tiny bit off... so my blocks are always just a tiny bit smaller than they should be. (Sort of like some clothes...) It can be a big problem for a block like this if you don't measure. It's also a hugely simple thing to fix - cut the side rail pieces to the size of your block! In my case, the side rail pieces were cut a sliver less than 4 1/2" - but more than 4 3/8". About 4 7/16". And remember to do that at every step - every nest.
Like this. I made the parts and then started putting the parts with a block. I loved some of the combinations... others... not so much. But I also didn't worry about it because the next round was going to completely change the way it looked again.
When my blocks were done, I layed them out.
I had two reasons for doing this. The first is obvious - so I'd know how I wanted to arrange the blocks. The second reason is so that I would know where to sew my little connector corners for my cornerstones.
Serendipity. That little Churn Dash is the same size as the one in the center of the block. It isn't a separate block - the pieces are sewn to the adjacent blocks and sashing strips. I used the same 2 1/2" cut / 2" finished sashing strips that Jane includes in her instructions but I added to it - and adjusted the length of the sashing strips accordingly. It's easily done - really. I wrote it all down.
Because I wanted a quilt that would fit nicely on a queen-sized bed, I figured I'd want my quilt to be at least 86" so I added borders. In addition to the 2" finished sashing strips, I added 2" finished strips on the outside edge - sashing or inner borders - to make my quilt 80" x 80", not including seam allowance. Then I added one more Churn Dash. Four half-triangle squares - 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" - for the corners and pieced "rails" for the sides.
Remember those 1 1/2" x 21" strips I cut from each fabric? Using those and a few more from my leftovers, I cut the strips in half to measure 1 1/2" x approximately 10 1/2". I pieced those using a straight seam to make a really really really long strip. I cut lengths approximately 86" long and then pieced two strips together - off-setting the seams - to make a pieced strip measuring 2 1/2" wide by approximately 84" long. The off-set gobbles up a few inches. I pressed all of these seams open.
I made four of them. I also cut 8 strips from my white background - 2 1/2" x 42" wof. Those were pieced - on the diagonal - to make background strips that were cut to the same length as my pieced strips. They can be cut to the size of the quilt but I wanted to piece first - trim second. The pieced strips were then joined to the white background strips to make a border strip measuring 4 1/2" wide by approximately 84" long. I pressed that seam open too. The four strips were cut to the size of my quilt top. The corner half-triangle squares were attached to two of the borders and badda bing badda boom... one last nest.
I debated whether to put the border right up against the blocks, nesting them as they are in the blocks. But because the blocks weren't next to each other in the body of the quilt, I decided I liked the continuity of each block being surrounded by the white background. My quilt finishes at 88 1/2" x 88 1/2"... okay, it's a skosh smaller than that. I didn't measure it but I was shaving off just a bit less than an 1/8" by the time I got to the sashing. (Proof that even a teeny tiny little difference in seam allowance adds up pretty quickly.)
Thread! Jane wants to know what kind of thread we like and use - Aurifil, anyone? I started using Aurifil when it first started showing up in quilt shops more than 10 years ago, and it was one of the first things I shopped for when I started going to Market.
There was a noticeable difference between Aurifil and the thread I had used before - how fine it was, how well it "nested" into the fabric, and how much less lint there was in my sewing machine when I cleaned it. Several years ago, I started using cones of thread and "strayed" from Aurifil because "other" threads were easier to find. But a query to a distributor - "how come you don't carry Aurifil cones" - changed that. I now have cones of my three go-to Aurifil colors on hand at all times. They are - 2021 - White / 2324 - Beige-tan / 2600 - Gray - and they are all 50 wt. Cotton Mako. Those are the three I use for piecing - I find they work for 99% of what I'm piecing.
For the Nested Churn Dash, I used 2324 for most of the quilt... mostly because that was in the machine when I started. I had plenty of wound bobbins and I was itching to start sewing. But I did switch to white when it came time to assemble the quilt, especially joining two white strips for the borders. Two white strips sewn together with a diagonal seam, seams pressed open... shadowing can sometimes happen. So I switch.
As for keeping lots of other colors on hand... I tend to stitch with basic colors too, also in the 50 wt. The same white, gray and beige-tan work for most of my binding, the occasional applique project, and any other hand-stitching - if I'm using gray thread and my stitches aren't showing, I'm not going to worry about having red thread for a red binding. And since I don't do much machine quilting, I buy the colors I need when I need them. Because that pretty jar of thread... at this point, it's mostly that. Decorative. Alas, even the very best thread doesn't "keep" for more than a couple years.
So here's what else you need to know:
If you'd like to quilt-along with Jane, she did a terrific blog post about fabrics, sizes and everything else you might need or want to know about making this quilt. You can find that here.
If you'd like to see pictures of what other folks are making, you can find those on Flickr at The Want It, Need It Quilt Gallery. I love this one. If you make a block or a quilt and post your picture to this Flickr pool, you could win a prize at the end of the month.
If you're on Instagram, you can find more Nested Churn Dash pictures at #nestedchurndash.
And if you want to know even more about Nested Churn Dash blocks and quilts, machine quilting these blocks with Aurifil thread, hanging minis and who knows what else, you're going to have a busy week. Places to go and people to see - blog-style.
- Tuesday - June 10th - Kim Niedzwiecki
- Wednesday - June 11th - Pat Sloan
- Thursday - June 12th - ModaLissa
- Friday - June 13th - Fat Quarter Shop
- Monday - June 16th - Frances Newcombe
- Wednesday - June 18th - Sherri McConnell
- Thursday - June 19th - Sara Lawson
- Friday - June 20th - Amy Smart
- Saturday - June 21st - Katy Jones
Regular check-ins with Jane are also advised because (1) you know she's also working on other amazing stuff, and (2) she knows everything you'd ever want to know about making a Nesting Churn Dash quilt.
- Monday - June 23rd - Making a quilt using the Nested Churn Dash block.
- Monday - June 30th - Finishing the quilt.
- Tuesday - July 1st - Winners will be selected and announced from the Flickr group.