Sunday, February 10, 2019

Matchstick Mansion Quilt Tutorial

When I showed my finish quilt, Mighty Matchstick Mansion, Joyful Quilter asked if I would mind if she made one too.  Due to popular demand, I have decided to show you how I made this quilt.

 I started with some one and a half inch scraps, sewed end to end to form a long chain. Press them all in one direction. These were actually "borrowed" from another project.

I sewed them together, around and around the yellow, log cabin style. It helps to  have an iron close to you as you sew, so you can press after each seam. In this picture, you can see that the green fabric was cut to match the center, and that the green turned the corner to form the next log. You can also see that I lost track of which way I was turning. You can also see the creams and the white turn the corner in subsequent logs.  Because the white was so short, it looks more like an extension than a turning of the corner.

See that teeny tiny sliver of cream at the top of the block in the picture above? If that sliver had been any smaller, it would have added bulk to the seam for no reason. 

For purposes of this discussion, pretend the left fabric is the current quilt top and the right is the fabric chain.  Before sewing each new row, I placed my fabric chain next to the quilt where it was going to go. It gave me a chance to see what the new addition would look like. If I did not like the match, I could place the chain on another side of the quilt, or I could turn the chain upside down and see if I liked that way better.

This audition also helped me figure out the size.  If the chain had a seam at exactly at the right place where it would have been cut off, I took out that seam.  This happened more often than I thought it would.

If there was going to be a seam at the bottom that would add bulk without adding color, I could adjust the size of the top of the strip so there wouldn't be a seam too close to where the next seam would be at the bottom.To fix that, I could adjust the top of the strip chain. If I cut an inch or so off from the blue scrap, then that would change the placement of the white scrap and I could just add that inch to the bottom of the strip. If the top scrap is too small to cut a whole inch off, I could just cut off a little bit and throw it away.

I cut the chain to the size of the quilt before sewing it on.

I ran out of my chain of fabric pretty soon and had to cut more pieces. Here you can see that I lost my log cabin, and it turned into a mansion.  It seemed like there would be too much orange if I sewed it on the right side so I sewed it to the left side instead.  Then as I added more rows, I just added them wherever side of the block I wanted, sometimes by chance based on which way the quilt was facing and sometimes because I liked the added row in that spot. Sometimes I did it to avoid skewing the quilt. I have heard you are supposed to sew in opposite directions to avoid skewing, so sewing in different ways I think helps keep it square.

Just trimming the quilt helps to keep it square helps too.

When I got to the point in the picture above, I realized I was focusing so much on the orange that I had lost track of light and dark. To me, even though this was a good size for a small quilt, there was too much light on the top right and too much dark on the left side. It could be okay, like sunshine and shadow, but I wasn't going for that look. It just happened that way. In order to fix the balance, I had to keep adding more rows.

As I added more fabric to the chain, it was very tempting to choose fabric more selectively. Is this fabric too bright? Is this one too dark? I decided that all the fabric in the box was fair game for this quilt and I was going to let serendipity take its course, which was the plan all along. It also meant that I was not allowed to selectively place the lights and darks to fix the problem I saw in the picture above this one. As you can see, the problem fixed itself without my help. I think if I had tried to do it, I probably would have over-corrected and added too many darks on the right side.

I was having fun making this quilt and decided to go ahead and make it big enough for the Project Quilting challenge. At some point when I am dead and famous, the curator at my quilt museum is going to decide to display all my quilts in size order, and will be disappointed that there is a gap between my small, bulletin board size, quilts and my above the couch wall hangings, and she will be happy to have a few quilts that fall between these two sizes. You're welcome, future quilt curator.

Since both my cutting board and my ruler were 12 inches square, it became a little more challenging as the quilt grew. Keep adding as many rows as you want until the quilt is the size you want it to be, and save the rest of your fabric scraps for future quilts.

Sandwich, baste, quilt as desired, trim and bind.  I think this ugly step is added so you can really appreciate the final product.

I think this quilt would work better as blocks instead of just one big quilt. If you have more than one of these going at the same time, you could chain piece them. I had to use another quilt as a leader / ender.

I got the idea for this Lego quilt from Tonya Ricucci of Lazy Gal quilting way back in 2011. Her idea sparked by an antique quilt is to sew rows to make a rail fence. She spent a lot of time auditioning and making sure the colors and fabrics balance.  I think for a scrap quilt, the viewer's eye is going to go all over the place anyway so I don't think all that effort is really worth the time. Most issues will work themselves out, like they did in my quilt. Chawne Kimber also made this quilt with a chain like I did, and she added some log cabins to her quilt too instead of just using straight rails.

I hope this tutorial helped, and if you do make this quilt, I would love to see your rendition!

Week 6 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

Since it is Sunday, it is time to recap my stitching this week.  I worked on Mighty Matchstick Mansion most of this week, and thought about the borders for the improv rail fence quilt.  Today, I also worked on my other quilts, Sunlight in Winter and Butterfly Wreath because I had neglected them for so long working on deadline projects.

15 Minute sessions of stitching this week:  7 out of 7
15 Minute sessions of stitching this year:  41 out of 41 sessions
Success Rate: 100%

Linked to:
Life in Pieces 15 Minutes to Stitch 
Oh Scrap! 
Silly Mama Quilts Works in Progress


Joyful Quilter said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I'm definitely going to give it a try. I have a lunch bag full of odd sized pieces that I'm going to even up a bit and use as leader enders...Hopefully it won't take too long to make a little quilt once I get started.

seabreezequilts said...

You did well. Great way to use up bits of scraps.

Tracy @It’s a T-Sweets Day! said...

Hi Shasta! I thought I would come over for a visit. I’m so glad I did! This is a great idea for using those small scraps! Thank you for the tutorial I am definitely going to give this a try:)❤️❤️

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Fabulous quilt and super tutorial! And now you have a ready made mini for February!!

Soma @ said...

This looks like a fun project and a great way to use up scraps!! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.


Caryl @ cinnamon holiday workshop said...!! This is my fun kind of sewing and sort of like I am doing now...only I am making separate blocks. Thanks for the tutorial!

Kate said...

I have a big problem with random, so I'm not sure I could manage a piece like this. You just seemed to go with the flow. Congrats on finding time to stitch each day last week.

Lisa C said...

I do this also with scraps but stop when the square gets to be the size of my 10.5" ruler. That size is easy to say, I need x blocks since they will end up at 10" square. I enjoy making something out of leftovers and it's fun to see the final mix up of fabrics.

Brooke said...

oh thanks so much for the great tips and tutorial!
thanks too for linking up!

The Joyful Quilter said...

What a great use of small scraps!