Quilt finished size: 60" x 81"
Above: "Fantasy Travel"
I designed and made this quilt back at the beginning of "The COVID Times". I had a collection of travel themed prints that I wanted to "show off" - that is, I didn't want to cut them up into small pieces. I wanted to be able to see the print designs so needed large blocks. I interlocked traditional 5 patch and an Eight Point Star blocks at the corners to produce this design. It looks a bit complicated, but is actually quite easy. It is constructed by making Half Square Triangles and Flying Geese, then combining them with squares and rectangles into 7 rows. Once the rows are assembled, the overall design materializes.
Since the only travel for most of us during COVID was "fantasy", I named this first quilt "Fantasy Travel". But when I decided to develop it into a pattern, I named it "Show Off". It can be used to show off fun novelty prints, such as I have done. It can also be used to show off appliqued, embroidered or even smaller blocks (a block set in a block). As it happens, I did embroider both my travel quilt and the birthday quilt below. But I put the embroidery in the background (black) blocks. In the travel quilt, all the embroidery is travel themed.
Above: "Happy Flamingo Birthday!"
This is a "revenge quilt". When I turned 60, my sister, Chris, who is an amazing cake artist, made me a flamingo birthday cake and a bunch of flamingo cake pops. And she, and my other relatives, piled on with a bunch of flamingo paraphernalia. Well - now, 5 years later, it's her 60th b-day. Since she's in Kelowna and we're in Calgary, and no travel (see above), I couldn't go there so decided to make a "revenge quilt" and send it to her. How many ways can you say Happy 60th Birthday with flamingos??? Well, I figured out quite a few of them! Then embroidered them into the quilt. And I purchased a couple of flamingo prints to "show off"! Her b-day has come and gone. I was able to witness her opening it via zoom and she loves it! Whew!
The final point about this quilt is that I love the secondary design the interlocked blocks create - the coloured parts form a sort of lattice design and the black makes some arrow-like shapes. Lots of quilting fun there!
If you don't have the pattern, please know that I have detailed step by step instructions and illustrations to guide you to the completed quilt so with the pattern, really, all this is just a bonus. What comes below are some actual photos, which some may find helpful.
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All my patterns have been tested by experienced quilters. Thanks so much to all my testers – they are my
reality check and always offer suggestions for improvement. My patterns are much better for their input. Every effort is made to ensure error free
patterns, but if you do find one, please let me know so I can fix it.
All my patterns provide illustrated step-by-step instructions,
a colouring sheet, construction tips, any necessary pattern pieces and all the
usual things expected in a pattern. And
I do one of these “support pages” for each pattern because a pattern is not a book!
Specific to Show Off!:
I try to keep my patterns as simple as possible so that most quilt makers with even a bit of experience will understand them. One way I have of doing this (and it was learned the hard way) is to keep the number of fabrics to a minimum. So I have written this pattern with four basic fabrics that correspond to the main component types in the pattern. However, I have not made my own quilts following this simplified list of fabrics. My quilts are essentially scrap quilts, although I did purchase the two flamingo prints - but even then I used two, not one. What I hope is that makers will be able to figure out that if, for example, two feature fabrics are going to be used, get two, but half as much of each. And if you want to make the Small Squares the same as the large centre squares, add that amount to the feature fabric amount. There are far too many permutations and combinations to list them all out so what I really hope is that you will dive into your stash and start cutting! Consider the fabric amounts as an overall amount that can be subdivided in infinite ways. The only thing I do recommend (but this is just a personal preference for me and you are certainly free to do otherwise) is to use only one background fabric. Also, there is a colouring sheet in the pattern that you can print off as many times as you need to work out a colour scheme that pleases you.
OK - now that you have been introduced to this quilt and a bit of explanation regarding its origins and some other things, here are a few ideas about actually making it!
Half Square Triangles
Mark the lines with a sharp lead pencil (I use a mechanical pencil as shown in the pix) on lighter fabric. I like a good thin line and this works best for me. On dark fabric, I use a Bohin white chalk mechanical pencil. What's that yellow thing, you ask? It's the Studio 180 Magic Wand. Line it up where the lines go and draw a line on either side - the lines will be exactly in the correct place.
Chain stitch - first one side, then the other side. I try to stitch just a touch inside the drawn lines (e.g., toward the centre).
Cut the stitched units in half between the stitching. I don't fuss too much with this - I just grab my scissors and cut.
Press the 2 units open to reveal your HSTs. Press.
I use a Studio 180 Tucker Trimmer to trim the HSTs to the desired size. Of course you don't need to have this tool, it can all be done with a regular ruler, but I like the tool (and I'm one who usually poo-poos tools so that's saying something!). Also, I should add that I have no connection with Studio 180 - I'm not selling the tools and they don't pay me to mention them.
And you end up with a little pile of trimmings and beautiful, perfectly sized HSTs! Do this step, it's so worth it when it comes time to put your quilt together.
Mark the lines - here is my Bohin chalk mechanical pencil. Love it for darker fabrics where you can't see a pencil line.
Place the small squares on the large square as per above.
Stitch from corner to corner on each side. These can be chain stitched as well - there are six sets so you can blast them all through in one go.
Cut them in half.
Press and reveal two sort of heart shaped units (above).
Place the remaining small squares on the remaining large square corners as per above (be sure your drawn lines are going the right way!).
Stitch - again you can chain piece. If you enlarge this pix, I think you can see how I stitched just a bit inside the line.
Cut these units in half.
Fold back the second corner triangle and press - and voila! Your colour changes! Nope - just kidding. No magic. I just forgot to get final pix of the purple set so pretend the pink is actually purple.
Trim the FG down to size. I used the Studio 180 Wing Clipper, but again, you can use your regular ruler.
Five Patch Blocks
Having made one billion HSTs and cut the necessary squares, you are now ready to make the Five Patch Blocks!
I consider this to be a fairly complex block in the sense that there are quite a few bits and pieces that have to go together. So I like to start by laying out all the necessary components as they will be in the finished block. This way I can make sure I actually have all the bits (which I'm pretty sure I do, having followed my pattern!) and that the bits are laid out as they should be.
What mistakes can be made? Well (not that I've made any of them!) ... one or more HST may be oriented incorrectly and/or directional fabric may be oriented incorrectly. Directionality may not matter to you, but it does to me, so I like to make sure that the small squares are oriented in the same way as the big centre block. If it doesn't matter, then move on.
By way of explanation for this particular block (above), you may notice that some of the small square flamingos look wonky. I chose a bad example to photograph for you - I didn't have quite enough of that fabric for all the small squares so I pieced the scraps that I had together to make a few of those small squares and so they didn't always cooperate in terms of directionality (and for some of the blocks I actually used a completely different fabric - did you notice that on the finished quilt pix?). But in a perfect world, all those flamingos would be intact and facing the same direction!
(Above) Once satisfied with your layout, pull off the three centre elements from the top and bottom (or sides, it really doesn't matter, but I wrote the pattern for top and bottom). Lay them out near your machine - again as they will appear in the final block.
(Above) Stitch the three elements together. (Here you can see my pieced small square.) Press toward the centre.
This is what you should have (above). Put these two sets aside for the moment.
Now arrange the 5 elements from each side as they will appear in the finished block.
Stitch them together. Press one side of the HSTs toward the centre, the other side toward the outside square.
This is what you end up with (above).
Now, take the top/bottom sets of three that you prepared and stitch one to the top and one to the bottom of the large centre square. Again, make sure the orientation is correct. Press toward the centre block.
This is what you end up with (above).
Then add the side sections that you prepared. Again - make sure the orientation is correct. Press toward the centre.
Here is a close up of the pressing - the seams line up very nicely. I'm not a great piecer, but with carefully cut squares, trimmed blocks and good stitching, the components should all fit together very well. I use Decobob thread for piecing - it's 80 wt so the stitching won't show - even with black thread! But I do try to trim the end threads.
And here is the entire block from the back.
If you've gotten this far, the hard part is done. Now attach the FG to the large background blocks as shown in the pattern, lay your quilt out on your floor or design wall and start stitching the rows together!
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