September's Mini Quilt of the Month is our most playful and risky one yet! And not just because it looks so cool and edgy, but because it's sewn in such a breezy, off-the-cuff manner. As I sliced and pieced, I felt like I was painting with fabric because the process is so improvisational and free. With a rotary cutter for a paintbrush, you get to wield your tool with a wild abandon not usually associated with quilting.
Like our June Rainbow Mini Quilt, this piece takes its inspiration from the remarkable formalist painter, Ellsworth Kelly. This time we turned to an ink drawing from 1950 called Study for "La Combe II" (you can see the painting here.) We all loved its disjointed graphic quality and knew it would translate beautifully to a quilt. By first piecing thin strips of colored fabric at random angles against a white background and then cutting it all up and piecing it back together in a different order, I think we achieved a similarly bold statement.
It takes a bit of courage to start slicing through the fabric at haphazard angles, but once you get going, it's hard to stop. It's amazing how quickly and easily a few strips of colored fabric can create something so beautiful. The bright, crisp mix of Kona and Shot Cottons makes the whole thing seem so alive, just like a great painting!
ps- You can see our whole Mini Quilt of the Month series by clicking here.
To make a 19 1/2-inch tall by 20-inch wide mini quilt, yours might be a different width depending on how you cut the white strips in the "Piecing the Top" section:
- 1-yard Kona Cotton in White
- 1/4-yard of each of the following solid fabrics: Kona Cotton in Kiwi, Shot Cotton in Lemon, Kona Cotton in Coral, and, Kona Cotton in Cyan
- 100% Cotton Thread in color 1006
- A craft sized request loft batting
Cut a 1-inch strip from selvage to selavage from each colored fabric. They will each be around 44-inches long.
Cut a 12 X 20-inch piece from the white fabric.
Piecing the Strips
Arrange the white rectangle so that it's long sides are facing horizontally and the short sides are vertical.
Using a rotary cutter and ruler cut a straight line at an angle from the top to the bottom of the piece.
Pin one of the colored strips to the left section, right sides together. Pin carefully and keep the strip straight. Trim the ends of the strip to a 1-inch tail.
Sew the strip to the left white piece with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Press the colored strip flat with the seam allowance pressed towards the colored side of the back.
Using your rotary cutter trim the strip so that it's edges are flush with the straight top and bottom edges of the white piece.
Pin the right white section to the long raw edge of the strip right sides together.
The pieces will be at an angle but should match up exactly as shown above. Pin carefully making sure to keep both the right white piece and the colored strip straight.
Sew the pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Press the piece flat with the seam allowance pressed towards the colored strip on the back. You will have a neat rectangular shape again.
The back should look like this, with the seam allowances neatly pressed towards one another.
Repeat this along the height of the white rectangle making slices at different angles and using differnet colored strips.
Eventually you will want to cut through sections of the rectangle that already have a strip pieced on them.
You do this in the exact same manner as you did the previous strips. Just pay extra attention to pinning it neatly and pressing the seam allowances.
Keep piecing strips in this manner until your rectangle is nicely filled with them.
Piecing the Top
Change the orientation of the rectangle so that the long sides are vertical and the short sides are horizontal.
Trim the piece to 11 1/2-inches X 19 1/2-inches to make sure the edges are very straight.
Using the rotary cutter slice the piece into parallel vertical strips varying in width from 3-inches to 1 1/2-inches. My strips, from left to right, were: 2-inches, 3-inches, 1 1/2-inches, 2-inches, and 3-inches.
Cut six white strips, all 19 1/2-inches tall, in widths varying from 1-inch to 2 1/2-inches. My strips, from left to right, were: 3-inches, 1 1/2-inches, 2-inches, 3-inches, 2 1/2-inches, and 2 1/2-inches.
Arrange the pieces alternating the white strips with the pieced strips. Keep the pieced strips in order.
Flip the second and forth pieced strips 180-degrees to mix things up a bit.
Piece the strips, right sides together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, from left to right always pressing the seam allowances towards the colored strips.
Press piece flat, making extra sure that the seam allowances are neatly pressed towards the pieced strips.
Cut a piece of the remaining white fabric and the batting each 2-inches larger than the quilt top. Lay the white piece down smoothing on a hard surface, place the batting on top of that, and then lay the quilt top, right side up, on top of that. This is your quilt sandwich.
Baste the sandwich together every 3-inches with bent arm safety pins.
Quilt your piece in the ditch along the vertical seams.
Bind the quilt with the remaining white fabric.
If you want a more in-depth explanation of how to finish a quilt please check out the "Quilting" section of this previous story.