August Rain and a design tip!

Hello lovely friends! Thanks for coming by today to see the finished centre panel of my scrappy string quilt top! Ta-da!!!

Centre panel for a scrappy blue string patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

August Rain

I don’t know what you expected, but it’s really not what I planned at all! But that’s the wonderful thing about this sort of quilt, you never quite know what you’re going to get.  My initial idea was to go with a diamond layout because I love all the secondary patterns you get, but does this look like diamonds to you? No! So, what happened? I finished up the blocks at the weekend and as I was digging through my blue scrap basket looking for suitable size pieces and patterns I realised that the blocks were becoming less ‘contrasty’ as time had gone on.  Basically I’d run out of the dark blues I’d started with!  When I laid them alongside the earlier blocks I’d made I just wasn’t happy with the distribution of lights and darks I could get, so I tried some other layouts and nothing really grabbed my attention.

Design Tip!

I work on the floor, not for lack of a design wall or wall space (although I do lack wall space!) but because it’s something I’ve always done, whether drawing or quilt-making.  The great thing about working on the floor is that you can walk around your design and see it from a completely different perspective – ‘flaws’ jump out at you when you see your design from a new point of view for the first time. Much like people say you shouldn’t publish a blog post (or whatever) until the following day when you can read it again with fresh eyes (does anyone really do that?!  No, but I often wish I had!!!).  It’s easy enough to turn a drawing upside down on the wall, but I really don’t fancy moving 60 odd quilt blocks upside down when it’s simpler to lay them on the floor and walk around them! Mind you, there is another way… another ‘trick’ is to look at your design in a mirror: you stand with your back to your work on the wall and look at it in a mirror that you hold in your hand (it doesn’t have to be a big mirror!); you’ll see your design with fresh eyes and anything you don’t like or ‘doesn’t work’ will become pretty obvious.

So, there I was sitting on the studio (er kitchen!) floor, shuffling blocks around in the dull, grey light listening to heavy rain falling and ruminating on what to try next when it suddenly hit me: one of the layouts I’d tried before had reminded me of rain, or a child’s drawing of rain anyway.

I did a quick reshuffle of the blocks and looked at it from every side until it finally felt right. I concentrated the darker striped blocks at the top of the design fading to lighter ones at the bottom. I noticed a few blocks had a strong green hue that reminded me of rain drenched grass, fresh and bright, so I grouped them together towards the bottom. After what seemed like hours of fiddling about it eventually came together in about 10 minutes!

Centre panel for a scrappy blue string patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

It rained and rained and rained today!

The panel is made up entirely of scraps donated by friends, old shirts, and odd scraps from previous quilting projects.  None of the patterns and colours were ever planned to go together and there’s quite a diverse range from modern polka dots to old fashioned florals and the odd novelty print too. It goes to show what a ‘waste not want not’ approach to design can do, so I recommend holding on to any decent quality cotton fabrics you might come across, because at some point you’ll have enough for a scrappy quilt in the truest sense of the word.

Abasket of red and pink fabric scraps for patchwork and quilting. © Stephanie Boon 2014, www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Next?! My overflowing red/pink scrap basket.

I also recommend cutting your scraps into useable shapes and strips as you accumulate them – it was a pain in the backside having to dig though baskets of scrunched up fabric in the most random shapes you can imagine. Ironing is not my favourite past time and this storage ‘method’ necessitated rather a lot of it!  The Sassy Quilter recently had an interesting article on how to store scraps if you’re looking for a more organised way than mine. I’ll be bearing Paula’s tips in mind when I sort through my next basket.

In the mean time I’ll be making a border for this quilt. It’s a great size for a lap quilt, but I’d like it to be just a tad bigger for extra wraparound comfort!  I want the border to act as a frame for all the scrappiness so decided to buy some new fabric to make it simple and cohesive. I spent about £23 on the three fabrics below: a quarter metre of the orange, 30cm of the floral and 1.3m of the blue grid. I might even have a little left over for the scrap baskets if I’m lucky!

Fabrics for a quilt border. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fabrics for the border from l-r: Moda, Kaffe Fassett (Poppies) and Makower

I’m quite excited about the border and made a start on it this afternoon, so pop back on Friday when I plan to have the whole quilt top finished and ready to show you, woohoo!

I’m linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and, for the first time, Let’s Bee Social with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts – pop on over to say hi and see what else has been going on this week; looks like people have been pretty busy!

Until Friday, happy scrap sorting!


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17 replies
  1. Becca
    Becca says:

    I love your string quilt! The falling rain image is perfect. Don’t worry, I am still using my design floor, too. You would think that after all these years of quilting I could move past it, but I can’t. It is just how my work flow happens. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    My scrap system is more like a system than a basket, but not by much. I still have loads of scraps I need to use up even if they just get crammed into scrappy quilts to make their way out of my sewing studio.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Scrappy quilts are just the best Becca! So what’s your system? I’m intrigued! And surely anything’s better than my method, haha! Thanks for coming by 🙂

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Lisa – the orange is my favourite bit I think 🙂 I like things that are asymmetrical or have something that breaks a rhythm, I think it adds a bit of visual excitement. Thanks for saying hello – always lovely to meet new quilters.

  2. Ann
    Ann says:

    Really lovely. I can see the rain!
    Whenever I precut my scraps I need a slightly different size. ;-( But I admire people who do this.
    The mirror trick is neat. I tried it today. Thanks.

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hello Ann! I know exactly what you mean about pre cut scraps, which is why I’ve never cut them in the past – I’m having second thoughts now though after all that ironing, ha! Glad you tried out the mirror – I feel lost without one when I feel unsure about a design now! I hope you got my email, I’ve had a couple of people say they haven’t received them from me lately so I’m a bit worried there’s something wrong with my service – let me know if you didn’t hear back and I’ll try again 🙂 x

  3. Lorna McMahon
    Lorna McMahon says:

    Perfection! I love the name – this is what popped into my mind the second I seen your beautiful top! Love those pops of orange-red also. Adds interest and offsets the green hues. Can’t wait to see what you do for the border!

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment Lorna 🙂 I hope things are good for you after some tough times – it’s wonderful to see you going from strength to strength. x

  4. Stephie
    Stephie says:

    Thank you everyone for your lovely and encouraging comments – it’s so wonderful to hear from old friends and new! It’s been quite hectic the last few days so I’m a bit behind, but I’m really looking forward to visiting you all over at your places too; can’t wait!


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