Tag Archives: Piecing

WIP Wednesday — Quilt Back a la Seminole

Ah, quilt backs… by the time you get to the stage of making the backing, you’re almost done, right? Well, maybe…

I’ve showed you how to make a fast back from a single BIG piece of fabric. Problem is, my stash has few big pieces. I never made a habit of buying large yardages, on the off chance I could later use them as backs.

That gives me choices: 1) buy a large piece for a particular quilt when needed; 2) use three or four largish pieces from stash and sew them together; 3) piece more heavily from stash. (See this link — the blogger regularly pieces her backs from all kinds of bits and pieces!)

Though I’m getting more comfortable with pieced backs (#2 or #3), I usually opt for using one fabric. Generally I don’t enjoy cobbling together a back from other chunks. When I needed backing fabric for my latest top, I figured I needed at least 4.5 yards; with 5 yards I could make a fast back. I went to JoAnn’s and bought a toffee colored, mottled print, all that was left on the bolt. It was about 4.5 yards.

And then I decided to take a different route.

Still enjoying the colors and fabrics of the top, I chose to heavily piece strips for the back. My inspiration is Seminole style piecing. A few weeks ago, when choosing whether to keep the quilt square or make it rectangular, I had two borders left over. The first strip to include was the borders that I didn’t use in the top. I joined those two pieces with patches that were left over, and added chunks to the ends to lengthen it for the long-arm frame.

I made another strip In purples and greens, rusts and golds, to mimic the half-square triangles border on the top. Yet another is similar to the flying geese, including the bright green batik featured on the top.


I think they are all in order now and ready to be assembled. When finished, the stripped piecing will cover the majority of the back. In fact, I’ll have used very little of the toffee-colored piece I purchased.

For me, this is one more experiment. While I’ve always loved the looks of strips quilts, most of those I’ve made have been very traditional, symmetrical, and block-based. This asymmetric approach is slightly unsettling, partly because I “don’t know how” to do it and also because I’m not very good at it. But how can I learn if I don’t try it? Can’t. So try I will.

This is far from a fast back, but so far I’ve enjoyed the process. The look of it will suit the top well.

Do you make multi-fabric quilt backs? What approach do you take — big chunks or bits and pieces, big squares or another quilt?





Economy Block | Square in a Square

This morning the Quilt Alliance posted about Two Altheas and a Square Within a Square. The Altheas are American tennis champion Althea Gibson, and quilter Althea Orr Diament. Diament pieced and quilted the lovely quilt shown in the blog post. Please take a look.

I note this in particular because my all-time most viewed post is Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet). There must be some romance to this block that has made it so popular. Its graphic simplicity allows a sparkle as the primary block or an accent in a quilt.

And it’s easy to make using my instructions, though the trimming is a little fiddly.

Certainly there are many more ways to set it than side-by-side across the vast array of a quilt. If you didn’t look at the Quilt Alliance post yet, please do. The setting there is interesting and fresh. And my post showing seventeen ways to set economy blocks should spur a quilter’s thinking for more ideas.

Here is the baseball medallion that uses the block above.

Have you made a quilt using this block? Was it the primary block, an alternate, or an accent?

Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)

There’s a new craze out there promoted by Red Pepper Quilts, crazy mom quilts, and others, and it’s called the economy block. That’s a new term to me, as I know this block as “square-in-a-square” or “diamond-in-a-square.” Maybe the economy comes just in its name!

[See my post of seventeen free designs using this great block.]

This is the square-in-a-square made with TWO squares in the interior.

If you’d like to make the version with only ONE square inside, it’s the same as setting a block on point. You might do a large one for a medallion quilt center, or a small one as part of a block quilt or pieced border. See my tutorial here.

I’ve looked at a number of tutorials for the economy block. And none of them explain how to make it any size. That’s okay if you want to make the block their size, but what if their size isn’t right for your quilt? You don’t need to resort to trial and error. This tutorial will show you how to make the right block for your needs.

This trick is key: the whole block will finish at TWICE the size of the center. That’s right. So if the block’s center is 3″, the block will finish at 6″, assuming you use accurate cutting and seam allowances.

That also means that if you know how big the block needs to be, the center is HALF that. For example, if you want a 7.5″ block, your center will finish at 3.75″.

Simple, huh?

To see how, click here!