Quarantine Quilts

Quarantine Quilt Project: Life in the Time of Coronavirus, Part III (Guest Blog Post)

Perhaps your enthusiastic comments encouraged Wendy Hill to immediately put together the third installment of her guest blog post series about the awesome quilt she made during quarantine with the four rambunctious boys next door (aka “The Boys”) ages 2 – 8. 

I am so happy to now share her third installment! (And now you get to see the quilt laid out with all the blocks created by “The Boys”.)

If you are just joining us, see these posts for Part I and Part II of the story:


Quarantine Quilt Project: Life in the Time of Coronavirus

Magic! Turning 65 Blocks of All Sizes Into a Quilt Top! And Leftovers Into a Quilt Back!

On a lark, my neighbors and I added playing with fabric to make quilt blocks. We had no idea where this project would take us or how our families would connect over time. 

Please consider launching your own “quarantine quilt” project with kids or adults who would enjoy such a project. Collaborate through “snail mail” if your people are not in the neighborhood. I believe everyone can capture the free spirit seen in The Boys’ quilt blocks. 

Quilt Top

Since I refused to do anything more than trim (or square-up) the precious blocks, I had to find another way to unify 65 blocks of all sizes. I sorted the blocks by height, the first bit of “magic”, to layout 8 rows of 8 blocks, saving the extra block for the quilt back. 

#1A 8 blocks, 8 rows#1B 8 blocks, 8 rowsWith the row height consistent, I planned to frame the blocks, adding “filler” fabrics if needed, to adjust the row width. I looked to my assortment of “dots” and “cross hatched” fabrics, many of which had already been cut into.

#2A- assorted dots#2B- assorted cross hatchI started with the widest row as the standard width, which happened to be Row #4. Next I assembled Row #3, working my way up to Row #1. Of course, the quilt needed a border at the top (and bottom), because the quilt can’t be too big, right? 

#3A Rows 3&4#3B Rows 2,3,4I alternated “A” and “B” blocks in each row as part of my plan to frame the blocks, add fillers, and create a border on the two long sides. A plan helps me keep my sanity but also gives me freedom to go off the path. It’s a paradox!

“A” blocks are framed on all four sides. I used the same fabrics or similar color scheme: 

#4A- _A_ block#4B- _A_ block#4C- _A_ block“B” blocks are only framed top and bottom. 

#5A- _B_ block#5B- _B_ block#5C- _B_ blockThe border on the long sides is created block-by-block, using a 2 3/4” width of fabric on the outside edges of the first and last blocks in each row. This creates a visual border without using one long strip of fabric. (The width of this border strip could be anything to make the border wider or narrower.) 

#6- built in border on rightFor “A” blocks, the outside edge/border strip (one of four strips framing the block) is cut to this specific width. 

#7, end border strip for _A_ blocksFor “B” blocks, the outside edge/border strip is also cut to this specific width, making a total of 3 strips framing the block (instead of only top & bottom). 

#8, end border strip for B blockAt this point, you might wonder how the rows come out the same width? This second bit of magic is in way to adjust the row width. Assemble the row in two sections. Layout the two pieces on a design wall or other surface. 

If the sections are too wide, overlap the raw edges between the two sections, until the width is correct. Sew the seam, trimming excess fabric to account for the seam allowance. 

If the two sections are too short and leave a gap, add a “filler” strip to one of the two sections, and continue as described above. 

For these two rows, I chose bright filler fabrics: look for the bright green plaid in the first photo, and bright red plaid in the second photo. The “fillers” just add to the fun (chaos)!

#9A- green plaid filler9B- red plaid fillerEveryone encounters surprises, obstacles or let’s be honest, mistakes. How a quilter deals with these events are what counts and as quilters know, these are often “opportunities” to do something unexpectedly great. 

I accidentally trimmed or “squared-up” two blocks, making them the wrong height. “Fillers” to the rescue once again, as I just added another strip to the top edges. 

#10A- extra strip fix#10B- extra strip fixWhen I cut a fabric on the bias, I often reinforce the edge with a narrow strip of fusible interfacing. This way, there are no worries about the edge stretching. 

#11- reinforce bias edge

Before assembling Rows 5-8 and the border, I stood back and saw the two orange fabrics screaming at me. I couldn’t shut out the visual noise (ha ha) so I swapped one of the oranges out for another color. Peace was restored.

#12A, orange screams#12B, replaced orange, peace restored

Quilt Back

While “The Boys” used my saved scraps to create fun, exciting, weird and wonderful blocks, I did my best to put together a quilt back also using leftovers, larger scraps, and found fabrics in the closet. 

As the back evolved, I took a few photos, showing how the fabrics shifted around, got deleted, or sometimes, added back in. Not shown in the photos is a late stage addition; look for it in the finished quilt photos in the final guest post. 

#16- trials#15- trials#14- trials#13- trials

Labels

I used the extra block made by “The Boys”, and another leftover pieced heart block, to create two labels. When I searched the internet for the best fabric pen, my first reference said “don’t use a pen, embroider the label”. I agreed. 

#17, made by label#18 HeartAs I came closer to finishing the quilt, I had the growing feeling that this quilt was so much bigger then me or my neighbors or The Boys. 

We’ve known in theory that we could have another global pandemic, but the reality is so — well— real. The enormity of the pandemic is hard to grasp, even now. 

Yet in the face of adversity, we find many examples of people, all over the world, reaching out to help and support each other. The Quarantine Quilt is one of these examples. 

Wendy’s next guest blog post: Quilting and Binding The Gigantic Quilt