Prairie Plaids

Materials

  • 8 fat quarters for the stars
  • 20cm of the accent fabric which connects the stars
  • 2.7m of calico for the background and borders
  • 50cm of plain beige for the inner border
  • 157 x 157cm (62 x 62in) of wadding
  • 3.2m of backing fabric
  • The binding uses scraps from the fat quarters and backing. (Otherwise you will need 70cm of fabric

Finished Size

58 x 58in (147 x 147cm) Each star block is 10in

Skill Level

Intermediate

You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Prairie Plaids

Fabric tips When choosing fabrics for your quilt, you should try and achieve some contrast between the fabrics in the stars. This can be attained using a combination of plains and plaids or different colours.

Preparation

Use a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to cut all the patches, straighten up all the edges of the fabrics and trim off any selvages.

Fabrics 1 - 8 (Fat 1/4s)

  1. Cut three strips from each of the eight quarters 3 3⁄8 x 22in. Recut into 3 3⁄8in squares. You will need sixteen squares from each fabric. Put the remaining pieces of fabric aside until they are needed for the borders.
  2. Divide the fat quarters into four pairs for each star combination

Fabric 9 (accent)

Cut ten 3 3⁄8in squares. Take a break after all this concentrating on 3 3⁄8in squares as your brain is probably spinning!

TIP! Use little scraps of fabric to make a reference chart. Number your fat quarters and staple a small piece of fabric next to its number in the combination of pairs. Stick the page where you can see it. This reference avoids confusion when you start to sew.

Calico (background)

  1. Cut three strips each 3 x 44in. Recut the strips into forty four 3in squares.
  2. Cut seven strips that measure 3 3⁄8 x 44in. Recut into seventy four 3 3⁄8in squares. Put the remaining fabric aside for the borders.

Half square triangles

  1. Draw a diagonal line on the WS of every 3 3⁄8in calico square. Put the calico squares RS together with eight 3 3⁄8in squares of each of the fat quarter fabrics. You will have 64 pairs
  2. Put the calico squares RS together with ten 3 3⁄8in squares of the accent fabric.
  3. Sew on each side of the drawn line, 1⁄4in from the drawn line. Cut the squares in half on the line and press open. Press the seam toward the darker colour. Trim off the little ears. Put the half-square triangles together in the colour combinations that you selected earlier.
  4. Put the accent fabric half-square triangles together in a pile.

Half square triangles (centre of star block)

  1. From each pair of fabrics, take eight squares of one fabric, and mark the diagonal line on the WS - total 32 squares.
  2. Put each marked square RS together with its companion square. Sew as before. Cut, press and trim the ears.

Constructing the star blocks

Block 1 - Sew four blocks, one block from each colour combination. Lay out the block pieces and sew one at a time as shown in Figure 1. Be careful to match and pin the corners and seams. Press the block row seams in alternate directions.

Block 2 - Sew four blocks, one block from each colour combination, noting that the accent triangle is in the upper left hand corner (Figure 2).

Block 3 - Make eight blocks, two blocks from each colour combination, noting that accent triangles are in the upper RH and lower LH corners (Figure 3)

TIP! Having sewn block 1, keep in front of you whilst sewing the remaining three blocks. This ensures that the fabrics are in the same position in subsequent blocks.

Figure 1: Star block 1 Figure 2: Star block 2 Figure 3: Star block 3
(Left) Figure 1: Star block 1
(Centre) Figure 2: Star block 2
(Right) Figure 3: Star block 3

Inner Border

Using the beige fabric, cut five strips 3 x 44in. Recut into the following pieces: four strips 3 x 10 1⁄2in, four 3 x 13in and four 3 x 20 1⁄2in.

Laying out and sewing the quilt top

Warning! You must sew the blocks and beige borders together in the order stated below to ensure their correct placement in the quilt top. Remember to press as you assemble each strip. After sewing each row, take a moment to check that the order is correct. It is easier to unpick now rather than later!

Figure 4: Layout of the star blocks
Figure 4: Layout of the star blocks
  1. Study the layout of the whole quilt shown in the photograph and Figure 4. Layout the four centre blocks (block 2). Check the accent triangles are in the four outside corners.
  2. Around the centre, place the eight block 3s. Check that the accent triangles connect up across the centre and outside edge to form an interlocking border. The quilt top now resembles a cross shape.
  3. Place the beige inner border strips around the cross. (Around the corners the shortest 10 1⁄2in strips are all placed vertically and the medium 13in strips are horizontal. The long 20 1⁄2in strips are placed on the remaining four sides of the quilt top.)
  4. Fill in each corner with a block 1. Now check that the colour combination is balanced and pleasing. If not, you can interchange the same type of blocks.
  5. Sew the 10 1⁄2in beige strip to the corner star. Press. Sew the 13in beige strip to the adjacent side of the star. Press and return the blocks to their original position in the quilt top.
  6. Sew the top row of blocks and beige inner border together as shown in Figure 5. Using the same principle, sew the bottom row of blocks and beige inner border.
  7. Sew the four star blocks in each central row into a long strip. Sew the two central strips together and add the beige border at either end. Sew the top row to the central rows and finally add the bottom row.
Figure 5: Sewing the star blocks and inner borders
Figure 5: Sewing the star blocks and inner borders

Calico borders

  1. From the calico, cut eight border strips 3 x 60in. Save four for the outer border. Measure the length of the sewn quilt top along several seams. Take an average of the measurements and cut two of the strips to the average measurement. Sew the border strips to the sides of the quilt and press.
  2. Repeat the measuring exercise across the width of the quilt top and sew on the remaining two border strips. The quilt should now measure 50 1⁄2in square.

Pieced border

Cut some of the remaining fat quarters into 2in wide strips (remember to save enough fabric for the binding). Sew into borders, two 50 1⁄2in long and two 53 1⁄2in long. The combination of fabrics can be random. Press and sew to the sides, top and bottom of the quilt.

Outer calico border

Measure the total length of the quilt and take an average. Cut two of the calico strips to the average and sew to the sides of the quilt. Press. Repeat with the top and bottom of the quilt. Press.

Quilting

Keep the quilting simple if you have chosen country style fabrics. Because Mavis’s quilt contains fabrics with grids and checks, she has used geometric and linear quilting lines. Some quilting suggestions are:

  • Quilt 1⁄4in inside each star.
  • Quilt a square on point in the areas where four calico squares meet.
  • Quilt in straight lines or cross hatching in the beige, calico and pieced borders.

You can view the inner, pieced and outer borders as a single border for the quilting design if you wish.

  1. Press the fabrics and prepare for quilting. Tack all three layers for hand quilting or baste with safety pins for machine quilting.
  2. After quilting, trim the backing and wadding even with the quilt top.

Binding

  1. Cut 2 1⁄2in wide strips from the remaining fabrics to create a randomly pieced double binding. You will need to make a total binding length of 5.7m.
  2. Press in half lengthways and line up the raw edges of the binding and quilt top. Pin and stitch to the sides of the quilt. Fold to the back and slip stitch in place. Repeat with the top and bottom edges, folding the corners in neatly.
Mavis experimented with woven stripes but because of the half triangle
sewing technique, the stripes changed direction and looked messy in the
resulting block shown here. For a prettier quilt use plains and floral fabrics
in the stars
Mavis experimented with woven stripes but because of the half triangle sewing technique, the stripes changed direction and looked messy in the resulting block shown here. For a prettier quilt use plains and floral fabrics in the stars
In this alternative colour scheme sewn by Mary
Jane, she successfully introduces a bright red to
contrast with the watery sea greens and pale mint.
In this alternative colour scheme sewn by Mary Jane, she successfully introduces a bright red to contrast with the watery sea greens and pale mint.

First published in Popular Patchwork September 2001