The quilt is fully described over four issues of Popular Patchwork. If you have missed any of the parts, back issues of the magazine can be ordered online from www.myhobbystore.com or by email from customer.services@myhobbystore.com

WHAT IS A QAL?

A quilt-along is a fun way of making a quilt and very popular with quilting groups as the idea is to share fabric choices. These types of projects are sometimes called ‘round robins’. The main goals of a QAL are to have fun, improve your skills and, by incorporating fabrics into your quilt that you have not chosen, stretch your imagination and creativity.

Over four issues we show you how to make the blocks and assemble this quilt. You can make the quilt alone or gather together some friends to exchange fabrics for a group QAL (see below). Beginners and improvers that have mastered the 1/4in seam should be able to take part.

You can make the design individual to you if you prefer, changing the setting, adding more blocks or replacing the ones we’ve used with some of your favourites. You can also use up your scraps to add more borders and make a larger version if you wish.

QAL SCHEDULE

The QAL is divided into four parts, spread over four issues, describing and illustrating the various blocks and borders needed to make and finish the quilt.

Part One (January issue) – Getting Started, Block 1, Block 2, assembling the central unit.

Part Two (February issue) – Block 3, Block 4 and Block 5.

Part Three (March issue) – Block 6, assembling Border 1, adding Border 2 and Block 7.

Part Four (April issue) – Block 8, Block 9, assembling Border 3 and finishing the quilt.

ORGANISING A GROUP QAL

If you want to take part in the QAL as a group, then three to seven people would work well. You’ll each make blocks for your own throw-size quilt but swap mid-tone fabrics before you start. For the mid-tone exchange we suggest exchanging 1 yard rather than 1 metre in case you’d like to arrange an international virtual group. If you choose to work from 1 metre everyone will receive just under 2in more on each strip. A mixture of yards and metres won’t be a problem. The quilting group called Jo Blox will be joining our QAL, so we’ll get to see some of their blocks along the way.

Group QAL Guidelines

QALs generally have some guidelines or ‘rules’, so the finished quilts stand some chance of working, design-wise, in terms of colour, fabrics and techniques used. ·

  • Discuss what style of quilt you’d like to make, to help you chose suitable fabrics. For example, modern or traditional, for fun or to raise money for a charity?
  • What colours and fabrics you choose is up to you, but you could establish some rules. For example, will you allow solids, batiks or children or novelty prints? Are fabrics to be washed and starched before the swap?
  • Have a general plan for making and assembling the quilt. You might need to discuss how strict are you going to be. For example, does everyone have to include some of every swapped fabric and is it alright to add others?

Jo Blox Quilting Group

Below left: Fig 1 The mid-tone fabrics chosen by the Jo Blox Quilting Group. The lights and darks still have to be added 

Before the 1yd fabric exchange of mid-tone fabrics, the Jo Blox Quilting Group decided on the following guidelines for their QAL. Your group might consider similar guidelines. Some quilt blocks from the Jo Blox quilt will be shown in Parts Two and Three and the finished quilt in Part Four.

Group name: Jo Blox

Number in group: 7

Quilt style: modern

Fabrics: no batiks, solids, children’s prints or predominantly brown. No 1930’s reproductions (we love them but not for this project)

Strictness: must include some of every exchanged fabric in the final quilt. The forfeit for failure is that the rule breaker has to bind everyone else’s quilt! Secret choice of lights and darks is allowed and quilts can be worked on at meetings after additional fabrics have been chosen. Fig 1 shows the Jo Blox Quilting Group’s choice of mid-tone fabrics.

Group QAL Sorting Fabrics

  1. Everyone needs to choose 1yd/1m of a mid-tone fabric. Divide this up between the number in the group (see below for how to do this). Everyone keeps one piece for themselves and passes the others on. In exchange, you will receive a strip from every other member in the group, adding back up to 1yd/1m each in total. Arrange a get-together, real or virtual, to reveal your fabric choices.
  2. To divide up your chosen 1yd/1m fabric piece between the number in your group (keeping one strip for yourself) do as follows. Cut your 1yd/1m across from selvedge to selvedge, creating two pieces each 18in (or 19 3/4in if using a metre) x width of fabric (width of fabric is about 42in, so you will have 84in in total). Divide this 84in equally between the number of people in your group. For example:
    • Group of seven – each person will get seven different fabric strips approx. 18 x 12in (84 ÷ 7 = 12in), with one person getting two smaller strips 6 x 18in adding up to at least 12in
    • Group of six – each person will get six different fabric strips approx. 18 x 14in (84 ÷ 6 = 14in)
    • Group of five – each person will get five different fabric strips approx. 18 x 12in (84 ÷ 5 = 16 1/2in), with one person getting two smaller strips 9 x 18in
    • Group of four – each person will get four different fabric strips approx. 18 x 21in (84 ÷ 4 = 21in). With smaller groups (such as four or three) add more variety to your mid-tone fabrics by dividing and exchanging two different 1/2 yards/metres (rather than one single yard/metre). In a group of four people this will give you eight strips each 18 x about 11in; in a group of three people will give you six strips 18 x 14in 
  3.  Once you have exchanged your mid-tone (medium) fabrics, you can choose a light background fabric (or two) and a dark or dominant fabric to complement and add contrast to your mid-tones. This will make your quilt unique to you. Fig 2 shows Mandy’s range of fabrics.

Fig 2 Mandy’s choice of mid-tone fabrics plus two lights and one dark fabric

INDIVIDUAL QAL

You can still join the QAL if you are working alone. You can choose to restrict your palette to four mid-tone fat quarters or use eight fat eighths. Scraps are fine too – choose strips 4in, 3 1/2in and 2in wide. Add 1/2– 3/4yd of light fabric and 1/2yd of dark fabric.

PP QAL with Margaret, Lexy, Cathy, Rosemary and Katy