I spent a solid two weeks this spring hand-stitching a zillion little yo-yos using RJR’s Cotton Supreme Solids. They were each like little gems, perfectly round and fluffy and dazzling saturated in color. Problem was, when I went to put them together for the What Shade Are You blog hop RJR has organized, I was feeling pretty…meh.
Something about the shapes plus the wide range of colors felt like a box of crayons, in the best sense, but as they came together, I found myself looking for a new way to assemble them and have them feel sophisticated and chic.
Then I scrolled past this quilt on Pinterest–it’s by Dorie of Tumbling Blocks, her Peppered Cottons quilt that she entered (and won third place!) in the StudioE peppered cottons contest. I was absolutely mesmerized–it is such a lovely, striking quilt. I looked at the stack of fabrics remaining after cutting those yo-yos and I realized Dorie’s design was an elegant and sophisticated pattern to showcase the colors I’d chosen. After all, I had my pick of all the Cotton Supreme Solids colors, and had pretty much selected my Perfect Palette.
I’m a sucker for stripes of any kind, and obviously have a preference for saturated bright colors. I think of this as my Saturated Stripes quilt, and you know how I said my all-yellow quilt was my all-time favorite quilt I’ve ever made? Well, I think we might have a new favorite. Because I can’t even believe how well this quilt turned out!
I spread my fabrics out and started pairing them up before I began to work. I wanted a balance of selections where the two colors were very close to one another versus some where the colors had a higher degree of contrast. I think the excitement and playfulness and movement of this quilt comes from the balance of lights and darks, cools and warms.
While I built the quilt top, I spent a chunk of time just moving different rows around and seeing the impact they had on the overall design–you’d be really shocked the difference it made to move the pink-and-lavender chevrons (don’t those chevrons totally make this quilt??) to lie between two cool rows, rather than keeping all the strips in ROYGBIV order. It called for the eye to focus and re-focus and shift around the body of the quilt in a way that’s really…well, exciting, if that’s not too quilt-nerdy.
I also thought a lot about the shapes in the quilt. I know it seems like it’s nothing but rectangles, but that’s the elegance in the design: it’s deceptively simple. For example, as I was cutting for each paired strip, I was guessing at how many pieces I’d need–which meant I cut chunks selvedge-to-selvedge and pieced as many strips as I was able to cut. As the quilt grew, it became clear it was going to be more square than rectangular, and it became even clearer that it wasn’t going to work as a square.
Part of the impact of the design really seems to stem from the fact that the rectangular shape is repeated both in the overall dimension of the quilt and in the individual pieces. So I started working backward and buffering my strips: some, like the orange-and-red at the upper edge, I expanded by making another strip and piecing it together with the colors lined up, so that the seam is largely invisible; others, like the fuchsia-and-plum strip, I duplicated but then off-set the colors when I pieced them together, to add a little more POP and movement. The pink-and-red even became a tiny, squared checkerboard.
The same thing happened with the quilting. I considered quilting on the diagonal (because I love it so much, for real), but thought that working in straight lines perpendicular to the shape of the rectangles would accentuate them. I started out spacing my quilting lines the same distance apart as the width of each strip, but that ended up making squares where the strips and the quilting lines intersected (duh–since that’s totally how geometry works). Suddenly, it was a quilt about a bunch of squares and the impact of the rectangles was almost completely lost, just like when the overall shape of the quilt became a square. Instead of picking out those lines of quilting (because who would willingly do that when there is any other option on the table?), I figured I’d take a shot and stitch an additional line down the middle, effectively cutting my spacing in half. And it worked!
For the quilting stitches themselves, I struggled with what color thread to choose, and ended up going with a neutral grey (that tended toward a grey-ish taupe). I didn’t want it to pop out too much, but I also wasn’t willing to swap out thread colors with every section I quilted; grey is a much more versatile neutral than you might think, and I feel like unless you’re looking for the quilting threads, you don’t really notice the color, just the presence of the stitches.
The back of the quilt is this amazing Alexander Henry print I’ve been hoarding for eons, along with an extra pieced strip of the greens that I ended up not needing on the quilt top (it actually got too rectangular!), and a skinny strip of the same orange floral I used for the binding.
I think I had stashed away 2.5 yards of this Euro-feel bird print, and couldn’t quite pull the trigger on making anything with it, because I knew I really wanted to see it in volume when I used it. The colors are a dead match for the solids used in the quilt top, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more pleased with a quilt back.
Honestly, sometimes I think selecting quilt backs and bindings is my special gift.
The binding is machine-sewn, which I realize some of you would consider super tacky, but it’s my preferred method, it’s very secure, and it’s fast to sew.
The chevrons might be my favorite part of this project. Or the little red-and-pink checkerboard, which makes me think of cake. Or maybe the way the strips jog when they’re off-set, which is way more pleasing to the eye than it sounds like it would be. Or maybe it’s just the gestalt of the thing, the overall impact that these colors make with this clean and crisp design. Gah! I just love it so much.
Should you want to look into some of these colors of Cotton Supreme Solids for yourself, I used: citron (color 337), sunny delight (color 326), tangerine dream (276), mandarin (159), flamingo (338), chili pepper (49), redwork (222), hot pink (217), rhododendron (181), bougainvillea (333), mauvelous (332), electric blue (296), royal blue (126), anemone (251), pool side (327), bora bora (328), wimbledon (205), peridot (342), martini olive (343), aloe verde (349). clover (128), and silver (125). These have a nice, crisp hand that’s a little lighter than Kona from Robert Kaufman but heavier than Cotton Couture from Michael Miller–they played extremely nicely and were lovely to press up. I didn’t use a single pin in the piecing of this quilt top, and the fabrics lined up and flew straight for me all the way through! Thanks to RJR Fabrics for providing the fabrics for this quilt!
I owe a special thanks to Dorie, who was gracious enough to permit me to use her design for the construction of this quilt. And if you’d like to make your own, you’re in luck! Dorie is working on a pattern RIGHT NOW for release. You can see her original quilt that inspired this one over on her blog, Tumbling Blocks, and subscribe to her RSS feed to be the first to know when the pattern is released. I’ll update you here, too, to make sure you get a chance to snag it and sew up one of these puppies for yourself! As Dorie said, this pattern would look so great in so many color combinations–I completely agree.
See more of the RJR Fabrics Cotton Supreme Solids Blog Hop on their Facebook page!