Thursday, September 24, 2015

TBT - Tumbling Down

One day, when I'd been quilting for about 4 years, I decided I wanted to make a quilt using baby blocks (or tumbling blocks, as I always call them).  This seemed like a simple enough idea, but I wanted to mix it up a bit by making a design that looked like the blocks were falling.  So, one weekend I dug through my scrap bins, and pulled out a bunch of fabric combinations that I could use for the blocks. I decided to make each block in 3 shades of a colour, and arrange the multiple colours randomly in the layout.

Y-seams?  No problem. I figured I could handle that. I'd done at least one quilt with mitered corners by then, I think.  So I cut a bunch of my scraps into little 2 inch diamonds, and laid some out on my design wall. My vision had the blocks on a dark background, but the fabric I pulled for that did not work at all, as you can see.  So I figured I'd be working with white.  Despite that, I went ahead and started assembling.  First I made a bunch of baby blocks.  Joining 3 diamonds from a colour set, carefully keeping the orientation of light/med/dark the same for each block.  I knew if I tried to do this by hand I'd never finish, so I went ahead and pieced all those fun y-seams on my sewing machine.

After the initial layout shown above, I did some calculations based on the size I thought I wanted (30x40").  Those calculations said I would need 160 blocks for my quilt.  Since at that time I had about 43 blocks done and another 20 cut out, I was pretty down about the amount of work I'd bitten off with this project.  Nevertheless, I soldiered on. 

When I'd finished about 75 blocks, I put them up on my design wall, to have a look at the overall design I was aiming for.  I figured out 2 things at this point. They REALLY needed a dark background.  And I probably had enough blocks to do what I wanted.  So I picked up a black fabric for the background - a bit darker than the original fabric I'd pulled up top - and decided I just needed to ensure that my really dark blocks didn't directly touch the background.  Simple enough.

Then I looked at my lovely falling blocks.  I thought at first I could keep the orientation/location such that I could piece them between black hexagons, and keep things simple. But I quickly decided that this would make the quilt too rigid. I needed it to flow more, so I 'd have to deal with some free-form falling blocks to make that happen.  I did not want to applique them, because I felt that would detract from the look of the quilt. So I did some free form piecing, instead.  This worked reasonably well. I simply added black background around each falling block, until I could trim that to the right angle to allow me to join the pieces into the quilt.

This worked great, until I got to the lower right, where I wanted blocks to overlap each other. Things got a bit trickier there.  I made it work, piecing blocks on top of eaach other. There were some pretty hairy corners to deal with, but I persevered (because I didn't know enough to realize how difficult I was making my life). And I even kept the line for the border pieces running through behind the block set in the lower right.  That was maybe a wasted effort, since you can barely see where the border pieces are, but I was pretty proud when it was done.

I quilted the blocks in the ditch, did some stipple in the background, and left the borders unquilted.  Definitely some choices I would change if I was doing that again, but at the time I was still pretty new to free-motion quilting.

This is still one of my favourite quilts, and it hangs in my bedroom over my bed.  I received lots of compliments online and requests for a pattern, so I finally wrote that out this year, and posted it for sale on Craftsy.  And this year, I entered this quilt in the Richmond Fair, where it received 2nd prize in a wallhanging category.

Please join me for Throwback Thursday today. The rules are simple (and flexible :) ). Write a post (or revive an old one) about an old quilt or project that you have - maybe something from your pre-blogging days, or just a project you love that you want to show off again. Please include a link back to this post in yours, and when you link up make sure you are linking to your specific blog post, not just your blog address. You want to make sure people can find your post if they drop by the linkup later.

Add your link, and check out some of the other links for some inspiration. See my sidebar for a TBT button you can add to your blog.


  1. Wow! A work of art! Well worth all the planning. My minds eyes could see you standing back doing the quilt stare....alot. Well done, it was worth every minute.

  2. Love it! You were very brave. It's what I say about new modern quilters -- they don't know they're not supposed to be able to do what they do.

  3. Your quilt is beautiful! I love the falling blocks. I can see why this is one of your favorites.