Saturday, February 4, 2017

Making One Patch Quilts



Bargello: a needlework stitch in high and low relief that produces a variety of zigzag or flame effects.

If that is true, then naming this "V Bargello" could be justified. It's the first of the V's as the pattern develops. If I were to think in terms of the agrarian community around me, I would call it a plowshare. It might not surprise you to know Amish farms in this area still use such a plow pulled by horses even today.


Some quick background: I'm volunteering a few days a month with Mennonite Christian Committee's store in Kidron, Ohio called MMC Connections Thrift Shop. My job is simple. Go through the boxes of precuts, 4", 5", or a few 6" squares, and lay up one patch quilts onto a design wall to be made into comforters. The first couple times I had worked with 5" squares, and all my design work at home was based on 5". Finished dimensions should be 60" x 80". Do the math, and you come up with 14 patches x 18 patches of 5" to get the correct finished size (subtracting seam allowances.) 

Without getting too complicated, 14 and 18 are both even numbers meaning the design was best split into 2's. If you added one more patch making it 15 x 18, the dimensions could be divided evenly by thirds. While this sounds far out to some of you, it makes a difference if you want your design to finish symmetrically either side to side or top to bottom. I had worked out the math so I felt proficient. I was so ready! When I asked what to work with yesterday, and the 4" square supply was most bountiful and suggested, I gasped. How many 4" squares will build a 60" x 80" comforter? (18 x 23 patches) Now I needed a design to work on that grid. Hah! This design would still work. Even numbers across the top divide it into halves, and odd numbers lengthwise mean it works that way, too. 


Do Try This At Home!

I know each person develops their own way of laying out a one patch, but I will tell you how I have found is easiest so far.

A design wall is an enormous help. Tape a large piece of batting to your wall if you have nothing else. A flannel sheet will work, too.

Quickie Tutorial

Start on the top of the left hand side. This will actually be the TOP of your quilt. Laying it out SIDEWAYS on the wall means you will probably be able to reach up 60+", and the length can stretch out to the side.

Lay on the number of blocks your design requires in a vertical column. This was 18, and I tried to have good contrast with each piece. I envisioned the patches each had a number from 1 at the top to 18 at the bottom.


Patch numbers 9 and 10 are singles, and a great place to add that special piece when there is only 1 left. Then work from center toward top and bottom in rows 8 and 11. Both those will have 2 patches, and continue. I do not make a row across the top or bottom to tell me when I've reached my full length as many times the colors depend on the overall scheme as I add. Often I put up a row, stand back to look, and take it down. 

An Exact Color Match Is Not As Important 
As Value

The majority of rows will contain 9 patches. If you run out of a great color, use two or more similar in color and value, and just alternate them. This is a wondrously scrappy approach, and just adds to the design! Don't sweat it.

 Kitchen Sink Design

Variety is the spice of life! I dug through bins to find wild prints from the 1960's, gingham, stripes, dots, ditsy prints, plaids, and on and on. You DO want the colors to "go together", but it's not a hard, fast rule. For instance, if you have a very dark green in one spot, and add a bright lime green somewhere else your eye will probably pick it out. It may look out of place. To make it more palatable, try adding another green or even two to bridge the gap. No green? Pick a blue green or another color close on the color wheel. It works every time for me. One exception stands out, while many do not. Again, don't get too hung up on matching.

Picking It Off the Wall

Here is what the gals taught me. Cut a piece of masking tape, and write a number for each row. I used 1-18, the original column of patches I started with. Roll the very edge of the tape under so it sticks to itself creating a tab that will be easy to peel off the fabric. Snip each little number off with a pair of scissor as you label the rows. Remove each row one at the time, stacking one atop the other in the order to be sewn. We lay them in a box like you would buy a flat of canned goods. The next volunteer in line should be pleased with your orderliness, and you will have made their job easier to accomplish.


A quick hello from Effy and Minnie keeping warm by the fire these past cold days. They're hoping you find some time to sew for charity, and remind you your local pet shelter would appreciate a cozy mat for their dogs and cats. Did you know animals that have a handmade cushion in their crates are more likely to be adopted? People can envision the pet in their own home that way, and the pet finally finds a forever home. Donate! And may I also remind you always spay and neuter your pets.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

4 comments:

  1. Neat tape trick. Have used it often. Love the look of those one patch quilts. Off to work on a charity quilt. Making four patches for it. Blessings,

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  2. No matter how I try my brain freezes when I try to work out the math, always to my cost ! Great quilt by the way

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  3. Just have to love math, it never lets you down. Great design Julie, and the tape trick we've used it in my guild for our charity quilts, does make things easier.

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  4. A very fun design. I've never tried the tape trick, that's a good tip to tuck away for future use.

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