When Elizabeth and Liz of Simple Simon and Co first told me about their upcoming fabric collection, Four Corners for Riley Blake, I was dying to see it and play with it. So of course I jumped at the chance when they invited me to use this collection.
POST UPDATE: Four Corners fabric was produced in 2015 and is now out of print and no longer available to purchase. I’m leaving the post up because it’s still a good example of how easy it is to make a simple Strip Quilt.
Fussy-cutting a large-scale focus print is a great way to get more design elements into a simple strip quilt.
I decided it would be fun to cut-up those strips and let them play with the other prints in the collection. I’m a sucker for row quilts – they are a great option for a simple, fast quilt construction and a good way to show off a variety of prints.
I decided to focus mostly on the black, white and gray prints, with just a little bit of color thrown in. But this would be a fun project mixing all the colors in the collection for a really colorful quilt too.
There are some important techniques when making a row quilt. First of all, it’s important to square up your fabric edges before you start cutting off strips. First of all match up the two selvage edges. This may mean that the cut edges no longer match up and may require re-pressing the fold. Now place your new folded edge along a straight line on your cutting mat. Line up a straight line on your long ruler along that folded edge and using a rotary cutter, carefully trim off the uneven edge.
Flip your fabric around so that your newly-squared-edge is now on your left side. This way you can use your ruler to accurately measure and cut your strips. Place the ruler at the desired width of fabric and cut using a rotary cutter. This will give you a nice, straight strip instead of something crooked or V-shaped. (These are obviously instructions geared at right-handed folks. If you are left-handed, do the opposite. If you are left-handed, you are probably already a pro at figuring out that kind of thing.)
Strip Quilt Instructions
Finished size 40″ x 54″
I have a tutorial on my blog with tips for cutting strips. You definitely need to square-up the fabric edges before you cut your width-of-fabric strips, otherwise you will have crooked strips or strips in a slight V shape, instead of straight across.
- From main panel cut two strips 6” x 42” with white background motif and one strip 5” x 42” of back background/cross motif and one strip 16 ½” x 42” for backing (see backing image)
- From gold Weave (cross) fabric cut: one strip 3” x width of fabric (wof), one strip 2 ½” x wof, one strip 34” x wof and one strip 11” x wof (reserve these last two for the backing)
- From black Triangle print cut 5 strips 2 ½” x wof (set aside for binding), one strip 1 ¾” x wof, and one strip 3 ½” x wof
- From black Circles print cut two strips 3 ½” x wof
- From black arrow stripe cut one strip 2 ½” x wof and one strip 4 ½” x wof
- From gray triangles cut one strip 4” x wof
- From turquoise Circles print cut one strip 2” x wof and one strip 2 ½” x wof
- From turquoise triangles cut one strip 2 ½” x wof
- From black Weave (cross) cut one strip 6” x wof
- From gray arrow Stripe cut one strip 3” x wof
- From white arrow Stripe cut one strip 3 ¼” x wof
In my opinion, one of the things that makes a strips quilt interesting is a variety of strip-widths and a variety of scale in the prints used. So if you use this tutorial with other fabrics, keep that in mind.
Lay out all of the strips in order before sewing. Sew all seams using a ¼” seam allowance.
When you sew the strips together, alternate the direction that you sew your seams. This will help avoid the bowing or arc-ing that happens when all the strips are sewn the same direction. (This happens naturally because the feed-dogs pull the bottom fabric more than the fabric on top. If you have a walking-foot or dual-feed on your machine, this won’t be as much of an issue.)
Another important tip when making a row quilt is to sew your rows together in smaller chunks first – rather than starting at the top and attaching rows one after another. (One time I let my 9-yr-old daughter sew fabric strips together to make a quilt for her teacher who was having a baby. I didn’t help her and just let her go for it. After sewing about 20 strips together, her quilt was the shape of a parallelogram. whoops! It took some careful quilting and squaring up, but we still made a presentable quilt for her teacher. 🙂 )
Pressing each seam as you go will also help keep your quilt straight and square.
Mix up the variety of colors, scale of prints and width of strips for an interesting mix of color and prints.
Press all seams one direction. Carefully square off selvage edges and square-up quilt sides. (Tip: Line up horizontal ruler markings on top of seams to keep sides square.) Quilt top needs to measure smaller than quilt back in all directions.
Here is the back of the quilt. I think I like it as much as the front! So I may just call this “the other front.” Using that main Four Corners panel print as an accent framed by yardage is a super-simple way to make a fun, on-trend baby quilt!
Piece gold 34” x wof strip and 11” wof strip on both sides of 16 ½” x 42” panel. Press seams toward gold.
Baste quilt top, batting, and quilt back together and quilt as desired. I used an all-over square stipple design to echo the geometric designs in the fabrics.
Bind: Trim selvages and sew remaining 2 ½” x wof strips end to end to create binding. For more photos and directions on Binding a quilt there is a binding tutorial here.
And there you go! A quick quilt and very on-trend in graphic southwest-inspired fabrics.
Perfect for a quick and popular baby gift!
And are you totally impressed with the staging of this quilt? I am. The timing of making this quilt was so fortunate as we headed to iconic American southwest settings last weekend. Here is where I toted the quilt on a 2 mile hike to Shoshone Point at the Grand Canyon and paid my 11-year-old a $1 to hold it for me. (If my mom is reading this, don’t panic. He was very safe the whole time!)
And finally, what you’re not seeing in this picture are some strategically placed rocks, holding down the quilt, making sure it doesn’t blow away into the Grand Canyon! Quilt staging is very technical business.
And here’s an action shot where I made my family pull over to the side of the road in Monument Valley on our way through. Turns out barbed wire fences – if used very carefully – make even better quilt holders than husbands and children. And here’s a farewell sunset from Monument Valley – not far from the actual Four Corners in the United States. Pretty spectacular, if you ask me.
Post Update: The Four Corners Fabric collection was released in 2015 and is now out of print.