Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Make a Stack n Whack Quilt!

I made a "Stack n Whack quilt for my son, Jeff and his bride, Tammy's wedding present. I have had several friends and family who have asked me for the instructions to make one. Here are pictures of the finished "wedding quilt" and instructions to make your own. I made this quilt with the generous help of my wonderful, talented, quilter cousin, Jean McDaniel. The fabric from Jean's stack n whack was a colorful (vivid pinks, reds, blues, yellows, greens) school of fishes. It was beautiful too. Finished quilt on a queen sized bed:
Here I am with Jeff and Tammy's finished quilt above.

Fabric Selection: You want to buy a fabric that has a very good repeat in the pattern. Oriental prints work really well. You don’t want it to be too busy or your won’t see a really good kaleidoscope or twist effect that you want in the stack n whack quilt. You want a good background, but not too much, so that the pattern in your quilt will show up. You will need at least four repeats of your pattern, plus a little extra for adjusting fabric, etc. My pattern repeats were about 21-23 inches apart, so there were lots of different details in the fabric which allowed it to have a huge variety and every finished block was different! Use 100% cotton fabric. Because the repeats in each fabric are different, I couldn’t tell you how much fabric to purchase, so make sure you get enough or make sure that the fabric is still available if you need extra. If you are making a queen size quilt, I would recommend getting enough to have eight repeats of fabric. The quilt I made for Jeff and Tammy, was an oriental print. It was beautiful. It had a black background with cranes, lilies, flowers, etc. It had a lot of variety of purples, creams, and golds. It turned out beautiful. I am now making a quilt for myself using a fabric print from Benartex “Giverny”. It also has a black background, but has reds, pinks, golds, etc. I’m excited and looking forward to finishing and keeping a quilt for myself! Here is my fabric below:

For more ideas on making a stack n whack quilt, check out this website: www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_qlt/episode/0,1806,HGTV_3876_8065.00.html

Cutting and Sewing Instructions:

1. Wash and press your fabric, being careful not to pull or stretch fabric.
2. Tear fabric in half lengthwise on the grain. This means that on the center of your fabric, you will have a selvage on the right side and a selvage on the left. You will end up with two pieces approximately 22 inches wide, each will have a selvage and each will have a raw edge. Do not tear fabric on the crosswise of the grain. When I made my quilt, I set aside one of the halves of fabric to be used later for the borders. You could do the same or you could use the other half to make more blocks depending on your choice. I ended up needing a lot more fabric than originally thought for a queen/king quilt so you could use both sides and then have borders from another contrasting fabric. It is your choice.
3. Find the repeats in your fabric. You need to have four repeats so when you cut your fabric, you will have four identical pieces of fabric that will line up exactly the same when stacked on top of each other.
4. Using your Ruler and rotary cutter, cut your fabric crosswise so you will have four pieces rectangular/square in shape which when you stack them on top of each other, they will line up exactly one on top of the other. Use pins to make sure you are lined up as fabric tends to give and move; you might have to play with it a bit depending on your fabric.
5. After everything is lined up, you should have a stack of four fabric pieces each identical to each other. Using your rotary cutter, cut five inch strips through the stack, being careful to not let fabric move out of place. The quilt I am currently making has a 22 inch repeat. I will get four stacks of strips that are 5 Inches by 22 inches.
6. Keeping the stacks of strips still together (Make sure they are secured so they don’t move and have your squares get out of alignment), using your rotary cutter, cut each stack into 5 inch squares. You should have four stacks of squares from each strip. From that one repeat of fabric (four fabrics stacked on top of each other) you should get 16 stacks of 5 X 5 squares. These will be the focus of your finished blocks! (Again, these calculations are based on my fabric which had a 22 inch repeat. Yours will differ a bit depending on the repeats in your fabric.) Here are eight stacks of squares. Each stack will make a completed block once I add borders:
7. Take one stack of 5 X 5 blocks, place one 5 " square on your work surface, place another identical sqare next to it, but turn it one quarter, continue on with each of the four blocks setting them up to make a block. As you do this, you will see a Kaleidoscope pattern in the block. Play with your block until you are satisfied with the outcome, then stitch them together with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Press finished block. Here are the four identical 5X5 squares before I rotated them into sewing position. You can see that depending on which corner of the squares I put in the center, I will have a completely different block. You also can get a real twist in the block which makes it very interesting. Original four 5" identical squares:

With each block, you will have four choices of how you want your final block to appear. From these original squares, here is choice #1:

Change center point of your block and you have choice #2:

Choice #3:

Choice #4. Notice the wreath affect in the middle of this one:

Which block do you like the best? I don't know. They are all beautiful and it is entirely your own taste. Now can you see that every single block cut from one piece of fabric could appear to be cut from a completely different fabric? It really makes your quilt look like you have spent hours searching for fabric or fussy cutting each block! It is very impressive.

8. Complete four-square blocks. From pictures (because I don’t have the finished quilt with me) it appears that the quilt I made for Tammy and Jeff’s wedding had thirty finished blocks, plus borders. I couldn’t tell you how wide I made the borders, I just looked things over until I got it the way it looked good to me. You can use wide borders, narrow borders, etc. If you wanted to have only the stack n whack blocks, you could do that too. It is totally up to you.

Putting the quilt together:
The following are the instructions to finish the quilt, but we didn’t figure on enough blocks, so you will want to refigure depending on how big your quilt is. The finished quilt that I made for Jeff and Tammy had 30 completed blocks. So to make that quilt, you would need at least 8 repeats of fabric as I stated earlier. That is also based on the fact that you will need to get at least 15 completed blocks from four fabric repeats. I was able to get 16. When I do four more fabric repeats making a total of 8, I ended up with two extra blocks to play with.

Every other block will be set on point: For the blocks that will be set on point, you will need a contrasting fabric (I used a cream fabric to make my colors really stand out. I like a light fabric since the main fabric in my quilts have such bold colors.)We will call this color #1.
A. Using your rotary cutter, cut 7 ½ inch squares from Color #1. Then cut squares in half diagonally. You will need two squares or four diagonals for each block that is set on point.

B. Sew ¼ inch seams putting a diagonal to each side of four-square blocks that will be set on point. This will make your finished block square to match the other blocks, but the center print block will be set on point. Sorry I don’t have an exact amount of fabric for you, so do the math or be sure to get plenty of fabric. Press.

Squared –off blocks: For these blocks, you will need two borders. I put one border (color #1-cream color) next to the print block. Then a purple border (color #2) for the outside border of the block. Sorry, I don’t have exact amounts or sizes on this because when we figured it, the first time, we made a mistake in our calculations and the borders made the blocks too big to match up to the point-set blocks. So play with it a little to figure out how big you want your borders.

Finishing your quilt:
When your blocks are finished, lay your blocks out in a big area where you can look at them at play with them. Move them around until get it the way you like it. Then sew it all together! Here is a basic layout of my quilt, minus the outside borders. However, on mine, the squared off blocks have two borders instead of one:

I finished my quilt with borders of the same oriental print fabric. I used the ½ of the fabric that I set aside at the beginning and I believe I divided that 22 inch width fabric into fours and that made my borders? That would mean my borders were about 5 ½ inches wide. I found a pretty purple fabric for my backing. My fabulous cousin, Jean McDaniel, did the machine quilting for me. (She did an amazing job.) I bound the quilt in the purple fabric print (color #2).
Oops! I am relooking at my pictures, and I see I can't even count! There are at least 35 blocks on that wedding quilt not 30. So calculate your quilt accordingly. A thirty block quilt would probably make a full-size quilt. Sorry!
Check out Jean's website: www.santiamriverquilts.com