Building a Community Quilt Part I

I’ve written a lot about the community quilts I have made. But I have never actually written about how you, too, can make a community quilt using the NO-SEW method I use. NO-SEW means anyone can contribute to the quilt.

McCarthy Solstice by Maria ShellHere is how it works. For those of you who think primarily as artists consider this an exercise in surface design. For those of you who primarily think as quilters consider this as an exercise in fusible appliqué.

First, you create a selection of foundation blocks. I like to use fabrics that read as solids in a wide assortment of colors.  I usually make them between 8 to 12 inches wide by 8 to 12 inches long–in both rectangular and square shapes. I usually rip these foundation blocks on the grain instead of cutting them, but you can cut them using a ruler if you prefer. Here are the forty foundation blocks I made for Moore Place.

Maria Shell Making a Community Quilt Part INext I take a bolt of Wonder-Under. Yes, an entire bolt. The full name of this product is Fusible Webs & Adhesives Interfacing – Paper-Backed 805 Wonder-Under.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IWhile the name sounds a bit like a foundation garment, it really is a heat activated (aka the iron brings it on) fusible. There are two sides to Wonder Under–1. the actual fusible which feels sticky to touch and 2. the release paper which protects the fusible until you are ready to activate it with heat. I have used up all my Wonder-Under except for this small piece, but it still gives you an idea of what it looks like when there is no fabric fused to it.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part II select a wide assortment of printed and solid fabrics to adhere the Wonder Under to. I particularly like prints that have images you can cut out and make into other things. For example, big dots can become flowers, clouds, wheels, logs, you get the idea. Here is an example of using the images in the fabric to create flowers. You can read more about this quilt here.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part ICut both the printed fabric and the Wonder-Under to be approximately 7” by 17”. Using a hot iron, I iron the Wonder-Under to the backside of the fabric. I let the fabric cool and then use my rotary (but no ruler) to trim the fabric so that the Wonder-Under goes all the way to the edge of the fabric piece. The front side of the fabric looks like a regular piece of fabric. Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IThe backside looks like paper. In fact, the Wonder-Under makes the fabric feel like paper which makes it much easier for non-quilters to handle.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IIn addition to the the fabric + Wonder Under and the foundation blocks you need the following supplies.

Several pairs of little scissors–pointed Fiskars are inexpensive and work well. I also like the Gingher, Kai, and Olfa five inch scissors.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IPressing sheets–I usually make mine out of brown paper lunch bags.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IEach participant should have one of these underneath their foundation block like so.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part I A couple of irons and ironing boards that have pressing sheets on them to protect both the surface of the iron and the ironing board.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IAt least one permanent fabric marker for signing the quilt blocks. I use a Pigma MICRON 03.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IPencils for sketching ideas on the pressing sheets.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IOr for drawing on the backsides of the fused fabric before they cut out their design.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IIt is nice to have examples for participants to see. I have created a little portfolio of past community quilts to help spark ideas.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part ISpread the fused fabric out in an appealing fashion. I like to display the fabric in the order of the color wheel with multi-colored prints and neutrals on either end of the spectrum.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part I

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part II enjoy having everyone come together to make their blocks. I believe in the power and goodness that comes from making things together. As you can tell by these photos, people quickly become focused on making their blocks.

It is helpful to remind everyone that you will be stitching these blocks together, so their design needs to fit inside the foundation block. If the design goes all the way to the edge, part of the design may be lost in the seam allowance.

Once a participant has cut out their design and is ready to iron their block, they should carry the block AND the pressing sheet to the ironing board. Trust me. I’ve seen more than one block fall apart when it is carried all by itself to the ironing board.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part II always tell participants that they should let me know when they get to this step. Inevitably, there is at least one individual who glues their design to the iron or the ironing board.

At the ironing board, they should peel the adhesive paper away from the backs of their cut out design. Once the paper is removed the fusible is exposed.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IIt is important to check the pieces and make sure that ALL paper backing is removed and that the fusible is indeed attached to the fabric and not to the paper. If the fusible ends up sticking to the paper instead of the fabric it can be fixed. Put all three layers–fabric, fusible, and backing–back together again and iron them. Let them cool. Then carefully try and separate the backing from the fusible.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IAfter the paper backing is removed and the pieces are situated properly on the surface block, the design is ready to be ironed in place.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part II like to iron it three times. Once with the pressing sheet on top,

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part Ionce from the backside of the block,

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part Iand once from the front without the pressing sheet.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part INow the design is ready to be signed. Encourage participants to sign their blocks away from the edges of the block. It is always disappointing to loose a signature to a seam.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IAs each block is finished, I add them to a display of all the blocks. It is great fun to admire them all together.

Maria Shell Building a Community Quilt Part IIn Building a Community Quilt Part II, we stitch them ALL together. I haven’t done a cliff hanger in a while. Are you folks excited to see what happens next or what?

This entry was published on October 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM. It’s filed under My Process-Quilts, Quilt Stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Building a Community Quilt Part I

  1. Robin Wilkinson on said:

    Yes, very excited to see what happens next. This is so interesting.

    Like

  2. Nysha Nelson on said:

    How cool. I love how ‘non quilter’ friendly it is — really making it a project for the whole community. I am curious how you attack the quilting with fusible appliqué…

    Like

  3. Okay! I really need Part II can you give us a link?

    Like

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