So, back in November, I left you hanging about the progress of the bargello quilt. We didn’t have class in December, and I’m woefully behind because my machine was acting up and in the shop. But I have it back now, and it is time to get to work! Class this week focused on measuring and building borders, but I haven’t even completed the main part of the quilt. I need to finish it, have borders added and everything sandwiched for class in two weeks!
The progress so far
Because of how the color runs require swapping in and out different rows to get the color shift, the quilt is best constructed from the outside in. The pattern groups strips into different sections (A*–H*), and in my layout, B, C, F, and G all have strip swapping. This means from C-E, I’m able to focus on one side at a time, which I’ve done.
Overall, the progress has been pretty simple. Simply cut the right widths from the color run, swap out the required blocks for purple ones, and sew the strips together, alternating seam direction (sew every other one from the bottom up rather than top down). I’ve been sewing the strips for each group together (they range from 1–5 strips), then sewing each group to the next, rather than sewing each strip to the next for the whole quilt. As I mentioned when making the color runs, I think it lessens shifting and bowing.
You can see in the progress above that my current progress isn’t exactly square, although the angle of the photo and pinning I did exacerbate the problem in the photo.
One important thing to note when doing a staggered pattern like this is that the tops and bottoms of your rows will not be aligned. Rather, there will be a 1/4″ staggering effect because the half-blocks will not have the full seam allowance. Instead of trying to line up the rows, I start pinning by marking the midpoint of the second full block down and matching that up with the correct seam on the connecting row, then back tracking. If I ever find that my strips aren’t matching up correctly, I simply use that method again later, and adjust the ease through the intervening pieces.
For most rows, my plan to add in the purple contrasting curve simply requires removing one block from the color run and replacing it with a purple one of the correct width.
For a few strips, however, this would result in the purple taking over the existing curve, which I don’t want. So, toward the middle of the quilt, you’ll start to see partial blocks. The first one in the blue-dominant side is apparent on the far right of the progress.
I accomplish this by cutting out bits of the existing blocks (keep your seam allowances in mind!), and inserting the purple block midway, rather than substituting it for an entire block.
There are a few more like this. You can see them all, and get exact measurements in my downloadable pdf of the pattern.
The importance of remembering seam allowances
I made a very amateur mistake while my machine was in the shop. I decided to start cutting out all the little purple blocks so that I could start pinning everything together and be ready to sew once I got the machine back. Then, I misread my notes and ended up spending an hour cutting out pieces that were all .5″ too short—I forgot the seam allowance. It’s really de-motivating when you do something like that. But, we all must soldier on.
Even worse than the motivational factor is the fact that I don’t think I have enough purple left to re-cut all the pieces, so some of the middle ones will likely be pieced together, adding even more bulk and seams to the project. I’m hoping that I can get through all the strips with two purple blocks, and then piece together purple blocks for the center of the quilt, where there is only one block per strip.
Do you have any tips and tricks to keep your runs from shifting? What about getting yourself back in the mood to work on a project when you really mess up (like my cutting problem)?