18 February 2013

The Conversation Quilt (with tutorial!)

I've got two quilts in the show at Quilt Con this week.



I blogged about the one on the left fairly recently (you can read about it here and here), but the one on the right has only made one brief appearances when it was in progress.


The Conversation Quilt


It's "The Conversation Quilt" and I love the way it turned out!  I had it quilted for me by the lovely Bernie.  You can go back and read the earlier post about this quilt if you want to hear about its inspiration, but basically, it is a quilt for one of my dearest friends on the occasion of his wedding.  He never stops talking, so the conversation bubbles are partly a joke on him about his non-stop chatter, but also meant to symbolize a relationship as a "long conversation."  The fabrics used inside the bubbles are (mostly) re-used pieces from an enormously long bunting they had in their wedding tent.


conversation quilt-1


The top row is single bubbles (their time before they met), in the second row they meet and begin talking to each other, the third row begins with their wedding vows, and the rest is them in conversation with each other.  That blank spot represents those inevitable pauses and disconnects in relationships...they are normal, so I wanted to depict them in some way.

Anyway, I think this block is tremendously fun and has a lot of potential so, I am posting a tutorial for you!
conversation quilt-3


The conversation bubble unit is pieced improvisationally from two or more fabrics.  Since it is pieced improvisationally, there is no exact yardage for me to tell you to purchase.  In the quilt above, which is about 36x45" I used less than a yard each of the white, gray, and tan fabrics.  You could, of course, use a single fabric for the background or mix it up even more than I have.

You can use one, several, or many fabrics for the contents of the conversation bubbles.  I have about 20 fabrics in the bubbles, which made it fairly easy to keep the spread them around the quilt (not next to the same fabric in any direction.)


The core unit of the block has three sub-units, labelled in the picture below. Keep these numbers in mind as I refer to them throughout the tutorial.

To make a few blocks today, I pulled out some pale teal fabric and some scraps.


scrap choices


This block lends itself well to using scraps for the bubbles as you only need a little bit of each print.

The first thing to do is cut a rectangle (sub-unit 3) from each of your bubble fabrics.
conversation quilt scraps


My rectangles vary from 4.5"x7" to 3"x6" I think the variation brings life to the pattern.   You could, of course, cut them all identically if that's more your style. Leave some of each fabric for the triangle part of each bubble; these can be quite small, but a half-square triangle from a 3" square is a good starting place.

Sub-units 1 and 2 use solids as the base.  For these pieces, I cut 3.5" strips of my solid fabric.  I then cut those strips into rectangles of varying lengths, 3.5" to 4"  You need two of these rectangles for every conversation bubble you'll be making.

To make the sub-unit marked "1" above, simply take one of the solid rectangles and attach a triangular scrap to the corner.
The process is the same as what is described as "the exquisite" from Liberated Quiltmaking or "stitch and flip triangles" from Quilting Modern.  Simple take your scrappy triangle and position it right-sides together over your base fabric (see the diagram above).  You'll be stitching along the line marked in yellow, you can quickly check that you've positioned the fabric correctly by gently folding a 1/4-inch seam in the fabric, and seeing if the background fabric is covered (as in the photograph below).


conversation quilt corners
You can do all of these in one go, but keep in mind that if you want to have the conversation bubbles talk to each other like this:


You need to mix up the location of that triangle you're stitching! 


Once you've sewn those seams, trim away the excess from the background.


And then press the triangle.
You may need to square up the sides marked with arrows in the following pictures.


Once that is done, take each sub-unit 1 and join it with a sub-unit 2.  If it's for a bigger bubble, grab a bigger rectangle.


Finally, attach the bubble (sub-unit 3) along the top.



conversation quilt block


Square up these units.  I recommend using the seam that attaches the bubble to the rest of the block as the guide for squaring up.

Where you go from here is up to you!  In my new version of this quilt, I'm planning on floating the conversation bubbles in negative space:
conversation quilt blocks


In the version of the quilt on display in Austin this week, most of the bubbles were paired with another, then had more background fabric added to each side and the top.


I also think it could be fun to have tiny bubbles floating around a big bubble OR patchwork inside the bubbles AND this could be a really fun way to use novelty fabrics.  Basically, the options are unlimited!  

If you're lucky enough to go to Quilt Con this week, please stop and say hello to my quilts!  Also, if you see me, holla!  


MY TUTORIALS COME WITH TIP JARS



If you use this tutorial, remember to credit me and consider leaving a tip! 

CREDIT REQUIRED:  Anyone is free to use this tutorial to construct a quilt; However, if this is where you got your design idea or where you learned this method, you should credit me, Rossie, with inspiration and please link back to this blog post (The Conversation Quilt with Tutorial).


TIPS ACCEPTED:  If you use the tutorial and feel so moved, please throw a buck or two in my tip jar (no obligation). Rest assured, the money goes into my business account and I will pay taxes on it through the business.



Why do I post tutorials with a tip jar?
(a) I often feel that quilt patterns are over-priced, especially if I can tell just by looking at something how it was made. I am almost never willing to pay $8 for a PDF quilt pattern. However, I would be willing to give someone a dollar or two for using the idea they brought to my attention, I think you might be like me.

(b) I'm a copy-leftist. As such, I don't think it is possible or moral to claim ownership over most ideas or to try to control an idea.   I'm interested in people's willingness to volunteer payment for inspiration.
(c) I have bills to pay.  When this goes reasonably well, I can post more quilts on my blog, rather than keeping them secret while waiting for them to show up in magazines or books.

26 comments:

  1. I had been thinking about this quilt. Love it!

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    1. Thank you! I love it, too! I'm just emailing with my firend now to tell him his quilt is in Texas but he can have it soon. Ha ha ha.

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  2. I love the idea of the "single life" top row, and the relationship conversation developing further down.... As I wedding quilt, I probably would've added the joke of a tiny "baby" bubble on the last block. I love that you used bits of their wedding bunting - there will never be a question about whether they love the colour!

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    1. Oh, that would be funny! Of course, not everyone gets married with the intent of having kids, so I'm not sure I would do it unless I knew that was the plan. Having all the colors from their wedding was great! most of what I added it was just to round out the colors... I pushed the purples and pinks to reds in a few places.

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  3. What an original idea! Pretty colors too! www.halfsquaretriangle.blogspot.com :)

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  4. i love it, rossie! you are so clever!

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  5. I think you could also make it "I spy" conversation that would also be fun.

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  6. I am always interested in some of the deep thought processes or meanings behind people's quilts. I am from the school of 'that looks pretty/colourful/fun...I'll sew that together'. Even naming a quilt to me seems a bit like I got ahead of myself. So really interesting to see how others approach their quilts. Thank you for the insight.

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    1. And I feel out of my confort zone and a bit lost when I'm making a quilt for no particular reason with no particular meaning...ah well, different strokes for different folks!

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  7. A fabulous quilt, and great idea, what a refreshingly unusual change from a traditional wedding quilt, great work, welld one, and I really like your tip jar idea! : )

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  8. Great tutorial! I know I would not have thought of the bit about the triangles facing each other if you hadn't pointed it out. I'd so love to make one of these for my older daughter who draws comics. Just to find the time...

    Can't wait to see it hanging at QuiltCon!

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    1. It is a remarkably quick quilt to piece. I did eight bubbles in an hour.

      The show at Quilt Con is going to so fun. I'm jealous of my future self who gets to look at it all!

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  9. what an absolutely wonderful, and very special, wedding gift!

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  10. This is so clever and original. I expect this idea to explode. Of course you could embroider words inside your bubble, on and on. Trying to hit your tip jar, but the donate button is just taking me to Paypal's home page. Maybe I can get it figured out.

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    1. Hi Jenny, I just double-checked it from my end and the button should be working now. Thanks so much for your support!

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  11. An interesting concept to be sure. I can see that this one will be popular! Thank you for sharing it with us!

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  12. Love it !!!! Was looking forward to see how this fun concept would develop. Thank you for sharing with us. Like your concept of a donation jar, too!
    ; )

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  13. I've read about this quilt before. Love the symbolism behind it! Makes it such a personal gift. My kids would agree that it would be a suiitable quilt for their dad!

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  15. Wow, what a cool quilt! I love the thought behind it and the speech bubbles are really cute. :)

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