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Mini Quilt of the Month, September: Bright Bits

September's Mini Quilt of the Month is our most playful and risky one yet! And not just because it looks so cool and edgy, but because it's sewn in such a breezy, off-the-cuff manner. As I sliced and pieced, I felt like I was painting with fabric because the process is so improvisational and free. With a rotary cutter for a paintbrush, you get to wield your tool with a wild abandon not usually associated with quilting.

Like our June Rainbow Mini Quilt, this piece takes its inspiration from the remarkable formalist painter, Ellsworth Kelly. This time we turned to an ink drawing from 1950 called Study for "La Combe II" (you can see this painting here.) We all loved its disjointed graphic quality and knew it would translate beautifully to a quilt. By first piecing thin strips of colored fabric at  random angles against a white background and then cutting it all up and piecing it back together in a different order, I think we achieved a similarly bold statement.

It takes a bit of courage to start slicing through the fabric at haphazard angles, but once you get going, it's hard to stop. It's amazing how quickly and easily a few strips of colored fabric can create something so beautiful. The bright, crisp mix of Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton and Rowan's Shot Cotton makes the whole thing seem so alive, just like a great painting!

ps- You can see our whole Mini Quilt of the Month series here.

Materials

Fabric for the stripes (shown clockwise above)

Fabric for the background, backing and binding

You will also need . . .

Size

19 1/2 inches by 20 inches

Pattern

Cut

Cut a 1-inch strip from selvage to selavage from each colored fabric. They will each be around 44-inches long.

Cut a 12 by 20-inch piece from the white fabric.

Note: When cutting simple rectangular shapes for patterns such as this, straight, clean cuts are key. The best way to make these cuts is with a rotary cutter and a non-slip quilting ruler on a self-healing cutting mat. If you have limited experience using a rotary cutter, I recommend visiting our Rotary Cutting Tutorial.

Piece the Strips

Arrange the white rectangle so that its long sides are facing horizontally and the short sides are vertical.

Using a rotary cutter and ruler cut a straight line at an angle from the top to the bottom of the piece.

Pin one of the colored strips to the left section, right sides together. Pin carefully and keep the strip straight. Trim the ends of the strip to a 1-inch tail.

Sew the strip to the left white piece with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Press the colored strip flat with the seam allowance pressed towards the colored side of the back.

Using your rotary cutter trim the strip so that it's edges are flush with the straight top and bottom edges of the white piece.

Pin the right white section to the long raw edge of the strip right sides together.

The pieces will be at an angle but should match up exactly as shown above. Pin carefully making sure to keep both the right white piece and the colored strip straight.

Sew the pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Press the piece flat with the seam allowance pressed towards the colored strip on the back. You will have a neat rectangular shape again.

The back should look like this, with the seam allowances neatly pressed towards one another.

Repeat this along the height of the white rectangle making slices at different angles and using differnet colored strips.

Eventually you will want to cut through sections of the rectangle that already have a strip pieced on them.

You do this in the exact same manner as you did the previous strips. Just pay extra attention to pinning it neatly and pressing the seam allowances.

Keep piecing strips in this manner until your rectangle is nicely filled with them.

Piece the Top

Change the orientation of the rectangle so that the long sides are vertical and the short sides are horizontal.

Trim the piece to 11 1/2 inches by 19 1/2 inches to make sure the edges are very straight.

Using the rotary cutter slice the piece into parallel vertical strips varying in width from 3-inches to 1 1/2 inches. My strips, from left to right, were: 2 inches, 3 inches, 1 1/2 inches, 2 inches, and 3 inches.

Cut six white strips, all 19 1/2 inches tall, in widths varying from 1 inch to 2 1/2 inches. My strips, from left to right, were: 3 inches, 1 1/2 inches, 2 inches, 3 inches, 2 1/2 inches, and 2 1/2 inches.

Arrange the pieces alternating the white strips with the pieced strips. Keep the pieced strips in order.

Flip the second and forth pieced strips 180-degrees to mix things up a bit.

Piece the strips, right sides together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance,  from left to right always pressing the seam allowances towards the colored strips.

Press piece flat, making extra sure that the seam allowances are neatly pressed towards the pieced strips.

Baste

Cut a piece of the remaining white fabric and the batting each 2-inches larger than the quilt top. Lay the white piece down smoothing on a hard surface, place the batting on top of that, and then lay the quilt top, right side up, on top of that. This is your quilt sandwich.

Baste the sandwich together every 3-inches with bent arm safety pins.

Quilt

Quilt your piece in the ditch along the vertical seams.

Bind

Bind the quilt with the remaining white fabric.

If you haven't bound a quilt before please visit the binding instructions from our January Mini Quilt of the Month: Courthouse Steps here. This quilt (and all quilts!) can be bound in exactly the same manner. Once you get to the story, scroll down near the end to the sections called "Prepare the Binding" and "Bind the Quilt".

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