Recently I was super excited to get my hands on the latest installation of the Ghastlies fabric from Alexander Henry. Intown Quilters Fabric & Yarn is one of my favorite shops, and I was in a hot hurry to get up there and grab some before it was all gone! I have managed to miss out on it in the past, but that was not going to be the case this time.
As you can see from the sampling above, the line is absolutely fabulous. There are actually two color ways, but the difference is subtle, and I still liked to mix them. One is kind of half the color intensity of the other, if that makes sense. There is a perfectly chilling pastoral, a delightfully harrowing panel and a number of accomplices in the form of supporting fabrics. I am just crazy over the moths and webs.
But let’s be honest. Sometimes fabric like this is hard to cut into. What exactly to do with the panel? The print rarely straightens up well to be able to cut an actual square, even though the panel is made of squares. And, there’s no seam allowance between squares, so losing some of the print is bound to happen. The pastoral print is fun and large, but where to begin? How big to make the blocks? What if I cut off someone’s head?
Well, no worries. After all, these are the Ghastlies.
I didn’t have a pattern, but Sarah at IQ and I were chatting and we came up with a bit of a scheme, and I headed home with fabric in hand to get to chopping.
In my haste to start whacking away at the Ghastlies, I forgot to get a good plan about how to cut those panel squares. I needed some for one size of square, and some for another, and it was getting difficult to get enough of the larger squares. Then I realized that if I cut the panel in the middle along the print from selvage to selvage and worked out from there, I would have more to choose from for the larger blocks.
Once I had accumulated enough of the larger squares, I cut into the remnants of the panel for smaller squares- which left for lots of opportunity for selective chopping.
Then I was ready for block assembly. This thing was taking no time at all, and I was loving every macabre moment of it.
The squares were all assembled, but something was awry, and it wasn’t just the lighting in my living room or lack of quality from a camera phone. First, it was way tiny. Second, well, the delight of drama was a bit lacking.
So, back to IQ, and back to plotting. I ended up using both color ways of the line, and put a little more thought into placing the darker fabrics to highlight a little more contrast. After all, what good is a mystery without a bit of conflict?
But I still found that the pastoral blocks were blending into the background more than I wanted, so I decided to highlight just a few of them using a technique I learned several years ago and has come in handy a few times.
Sometimes I need just a thin line to define a space, or break up a design. A very thin line. Like a 1/4″ line. But without adding any size to the original block. Now, admittedly, I am not a perfect quilter, in any sense of the word, so the idea of cutting the desired area down by 1/2″ all the way around, then cutting a strip 3/4″ and attaching it with a perfect 1/4″ seam and keeping all and all straight and squared up is a bit daunting to me. Maybe even terrifying. Disturbing. Unnerving. (Better stop before I run out of adjectives.)
So, this is how I do it. I leave the block the original size. I cut a 1″ strip of the framing fabric. I use a 1/2″ seam allowance to attach the framing fabric to either side of the block. At this point I make a choice to either cut away the excess 1/4″ in the seam allowance, or leave it in for a little extra bulk in the frame. I left it in this time, but Juan the Gammill Camel (my longarm machine) was not happy with me for doing it. Then I attach the framing fabric to both the top and the bottom of the block, again using a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then either cutting away or leaving the excess. It finishes nicely for me, and to me is easier than fiddling with a thin piece of fabric and a thin seam allowance.
Having said all of that, when the gang at Intown Quilters and I got to talking about it and decided for a pattern’s sake to write it up a little differently. So, if you pick up the kit or the pattern for A Ghastlie Parquet from IQ either in person or online, you’ll see a different way of doing it, but you’ll also know the secret of how it actually came about.
Once the top was done, and I swear it took just as long to write this blogpost as it did to make the top, it went straight into Juan’s arms. Juan and I discussed our options a bit, but really, it was decided pretty quickly that we wanted webs. But not just regular old standard webs. We wanted cool webs. And I found them at Urban Elementz.
It quilted up quickly, and before I knew it the binding was on and voila- the Ghastlies were framed and on their way to the holding cell at Intown Quilters for your viewing pleasure. Bwahahahahahahaha…