Patchwork of the Crosses
By Moira Neal and Diana Ridsdill Smith
This beautiful quilt was made over papers in the traditional
English way and hand stitched and quilted. This is not a
quick project - paper piecing takes time.
- Paper for templates
- Small piece of template plastic (size of an envelope)
- Paper scissors
- Hand sewing kit, scissors and neutral
or pale grey thread
- Fabric scraps for the crosses
- 5.75m of fabric A if rotary cutting patches* (or 5m if cutting patches by hand as it is a more economical way of using the fabric)
- 1.6m of fabric B
- 60cm of light border fabric
- 90cm of dark border fabric
- 50cm of binding fabric
- 255 x 300cm (100 x 115") backing fabric
- 255 x 300cm (100 x 115") low loft polyester wadding
- Masking tape
- Quilting thread
*As this was a group project, fabric A was cut using a rotary cutter and strips for speed. Also remember this is a very large quilt! If you are not sure how large you want the final quilt to be, why not use several different fabrics for A and buy a metre of each to start with? As you run out of one material, simply substitute another fabric design. This can be particularly effective if you use white on white tonal / textured prints.
92 x 105"
This beautiful quilt was made over papers in the traditional English way and hand stitched and quilted. This is not a quick project - paper piecing takes time. The advantage is that once you have cut out the templates and the fabric patches, it is very portable. So make sure you keep a few patches, needle and thread in a sewing bag which you can take with you everywhere. In this way, you can easily prepare the patches using otherwise ‘lost’ time. If you are a complete beginner, you could make up just a few blocks and create a cot quilt or cushion. The design was inspired by a quilt sewn by Lucy Boston in the late 1950s. The pattern was recreated by Diana Ridsdill Smith as a group project for Cambridge Quilters and was raffled in aid of charity.
- Wash and iron all the fabric to check for shrinkage or colour bleeding. Do not use any fabrics in which the colour is unstable.
- Trace the two templates onto the template plastic. It is really important to be accurate at this stage. Make several master plastic templates as you have a lot of paper templates to cut. The quilt pattern is made up from three separate blocks, and assembled at a later stage.
You will need to make the following:
- Block 1 - 56 blocks. These are in your choice of colours.
- Block 2 - 72 blocks. These are made using fabrics A and B with your choice of fabric in the centre.
- Block 3 - 127 blocks. These are made up of fabrics A and B only.
Paper piecing method
- Prepare a large number of paper templates by drawing round each of the plastic templates onto paper. Traditionally, old magazines, letters or printed paper would have been used. Now, with accurate photocopying being widely available, it is much easier to print out several sheets of each pattern. Cut them out accurately and keep the two shapes separate.
- Carefully choose your fabrics using our quilt for inspiration. Two fabrics, A and B, are used throughout the quilt to give it a cohesive look. Notice the way some of the other patterned fabrics have been cut to create interest within each block. Use the clear plastic template to select the areas of patterned fabric you want and then cut out the shapes adding 1/4" seam allowance.
- The quickest way to cut out the background fabrics is with a rotary cutter. For the hexagons, cut 3" strips of fabric then cut the fabric into 2" wide pieces and use these to pin the templates onto. Trim off the four corners leaving 1/4" seam allowance. If cutting out by hand, position the template on the fabric and draw round as many as possible across the width of the fabric. Remember to add the 1/4" seam allowance.
- Fold the fabric over the paper template and tack it in place as shown. Be careful to keep the corners sharp when folding and do not cut off any excess material. It is easier to remove the tacking stitches at a later date if you start with a knot on the right side of the fabric and finish with two or three stitches, also on the right side.
- Continue preparing patches until you have enough to make up the first block. The quilt is made up of three basic blocks (Figures 1 to 3). Refer to the diagrams for the layout of the patches. Sew the patches together by pinning two patches right sides placed together. Secure the thread firmly and then simply over-sew with tiny, neat stitches. (Lucy Boston’s version had 20 stitches to the inch)! It is not always necessary to break the thread off, simply check with the pattern on the positioning of the next piece. Continue in this way until each block is completed. Do not be tempted to remove any of the papers at this stage.
- Assemble the completed blocks using Figure 4 as a guide. They are stitched together as before, again, using tiny over-sewing stitches. Press the completed work before removing the papers.
Figure 1-3 Block 1,2 and 3
Figure 4: Layout
- Measure the length and width of the quilt top and multiply by two to give the total measurement of your quilt. Add another 40" to allow for mitred corners. This quilt has three borders cut from fabric as follows: borders 1 and 3 (pale), cut 1" wide and border 2 (dark), cut 3" wide. Join each border as necessary until you have a piece that is long enough to fit all around the quilt. Machine stitch the border strips together. The border is then machine stitched to the patchwork, mitring it at the corners. (Note - as the patches at the edge of the quilt are not straight, you will hide a small amount of some of the patches when you attach the straight border).
Assembling the quilt top
- Lay the backing fabric face down on a large, flat surface. (A well washed or vacuumed floor works well)! Secure the edges with masking tape to keep it taut.
- Lay the wadding on top, smoothing it from the centre outwards. Be careful not to distort or stretch it. Again, use masking tape to hold it in position.
- Iron the patchwork once again before laying it on the wadding. Smooth it out and tape it as before.
- Secure the three layers together with rows of tacking stitches, starting from the centre and working outwards both horizontally and vertically. Space the rows of stitching not more than 3" apart. Alternatively, use quilter's safety pins or a tacking gun to secure the layers.
- Once the tape has been removed, the patchwork can be hand quilted. Use a Betweens needle and cream thread. Quilt the patchwork 'in the ditch' (seam line) around each block 1, all solid patterns, central crosses of block 2 and around each diamond strip of four in block 3. (If you use cotton wadding, you may need to add more quilting).
- Cut the binding fabric into 1 1/2" strips joined into one continuous length. Measure through the centre of the quilt both horizontally and vertically recording the measurement. Do the same at the edges. Use the mean width measurement to cut two strips to the exact size and machine them in place at the top and bottom of the quilt, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Fold the fabric to the back, turn under 1/4" and slip stitch in place. Repeat for the sides, adding 1/2" to either end to allow for turnings.
Cambridge Quilters would like to thank Diana Boston for her enthusiastic support of this project.
First published in Popular Patchwork October 2000