Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Overlapping Squares Completed

OK, I did those circles in the squares that I was hankering for in my June 2, 2016 post titled FMQ for Overlapping Squares. My choice of concentric circles was prompted by a desire to emulate the ripples in a pond.

I decided my pond could have rain drops splashing into it making smaller ripples along the edges and between the large concentric circles. But I had quilted only three-quarter circles in some locations to promote the illusion of overlapping squares. Now, how to fill in that space and still maintain the overlapping illusion along the diagonal? I did not want a stippling or dense filler. I wanted to keep the top less densely quilted while still keeping the feeling of the radial motion like ripples in a pond. So what to do?

I considered more and smaller circles but frankly I was tired of making them. I thought about pebbles or cross-hatching but felt they would result in sections more densely quilted than I wanted. I tried to think of something that would keep a radial movement. The pebbles, cross-hatching, or smaller circles, even if I did them less densely, were neutral in the radial movement category. Then sunburst-like rays occurred to me as a viable option. I wanted equal angles not just equal spacing on the straight edges and so determined I would need a template. Looking around the house I could not find a compass, even in all the junk drawers. Everything is done by computer these days. I tried using excel to make a chart and decided it was too much effort. Besides it could distort when I printed it. Then I went low-tech. I drew an arc on a piece of paper and folded it in half, fourths, eights and sixteenths giving me evenly spaced fold lines emanating out radially at equal angles.

There were quite a few lines, so I had to decide just how many I wanted. I trimmed the paper to a quarter circle and overlaid a plastic on it to judge just how many "rays" I wanted. Since I was not filling in near the center of the circle, only outside it where the rays are more widely spaced, I decided I wanted them all. I colored alternate ones red on the paper template to help me keep my place when quilting them. I taped the template to the quilt top to keep it from moving while I worked. I never marked anything on the quilt top itself.

I used an HQ ruler ruler to help me project those ray lines. The Mini-Scallop ruler has an indented grove with register marks to aid in placing the stitching line where I want it. I bought this particular ruler intending to use the scalloped edge but it turns out the indented straight edge is very valuable. The HQ Versa-tool has this feature as well. By putting the white etched line (upper black arrow) on the ray of the template and eye-balling the indent to be parallel to a ray, I then had a guided edge allowing me to stitch at the appropriate angle for the ray (yellow dashed line). A good check that I was on track was that the longest central ray also had a registration point falling at the corner (white lower arrow).

Note that the HQ Right-Angle ruler may have a longer span but both it and the Mini-ruler do not have this convenient indent feature.

The quilter's-eye view was pretty cool. I would quilt up to the template using the ruler as a guide for straightness and angle, then back along the same line. Then I would readjust the ruler and quilt sideways along the straight outer edge to abut the rule and go up and back for the next ray. I never stitched over again on the circle edge.  My chant was "up, back, over"... NOT "up, along, back, over". I debated stitching twice over the radial lines. Sometime double stitching looks heavier and stand out. But I decided that if the rays did have a different look than the circles that was OK. I took a class from Megan Best, a Handiquilter educator, and she suggested this method for a piano key border and she was correct. Once I had the ruler in place it was a piece of cake to go up and back before repositioning it.

OK, once is a while I did get a "whoops". When I did go off track, I back tracked along the deviant stitching line with large stitches to return to the correct path and continue where I should have been. I picked out the stub paths later - if I could find them. This one I did pick out.

I use low tack masking tape in my quilting to avoid leaving a residue. As I move my template from corner to corner  – 16 locations in total – it gradually lost its adhesive quality and was prone to slip. I just added another piece of tape. By the time I was done, here was my well-used template.

Here is the finished quilt top viewed at an angle. I bound it in the pumpkin color left over from those blocks. Note the half-circle ripples along the outer edges. Only the overlapping diagonal squares have the sunburst type rays.

Here is a closer view of the quilting along the edges and along the diagonal.

Hmmm. Is it ripples in a pond? Or with the color scheme, perhaps it is more like fireworks.

I like that this quilt has diagonal symmetry along a line from upper left to lower right. I did sneak in four more donuts as fillers at the inner edges only of the two corner purple blocks. More drip-drops of rain, I imagine.

For the backing I used a mottled fabric. The colors are not an exact match, but the blotchy look gives the same feel as those marbleized tones on the front. The variegated thread blends right in. The "water splotches" fit in with the pond theme.

The final stage of my quilts is naming them and adding the labels. This one has been hanging around for so long, I think I am going to punt adding a fancy label and just use a pigment pen to print my name, its name, and the completion year on the binding. What should its name be? I was considering naming it Ripple because it reminded me of wavelets on the surface of a pond. Then I could also call it Rip, short for Rip Van Winkle. Although not quite the twenty years that Rip was asleep, this project has remained dormant for many years. It feels good to have it finished. But "rip" is not a good term for something that has been sewn. Then again, the working title for years has been Overlapping Squares. It is not very imaginative but why change now? The "vote" is in and Overlapping Squares it remains. It will officially be a "write-in" once I've printed it on the binding.

Catching up now with this week's Let's Bee Social #128.


  1. Good job! I think the quilt looks like one of those optical illusion images.

    1. I agree. It definitely looks like ripples in a pond, and it's a really pretty effect! Love the way it looks against the backing, too.

  2. Very cool. I love optical illusion quilts. And the quilting is great, too.