Friday, December 9, 2022

Rainbow Neighbourhood

This post should have come out this morning, but well, life in general intervened and that is just fine. It wouldn't be fair to take my time to write about this much-loved and long-anticipated quilt finish that comes with a pattern release, unless I held over the sale price one more day. Yep, another 24 hours you have to save 25% off the regular price of the pattern.
I had really hoped for some sunshine but sadly this week, the sun peeped out for a few minutes only once since I wrote the pattern release post. However, I did shine a few twinkly lights on the quilt for this photo.

I thought a quilt of homes should be photographed on the steps of a cozy home, right?

So as I mentioned in my pattern release post on Monday, this quilt was my RSC project for 2017. I had three going that year I believe! I have wanted to make a house quilt (some call them schoolhouse quilts) ever since I purchased this book early in my quilting life.
One of the very talented ladies in the Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta guild I joined around the same time was making a paper-pieced houses quilt that had stars on the side. It went on my 'need to make!' list. (It's still there lol.) In 2017 I saw a barn quilt (maybe Lori Holt?) with a star on the side, and everything sort of jelled. I graphed out (pre EQ) a simple house with an Ohio Star on the side, dug around in my purple scraps and made it.  Purple was the colour in January 2017.

Already, I had a bit of fun putting an owl in the window! And so this project was born, and each month I made a house in the colour Angela had chosen. I even started making the sky in the monthly colour.

I liked it so much that I decided I needed to make one in turquoise to go in my sewing room. I put a different star on the side of this house, and the idea to do a different star on every house was born. At that time I was also sewing 6" finished blocks for the 150 Canadian Women QAL I was doing. (That is my one finished top that needs to be quilted. Needs. So anyhow, I had a thing for 6" blocks as well.

That one grew up into the cushion, and the tutorial I wrote up has become my best-selling little pattern. I think the price may have something to do with it too!

Quilting in the windows gave me an idea to make some different styles of houses. 2017 was the year we moved into our little house, the one in the first photo, so I put a porch on the green house. It also got a rectangular window.

I won't go through all nine houses, as you can see them in the finished quilt, and this post has more detail about some of them as I was making them. It was fun to have this quilt evolve, as well as to fussy-cut and sew in some meaningful fabrics, whether those are cats or dogs, positive messages, a Singer sewing machine, and yes, owls.

The quilt had to have a bit of surgery. I discovered after I'd sewn all the blocks together 3x3, that the three with a white sky were all in one column. I'd been fixated on balancing the rainbow, and didn't pay any attention to background. Ah well, out came my friend Jack and we ripped and swapped.

It was totally worth it, and the rainbow is still nicely balanced.

I loaded it on Avril and started quilting. I kept the quilting pretty simple: straight lines in the house front, back and forth lines in the roofs, a loose meander in the skies, and wavy lines in the grass or garden section with flowers every couple of inches.

There were a ton of thread colour changes, but that doesn't really bother me at all. I mainly used Aurifil with So Fine 403 in the outer border, star backgrounds, and in the neutral house.

This double star block is my favourite one. The inside one is 3” finished.

The stars got custom quilting, the sashing got ribbon candy, and the outside border got a floppy feather flowing around the four sides.

Squaring and trimming was next. This shot gives a good idea of the texture. 

The finished quilt, blocked on my design wall. We don’t have any carpet in our house, so this is the only place I can block quilts, and it works just fine.

Here is the back, which I also used for the outer border.

I purchased this from Fat Quarter Shop in their sale section around the time I was making the blocks or shortly thereafter. It's perfect. Houses and trees and people.

Here is my label:

I knew this quilt would be set in a traditional layout, though I see from reading my earlier posts, that I also had the thought to do something similar to the quilt on the cover of The Quilter's Companion. When I started ruminating (and believe me, the ruminating has lasted more than a year, not lying) about getting my butt in gear and writing this pattern up, I knew I wanted to make a neighbourhood of these houses, and have the quilt not set in a traditional way. Eventually (over a long period of time, like months, and lots of doodling and thinking and scrapping and doodling some more, and walking away, and coming back...) I hit upon the quilt with the black background you see on the cover. This one is still in digital form; I plan to sew it in the new year.

When I asked my little group of testers who had sewn up Heading North if anyone was interested in making a house project for the next pattern, Michelle's hand flew up. She wanted to make that quilt on the black background. And wow, did she ever come through with a stunning quilt!

Isn't it a beauty? You can read about it on her Instagram post. Michelle lives in Scotland, so that's an added thrill, thinking of my design, growing up into a quilt, on someone's bed in Scotland! In case you missed it, the evergreen and the round tree blocks, the small trees and the flowers block are all interchangeable, so you can really personalize your neighbourhood. You get 11 stars and four house designs in the pattern. Not only can you personalize your neighbourhood, but you can also personalize the throw which I made, or the cushion, which Wendy made:

Tthe bench pillow, which I made, can have any one of the four house styles, any one of the 11 stars, and could changed into a seasonal pillow by simply switching out the evergreen trees for flower blocks or round tree blocks using a flowery tree fabric.
Mine definitely says Christmas house!

Here is Carol's of Quilt Schmilt version. She turned hers into a runner for her son and DIL. I love it!

Remember I'll leave the pattern on sale for one more day since I didn't get this post out (a certain birthday boy, a big one, had to be tended to today) until later on Friday. So that's 25% off until Saturday evening, December 10.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Rainbow Neighbourhood available here
Size: 60.5" x 60.5"
Fabric: stash and scraps
Backing: "Netherlands-Man and Woman by Mary Fons Small Wonders for Springs Creative Group
Batting: Nature's Touch 100% cotton
Quilted: on Avril: 123 693 stitches
Threads: pieced with various; quilted with Aurifil and So Fine

Linking up with Angela at so scrappy


  1. Sandra, I love your non traditional setting and the black background! Instantly I thought of the Amish homes in my part of Minnesota. I’ve also loved schoolhouse blocks since I started quilting. I bought your pattern and put it in my queue.

  2. Love the different houses - and definitely the various stars! The version that Michelle made is stunning!

  3. Love these house quilts, cushions & runners & so many people have been so productive. It will be definitely be on my "to do" list in one of those formats. Thanks for sharing, take care & hugs.

  4. Such fabulousness in this post! I love seeing the origins of the rainbow neighborhood and then its many iterations. The testers did a great job - fun to see the houses on a black background, too. I do think I may make a block a month....but need to decide on whether I go with the black background or not. Love that version!

  5. Michelle did an amazing job making the quilt mockup come to life. What a delight to see all these variations together. :)

  6. Beautiful quilt and photo setting, Sandra!! I love all the different houses!!

  7. I too had always wanted to make a; what seems to get called School house here in the UK, block. Then I saw a pattern that was the school house block and a star block. The house was foundation pieced and the star block was normal construction. So I made one lot of blocks on my 'old' machine and one lot on my newer machine. never thinking that the 1/4" seam would be different. I had to change the layout and do some quilting maths! It all worked in the end but at one stage there were tears because I'd only calculated borders for two sides of each block. Duh. Luckily I was using my hand dyed fabric and had another piece that was almost the same colour.

  8. What a versatile pattern - going from traditional to modern, no wonder it is a best seller.

  9. Thanks for putting such thought into this fun design, Sandra. It made for a fantastic RSC quilt finish!

  10. Hi Sandra, what a wonderful quilt! I love that it's interchangeable. Is the pattern for paper piecing or regular piecing? Thanks so much for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks! Take care.

  11. Love seeing your various house blocks. Our local Quilt Show Committee has selected the house block to be 2023’s Chairman’s Challenge Block. You have given me inspiration to enter that category .

  12. This is a beautiful finish post for your quilt. I loved seeing all the close up pictures. And the twinkle lights on the quilt is darling.

  13. Hi Sandra, everything is wonderful! I love the sewing machine, the fabric for the roof of the yellow house, the heart quilted in the turquoise house's gable end, and who did eat the daisies? I like the quilt you made, and the ability to adapt the houses into the 'Scottish' quilt, and bench pillows - all in one pattern - EPIC! I have added this to the top of my wish list - and looking through your shop was fun too. In case I don't get a chance - have a wonderful Christmas, and all the very best for 2023. Love D.

  14. So many beautiful quilts Sandra. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to play with your newest pattern. Its just so much fun! :)

  15. Congrats on a very fun finish and on the pattern publication!

  16. Oh Sandra...this takes my breath away! Beautiful, welcoming, perfectly Christmasy!

  17. OK, now that I'm almost finished processing that you have lived in your cozy house for more than 5 years already (!), I'm ready to look more closely at your cozy neighborhood. What a sweet quilt, and I do remember your sewing the houses. They have all come to life so beautifully with your (and Avril's) amazing quilting. The pattern is so versatile. You've thought of everything. How fun that Michelle got to make the alternative layout and that you now have a quilt on a bed in Scotland. And cushions, table much fun for everyone. Congrats on the new pattern!