Monday, April 3, 2023

Rainbow Neighbourhood QAL Official Kick-Off!

And....(drum roll)....welcome!!🎉🎉🎉 to my seventh, yes seventh(!) annual Quilt Along here at mmmquilts. Thank you so much for being here and for those of you participating, a huge virtual hug of gratitude for your time and enthusiasm. As per usual, the QAL starts on a special day, April 3, with the flimsy due on another even more auspicious day, June 15. What's with these special days, you may ask yourself? You've never heard of them? Well, long-time participants well know, and probably mark their calendars as my dad did, for the June 15 date for sure. However, if you are new, allow me to explain before I give you your homework for the week!

I hosted my first QAL in 2017, entitled Freefall. It was a spring theme, and so I started it on the Spring Equinox and finished it May 15. I thought I should allow a month to get the flimsies finished and hopefully quilted up. So the parade would open on June 15. 

June 15! The birthday of a famous Canadian!

This auspicious day was my beloved father's birthday. He loved birthdays. Happy days, they were a reason to celebrate, to feel special and cared for. Well, my Dad had the best sense of humour. Every Christmas one of my mum's relatives in England would send her a calendar depicting scenes of beautiful England, her home. She would hang it up in the kitchen beside the (then) phone on the wall, ready for January 1 of the new year. At some point my Dad would sneak the calendar off the wall, waggle his eyebrows at us kids, and flip ahead to June 15. On that square he'd painstakingly write, 'birthday of a famous Canadian', and then give us a wink and a grin.

Sometimes he had to improvise, as is shown above! This was not one of the England ones, but a little desk one he had in his later years. My sister Linda found this amongst my parents' things when they were cleaning out my mum's house after she'd passed away. When Mum would see what he'd written on her wall calendar, she would roll her eyes and sigh, but we'd see the corner of her mouth twitch, so we knew she got well, perhaps a little kick out of it too. Memories. You truly can not put a pricetag on them, can you. My dad was a very proud Canadian, a very special father, and I miss him still, though he's been gone nearly 15 years. I know he'd be tickled that I do this each year. In 2019 I decided to bump the kick-off a couple of weeks ahead and start my QALs on the birthday of the daughter 🥳 of that famous Canadian!

Here is a collage of all the previous QALs. Some of you lovely people (feel me giving you a great big HUG!!) have participated in all six, some the past five years, and I am blown away by your generosity.
Pop Star 2022 is the largest photo, then anti-clockwise from top left: Follow Your Own Path 2021; Plus Playtime 2018; Centred 2020; Beothuk Star 2019; Freefall 2017.

You can check out the posts on each of the previous six years' QALs by clicking the tab at the top of this page that says 'Quilt Alongs and TBT'. Patterns for all but Freefall are in my Etsy shop, SandraJaneQuilts.

Today is the final day that Rainbow Neighbourhood will be on sale, so be sure to pick up a copy if you haven't already done so. Thank you to everyone who has bought it, and is going to make this happy quilt! Fair warning: the house blocks are addictive!

Island Batik is my main sponsor this year. For three years, between 2017-19, I was an ambassador for them. It was an amazing experience, and really pushed my creativity. I highly recommend applying for it when they put out the call for ambassadors! They are a wonderful company to work with, and, as is evidenced by their sponsorship, it's a relationship that lasts beyond your ambassador years. Their ambassadors are global too, which is a real bonus, I think.

They not only are providing a sweet prize of a 10" square set of 'Broken Glass'...
but they also provided the fabric for the twin quilt which I am making during this QAL!

I'll be supplementing to get the full rainbow effect with my own Island Batik stash. Do check out their batiks: they are rich vibrant colours, they don't bleed when washed, and they have a really soft hand.

The Fabric Nook is a brand new sponsor this year, and a fairly new online shop. They are located in Port Perry, Ontario. Recently I won an Instagram giveaway (I won two within a few weeks! This after years of entering things and never winning😁), and in the DM back and forth, I asked if she might be interested in sponsoring. I didn't have a Canadian quilt shop sponsor at that point. Well, she jumped at the chance!
She is offering a $50 gift certificate to her online store! That is pretty sweet, I'd say. And, in case you didn't know, anyone can get 15% off their first order with the code WELCOME15.

As always, here are a few tips before you get started.

1. Remember that the twin has ten houses; the throw has nine. Therefore the throw will be finished a week before the twin.

2a. You do not have to do the houses in a rainbow theme. You could make a two-colour quilt! Perhaps you want all the 'grass' of the houses to be green or the roofs to be black but the houses to still be in rainbow theme. Which leads me to...

2b. This quilt, especially the twin, can be SO personalized! It reminds me of permutations from grade 12 math.
  • make all your houses with two windows and a roofed front door. 
  • do all Evening Star blocks for the side of your houses, but in the rainbow theme. 
  • make a different 6" framed star block than the 11 provided for the side of the house. The side of the house, including the frame, FYI, is 8" finished.
  • I have provided instructions for 11 stars, so you have options if you're not into paper-piecing (the yellow star is the only pp star) or templates.
  • get fancy and reverse some of the houses!
  • for the twin, fill your neighbourhood with all round trees and omit the evergreen trees or vice versa. The round trees and the evergreen trees blocks are interchangeable.
  • likewise, the small trees and flowers blocks are interchangeable for the twin, so you could choose to only do flowers.
I could go on, but you see what I mean?!

3. I would suggest you start with House Block #1. It is the simplest house because it has no windows, and a plain door. HOWEVER! You can make whatever house you want. You do you! Here is mine from when I first designed it as my Rainbow Scrap Challenge project in January 2017.

4. You have two choices of quilt to make to qualify for prizes: the throw OR the twin. A completely finished quilt or a finished flimsy qualifies for the final parade, and prizes. Note that within the pattern there are yet two more projects: a bench pillow and a cushion cover. You could make a matching pillow to go with your quilt...

Take this week to gather some scraps and/or stash, and supplement as needed.  You may need to pick up yardage for the background of the twin, or for the sashing and border of the throw. The Fabric Nook, another terrific, newbie sponsor this year, no affiliation, has some sweet choices and prices on Kona and various other solids that might work for you. That link will take you directly to her solids and blenders page. Rose (see next paragraph) doesn't call me the mmm-nabler for nothing!

Your assignment then is to make a house block. Any house block. Any colour. I've decided as I type this that I'll have a linkup next Monday, April 10, to show off our first houses. It's so good to inspire each other. Be sure to tag me @mmmquilts on Instagram and use the hashtag #rainbowneighbourhoodquilt

Below you will see the teacher's pet, rebel extraordinaire, Rose's first block. She always has fun breaking some of the not-so-hard-and-fast rules of my Quilt Alongs! You can read about her block and see her drool-worthy collection of Alison Glass fabrics she's using for her quilt by visiting her blog, somethingrosemade.

Isn't it wonderful?

See you on the 10th!

Linking up


  1. Happy Birthday, Sandra! Excited to make my first house block! I'll go take a look at a fabric pull sometime today. Thanks for another QAL - I've been looking forward to it!

  2. It will be fun to see everyone's first house blocks on the 10th!

  3. Happy Birthday, Sandy! Will start to gather up those scraps of fabric so I can make my first house. Twin or throw? Can't decide yet!

  4. Happy Birthday! I am looking forward to this QAL! Thank you for so many options to make it to my liking.
    Kathy C in Alberta =)

  5. I found this funky piece of 1970's fabric that I've been dying to use and I think I will use it for this first QAL block. I look forward to seeing everybody's first block! (For some reason I keep turning up as a no-reply commenter so here is my e-mail if needed janice(at)

  6. Fabric out for 1st block & just need to find a bit more time to get started, as we have a busy week now we have the big car back. Again I'd love to do takes on this, so we'll see how I go. Take care & hugs.

  7. Happy Birthday, Sandra. I really wish I had time to join in this year as I love these house blocks, but I'll be out-of-town 3 times during the QAL and have 2 baby quilts that need quilting (one baby already born and another due in June). So, I'll follow along and oh and ah over the progress everyone else is making.

  8. Happy Happy Birthday! I'm excited to join in with this quilt along. I think I know where I am headed, but sometimes my mind changes. But I am anxious to make the first block.

  9. How fun!! Can't wait to make a house using my gorgeous Island Batik "scraps!!"

    1. And thanks for linking up with us at Monday Musings!!

  10. Have a little fabric with me on my retreat...may get block one done. Fingers crossed!

  11. Hi Sandra, hope you had a great birthday! Block one is done, ready for Monday's party!


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