Monday, July 3, 2023

Rainbow Neighbourhood - My Quilt

When I finally put my 2017 Rainbow Scrap Challenge house blocks together into the throw, I knew that was my second choice for a quilt layout using my rainbow houses blocks. I knew I wanted to create a happy neighbourhood (Do you hear Fred Rogers? I know I do.) It took some time, but I knew if I let it sit and percolate on the back burner of my brain, it would be good. And it is.
I looked back in my graph book of design ideas and I see several iterations and possibilities of a quilt using the blocks. Exactly how I came up with the one that is the twin, I honestly am not sure, but I do know I didn't want a traditional setting; I wanted the houses to be not in rows, and I wanted neighbourhood elements such as a picket fence (which did not come to pass in the end).

A huge thank you to Island Batik for sending me the navy marble blender yardage for background, and for the 'Broken Glass' line of fabrics as well as several other Basics and Blenders fabrics.

Although unplanned, I think it is so timely that my QAL and my own second Rainbow Neighbourhood quilt was finished in June, which is Pride Month. In my neighbourhood, there is no hatred, and we live in harmony. 

On June 21, I was part of Kelly's new book release, Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs, and participating in that hop, pursuing her wonderful, oh so worthwhile a purchase book, gave me the idea to piece the backing for RN. I loved her Great Big Granny Square, seeing it as the Trip Around the World layout. As I cut out a couple of squares from several of the leftover rainbow fabrics I had used on the front, it had me thinking if only all the neighbourhoods around the world were happy and rainbow-filled... and a lightbulb went on. Could I use the squares to make an arc across the back of the quilt in rainbow order, emulating a rainbow? Over to the graph book I went. Yes I could! I'd have to cut the squares a bit smaller than the size for the Granny Square. 
I really didn’t want to use up the IB Marble blender on the back, so I pulled out this lovely wide backing from Connecting Threads as a possibility for the lower half of the quilt. It's no longer available, but they have quite a few lovely rainbow wide backing choices - link is on my sidebar😉

I kept coming back to the Marble and so I laid some chunks I had in place on the design wall to see what it would look like. 

I didn't have enough of the Island Batik Marble Storm to fill in on either side of the rainbow, but I knew I had some fabric left from the backing for the throw I'd finished last year. It is perfect because it has houses, trees and people on it. I pulled it out. It might, just might, be enough. Well, I had to piece one of the big squares, but it was enough for the upper section of the back.

Do you know (of course you do) that I hemmed and hawed for a full day, agonizing, (overthinking) should I do this? Would it look dumb to have a light blue print on the top and the midnight blue fabric on the bottom? Should I reverse them? Should I look for another midnight blue batik to use? I finally took a-hold of myself and said, yes, do it. The darker blue could symbolize the storm, then there's the rainbow that comes with the lighter blue skies and sun, yes! Do it. Thank goodness for the cloth label, because I used it as in integral part of the Marble backing which saved me as well!

I had a bit of a 'oh noooo' moment when I got it pieced and as I was admiring the effect, (don’t mind my longarm rails across the photo) it hit me that it is not a true rainbow. But then I thought, it's okay; I know what I intended and I think others will get it too.
Of note is that I used Hobbs black batting and it does not darken the lighter fabrics at all.

Because I pieced the entire quilt with Aurifil thread, I knew I would quilt it with it as well. It was tough to decide on the thread colour however. Often when I have multiple colours in quilts, I like to use a pale yellow thread because it really blends in with all colours. However, this showed too much on the midnight blue. Grey seemed to be a good compromise. I have a cone of 2600 but it was too light, so I figured I should have enough of 2610, so that is what I went with. It blends beautifully over all the houses,
Each house was ditch-stitched around its perimeter. This helps keep the quilt square as there were no rows as in the throw. 

though it does show a bit more than I like on the midnight blue. However, I think it will soak in once the quilt is washed and crinkly.
Again note the cream house—it’s unaffected by the black batting. This is good to note because the black is so nice under a dark background. 

There are lots of trees in my neighbourhood. Those of you who know me, know my almost lifelong affinity and respect for all trees, so there are round deciduous trees,
Love the swirl and hook design across the trees!

and y’all conical evergreens,

and groups of small ones, one in each group whose 'branches' reach to the ground so that you can't see its trunk. The one on our front lawn IRL is like that!
Couldn’t resist some dot-to-dot quilting in several of the ten trees

Flowers, of course, have to be in this cheery neighbourhood; I mean think of the bees!

These filler blocks came about because of a runner and placemats set I designed for a forthcoming publication. 

Central to my neighbourhood is love, and so joining the two halves of the quilt are two hearts to symbolize that love.  The design shows up better from underneath the quilt, the photo of which is on my previous post.

The Aurifil fuchsia I used blends in so well I can’t capture the quilting motif I FMQ-ed in each heart. 

I bound the quilt by machine, using another blender Dot in Storm which is the same colour, Storm, as the background fabric, Marble, from my Island Batik ambassador days.

My beloved Bernina recently got a new motor, but within a week of getting her back home she suddenly didn’t have the muscle to lift her needle up or down so she needs to go back to the ‘doctor’ in London. We just haven’t had the time this past month, so between Billie my 1947 Featherweight (I need to switch her out for a turn on Tillie, my 1951 Featherweight) and my good old 1979 Elna, my first machine, I’ve been getting my stuff done! Having multiple machines is a godsend! The Elna has a walking foot so I bound this quilt and the Scrappy Bear Paw on her. 

I quilted my initials in one of the lower corners as per usual. I have a little stay-stitching from the longarming, to unpick here and there. 

I had originally thought I would give this quilt away, because hello, I kept the beloved throw, slept under it for a month, and have it currently draped over a wicker chair in the dormer end of my sewing room. Don’t need another very similar house quilt. However, it has worked its way into my heart as I made it, and I may just write up each house's story, as my friend Helen said. The house blocks in the original throw each had their own story as I made them, but I didn't see stories so much when I made these new blocks. However, as I put the top together, they formed a cohesive little village and I really can see a children's book with the neighbourhood story and quilt pattern within!

I've thoroughly enjoyed this Year 7 of my annual QAL, and I need to say a huge thank you to Rose of somethingrosemade for urging me in her kind but firm manner to do this pattern as the annual QAL. I've always done a free one, and I will probably do year 8 (listen to me--and I think I already know which design I'm going to do) as a free one. You must read her post on her quilt, Glass Houses. She's thinking of/threatening to turn the meme she made of moi as Malificent, with her slogan 'mmmicked' as t-shirts! She is entirely too wickedly talented herself.

The second person who once again needs a humongous thank you publicly is Michelle of @michelleinscotland, who painstakingly and meticulously tested the pattern for the twin after Yvonne had tech-edited, and made it so much better.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Rainbow Neighourhood by me! SandraJaneQuilts
Size: 72.5" x 84.5"
Fabric: 'Broken Glass' and various stash/scraps all from Island Batik
Batting: Hobbs black 80/20 cotton/polyester batting
Backing: Island Batik leftovers and 'Small Wonders' by Mary Fons for Springs Creative
Quilted: on Avril: 175 312 stitches
Threads: pieced with Aurifil; quilted with Aurifil, The Bottom Line in the bobbin

Linking up

And now for the winners! There were 14 finishes, including my twin, which include both flimsies and fully finished quilts. Either qualifies for a prize. Quilters from Canada, United States, Australia, England and France participated! Eight of the 14 quilts are completely finished, which also includes mine, so that is terrific!  I'll be sending out fat quarters and a free pattern from my shop to these lovely peeps. 🥳🎉

I did the draw the old-fashioned way (names on papers folded up) instead of the usual Rafflecopter. There are a lot of repeat quilt alongers, as well as sponsors, and this allowed me not to give the same prize to the same person as last year (actually I went back through the past three years QALs to avoid its it has taken longer than usual), as invariably happens!

A heartfelt THANK YOU to all these lovely sponsors, some who have been with me all seven years, some brand new. It means so much that you are so generous with your offerings.

Island Batik - 10" Stack of 'Broken Glass':  Kathy

Canuck Quilter Designs is offering one winner a free PDF pattern of their choice:  Andrée

The Fabric Nook is offering a $50 gift certificate to her online store:  Mari

Quilting Jetgirl is offering a $12 coupon to her online shop:  Brenda

Quilty Zest is offering one winner a free PDF pattern of their choice:  Kathy

Make Modern is offering a 6-month magazine subscription:  Rose

Hobbs Batting is offering a batt of their Tuscany cotton/wool to one US quilter:  Kathleen

Sew Fresh Quilts is offering a $50 gift certificate to her shop:  Trudy

Art East Quilting - already given out in the midpoint linkup to Susan.

Stitchin' at Home is offering one winner their choice of two PDF patterns:  Susan

Devoted Quilter is offering one winner their choice of two PDF patterns:  Diann

Meadow Mist Designs is offering two winners their choice of two PDF patterns (one was given out in the midpoint linkup to Pippa): Judy

Quiltinator is offering to quilt one lucky winner's quilt top! AND, she will supply the batting, either Quilter's Dream 80/20 or select loft cotton: Jocelyn

mmmquilts (that's me!) is offering a free PDF pattern of their choice and a fat quarter of fabric for every participant who finishes completely their quilt: Rochelle, Trudy, Kathleen, Mari, Kathy, Rose

Persimon Dreams aka is offering one winner their choice of two PDF patterns: Rochelle

The winners and sponsors have all been notified by email as to their winnings. I am pleased that every participant won something, and two won twice!

I will be taking the month of July off blogging as well as I do have some goals for this second half of the year:
  • One is to publish at least four patterns, two of which are or are about to be, finished. These two are magazine publications, so I'm counting them since they take as much work as ones I release myself. I'll be making the second magazine publication during July.
  • I plan to work on one of my own designs as well during July. It seems to help my aging brain to stay in the zone for the computer work pattern writing entails.
  • I aim to photograph properly, as in some on location shots, Rainbow Neighbourhood twin for the updated pattern cover.
  • There are always restocks in my Etsy store that I enjoy making as well.
  • Work on some WIPs for my PHD. I've been woefully inactive on this front.
  • I also have a few 'must-makes' for family members that I need to get started on.
  • Reading (just finished my 23rd book of the year so I may attain the 50 I've aimed for), back yard, and pool time for the next few months are on the agenda as well.
  • Of course, a trip up to London and Stratford are also on the agenda in July, London for taking my Bernina back to the excellent service place, and, not much further up the road, is Stratford, where I plan to take Avril my longarm in for her spa date. It's already been two years.
  • Plan and write up my Meaningful Quilts presentation (during July and August) and find a group to practice it on (in September).
I'll still post here and there on Instagram, though I have noticed I've backed off a bit from it as well. The social media stuff and vortex I get sucked into depletes my sewing and pattern-writing time, and I do not like that, so I'm doing something about it!

Until August!


  1. I love all the thought and detail you put into this finish. I think you are right that after a wash the thread will sink into the background more and be more texture and less color contrast. Enjoy your month off! Publishing patterns is a lot of work; congratulations on having two magazine publications in the works!

  2. Thank you so much for this QAL and you certainly have outshone yourself this year. Wow, so much to do over the coming month or so and we'll miss the regular posts we get from you..Seems so many of my blogpals just don't post anymore & I miss the camaraderie, even though most live far away. I have a few goals too, but nothing like yours. I'll thank the sponsor later today as this poor old laptop only does so much & I need my PC for most stuff. Take care & big hugs from down under. BTW, we've got an issue of MM coming this month & I was wondering if you were in that one?

  3. What a great QAL and a great finish for your quilt. I love this pattern so much, and don't normally love the house pattern - funny how that happens isn't it. The little additions - trees, flowers, pinwheels all make it so much more. Thanks so much for all the effort it takes...and I am glad to know there is a year 8 coming! Can't wait to see your new patterns, and enjoy your slow July. Seems like quite a few of us will be included due to travel.

  4. As always, Sandra, it was a great quilt along. I enjoyed working on the houses and doing the town. I almost stopped at nine and reverted to a different layout, but pushed through with the 10 houses. You deserve a holiday and from the list you posted, it will be busy. But you should be able to squeeze in some time in the pool! I though I'd be giving my quilt away, but I think I will enjoy it for awhile first.

  5. The final quilt is gorgeous! Love the top, fancy back and quilting. Enjoy your blog break. I will miss you during that time.

  6. I love the dark background it makes your neighborhood shine! Enjoy your blog break!

  7. A very fun rainbow neighborhood! Congrats to all the participants in the quilt along and to all the winners.

  8. Thank you Sandra for hosting this very successful QAL. I enjoyed every step of the way and am quite pleased with myself that I kept on track and am now quilting my project. The fact that I could read and translate your directions speaks to how finely tuned they are. I will look forward to another of your QAL's. Thanks for the win too. And your own quilt is a true beauty!

  9. This is just gorgeous, Sandra!! Thanks for hosting the QAL! Your pattern is wonderful!

  10. I'm late to comment, but what a fantastic finish to your quilt, and also to the QAL. Fun to see so many who joined in, too! I still want to live in the orange house - it's a beauty!