Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Luminous Layers Quilt Along. - Assemble the Top

In some ways it feels like this year's QAL has been going on for a while, yet in other ways, I am surprised that here we are at the flimsy stage. Again, I apologize for the delay in getting this post to you, but real life butted in once again. Both good and not so good. More on that in a minute.

I promised you a slick method for assembling quilt tops. I learned it many years ago when I took Judy Villett's 'Shady Corner' watercolour class at Earthly Goods in Edmonton. We needed a foolproof way to keep all those 2" unfinished squares in the order they'd been placed on our design walls. I used it for pretty much all my quilts and have shown many others the method. Many lightbulbs have lit up in quilters' brains!

First, that real life head-butting.

One way was excellent: I had the most wonderful visit on FaceTime with Rose of somethingrosemade. Why have we waited so long to do this? Face to face, even digitally, is so much better than email or texting/messaging. The not so great real life butting in was yard work. Grass cutting, a big job as we have a double lot, and it's rough in most of the back yard, takes a lot out of me, even though I am in love with our electric mower we finally bought this year. Pool work (damn bird poop, pollen (lots of pollen), maple keys/helicopters, oak tail thingies, and, as of yesterday, cottonwood fluff makes for a lot of spring scooping and hosing off of pool cover and deck. cleaning off the decks and sidewalks with the blower from all of the above. Planting and watering. Walking Rufus, which is a joy. House inside stuff. 

Where is MacGyver? you are wondering. He's been out in Alberta for the past couple of weeks, helping with support for Brianne and Brady. He'll be home tomorrow night, so my grass-cutting duties will end as he does enjoy that job, rough as it is on his hands and arms too! Moles seem to be the main culprit.

So let’s get this flimsy together if you haven’t already done so!

This method involves sewing the blocks together in columns, chain piecing the entire column together. I have another tutorial here with lots of photos from a placemat I did.

1. With smaller blocks and simple squares, you can flip column two onto column one and they will stay there. With larger more intricately pieced blocks, I find the column two blocks don’t always want to stay there, so I will stick a pin in to hold them in place, or do one at a time and pick up the pair rather than flipping over the entire column two. In any event, pick up the pairs in order from the top to the bottom so you know you have the first row pair on top.

2. Sew the pairs together without breaking thread. Leave a tail of thread when you start to sew because this will help you remember which is the top of the column! Stick that column back on your design wall. Continue in this way, sewing the other two columns.

Don't mind the longarm arm in the way here.

Note that I’d already use this method to do the top half of the quilt; normally I do the entire quilt in this way, but remember I did the top half between making the centre four blocks as is evident below.😉 I'd already pieced the pairs in column one.

3. Pressing is also another slick feature. When you are ready to sew the pairs together into a column, take them to your pressing surface and set them as shown below. This ensures the seams will go in opposite directions so that they will nest nicely.

4. Sew the pair in row one to the pair in row two and so forth down the column. Press the horizontal seams of column one down. Press the horizontal seems of column two up and column three down. Again, this ensures the seams match at those intersection points!

All three columns are now together, ready to be joined together to form the bottom half of the quilt.

5. Once you have the columns together your quilt is complete. In my case, since I did the top half already, I had the final horizontal seam to sew to make the quilt top. Your quilt top should measure 48.5” (72.5”). I cannot keep waxing poetic about these rich beautiful Stonehenge Gradations from Northcott Fabrics. Ahh!

Managed to get a fairly sheltered spot out of the crazy winds today, though there were a few outtakes!

6. You now have until June 15 to quilt this puppy! Remember that either completely finished quilts or just quilt tops qualify for prizes. 

Please link up your quilt top below (just the top here) as I’d love to see them at this stage. The main linkup for the prizes will open on June 15; this is just an extra because I'm so excited to see the tops. You can always wait until June 15 (keep me on tenterhooks) to link up.

7. As for quilting, here are a few of my thoughts, as well as detail of how I quilted the original. The original quilt was made in 2019 when I was an ambassador for a 'Make it Modern' challenge for Island Batik. This is why it is off-centre, and the giant star is only partially there.

So I did a lot of 'line' quilting:
I did horizontal lines .5" apart in the black background, but if you look closely, you'll see ribbon candy weaves behind the giant star points at the top.

In the giant star points I quilted .25” spaced double vertical lines in the giant gold stars, with 1” between each set. In the large (shades of violet) star, I did flowing horizontal lines with peas and e’s in peapods à la Christina Cameli randomly throughout the star points and their backgrounds.

For the medium and small stars I did dot to dot work and stitch in the ditch. In the black background here I did the same .5” spaced horizontal lines to keep the continuity.

It makes a really cool pattern on the back, but you'll have to click the link above to see the closeup.😉

Speaking of the back, I decided to do something fun (I often do pieced backs; why not make the back interesting too, or use up chunks of fabric is my philosophy). I put two of the 'missing' star points on the back!
They're even in the right spot, as if the quilt was folded back on itself!

What's with that small gold star in the top right corner? Well I first of all made the very centre star as a complete star, and then I realized two things: that if I wanted to piece this as 36 blocks, that star would have to be in quarters, and I 'saw' another medium star that could be formed by changing up two points of the four main medium stars. I didn't want to relegate it to the orphan drawer, so I knew I could use it as my label.

And you might want to do that too!

For this new version, I aim to do an all-over design, though I love the look of the double vertical lines in the giant star points, so I may keep that motif. Of course, who knows what the quilt will say when it’s loaded!

With permission, I am posting Tracie's finished (and sent off for a great cause) quilt, which is a terrific example of an all-over design with an added feature that makes me squeal. Actually, it gave me a glimmer, one of those squeeze-your-heart-in-joy moments.

I hope that gives you some ideas. Straight lines in alternating directions can be quite effective as can a simple overall design or pantograph that lets the stars within stars within stars shine!

Rose had a good idea too: you could elect to just do the large star section of the quilt, omit the small stars entirely, and have a 32" finished play mat or crib quilt if using 8" blocks. Fast and simple. Or make that very centre small star but don't make the four small ones that are within the medium blocks. It's always fun to see other possibilities within a design.

Here's a look once more at the prizes on offer:

Oops/not oops, I put the new sponsor graphic made by Rose here! She has such a great sense of humour, and keeps doing her utmost to get Bella to live with her.😻😽

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. I can imagine the chatter and laughter between the two of you - what fun! I knew immediately when I saw that photo of Bella in the prize listing that Rose had been up to her usual shenanigans! Haha. Maybe we should get Rose her own cat!? My top is done - I'll get a photo and post done soon!

  2. Such a beautiful quilt with those Stonehenge fabrics. My top is done (again) And I will forward a photo via email. This went together well. Although Jack the Ripper was never far away. Two seams forward one back! You were certainly a busy gal. Glad the not so good news was nothing bad. But oh, the work.

  3. The quilting on the original is really cool. Having to take on your partners duties when they aren't around really disrupts your schedule. Hope you have a bit more stitching time with him back. Hope Brady is doing much better and has gotten better at controlling his condition.

  4. Your latest version of Luminous Layers is lovely, Sandra! I love those rich colors. I hope I love mine as much when everything is together. Just 1.5 more medium stars and it will be ready to sew together. I have the first four sections of large star points sewn together in rows, so will keep going that way. Excited to finally see it all together!

  5. Rose is a hoot and so glad Bella made the prizes...although I know she won't be given away! I am about to assemble the center and then check on what I did with the other, parts! It is beautiful here, hope Macgyver gets back to work so you can quilt and that his time with B&B was as helpful for all (I am sure it was).

  6. I finished my quilt but missed the link up. :( I had June 15 in my head. So I guess I'm early for the June 15 link up. LOL


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