Do you remember the British game show "Celebrity Squares"? (yup, the American version is Hollywood Squares)... It looked something like this:
You know those fabrics that you love so much, but don't want to cut up in small pieces? Fabric that deserves to be featured? I call that celebrity fabric, and one of the easiest ways to use it is to make a simple quilt or pillow using sashing to feature this special fabric.
Whether you're a beginning quilter looking for a quick and very simple way to assemble a quilt, or a more experienced quilter wanting to whip up something beautiful with your stash, this is a great way to go. No, you won't win a red ribbon at a quilt show with a method this simple, but who cares?
Here are the basics:
1. Choose a gorgeous fabric to feature, a nice border contrast, and a third accent fabric. These are the fabrics I chose:
My fabrics are Les Chats Noirs "Having a Meowment" (feature), Free Spirit Designer Essentials Solids in Rouge (border), and Les Chats Noirs "Checkmate" (accent).
One of the nice things about this method is that you don't have to choose a large number of coordinating fabrics (unless you want to), just a few will do!
2. Cut it up. I decided to have 6" squares with 1.5" sashing, so I cut 6.5" squares of my feature fabric, and 2" strips of my border and accent fabrics (I cut these strips across the full width of the fabric). If you plan to use a quarter inch seam allowance (standard for most patchwork), remember that you'll need to add a half inch to your dimensions when cutting. My 6.5" squares will end up being 6".
3. Cut up your strips to prepare your sashing. Because I'm doing squares, I've cut my red sashing to match their dimensions perfectly, at 6.5" each. Depending on the size of your quilt, you'll need quite a few! The accent fabric which is currently in 2" strips needs to be cut down into 2" squares. Now we're ready to sew.
4. Sew horizontal rows with your feature fabric and your border. First pin your border pieces to the squares, like so:
Press the seams toward your border fabric. It should look something like this:
Lay out your horizontal rows, and then place your sashing fabrics in between them. This can be a sample or pillow, like I have here, or you can make a full size quilt this way! The sky's the limit. Whatever size you're doing, sew the full horizontal rows first.
5. Prepare your sashing. Sew long strips alternating between your border print and your accent squares until they are the same length as your completed horizontal rows. Press your seams toward the border fabric, then lay them out like so:
6. Pin and then sew the horizontal rows together. To prepare each row, place the right sides together along one edge, and with your fingers, feel where the seams neatly nest together. This is why you pressed your seams in opposite directions! Pin each spot where the fabrics intersect (each side of the squares), carefully nesting the seams to help your corners align beautifully. After each row is pinned, sew it carefully using a quarter inch seam. Don't rush this part if you want to have nicely lined up corners. My little sample looks like this:
That's it! You're all done! Well, not quite. Are you going to be quilting this beauty, or making a pillow perhaps? Those are lessons for another day.
You can use this sashing technique for SO many patchwork projects. And it looks great with rectangles too (just make sure you cut your border fabrics accordingly). I made up a little sashed sample without the accent squares, just using sashing -- that's even easier than the method I've just shown you:
Here's a closer look so you can really see the simplicity of the sashing. Once I quilt it, the seams won't be so obvious:
This example also uses just three fabrics: "Forest Friends Panel" (cut up into individual rectangles), "Floral Mixture in Ivory," and "Free Spirit Designer Essentials Solids in Tropical." I think these fabrics would make a stunning baby quilt or throw-size quilt.
Remember, the squares can be any size you like. Let your feature fabric guide you in terms of the best size to cut it, and then play with the proportions on graph paper to get the sashing width just right. I hope you enjoy using this simple technique to sew some speedy patchwork!