Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Project 7 - Harriet's Town Square Quilt - Part 1

I've not done any sewing for a couple of days, (hey, it's holiday time)  so I've been hunkered down in my sewing room today, working on the next project.

The Town Square Quilt is a 32" x 32" top (without borders) made up of 16 blocks.

Also included in the book is an alternative - The Asian Nights Quilt, which is probably my favourite project in the book.  Asian Nights is a 48 block quilt measuring 48" x 64" (without borders).

I really liked the colourway of Asian Nights, but of course didn't have enough fabric in the right colours.  I have some fabric on order, but rather than wait, I popped into Spotlight to see if there was anything close.

Now the Spotlight in Hobart is not the most flash store in the chain.  It's been classed 'Regional' (wha...? Hobart is a capital city doncha know) and listed as D grade.  What that means to the Hobart customer is the pickings are small. 

I lucked out and found what I needed, which were a tan, mid brown, dark brown and a blue, all tonals.  I had a choice of 1 of each ... no wait, there was an alternative mid brown tonal, but it just didn't fit at all with the others.

I coloured in the layout sheet (glad I took the time to do this), and trued up the fabric last night and began cutting this morning.  Hopefully the end result will look something like Harriet's.

Although I have enough fabric (it was cheap) to do the large version, I decided to do the smaller one first to see how I liked the result.  I'm not 100% sold on the colours as they are not quite what I wanted.

Harriet encourages you to do the math to work out how many strips to cut.  I try to do this, but got confused here.  There is a mistake in the instructions!  

As a beginner quilter, I simply assumed I'd got the math wrong, the author knows what she's doing and I don't.  So I proceeded to cut according to the instructions in the book.  I ended up with too many strips.

 For some reason Harriet's instructions are to cut enough strips for 12 blocks.  There are only 8 A blocks with small 4 patch units, not 12.  You are asked to cut 96 units from the strip sets - but you actually only need 64 units.  That's a chunk of fabric wastage right there (not to mention extra cutting & sewing time),  and as I was making Blocks A & B at the same time - so I got it wrong for both of them.

This is not a disaster for me, as I will probably use the extra strip sets in the extra blocks for the larger quilt.  But to get the math wrong in a beginner tutorial book is very bad!  Shame Harriet.  It's hard enough when you don't know what you're doing, without poor instructions.

The design is quite simple, it's all 4 patch blocks, in 2 different sizes, so just simple sewing of strips and cutting to size. Getting the colour placement right is the tricky bit.

Now the instructions in this book are written by colour e.g. sew the green print fabric strip to the dark green etc.  I don't know if all quilting instructions are done this way (I've seen the same thing in magazines though) but I find it terribly confusing, cause I'm using different colours.  There are no separate instructions for the Asian Nights version, just how many extra blocks to make and how much extra fabric to buy.

Making the mock-up really helped here, and I had to go through the pattern and change all the colours, hoping all the way I hadn't mixed any of them up. 

These are the small 4 patch blocks in 2 colourways.  Actually the colours don't look too bad together.

Now I'm getting scared.  Two mistakes?? That is just cruel.  The next step is to sew the small patch blocks to a single larger unit, then to sew 2 of these units together to make a large 4 patch block.

The instructions tell me ".......You will have 32 units 4 1/2 x 2 1/2.  Repeat the above steps for Block B. "
Righto, done.
Now I am told to......"using the units you have made, make 2 stacks of 32 units, 1 turned opposite the other.  Stitch these together."
Huh? What?
I have 32 units of Block A and 32 units of Block B.  Am I being told to sew Blocks A & B together here? 
If I did that, I would get this........
Now that looks nothing like the pattern in my mock up.

I think what the instructions should say is.."using the units you have made, make 2 stacks of 16 units...."
If I did that, I would get this........

I think this is right, but now I'm not sure.  I am wary of sewing these up in case the instructions are correct and I'm not.  According to my mock up and according to the illustration which accompanied the instructions, this is the right way to sew them.

I am very disappointed to find these sort of errors in a tutorial.  It's difficult enough for a beginner to work out the maths, the designs and the colour placement, without this sort of thing happening. 

This is really disconcerting.  I am only halfway through this quilt top and already encounted 2 errors.  I can't help but wonder if there are more errors and more importantly, if I will pick up on them. 

I suppose though, that coming across these sort of errors is actually good for a beginner.  It makes me think about what I'm doing, rather than blindly following instructions.  Maybe that is what Harriet intended?

To be continued..............


  1. Oh dear, I am probably the last person to offer advice,, but when looking at Harriet's picture, in the top left inner part, I would break it down to 6 squares x 6 squares (just looking), then it appears to be a plain square, small, where as in your picture, to me, it looks the plain square is the size of 4 of her squares,, does that make sense? Very hard to write what you think!!

  2. Hi Cheryl. Nope, still confused - lol.

    The small 4 patch is sewn to a plain square. Then 2 small 4 patches are sewn to 2 plain squares to make the large 4 patch square. Then 4 of these large 4 patch squares are sewn together to make a block.

    I think I have that part down ok. What is confusing me is which colour goes where within the block. The instructions aren't very clear, especially when the colours I used are different from those in the instructions and illustrations.

    I see what you mean by it being hard to write what you think.

    Thank you for your help though.

  3. It does seem a little confusing. You definately need to sew them as per your second photo. It looks like you need to then sew two of these joined units with other blocks that you have yet to make to make A and B blocks. A and B blocks appear to be made up of 4 x 4 1/2" pieced blocks. When following colours in patterns I find it a great help to make up a colour swatch. I write down their colours and then glue a piece of the fabric I am using next to it so I can easily refer to it.

  4. Suzie - I'm glad you agree about the layout. I really need that reassurance before stitching them all up. And yes, the other A & B units haven't been made yet.

    I think using actual fabric would work better than the little set of colouring pencils I'm currently using :)


  5. Thanks so much for pointing out the error. I've yet to purchase Harriet's book - too much christmas cheer on my plastic, but when that recovers, I'll put an order through to Amazon. Your projects so far are absolutely wonderful. At Borders I purchased a Quilding 2010 Block & Pattern-A-Day Calendar (50% off). Whilst the colours and blocks are not as nice as Harriet's, I could use the blocks to do small projects. Cat1

  6. Hi Cat1. Thanks for your lovely comment. Practicing on some small projects is a great idea. Smarter than me, as I went whole hog on 2 quilt projects and mucked up both of them (in the cutting stage mind you). Then I discovered Harriet's book.

    I'd love to see pics of your progress when you get started.

  7. Hi Lesley,
    I must say that I have never commented on a blog before, but can't resist this one. I got an email today from the marketing gal at C&T and she sent me your link. I am so excited that you are working through the book. I humbly apologize for the mistakes in the projects. We were supposed to have one last editing round before it went off to print to find all the little things like this, but the person in charge did not send it to us and by the time we found out, it was too late. We are so sorry that the book was printed with errors!!!! However, we have had quite a few comments that it has been a good test to see if you really understand what is going on. I would suggest that you read each patter thoroughly before you start and check all the formulas and math. By Town Square, you should be able to make sense of it all. If not, go back and work through the math of each quilt until brain fog clears. It gets easier and easier.
    I have the next to last editing copy in my hands now for Volume Two - it will be released in May. Hopefully you will have a handle on the quilting and binding of the projects you have done so far - and wonderful they are!! I am so proud of you - I only wish I could be there to help with the problems. Like you are all saying - it is hard to write instructions and get the meaning across to everyone - as we all think and process information differently. We are writing Volume 3 now - almost done and due into C&T March 1. Needless to say we are exhausted - a new book and 13 new quilts every 9 months. It's worse than childbirth.
    Anyway - just want to say HI and pat you on the back for a job well done!!!!
    Harriet Hargrave

  8. Hi Lesley,
    Lucky you, having such a great mentor when starting patchwork. Congratulations and keep up the great work

  9. I'm very new to quilting. I love the pattern of this quilt, but I am afraid I'll get a little discouraged at how tetius the quilt will be. Has anybody started the quilt and not finished?

  10. Hi. I have no idea if anyone hasn't finished this quilt. Town Square is a lot smaller than Asian Nights, so there will be a lot less piecing repetition. Don't be discouraged! Keep at it and those patches will be a quilt before you know it.