Step 1: Planning (AKA, Quilting Math)
Biggest lesson learned from my first quilt was that I had to properly plan out my quilt in advance of any purchasing, cutting, laying out, or sewing was to be done. I wanted a herringbone pattern (a favorite for me and my husband, a city planner who lurves him some herringbone sidewalks), but not the typical chevron-style herringbone that's all over Pinterest and the interwebs. Finding some helpful sources of inspiration, I planned out what I wanted, measured, multiplied, and came up with my supplies for a nice twin-size quilt.
Step 2: Fabric Selection
I wanted this quilt for the living room, which is currently painted a soft green and has brown rugs, a tan couch, and various blue and green accents. Clearly blue and green were my starting points for color, and I wanted a crisp white backing for the quilt. I knew I'd need a pop of color in there, maybe a fun purple, or even red or orange. Binding color was TBD. I roamed the aisles with several awesome coupons burning a hole in my phone, and was more selective with fabric purchasing this time around. I added and removed multiple bolts of fabric before settling on my final 6, but in the end I knew that what I had would definitely be used. Six beautiful patterns, white backing, and navy binding.
Step 3: Cutting, Laying out, and More Quilting Math
Ok, I cut cut cut all my little rectangles out of the patterned fabric, and now I needed to cut the strips of white fabric that would go in between the rectangles, like the mortar in my herringbone sidewalk. Again, valuable lesson learned last time was that I would have to account for fabric lost when I stitched two pieces together- 1/4" seams eat up length fast, especially when you're going to lose 1/4" on each side of your rectangles. So I had to figure out how long these strips of fabric should be, how to make that a standard number rather than measuring out two different lengths depending on which way the "mortar" was going, and how to neatly sew these buggers together in a way that didn't make my head spin.
Some laying out, measuring, adjusting, more measuring, cutting, measuring... and I had my pieces cut and arranged and my AHA! moment for how to sew them properly. Let me introduce my quilting Ts.
I laid out the beginning of the pattern I wanted. We have the patterned fabrics and the white strips in between, breaking up the herringbone.
I realized that I could break this into chunks with these Ts. From my quilting math, I knew that once I had sewed the white piece between 1 and 2, I would be losing a bit of length, which is why piece 3 is a bit shorter when everything is laid out prior to sewing. Clearly, I needed to sew in this order. Piece 1 is sewn to the white strip; piece 2 is sewn to that same white strip, and then a white strip is sewn to the top of those 3 connected fabrics, making the T with the white strips.
So I had the sewing order down- excellent. Next up was how to make this work repeatedly for an entire quilt. I then realized the whole pattern is made up of these Ts. Look at the same layout with the new T perspective (highlighted in yellow now):
To the left are two more Ts, and there are Ts rotated as well. If I create a bunch of Ts, I can connect them to other Ts at an angle, and we're in business. In theory. Let me see how this all goes in practice!