Friday, May 10, 2013


Two for one: Grandmother’s Dream and Boston Commons

Fabrics:  Any number of fabrics will work, odd or even number.  If using 3” strips, 15 fabrics will make a 50” wide quilt, 20 fabrics will make a 68” wide quilt, 23 fabrics will make a 78” wide quilt.  Each square is about 3.4” on the diagonal so you can do an approximate estimate for any number of fabrics.

Two color families work well in this set of quilts.  Then you can easily figure out which quilt the created quarters go to.

Choose your fabrics in a run from light to dark.  The light of the 2 colors of fabric will meet at the center of the strata.  For example, dark green to light green meeting light blue and proceeding to dark blue. 

Pressing: every strata must be pressed identically. Seams will be pressed one up, one down throughout the strata.  This means if you press the seam toward fabric 1 on the first strata it must be pressed the same on every strata. This eliminates the confusion in directions that call for half of the stratas pressed up and half of the stratas pressed down and continually deciding which pile of slices to choose from.

Sewing:  Straight seams are SO important.  Sew at the speed that produces straight seams, no faster.  Use a 2.0 seam length because the strata will be cut through many times.  This will prevent stitches popping out at the ends.

Stratas will be left flat, NOT JOINED INTO A TUBE like some other trip around the world techniques.

If you want to make a small sample I would suggest two 2” strips of 9 fabrics to make one of each of the styles of quilts. These will be doll quilt size or table topper size.

For larger quilts I would suggest 3” strips.

For quilts approximately 50” wide (15 fabrics) I sewed 5 stratas of 3” strips.  For a quilt approximately 68” (20 fabrics) wide you will need at least 6 stratas, 7 if you want to elongate it further.  For a quilt approximately 78” wide (23 fabrics) you will need at least 7 stratas, possibly 8 depending on the length you need.  If you are making both quilts rectangular (Boston Commons) you will need to add at least another half or whole strata for the elongating rows.

Decide what size you are making, choose fabric and cut strips.  You may want to make a color card with the fabrics numbered for reference as you are sewing.

Sew the required number of stratas for the size you are making.  Press the seams one up, one down, the same way in every strata.

Cut the stratas into strips (slices).  For small stratas place the first strata down along a line on your mat, place the second strata on top, moving it down one line, add a third strata, again moving it down one line.  Trim the left edge so it is straight along a line on the mat and then cut slices (the same width as your original strips to make the strata).  You should be able to get 14 three inch slices out of batiks, maybe only 12-13 out of regular quilting cottons that have been prewashed.  Here is a photo of staggering the stratas from another quilt I was making.
I have left the right edge peeled back so you can see the layers.  In this case I was cutting segments for 4 patches but the technique is the same no matter how many strips are in the strata.  Larger stratas may need to be folded in half to be shorter than your ruler and then cut 1-2 stratas at a time.

Unpicking comes next.  The first strip is left full length, the rest of the strips have a part picked off which then becomes part of a quarter for the other quilt.  You will need a large table for this.

Choose the color to be the center of the left hand section and the first strip will be a whole strip.  The second strip will have the first center color picked off and placed to the right for another quarter.  The third strip will have a section of 2 center colors picked off and placed to the right in the other quarter.  The fourth strip will have a section of 3 center colors picked off and placed to the right in the other quarter.  You will continue like this until you have just one piece in the left quarter and the rest of the strip in the right quarter.  The left quarter is for one quilt the right quarter for the other quilt.  Below are photos of pieces for all 4 quarters of both quilts.  Notice 2 quarters are one strip shorter than the other 2 quarters.  Photos below.



You need to unpick 2 identical groups of each quarter. (8 quarters total, 4 for each quilt).  Photo below.
You can stack each quarter and clip or pin them together to take to the sewing machine.  Four quarters will have one color at the center; the other four quarters will have the other color at the center.
Next you will sew the quarters.  If you are making the Grandmother’s Dream (square quilt) one quarter will be smaller than the other 3.  Notice the top quarter is the largest with the center square in it.  The 2 side quarters are identical and the bottom quarter is 2 strips smaller than the top quarter (you will not sew the 2 longest strips into that bottom quarter).
If you are making the Boston Commons version, there are 2 identical quarters top and bottom and 2 identical quarters on the 2 sides.  This gives it 2 center squares and each elongating strip (one full strip and one strip with the center square picked off) adds more center squares.  You can add as many elongating rows  as you wish to achieve the length of quilt that you want.
(Yes I know that a square is missing off the bottom corner.  I will fix that.)
Below are 2 others so you can see how other colors look in these quilts.
If you want the easy to print PDF version go to this post.


Ruth said...

Thanks! I know how hard it is to write directions. I'll try out the doll version first.

Sewing Junkie said...

Looks like you got through the process of posting this. Great instructions. Chris

Debbie said...

Wonderful details on this. Thank you so much for sharing. I know how much work it is to put one of these together. I really look forward to putting this tutorial to use instead of doing another bargello! You are a fabulous angel.

Judy Dietrich said...

Very clever way of making either block. Thanks for writing this out so clearly. Have a great weekend!!

Leslie said...

Thank you for doing all this work! I've been looking forward to this tutorial. :-)

Gene Black said...

Yaay.. I am so glad you got it written up and posted. It looks good to me.

QuilterBee said...

Thank you!!!!! Very clear and easy to understand, saving this tute to my favorites :-) :-) Amie

Michele said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful tutorial.

Brown Family said...

I will have to read this again when I am not so tired!


Marie said...

Thanks so much for persevering through the task of writing and loading these directions for us all. I for one really appreciate it and look forward to making my very own Boston Commons quilt.

lisa shenk said...

OK, my fingers are crossed!

And Vicki's fabrics are luscious! I need to drool over there some more!

Needled Mom said...

It makes sense reading it and it looks really pretty. I can see where accuracy in seam allowances is crucial.