Hi Friends! If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the little flurry of activity surrounding this quilt… It’s a copy of a nearly 200 year old quilt that I first saw on a museum tour with the DC Modern Quilt Guild. I was absolutely obsessed with remaking it in today’s glorious fabrics and it turns out some others are interested in doing the same (have you seen Melinda’s fabulous start?) I’ll tell a little more of the story of my quilt when it’s finished, but for now I want to get the tutorial up so anyone who’s interested can join in the fun!
In the interest of keeping this free and not too lengthy, I’m going to describe the process I used to lay out and construct my quilt, but I won’t provide a diagram of exactly which fabric went where and which fabrics repeat where. You can study the pic of the original and my photos for a sense of the design, then go ahead and make it your own!
The original quilt, circa 1830. Photo from the book “Workt by Hand”
Center of my quilt- borders yet to be added.
Notice that the quilt has a center X made of 5, 4″ x 11″ pieces on each arm, and then four identical large, layered triangles, each with a square at the apex of each layer and 4″ x 11″ strips radiating out from the apex square in two matching strips. It’s easiest to lay out your pieces from the middle out, then we will construct the quilt from the sides working in. The center ends up to be 74″ square and the original had 14″ wide borders.
The heart and soul of this quilt lies in the fabric selections! The pieces are large and the sewing is easy, so take your time and enjoy playing with the placement of your fabrics.
It can be helpful to start with more fabrics than you need, so you will have options as you work. This is a great place to use larger scale fabrics that you love and don’t want to cut too small. Or fabrics that you bought but didn’t know what to do with because they are so bold!
I recommend cutting your fabric in a few batches, rather than pre-cutting the whole quilt before you start. You are likely to shift things around and make new decisions as you build the layers.
20, 3/8-1/2 yd pieces (there are a few spots in my quilt where I repeated fabrics, so you may need up to 3/4yd of a few fabrics if you intend to copy the placement of mine exactly.)
1, 8″ X 12″ or 4″ x 20″ piece (middle 5 squares)
(I give requirements for a border all the way around, no cutouts like the original)
3 yds for a 9.5″ border
4 1/4 yds for a 14″ border like the antique quilt has. (strips will be cut crosswise and pieced)
From the 8″ x 12″ piece, cut 5, 4″ squares for the center of the quilt. Lay these out on your design wall (or design floor!) in a checkerboard.
Select about 10 of your 3/8 yd pieces that you want to use at the center of the quilt. From each, cut 8, 4″x 11″ rectangles and 4, 4″ squares.
Beginning in the middle, arrange your strips for the center X. There are 5 strips radiating from each side of the center square.
Lay out center X
Then begin laying out your large triangles. Choose one of your sets of squares to form the apex. Add four strips radiating out from each exposed side of each square. Cut 4 additional squares of the fabric you choose for the edge and place squares.
By now you might have an idea which fabrics are working and which are not. Now is a good time to select and cut more fabrics in the same manner: 8, 4″ x 11″ squares and 4, 4″ squares. Continue to build your triangles towards the edges of the quilt. Work in the squares you have cut as you continue. I had fun and reduced the number of decisions I had to make by matching squares and rectangles in the same positions as the original. As you get to the edges, you may need to cut a few more squares to fill in the spaces at the edges.
Center before trimming
Refer to above diagram to see what your layout will look like when it’s done. Once you are happy with your layout, you can start assembly.
1/4″ seam allowance used throughout
We begin in the center of each side of the quilt. Sew the three squares together as shown. For the next layer, line up your pieced square unit with one side rectangle as shown and stitch. Sew the apex square to the other side rectangle, then sew that pieced strip to the other side of the pieced squares. Continue building your side triangles in the same manner, piecing the strips before attaching them to the central unit. Always align the pieces next to the apex squares. The outside edges will be quite uneven. Piece all 4 side triangles in the same manner.
Sew the center X together into 4 long strips. Attach 2 strips to opposite sides of the center square.
Sew 2 side triangles together with one center x strip. Repeat with the other 2 side triangles and center strip. Then assemble all 3 large pieces, aligning seam allowances around the center square.
Be sure your top is well pressed. Measure and mark a dot at each corner, 8.75″ out from the seam and 2″ in from each raw side edge of the rectangle. These dots should line up with the corners of the center square on each side. Draw a line connecting these points, using anything you might have to get a straight edge. I lined up several quilting rulers, which allowed me to also use the 45 degree lines to check that my edge was straight. But even a broomstick would work. Trim along this line. Don’t panic if you have to trim a little further to get it all square. The original has missing points and it really doesn’t matter in this design.
Mathematically, the trimmed top should measure 74.5″. Measure yours across several points to figure out how large to cut your border!
For a 9.5″ border, simply cut your 3 yard piece into 4, 10″ strips parallel to the selvage. Trim two strips to the same length as your center width measurement (74.5″) Attach borders to two opposite sides. Cut the remaining strips to your measurement + 19″ (93.5″). Attach borders to the two remaining sides.
For a 14″ border, cut 10, 14.5″ strips across the width of the fabric. Sew these together in two sets of two and two sets of three. Cut the shorter strips to your top measurement (74.5″) Cut the longer strips to your measurement + 28″ (102.5″). Sew the shorter strips onto two opposite sides first, and then sew on the longer strips.
Note this quilt is susceptible to wavy borders because of the bias trimmed edges. For more help getting your border on correctly, see this fabulous tutorial from Anjeanette.
I hope some of you will decide to join in the fun and make a Diabolical Jane! Here’s a downloadable line drawing of the quilt for adult-coloring fun:
Diabolical Jane Line Drawing