Sunday, March 23, 2008

Around the World Quilts

An "Around the World" quilt looks something like this:

It's a very gratifying kind of piece to make, as it looks a hell of a lot harder than it really is. What you see when you first look at it, if you don't know the trick, is just how many individual pieces of fabric there are. Even in the little piece shown above, there are 15 little (1 1/2", 1" cut) squares in each row and column making, what, 225 pieces total. But! you do not have to cut out and sew together 225 pieces in order to make an Around the World.

Here's the trick. (I will illustrate with images from the very finest quilt design software application available, the name of which is “MicroSoft Excel.” Ask for it at your quilt shop!)

1. Once you've chosen your sequence of fabrics -- at least seven, in a clear progression from light to dark color values, is best -- cut long strips of each of them.

2. Sew the strips together, in sequence.

3. Cut new strips, perpendicular to the original ones, out of the units you made in step two. Make them the same width as you cut the original strips in step one.

4. Then, piece these new strips back together, offsetting them by one fabric width each time.

Voila! There's a little more too it, of course, but you get the basic idea.

I've only made two true Around the Worlds, the one above – it was a gift for my mother, which is the very definition of "coals to Newcastle" -- and this one, which you've seen before.

Then there's also a few that have played with the Around the World idea, like this one from 2000:

Or these two, from 2006. These are called Partway Around the World I & II; one hangs at our house, and the other belongs to friends in England. So, the name is a kind of double-meaning sorta dealie.

Incidentally, although all of these I've shown are wall hangings, it's possible to make very large quilts with the same method. You just either a) make your strips wider, b) use more fabrics, or c) repeat your sequence of fabrics two or three or four times. It looks great, but I've never done it myself.

OK, I’m out of here. Thanks for reading.


jovaliquilts said...

So is there a difference between your variations on trip around the world and one type of bargello? I think your two-part trip quilts are great -- I love the idea of sharing a quilt with a friend that way.

And your "quilting software" is something else! ;)

Exuberant Color said...

I like the one from 2000. Trip is one of my favorite patterns to fall back on when I don't know what else to make.

SisterDG said...

Microsoft Excel as a quilt design tool = Genius. I can't believe I wasted all those hours rocking the graph paper.

Beth said...

Very nice tutorial and cool quilt!

I'm just a lurker....hi!

gl. said...

i love the last diptych. and i'm with sisterdg: excel instead of graph paper will work for all sorts of crafty things! hooray!

Rebel said...

Around the World quilts are not my favorite - but I do like your variations... and the one you made for your mom is beautiful.

Elaine Adair said...

My word - why didn't I think of this. I dislike my EQ program (why? I don't know) but I LOVe my spreadsheets! Duhhh - thanks for the idea! Now I can LOOK like I'm working at work, and can be playing! LOL

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Love your Trip Around the World and Bargello quilting. You're great with colors. Nice tutorial too. Thanks.

Libby said...

Man when I made mine I somehow (can't remember how) sewed the strip sets crooked so that the best I ended up with parallelograms when I cut them apart. I salvaged it somehow but geez...leave it to me to mess up such an easy pattern! It was still super fun and I hope to make more...once I finish the one I have sitting at home that is 90% quilted and just waiting for me to be in the same state as it.

Anonymous said...

This is great.
I have just bought some more material and have been on the net for about 4 hours trying to work out how to make a quit. You have made things a lot easier. Many thanks