Fall in the Falls: Construction

As promised, here is a condensed version of the process I used in making Fall in the Falls. Half the fun in making quilts is the experimenting with different techniques, but it doesn't always make for the most efficient process. Once I got going with this quilt it moved fairly quickly, it just took several months to get started once I knew what I wanted to do!

I could not have made this quilt 5 years ago as my skills were not up to it. It is a testament to taking classes, experimenting and learning new techniques. All of those learned skills (piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, etc.) combined to create the look I wanted. 

OK, onto the stuff you really want to know - what techniques did I use??

The first thing I needed was a map of my neighborhood. My local history museum had one with all of the property lines and parcels delineated on it. The original map was about 22"x30". The local copy shop enlarged it for me onto two sheets of paper. Here is the snapshot of one of my cats inspecting the maps before they were taped together and cropped down to size - about 28"x40".

A cat on a map. 

A cat on a map. 

My goal was to faithfully replicate the paper map, while adding a colorscape on top of the parcels and streets (I don't think colorscape is a real word, but I have determined that it is the perfect word for this). I tried several techniques, but paper piecing the majority of the quilt, appliqueing and piecing with 1/4" seams when needed proved to be the most successful strategy. 

It was intimidating to come up with a plan for the whole map at once, so I started with just one "block", or section between streets. I used colors that were readily available in my scrap bin, without consciously thinking about how I would lay out the color across the map.

Block #1: 

Fall in the Falls, Block #1

Fall in the Falls, Block #1

I placed freezer paper shiny-side-up on top of the paper map and traced the property lines in one block/section using a fine-tip Sharpie.

Then I flipped the freeer paper over and copied the lines onto the dull side of the paper. Since paper piecing is all about working from the back side of the quilt, by copying and tracing the map lines I was able to make the mirror image of the paper map. This gave me a pattern to work from. I broke the pattern up into sections and numbered the paper piecing order.

The purple highlighted areas showed where to use the same fabric in more than one place. The blue highlighted the area to start with.

Paper piecing pattern

Paper piecing pattern

Next up I sewed the fabrics onto the freezer paper pattern using traditional paper piecing techniques. Each little section was joined to its neighbors until I had a completed block.

Paper pieced section

Paper pieced section

Once a block was finished, I placed it right-side-up on the paper map so that I could see how it looked next to the blocks around it.

Fall in the Falls in progress

Fall in the Falls in progress

Below you can see how I kept the blocks organized - those sticky notes had a number or letter on them that correlated to its freezer paper pattern. 

Starting with Block #1 I worked outwards. This allowed me to organically change the color placement as I radiated farther from the epicenter.

Striped streets were added in with standard 1/4" seams where I was able to easily do that. Some places were tricky to piece in, so I appliquéd some of the streest to the blocks next to them where needed.

Fall in the Falls in progress

Fall in the Falls in progress

This is what the back of the quilt looked like as I joined everything together. The pencil arrows are there to help me orient which way was north as I pieced the blocks, which helped to keep the color migration organized.

Back of Fall in the Falls

Back of Fall in the Falls

Here I am appliqueing the very last seam. My left hand is holding down that striped street that is ready to be tacked down.

The last seam!

The last seam!

And here is Falls in the Falls ABD (all but done) - before quilting and binding. Next week it will get its official portrait taken. I'll post an updated photo then. 

Fall in the Falls before quilting

Fall in the Falls before quilting

Questions?? Leave me a comment and hopefully I can answer it!