Quilting The Full Spectrum With Alison Glass

Spectrum WIP Header

We hope you got your new April Mailer this week, if you didn’t you can sign up here. Even though today is still technically March, we are acting like it’s April already. Anyone else ready for more consistent sunshine?! That’s why ONE of our Projects of the Month is the Spectrum Quilt from Alison Glass, featuring her high chroma prints for Andover Fabrics.

Full Spectrum Quilt Finished

Our Sewist in Chief, Paula, made both of our Project of the Month quilts, hanging in the entrance of the retail store in Portland. You may remember Paula from our Bloc Loc Ruler Post. She’s back today to help you take your quilting full spectrum. Take it away, Paula!

Draped Spectrum Quilt  

This beautiful quilt is a pretty easy one to make. Allison Glass has designed it to show off the range of color in her collections. Her instructions are written as though you, the maker, have some experience making quilts. We decided to give you a few helpful hints to make the construction of this quilt go a bit easier.

There are 24 fabrics in this quilt, 23 of which are in the blocks. When you choose your fabrics, keep in mind they are meant to transition from one color to another like a gradient. I suggest you lay the bolts out next to each other in the order you intend to put them in your quilt. Step back and look at them. When you are happy with the transition, pick a neutral fabric for the sashing.

Cutting out this quilt is pretty straight forward. The instructions say to cut four-10 1/2” squares from each of the 23 colorful fabrics. The instructions give you the choice to reduce the square size, which gives you an easy way to make the size you want.  For our store model, I chose to reduce the size of the original cut square to 9”. This yielded a 7 ½” finished square for our quilt, which made the finished size 74 “x 76”. Each of these squares is then cut on both diagonals to yield four triangles per square.

In Progress Design Wall

The next step is the fun part, and I strongly suggest you use a design wall for this. A design wall will give you the opportunity to step back and look at the progression of color in your quilt. I divided my colors into families of like colors, then started at the top and put them on the design wall in columns of quarter square triangle blocks, according to the diagram in the pattern. I made sure to add some “outliers” that went into the rows above and below to help blend the colors and add some interest. 

Full Spectrum Design Wall

At the half way point, I started up from the bottom with the same procedure. When you are happy with the placement of the colors, take a picture. Looking at the photo will help you adjust the placement of colors. Take a final photo, and delete the previous ones so you don’t mix them up! This photo becomes your guide for piecing the columns together.

Piecing the columns is an exercise in organization. I started at the bottom of Column One on the left side of the quilt. In my mind, I labeled each triangle in each block, North, East, South and West. 


First, I took the East triangle and laid it RST (right sides together) on top of the North triangle, and pinned it at the end I will start sewing from.


Then I took the South triangle and laid it RST on top of the West triangle, pinning it at the end I will start my sewing. 


Spectrum Pinning Layers     Spectrum Pinning Layered Block

Then I pinned these two sets together, orienting the seams in the same direction indicating one block. 

Spectrum Layering Block     Lined up Blocks

I then repeated the procedure with the next block above, and so on until you have the whole column pinned, and stacked in order.

Spectrum All Lined Up

Spectrum Column Stack

Columns in a Row

*Tip: Prepare all columns for sewing at once, label each stack so you don’t get mixed up!

Next is the sewing. It is important for you to chain sew these all together in one long chain, and do not cut the thread until you are finished with the last pair of triangles! Start the chain with a thread saver, a small scrap of fabric used to get the chain started, and start sewing with a ¼” seam on the first North/West pair, at the outer (pointy) edge, continue on to the East/South pair, starting at the center (non-pointy) edge, and continue on to the next North/West pair and so on to the last pair. 

Spectrum Sewing

* Paula is using the Sew Straight Sewing Guide on her machine!

Take the chain to the ironing board and press the block seams in opposing directions so you can lock the center seam of each block. (See the BIG HINT in the instructions). Then place the two halves of each block RST and cut them off the chain. Make sure you keep them in order by stacking them carefully.

Spectrum Ironing

Spectrum Pressing

Spectrum nesting Seams

Next, chain sew the center seams of each block from point to point, keeping them connected until the last block, using your thread saver at the beginning. Press the seams to one side, and stack them in order.

The instructions then have you sew the columns together, but I strongly recommend you square your blocks up to a uniform size with a rotary cutter and ruler. In our quilt, it was 8”. After I squared them up, I used the picture on my phone to pin the columns together, making sure each block was oriented correctly and in the right order. After I sewed the columns of blocks together, I pressed the seams open to keep the bulk down on the edges of the block. This is much more effective than trimming, as suggested in the instructions.

Spectrum Pieces

Next, I cut my sashing strips and continued to sew the top together as written in the instructions. Make sure you mark the sashing as the pattern suggests, to keep the blocks aligned across the quilt.

Spectrum Quilting

We chose to big stitch quilt the sashing with DMC perle cotton color #380 (available in store). Try this if you're an online shopper. I stitched in the ditch down the columns of blocks and bound the quilt with the neutral color fabric used in the sashing.

The Spectrum is now complete! How did yours turn out? I hope you are as pleased with your finished product as we are with ours! Share your Spectrum Quilt & other makes with Fabric Depot on InstagramFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter using #fabricdepot & #inspirationbytheyard!

Click the links or head to the Portland store to check out our selection of Alison Glass fabrics, take a class from Paula, and get some #inspirationbytheyard! Don’t forget to ask questions & let us know how your sewing is going in the comment box below!

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