Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trip Around The World

    A Small Quilt

Trip Around The World
This project was born as a solution to a challenge for June by a quilt group on Facebook called Desi Quilters.  The challenge was to create a quilt of any dimension, constructed only from squares. My interpretation is a variation of the bargello pattern, and this variation is also known as Trip Around The World or Sunshine & Shadows.  In this case the quilt is composed of squares whereas most bargello quilts are composed of varying widths of rectangles.

In 1991 I made my very first queen size quilt of this design.  I took a class because I'd never quilted before.  It took me a week just to cut and piece the top.  Back then, the instructions that were provided were complicated, the method was daunting and the entire process left me overwhelmed, with no idea how I would ever be able to replicate the process to make a second quilt from the same pattern.

Trip Around The World - The Original Queen Size Quilt
For 20+ years, I've looked at pictures of this quilt (the original was gifted to my son), and wondered if there was a simpler way to make it.  Some patterns I came across piece smaller quilts by sewing individual squares together.  What I needed was a process that would allow me to breeze through the construction of a small quilt and also make it possible to make a queen size quilt without driving myself crazy!

Upon examining the pattern closely, I discovered that the quilt could be divided into four identical units joined by one long vertical strip and one long horizontal strip.  The light bulb went off in my head and I came up with an idea which I decided to try on a small quilt.

The Mock-Up

First I colored a mock-up on graph paper, which is how I decided the dimensions of the quilt.  There would be 11 rows across and 11 columns down, and each finished square would measure 1.5", which would make a finished quilt 16.5" square.  Much more manageable than a queen size quilt!
A mock-up

Take a look at the four identical segments I talked about before.  The 'X's down the vertical and horizontal centers of the quilt divide it into four segments and the top half of the quilt is a mirror image of the bottom half.  Similarly, the left half of the quilt is a mirror image of the right half.

Fabric Selection & Preparation
I picked out 5 fat quarters that were light, medium and dark greens and reds.
Five Fat Quarters in Greens and Reds
They were washed,
Fat Quarters were washed
ironed to remove all wrinkles,
and cut into 2" strips.
Cut into 2" strips
Making the Strip Set and Tube 
The strips were then sewn into a strip set going from lightest, light, medium, to dark and medium.
The strip set
The raggedy ends of the strip set were cut off and starting from the bottom of this strip set, each strip of fabric was assigned a number from 1 to 5.  Turning the strip set over, with the wrong side up, I joined the first (Fabric 1) and last (Fabric 5) strips to form a tube and pinned them in place.
Fold strip set in half and pin to form a tube
The two end strips were sewn together to form a tube and the strip set was cut into 2" segments. One strip set yielded 10 two-inch segments, so a total of 2-1/2 strip sets were used to make this small quilt.  The top section needed 11 segments and the bottom section needed 11 segments, the horizontal center strip of the quilt needed 2 segments and an extra 2-1/2" square was required for the dead center of the quilt.  Therefore, 11+11+2=24 two inch segments + 1 two-inch square of fabric 5 were needed in total.
Strip set cut into 2" segments
To keep the 2" segments from scattering, they were placed in a paper-mache bucket that cost $1.00 at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.
Cut units stored in paper-mache bucket
Assembling Top Half of the Quilt
Now comes the fun and interesting part which makes this whole process truly magical.  Using a seam ripper and taking 1 2" segment in your hand, remove the seam in the sequence specified below and lay each out on your work surface.
Take the seam apart with a seam ripper
Place your mock-up in front of you and working with 1 two-inch segment at a time, rip apart the seams between:

Fabric 1 and Fabric 5.  Place on work surface with Fabric 1 in extreme left hand corner
Fabric 2 and Fabric 1.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 2 on top.
Fabric 3 and Fabric 2.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 3 on top.
Fabric 4 and Fabric 3.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 4 on top.
Fabric 5 and Fabric 4.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 5 on top.
Fabric 1 and Fabric 5.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 1 on top.
Fabric 5 and Fabric 4.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 5 on top.
Fabric 4 and Fabric 3.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 4 on top.
Fabric 3 and Fabric 2.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 3 on top.
Fabric 2 and Fabric 1.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 2 on top.
Fabric 1 and Fabric 5.  Place adjacent to previous segment with Fabric 1 on top. 
The top section after all 11 segments are arranged
To sew the top together, pick up the columns in pairs and pin with the head of the pin placed towards the side on which the seam will be sewn.  This will ensure that the correct seams are sewn together.
Pin pairs together in prior to sewing
Take each pair to the iron and press the seams of one set in the opposing direction to the other set.  Nestle the seams together, sew and press the seam to one side.  Do this will all 5 pairs, then add the 11th set to the 10th.  
Sew in pairs and attach last unit
Sew the pairs together from left to right and the top part of this quilt is assembled!

Assembling Bottom Half of the Quilt
Follow the same steps as outlined in Assembling Top Half of the Quilt.  Turn it 360 degrees and place below top half on the work surface. 

Finishing Quilt Top
To assemble the horizontal center of the quilt top, rip the seams from two remaining two-inch segments that were cut from the tube of strip sets.  Remove the seam between Fabric 1 and Fabric 5 from both segments.  Place on work surface with Fabric 1 on the two outside edges and place the 2" square that was cut from Fabric 5 in the center, between the two segments.  Sew the left segment to the center square and the other side of the center square to the right segment to form one long strip composed of 11 squares.  

Press the seams on this long strip in opposing directions to the top half of the quilt.  Sew top half to center strip. 

Sew bottom half to top half and press flat.
Quilt Top
Making the Quilt Sandwich
The unfinished size of the quilt top was 17" square.  The batting and backing fabric were cut to the same size.    The batting was placed on the work surface, the quilt top was placed on it, facing up, and the backing fabric was placed on this, face down.  The sandwich was pinned to hold it together and a 1/8" seam sew all around, leaving an opening on one side.  The entire quilt was then turned inside out, the corners poked out and a 1/4" seam sewn all around, enclosing the open section at the same time.

Quilting The Quilt
Take a look at my mock-up.
The quilt top was quilted with lines running through each diagonal line of squares, beginning each color with an X and ending with an X.  It worked like a charm and I was able to go from one diagonal line to the next effortlessly, working my way all around the quilt.  I love how it turned out, and even though the thread was in a constrasting color to the burgundy fabric, it showcased the quilting.

This quilt top was quilted free-hand, without marking the quilt top or using masking tape.  Simply slowing down the speed, working on one square at a time, focusing on the opposite corner of each square instead of watching the needle, all aided in making the quilting a success!

Quilted Top
The back looks really nice too!
The Back
And, I think, the back complements the top very well!
Back and Front



  1. That's so nice of you to share this beautiful tutorial...Thank you so much...your mini quilt looks lovely too

    1. I hope you'll give this a try, Nima. It was a lot of fun to make!

  2. I am teaching a friend to make trips and your tutorial was fabulous!! Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    1. Thank you, Terrece! Appreciate your visit to this post and your comment.

  3. Looks like I have found how to do this quicker than the way I have been cutting for this quilt: layered fabrics and cut out one square at a time. Slow...slow. Thanks for the great pictures.


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