Maple Leaf Rag Quilt

By: Rose Smilth

Well, September has arrived very gently here in the UK - loads of sunshine, children back at school or college, so more time for those quilting projects that sometimes get neglected in favour of the gardening.  My pile of UFO's (unfinished objects) never seems to reduce.

What a month August has been!  My daughter Samantha is settling well on her exchange year in Arizona.  She set me up with skype (she knows more about technology than I do) before she went so we talk most days.  The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham was totally awe inspiring as usual.  So much talent and such beautiful quilts on display.  I've been on a workshop which has given me some great ideas for future projects, I've tried using spray adhesive instead of basting and I've bought and used some of the new bamboo/cotton wadding.  Quite a packed month, and I'll be putting up articles about the adhesive and wadding as soon as I can.  Oh and I also had an article published in a new online quilting magazine which was really pleasing.  It's a great magazine with some really helpful articles (well, I would say that, wouldn't I!), so do take a look:

In the mean time, though, this month's project is a rag quilt which I made using a different quilt as you go technique that I heard about.  It was really simple to make.

maple leaf quilt blockI used the maple leaf design quilt block.  This is slightly different from the maple leaf quilt block which has a stem.  For more info click on maple leaf.  The maple leaf design quilt block has two maple leaves opposite each other and no stems and I tried to use autumn (fall) colours for obvious reasons.

maple leaf rag quiltFor each block you will need:
Background fabric:  two 4.1/2" squares, four 2.3/4" squares and four 2.1/2" squares.

Leaf fabric:  four 2.3/4" squares, six 2.1/2" squares, two 6.1/2" by 2.1/2" rectangles and two 4.1/2" by 2.1/2" rectangles.  You can get all the 2.1/2" pieces from 1 strip cut across the width.

2 strips of sashing 12.1/2" by 2", and 2 strips 15.1/2" by 2"
Backing fabric 15.1/2" square, wadding 14.1/2" square.

The leaf fabric for three blocks can be cut from a fat quarter so it's a great chance to use some of those fat quarters you have lying around to provide some variety in your quilt.

It's easiest to make the half square triangles first.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quiltPlace one 2.3/4" square of each fabric with right sides together and draw a line along the diagonal.  Sew a seam 1/4"  either side of the marked line and cut along the line (between the seams).  This should give you 2 squares each made up of 2 triangles of each colour.  Repeat with the other three 2.3/4" squares, giving you 8 of the combined squares.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quiltThe maple leaf design quilt block is basically made up of 2 mirror image halves.
I found it easiest to lay out the pieces for the block without the combined squares as shown and then add those in afterwards.

maple leaf rag quilt
The top and bottom rows are made up of a gold square, a combined square, a pink square and the 6.1/2" rectangle.  With right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew these together in pairs and then join the pairs to complete the row.

maple leaf rag quilt 
For the next row sew the smaller squares together to make 4" pieces and then sew them across the row to complete the 2nd row. Repeat for the 3rd row.  Do check the photo to see which way your triangles face.  I had a real attack of the gremlins while I was doing this:  I would lay the pieces down in the right way, pick them up carefully facing the right way and then when I'd sewn them the triangle would be facing the wrong way!

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quiltWith right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew the top row to the 2nd row.  The 3rd and 4th rows are the same but facing the opposite way.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
I used red sashing to continue the autumn theme for my rag quilt.  Sew the two 12.1/2" by 2" strips to the sides of the block and two 15.1/2" by 2" strips to the top and bottom.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
This is a quilt as you go project, so cut backing fabric the same size as your quilt block (15.1/2" square) and lay it with right side down.  The wadding needs to be 1/2" smaller all the way round.  I found it easiest to cut the wadding roughly the same size as the backing fabric and then trim it when it was placed on the backing fabric.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
Pin the 3 layers and quilt them together.  I stitched along the outline of each leaf and then again 1/4" away from the 1st line of stitching.  I didn't quilt on to the sashing, but thinking about it now it probably wouldn't have made any difference if I had.  That's one maple leaf quilt block complete.  Repeat 8 more times to make 9 blocks:  I used 3 different fabrics and made 3 maple leaf blocks from each one.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
Place 2 maple leaf quilt blocks with wrong sides together.  I really struggled on this because I instinctively wanted to put right sides together.  Using a 1/2" seam, sew the 2 blocks together and then sew another line of stitching close to the 1st line.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
The idea of a rag quilt is that you have fringing between the blocks, so snip the edge towards the line of stitching at 1/4" intervals.  I prefer to do this with each seam as I sew it because if you leave it all to the end there's an awful lot of snipping to do.

maple leaf rag quiltmaple leaf rag quilt
Join 3 blocks across each row in this way and then join the 3 rows together. The snipped edges will fray with time and washing giving a lovely silky fringe to your rag quilt.

maple leaf rag quiltYou could then sew and snip all round the outer edge of your rag quilt but I always prefer binding so I used a brown binding round the edge of my rag quilt.  Baste all round the edge of the rag quilt far enough in from the edge so that you catch the wadding.  Trim the sashing to the level of the wadding and then bind.