Behind the quilt: Stepping Stones

Lynne Edwards Stepping stones quilt

We love the back stories of how individual patchwork quilts come to life. No two quilts share the same making story, but we’re limited to how many words we can fit into the magazine, so in our new Behind the quilt website series, we reveal the insider scoop from our lovely quilt designers about how they create the designs that appear in Today’s Quilter magazine. Today we’re chatting to Lynne Edwards about her cover star Stepping Stones quilt in issue 15, which she designed and was then made by Shirley Prescott. Here she spills the beans on how the quilt came to life, from finding the fabric to collaborating with Shirley.

Lynne Edwards Stepping stones patchwork quilt

Fabric hunting!

“During my regular visits to quilt shops and exhibitions I have all too frequently found myself buying small amounts of fabrics, usually fat quarters or half yards or metres, which become the nucleus of a collection of fabrics to be used together in some as yet unspecified project,” Lynne tells us. “Over time I add to the collection, choosing fabrics that are so appealing to me that the growing pile becomes a pleasure in itself, to be stroked and enjoyed as it is. Who could bear to split the collection up? Even worse, how could anyone even cut them up to use?

Stepping stones quilt blockThe collection used in this Stepping Stones quilt is Moda’s Luna Notte, which absolutely took my heart, and I had to buy it when I saw the collection at Quilts UK. So here’s the quilt for that collection especially when the individual fabrics are so lovely that as much as possible of each loved design needs to be on show. A mottled Moda black makes a line of small stepping stones that run through the block (see the finished quilt block design, right). The rest of the block is made from just one fabric, which changes for each block made, using all those cherished fabrics and displaying the whole collection block by block in the quilt.

Stepping stones patchwork quilt by Lynne Edwards

Shirley’s skills, and the fine art of “quilt bartering”

Part of the tempting lure of fabrics these days is the way fabric manufacturers produce a large collection of designs which they then market as cut strips, one from each fabric, rolled round as a jelly roll. Even more delectable is the collection of fabrics cut into 10in squares and packaged together called Layer Cakes, which is what Shirley Prescott used in her version of my Stepping Stones quilt (pictured here). Shirley loves to make quilts, always by machine, and several times she has taken my fabric and made a quilt to my specifications to test-run the design. We use the ancient system of barter on these occasions, so she makes the quilt with my fabric and wadding, and in return she gets to come to classes free – it works a treat!

Stepping stones quilt

Shirley used two packs of a favourite Layer Cake collection that I felt I just had to buy and had been holding on to for a while wondering what to make with them. We discarded the fabric squares that had a black background so that the chosen black ‘stepping stone’ fabric would show up more effectively. I made a cutting plan for each 10in square to cut the pieces for one block. The small amount left was used by Shirley to make the pieced border on the quilt.

One block, different effects

The choice of the stepping stone fabric is important, as it needs to make a contrasting path across each main fabric. Shirley’s fabric makes a dark line of squares across each block, while Carol Donnison chose a light contrast fabric for the stepping stone squares in her William Morris version of the same quilt (pictured below).

Stepping stones quilt version 2

When I originally made this pattern I based it on a collection of fat quarters of fabrics and made a cutting plan based on strips and squares efficiently cut from each fat quarter to make three blocks from each fabric for the quilt with left over pieces to be used in a border if desired. For a quilt like Shirley’s – 64 blocks arranged in eight rows each of eight blocks – a collection of 22 fat quarters would be needed. Extra would be needed to make the pieced checkerboard border if the fat quarters were quarter yards. Fat quarter metre pieces which is what we usually buy in the UK would give enough for the quilt plus the pieced border if desired.

Lynne Edwards MBE is a renowned quilt designer, teacher and author and regular contributor to Today’s Quilter magazine. You can find out more about how to make Lynne’s stepping stones quilt, plus read her ‘From the desk of Lynne Edwards’ column, in issue 15 of Today’s Quilter magazine – in shops now!

If you liked this, you’ll love these…