Color Jolt QAL Week 1: Picking Your Fabric And Planning Your Layout

by | Oct 1, 2020

Welcome to Week 1 of the Color Jolt QAL!

If you’re looking for background information on the quilt along (schedule, etc, etc.), you can find that HERE on the Color Jolt QAL main landing page. If you’re already up on all that, then it’s time to dive into week one!

This week is all about prep. We’ll be picking our fabric, putting together our layout, and making our cutting charts so that we’re ready to hit the ground running next week when we cut into our fabric.

Being thoughtful and thorough with this week’s tasks will make the rest of your weeks run smoothly. My instructions are all going to assume you’re making the throw-sized quilt, but feel free to do whatever size you want!

For this week’s tasks you’ll need:

  1. Your Color Jolt pattern.
  2. A coloring page. Here’s a blank one. However, there are some modified versions below that might be better suited to your design so read this whole post before you decide what to print!
  3. A cutting chart. Here’s a blank one. Also, all my pre-made layouts (available below) have one with them.
  4. Your fabric. We’re not cutting until next week so if you’re waiting for fabric to arrive in the mail, that’s just fine. You’ll just need to know what you’re using so you can plan your layout.
  5. A printer and paper to print out your paper piecing templates.

I’ll be using Anna Graham’s Driftless fabric collection of Essex linens for my Color Jolt. I’m SO excited to see all of your color combinations! 

 This Week’s Instagram Post & Prize

A few reminders:

  • This is an Instagram quilt along. If you want me (or any other quilters!) to be able to see your posts AND to have them count for prizes, your account needs to be public.
  • Use #colorjoltqal to make sure your entries count for the weekly drawings.
  • Weekly drawing cutoffs will always be on Wednesday nights at midnight CST. For example, the first week starts on Thursday, October 1st so you’d have until midnight the next Wednesday, October 7th, to post your entry for the week.

Week 1: Post a photo of either your fabric, yourself, or your layout and say hello! Tell us what you’re looking forward to about this quilt or about the next six weeks in general. Be sure to use the #colorjoltqal hashtag to get an entry in this week’s drawing! For what? Well….

Week 1 Prize Sponsor: Katie @ Modern Textiles

This is a bit of a two part prize. One lucky quilter will win the cute little fabric bundle below. But Katie is also our longarm quilting sponsor for the QAL, which is a prize for everyone! She’s giving everyone in the QAL a 15% discount on longarm services for their completed Color Jolt top. You’d still pay the normal (very reasonable) amounts for batting or anything else you buy from her and any shipping. ⁠

You can find her on Instagram HERE or at her website HERE. I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any questions you have about using her services. She quilted both of my Color Jolt quilts so you can check out the details of those for a look at some of her work. When you’re ready to send her your quilt, you can fill out her quilting request form on her website and submit it and her address will show up for you to get your top in the mail. 

This Week’s Tasks

Even though you won’t be touching your machine this week, I would consider this week the most important one in the entire quilt process. This week is the quilt equivalent of “Measure twice, cut once.” 

This week we’re making our plan. By walking through the steps below, you’ll finish with a full layout that shows where you’re going to put each fabric in your quilt AND which templates you need to cut from your fabrics to make that happen. Get this right and you’ll be able to kick back, relax, and re-watch your favorite Netflix show for the rest of the quilt along without fear of making any accidental mistakes.

Here are two different versions of the throw-sized quilt to show you two very different layout approaches. The first is my Color Jolt made with V & Co Ombre Confetti Metallic fabrics. This layout required more than the minimum amount of fabric to achieve all the color gradients. (There’s a copy of the layout and cutting instructions and everything below!). The second is the version that my friend Carissa (@blanchelafawnda on Instagram) made from her Tula Pink Homemade fabrics. This is a great example of a scrappy version. As you can see, the directional prints in this quilt are NOT facing ‘up.’ If you use directional prints, they’ll end up turned all different directions. I like the way it looks but if that’s going to drive you crazy, then you’ll want to pick some non-directional fabrics (or buy a lot of extra yardage so you don’t have to be efficient in cutting out your trapezoids).

Task 1: Read The Pattern

First, pull out your pattern and read it carefully. This week we’re going to focus specifically on understanding the layout.

I did a quilt along “warm up” video a few weeks ago that goes over the layout briefly and talks about how it relates to your fabric quantities. I’ll cover the same information below, but if you’re a visual learner (or like 90s-style video transitions and/or want to see the ‘before’ version of my quilting studio that’s in this video), then I’d recommend watching the video first.

Now that you’ve seen my basement studio in all of it’s ‘before’ glory, lets recap:

This quilt is made up of four different blocks. In the pattern they’re labeled A, B, C, and D. These four blocks repeat in various orders throughout the quilt. Each block is made up of one strip of background fabric (the center strip) and two matching trapezoid-shaped pieces of fabric.

Below is a copy of the layout. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the A and B blocks are identical, just turned different directions. So are the C and D blocks. As a result, all the trapezoid pieces of fabric in your A and B blocks are the same. So are the ones in C and D blocks. Your pattern includes a cutting template, one for A/B blocks and one for C/D blocks.

This layout is made up of 8 rows, each with 6 blocks in it for a total of 48 blocks. These can be broken into:

  • 11 A blocks = 22 A/B trapezoids
  • 13 B blocks = 26 A/B trapezoids
  • 13 C blocks = 26 C/D trapezoids
  • 11 D blocks = 22 C/D trapezoids

For a total of: 48 A/B trapezoids and 48 C/D trapezoids.

This week our goal is to pick fabric and apply it to our layout plan in a way that results in 48 A/B trapezoids and 48 C/D trapezoids. So if you get lost in the details, come back to this goal!

Task 2: Design Your Layout & Make Cutting Chart

Now for the fun part!

The minimum fabric required for your trapezoids in this pattern is 12 fat quarters or quarter yards, or 24 fat eighths, or 48 layer cakes. These fabric amounts assume you’re using nondirectional fabrics (or are using directional fabrics but are fine with them being sideways or upside down) and cutting your fabrics most efficiently (as outlined in the pattern). If you want to spend less time planning your layout and more time just going wherever your creativity takes you, more fabric will give you the flexibility you’re looking for!

Whatever fabric you decide to go with, our end goal is still to get 48 A/B and 48 C/D total trapezoids from it.

When you plan out which fabric you want to use for each trapezoid, you need to take into consideration the shape of the trapezoid (A/B or C/D) and the size/shape of your fabric. There’s a page in your pattern that illustrates how many trapezoids you can get out of various cuts of fabric. The big takeaway from that page is that you’ll be able to get more trapezoids out of your fabric if you cut them in pairs (e.g. two A/B templates rather than one A/B and one C/D template). 

Is all of this making your head hurt? Not to worry, I’ve got three tools that will help. They’re all available in THIS pdf.

First–the easiest option–is a 12 fabric pre-made layout. You just assign a number to each of your 12 fabrics and this pre-made layout will automatically spread those fabrics throughout the quilt evenly AND comes with a cutting chart that summarizes how many A/B and C/D templates you need to cut from each fabric.

Second, if you prefer to do your own custom layout with whatever number of fabrics you have but need them to be cut efficiently (e.g. you don’t have tons of extra), I have a shaded coloring page that will help you assign your fabric to your layout trapezoids in pairs (A/B and A/B or C/D and C/D) for efficient cutting. It also has a blank cutting chart you can use to summarize how many A/B and C/D templates you need to cut from each fabric.

Finally, if you want to recreate the Ombre Confetti Metallics quilt I made in the image above, there’s a guide that shows how to replicate it (fabric required, how to cut it out, and where to place each fabric). This one does require more than the minimum 12 fabrics though! Also, it could easily be adapted to use any ombre line and not just the Ombre Confetti Metallics.

Once you have an idea which direction you want to go, print out the relevant tools, spread out your fabrics in front of you, grab some coffee and a pencil (and eraser!), and enjoy playing a little fabric Tetris until you have your layout just how you want it.

Task 3: Print Your Blocks & Templates

Now that you’ve got your layout taken care of, it’s time to do a little mindless prep work. Let’s print our paper piecing templates! This is just printing. If you don’t know how to paper piece, just follow the steps below. I’m working on a video that goes through the exact process of piecing one of these blocks so you’ll have that to guide you through a test block before you have to do any actual sewing!

To print our templates, first we’ll print a test page of the A block. Then use a ruler to check that the 1 inch scale on that page is actually measuring 1 inch. If it’s not, you might need to adjust your printer settings (start by making sure you’re printing using an actual size and not a ‘fit to page’ setting). If that’s all good, then you’re ready to print all your pages.

For the throw, you’ll need:

  • 11 copies of block A
  • 13 copies of block B
  • 13 copies of block C
  • 11 copies of block D

For a total of 48 blocks.

I’d also print out two copies of each of your cutting templates.

Next, cut out each of those blocks you just printed.

Now we want to label each block according to where it will go in your quilt. There’s a page in your pattern that diagrams the quilt and uses numbers (1-8) for the rows and letters (A-F) for the columns. So the A block that is in the upper left of the quilt would be “1A”. The C block in the lower left of the quilt would be “8F”.

To do this, I stack my printed blocks in four stacks — As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. Then I work through the quilt layout row by row, taking the block I need next from the pile, labeling it (e.g. “1A”) and stacking it with the other blocks for that row. At the end I have 8 little stacks, each containing the 6 block pieces I’ll use to make that row. 

That’s all for this week! I’ll be posting tips and tricks on my Instagram stories and answering your questions as they come in.

I’m excited to see what you come up with! 

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