Design an African Coins Quilt
Quilt designer Beth Ann Williams reveals her tips and shows how to design a quilt using ethnic fabrics.
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Discover the joys of working with ethnic fabrics and designs whether it's authentic imported fabrics, souvenirs from travel, ethnic-inspired fabric lines produced by major companies or a combination including any or all of the above. Here are some tips for working with this type of fabric:
- Let the fabric do most of the work. Relatively simple overall quilt designs work very well. Pre-wash all fabrics.
- Even very basic traditional quilt patterns can become exciting when you incorporate exotic patterns and visual textures.
- Large-scale prints can be used in very large pieces while still creating a very sophisticated finished look.
- Don't be afraid to combine pattern with pattern, but do try to have an "organizing principle" or rationale for combining fabrics; i.e. common colors, shapes, lines, or gradations of value.
- It's often a good idea to plan relatively calmer or "restful" areas within the quilt design, especially when using high-impact combinations of color and pattern in other areas.
African Coins Quilt
Materials and Tools:
yardage is based on 42-inch wide fabric
Option One: 1/8 yard each of 49 fabrics for multicolored columns
(this is the option shown in the African version of the quilt)
Option Two: 1/2 yard each of seven fabrics for the multicolored columns
(this is the option shown in the Australian version of the quilt)
3/4 yard light print fabric for the geometric columns
5/8 yard medium or dark fabric for the geometric columns
2-3/8 yard medium or dark fabric (same fabric as above) for the vertical sashing strips and borders
1. Cut strips for option one, from each of the 49 fabrics for the multicolored columns cut one strip measuring 2" x 42". For option two, cut from each of the seven fabrics for the multicolored columns, cut seven strips measuring 2" x 42" for a total of 49 strips.
2. Arrange the 49 strips as desired. Label them to keep them in order as you work then sew them into a strip set. Press all seam allowances in the same direction.
3. With the strips horizontal, fold the strip set carefully and align the bottom fold with a line on your cutting mat.
4. From this strip set, cut three segments measuring nine inches wide each, and two segments measuring 4-1/2 inches wide each.
1. From the light print fabric, cut 17 strips measuring 1-1/4" x 42". Crosscut 10 strips measuring 1-1/4" x 3-1/2" into 108 rectangles.
2. Cut seven strips measuring 2-3/4" x 42" from the 5/8 yard of medium or dark fabric.
3. Sew seven strip sets combining both the 1-1/4-inch light print strips and the 2-3/4-inch strips of medium or dark fabric. Press seams toward the darker fabric. Crosscut the strip sets into 104 segments each measuring 2-1/2 inches wide.
4. Lay out and assemble the geometric columns with 26 strip set segments in each column. Alternate the direction of the segment each time. Sew a 1-1/4" x 3-1/2" light print rectangle in between each strip set segment. Sew a rectangle to the top and bottom of each column as well. Press the seam allowances all in the same direction, toward the bottom of each column.
5. Measure the length of the multicolored columns. Cut filler strips from the medium or dark fabric and sew them to the both
ends of each geometric column so that all the columns are the same measurement.
1. For the sashing, cut from the 2-3/8 yard of medium or dark fabric. Cut eight strips measuring two inches wide each on the lengthwise grain. Cut two strips measuring 5 inches wide each for the side borders. Cut two strips measuring 6-1/2 inches wide each for the top and bottom borders.
2. Sew the sashing strips to each side of the geometric pieced columns. Lay out the body of the quilt, alternating the multicolored columns and geometric pieced columns.
3. Sew the vertical columns together, pressing all seam allowances toward the sashing strips.
4. Measure the quilt top and trim the 5 inch wide side borders to the appropriate length. Sew them to the sides of the quilt top, pressing the seam allowances toward the border strips.
5. Measure the width of the quilt top, and trim the 6-1/2-inch borders to the appropriate length. Sew them to the top and bottom of the quilt top, pressing the seam allowances toward the border strips.
You can quilt by hand or machine. Channel quilting and/or "in the ditch" would be an easy way to go about it; for an additional design element, you may opt for more elaborate quilting. The quilts shown were free-motion machine quilted by Nancy Roelfsema.
Find more inspiration for African motifs by doing a Web search on "adinkra."