Playing the Scales: Embark on a Delightful Quilting Adventure

When I first began quilting, I never imagined how much joy and satisfaction it would bring into my life. Years ago, I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine, and with it, a passion for creating beautiful quilts. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with some stunning fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics, and I felt that same thrill all over again. Today, I am excited to share with you my latest quilt, “Playing the Scales,” and guide you through creating it yourself.

Designing Harmony: The Inspiration Behind “Playing the Scales”

A few weeks ago, the wonderful team at Art Gallery Fabrics reached out and asked if I would be interested in designing a quilt with their Bijoux collection by Bari J. The fabrics are incredibly beautiful, featuring both bold and soft prints. This duality inspired me to create a quilt that plays with volume and contrast. As my son practiced his piano scales, the idea struck me: a quilt that mimics the alternating patterns of piano keys. Thus, “Playing the Scales” was born.

Choosing the Right Balance: High Volume vs. Low Volume Prints

When working with the Bijoux collection, I noticed a perfect balance between bold, high-volume prints and soft, low-volume prints. This balance was the foundation of my quilt design. The alternating strips of high and low volume fabrics create a visual rhythm, much like the scales on a piano.


Full Pattern: Click Here


To create your own “Playing the Scales” quilt, you will need the following materials:

  • 20 Fat Quarters (10 high volume prints, 10 low volume prints)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 4 yards of fabric for backing

Additional tools:

  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Quilting ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Setting the Stage: Preparing Your Fabric

Before diving into the sewing process, take the time to prepare your fabric. Wash and iron all your fat quarters to ensure they are clean and free of wrinkles. This will make cutting and sewing much easier and more accurate.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cutting Your Strips

  1. From your 10 high-volume prints, cut 124 strips measuring 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. You should get 13 strips from each print, with 6 leftover.
  2. From your 10 low-volume prints, cut 105 strips measuring 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. You should get 11 strips from each print, with 5 leftover.
  3. From the remaining low-volume fabric, cut the following:
    • 12 squares, 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
    • 12 rectangles, 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
    • 12 rectangles, 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″
    • 7 strips, 2 1/2″ x 10 1/2″

Step 2: Creating Strip Sets

  1. Pair each high-volume strip with a low-volume strip, right sides together. Sew a 1/4″ seam along the end.
  2. Chain stitch all 93 pairs, pressing the seams towards the high-volume print.
  3. Divide your 93 sets into three piles of 31 each.

Step 3: Building the Quilt Top

  1. Sew two strip sets together, right sides together, matching a high and low-volume end. Chain stitch all 31 pairs.
  2. Take the third set of 31 strips and the extra pile of 31 high-volume strips. Sew them together, right sides together, matching ends.
  3. Press all seams towards the high-volume print.

Step 4: Adding the Extra Pieces in Playing the Scales

  1. Divide your strips into three piles: one with 7 strips, and two with 12 strips each.
  2. To the pile of 7 strips, add a 10 1/2″ low-volume strip to each.
  3. To the first pile of 12 strips, add a 2 1/2″ square to the beginning and a 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ rectangle to the end.
  4. To the second pile of 12 strips, add a 4 1/2″ rectangle to the beginning and a 6 1/2″ rectangle to the end.

Step 5: Assembling the Playing the Scales Quilt Top

  1. Lay out 10 strips, mixing prints for a visually pleasing arrangement.
  2. Sew the strips together in pairs, pressing seams as you go.
  3. Combine pairs to form larger strip sets until the quilt top is complete.
  4. Assemble the quilt top by sewing the large strip sets together, pressing seams.

Additional Tips for a Perfect Quilt

As you progress through making the “Playing the Scales” quilt, here are some additional tips to ensure your project turns out beautifully:

One of the most crucial aspects of quilting is precise cutting. Ensure your rotary cutter blade is sharp and your ruler is secure before making any cuts. Accurate cuts lead to better-aligned seams and a professional-looking finish.

Chain Stitching Efficiency

Chain stitching is a fantastic time-saver in quilting. By continuously feeding pieces through your sewing machine without cutting the thread between each pair, you not only save time but also keep your workspace more organized. This method helps maintain a consistent seam allowance and reduces the risk of fabric slipping.

Pressing seams is an essential step in quilting. Use a hot iron with steam to press seams towards the high-volume fabric. This helps the fabric lay flat and reduces bulk, making the quilt easier to assemble and quilt later on. Pressing seams open can also be an option if you prefer less bulk.

Layout and Design

When laying out your strips to assemble the quilt top, take the time to ensure a pleasing visual balance. Mix up the high and low volume prints to avoid clumping similar patterns together. Stand back and view your layout from a distance to get a better perspective on the overall design.

Aligning your strips carefully when joining them is crucial. Even though the seams don’t need to match up perfectly, keeping your edges straight and even will make a significant difference in the final appearance of your quilt. If you’re unsure, use a few pins to secure the strips before sewing.

Completing the “Playing the Scales” quilt is a rewarding experience, both for its aesthetic beauty and the personal satisfaction of creating something unique. As you snuggle under your new quilt, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity that went into each stitch. Happy quilting!

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