Thursday, 26 May 2016

Bookcase Quilt 'Pattern'

I've finally finished my improvised Bookcase Quilt! Several people have asked how to make it, and it was dead easy. So here are the instructions:

1. Choose at least three different sets of fabrics for three different shelves. How much you need of each depends on how big you want the quilt to be and how many fabrics you have! It helps to have at least one or two fabrics with a text based print.

You will also need bookcase fabric, enough for the shelves and edges (take into account the direction of the grain if appropriate), and a small amount of a darker shade for the places where the back of the bookcase shows behind some piles of books.

I also used a small collection of printed selvedges to make a pile of books. If you have many more selvedges that you've collected, you could incorporate these into your full shelves. You could even make an entire bookcase out of selvedges, as a library of all the fabrics you'd ever used - imagine that!

2. Cut the fabrics into strips of varying widths. If you have selvedges, leave them on. I used between 1" and 2.5". These strips will be the spines of your books, so you may want to think about the direction of the print for at least some of them.

3. If you wish, you can insert 'titles' into some (or even all) of the books at this point. I had a fat quarter of fabric printed as if it were vintage labels, and I fussy cut a few of these and inserted them into just three of the strips. To do this easily, cut that strip the same width as your fussy cut label (allowing for the seam allowance either side when you piece the strip next to others), and then just slash the strip and sew the label to form part of the strip. Alternatively, titles could be hand-embroidered on at a later stage, or you could print your own labels using your printer and specially treated fabric sheets?

4. Sew the strips together, lining up the ends at the edge without the selvedge, and letting the selvedges naturally stagger themselves at the other end. Don't bother pressing as you go, but alternate sewing up and down the strips to minimise a warp developing. Press at the end.


5. At this point, I cut the strip sheets in half horizontally, so that each strip sheet formed two similar shelves of books. One was a neat cut from the matched edges to the cutting line, the other had a neat base at the cutting line but a staggered top with various selvedges.

6. So now I had three completed rows of books (the straight cuts, the bottom three shelves), and three more raggedy string sets! The next step is to make the other shelves by using the remaining string sets and any other bits and pieces, appliqued and/or pieced together with the background fabric. I had three variations on the top three shelves. From top to bottom:

(a) I used most of a strip set as the width of my row, and cut a part of it off. I then added a wide strip of background fabric to complete the bookcase width, and then appliqued a small section of the strip set to it on an angle, to look like a few books leaning up against the rest.

(b) I sewed several selvedges together, topstitching through the selvedge edge onto the raw edge underlapping it, to make a 'pile of books'. I then attached this to the second row as before.

(c) the final row was made up of the raw staggered edges from one strip which had quite a few selvedges in it. If I'd planned this better I'd have made sure I used all selvedge edges on this row! As it was, I had to hand turn and hem quite a few of them. I added a strip of the background fabric behind the top edges and appliqued the whole top of the strip to it.

7. Cut the bookcase (brown in my case) fabric into strips for the shelves and piece together the book rows with the shelves (like sashing).

 8. Baste (I use spray glue), and quilt. I just quilted in the ditch along the shelves and between some of the books, and added a few hand quilted details of book bindings on some of the larger books.

9. Finally, use the bookcase fabric to bind the quilt, giving the effect of the edges of the bookcase.