Grand Illusion behind the scenes: Creating a big block back

Grand Illusion top.

Grand Illusion top.

Now that I’ve finished the top, I need a back. For the back of Easy Street, the 2012 mystery, I used one of the blocks from the front but blew it up to make a one block back. I liked that and did it again for Grand Illusion.

The first thing I do is determine the grid for the block and draw it on graph paper. This block uses a 6 by 6 grid.

wpid-20150126_115616.jpgThe second step is to determine what size the block needs to be. It can’t be the same size as the front of the quilt because the back needs to be bigger. I also have to take into account that my quilter needs extra fabric on the back for mounting onto the long-arm frame. I need to make the back block smaller than the quilt top because the quilter can’t exactly match them up and I don’t want pieces of the block cut off to make it not square. So, I make the block smaller and add a border. My quilter will do her best to center the top on the back but the borders won’t be exactly the same size when the quilt is finished.

How did I decide how big to make the block? The top was approximately 88″ square. 88″ divided by 6 (the number of sections in the block grid) is 14 and change. Making each section of the block 14″ would yield an 84″ block. That leaves only 2″ of border on each side when it is finished which is cutting it too close for my comfort. Making each section 13″ makes a 78″ block which is much more comfortable.

Uh oh, I just realized I forgot to divide the 10″ difference by 2 when making my borders. I should have made my borders about 10″ wide to provide the additional width the long-arm quilter needs. I was thinking each border would be 10″ plus the extra so I made them about 16″ wide. Oh, well, better too big than too small. If I’d done the math properly I’d have made the grid segments 12″ instead of 13″. That would have made the borders 8″ instead of 5″ which would look better.

To make the sections of the block, I used the leftovers from the front. But, most of the fabrics weren’t big enough to cut full pieces from. What’s a quilter to do? Sew the pieces together until the fabric is big enough. I think Bonnie would approve.

A brown square pieced from leftovers.

A brown square pieced from leftovers.

I only had enough yellow from the front to make one square. I found 3 fabrics with yellow backgrounds and prints in pink, turquoise and green for the remaining yellow squares. How perfect is that?

In the interest of best usage of fabric, I made the chevrons with half-square triangles instead of a single background piece like the front blocks. I didn’t want to have a bunch of large triangle scrap pieces left over.

I decided to do green borders instead of the checkerboard. After I pieced 2 slabs I ran out of green leftovers that I was willing to sacrifice for the back. The rest of my greens from the front were big enough to put back into stash. Because they’re the only fabrics I have of that color of green, that’s what I did.

I found another pile of brown scraps so made a square for one corner. Pink scraps went into another corner and the last 2 corners got neutral scraps. For the other 2 borders I used large pieces of turquoise from the front leftovers. Those 2 fabrics were bought on spec as borders for a different project but were rejected. I didn’t mind using them here since there was still quite a bit left.

Grand Illusion back.

Grand Illusion back.

See others’ progress on Grand Illusion at Quiltville.



3 Responses to “Grand Illusion behind the scenes: Creating a big block back”

  1. Myra Says:

    Your backing is fantastic!

  2. Bev Hernandez Says:

    Luv your big block! Thanks for explaining the dimensions.

  3. Cecille Says:

    Thank you so much for taking time to explain how you built yout GI quilt back. It’s spectacular and a wonderful way to make the front and back relate. I’m looking forward to using this technique on my own GI and future quilts.

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