Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hidden Spools Free Pattern from The Whimsical Workshop

Hidden Spools

This month’s project started as a challenge. We were sent the brand new GO! Spool Die (6” Finished) and asked to come up with other ways to use it. I approached the project like a puzzle. First I had a Fat Quarter Bundle of Chroma from Andover fabric.  I knew the wanted to quilt to have a fresh modern look and this beautiful batik collection fit the ticket. I also wanted the colors to pop out and shine, so I chose to use black as the background fabric.
To begin with, I did not work out the design before starting, this was a stretch for me. Usually by the time I am ready to cut the fabrics, I know exactly what I am up to. This time I wanted to experience the puzzle aspect of the project. So I cut all the shapes on the die from all of the colors in my fat quarter bundle. I repeated with a couple layers of black fabric for the background. Now it was time to play and happily this project needed to be done while I was at a lovely quilt camp for 5 days, so I had plenty of time to play!
First I had to sort all the pieces and parts into piles. Then I laid out several different combinations from the parts I had cut. Below is a graphic showing you what the original layout was for this die and the combinations I decided on for this project.
So now you can see the secret behind the project name “Hidden Spools”. Once I had the blocks figured out, I realized I needed a lot of 1-1/2” finished half square triangles from the background. So I got out my favorite Go! Qube set-6” finished and used the correct die for the background triangles. Note this die is cutting the same size small triangles as on the spool die, but using the die from the GO! Qube set cut down on the amount of fabric needed just to get these triangles.
So now it was time to start assembling the blocks, I started with the easiest part first. I paired up the small rectangles into pairs and then created them for the centers. I am a pattern girl who usually struggles with scrappy so I made my block centers uniform. But you will notice when follow our instructions, you will have extra pieces and parts when die cutting this project, so sky’s the limit. If you are a scrappy girl at heart, mix it up and have fun with all the colors to make the block centers scrappy.
Now for the behind the scenes story, since I did not plan anything to start with, once I made the bar centers, I realized I did not have enough centers for all the frames I had cut. So now what? I am camp and I only have the pieces I cut with no extra colored fabric, but I did have a lot of background fabric available. SO choices! I could make a smaller quilt or figure out what to do with all the little triangles I had die cut and did not need. So I came up with a second center block. I created Diamonds with the background.
Next design decision… pairing up the colors in the centers with the frame colors to complete the blocks. This took me alittle while and it truly tested this non-scrappy girl skills, but eventually I had all the blocks made. I also decided to turn half of the bar centers vertical rather than all of them being horizontal. It seemed like a good idea to the time, but more on that later.
Now I decided to lay out all the blocks to make the quilt top. I know I wanted to add background sashing to the quilt layout to frame each beautiful block. Then I added corner stones in between the sashing strips to help break up all the black and help carry the colors throughout the design.
Now I realized I had created a box that I had to get out of. Originally I had decided to alternate the diamond center blocks with the bar center Blocks. But as I mentioned above, I had decided to rotate half of the bar blocks to run vertically. Now I had this strange layout where the alternating bars did not tell the story I wanted. I had to go back to the drawing board for the layout. I could “live” with it, change the vertical bars back to horizontal, or change the plan. Well with ripping on the line guess what I choose to do……
I took down all the blocks and played with the layout until I was happy. What made me happy was having the vertical columns of diamond center blocks, alternating with columns that had the vertical and horizontal bar blocks, that in turn alternated down the column. Complicated but it did finally make me happy with the layout and no ripping was involved with this solution.
For someone who has designed quilts digitally and rarely just plays with her fabric. This project was so much fun, I had to stretch and grow with the project as it took shape. I have to admit usually I am under such tight deadlines, that this method would not work for most of our projects at work. But for one weekend in August at Bear Cabin Inn surrounds by wonderful and amazing quilters that I am so lucky to call friends, I got to play and I am really proud of the end result. 
So now that all the work is done, I have created a pattern for both die-cutting and traditional cutting. The pattern for this month’s project is free from The Whimsical Workshop. You can download the free pattern at along with our past free patterns. I hope you have enjoyed the story behind the quilt and remember to take time to play! I know I will try to make more time for this going forward.  
As always please send along your projects to us at and we can add you to our bragging rights page on our website.
Make sure to visit my blog each month where I will share with you some tips and tricks on cutting and assembling of the project of the month along with posting the free pattern on our website The Whimsical Workshop You can also see our pattern and post at
Until next time…..