Detour was a design I came up with to use leftovers. No matter what quilt I make, I wind up with plenty of extra fabric and generally a couple of orphan blocks. Sometimes they go on the back, or I can make a mini quilt, or I toss them if I’m sick of looking at them. There’s also times where I find this really great focus fabric, but I can’t figure out how to use it on the front. Detour is a way to use all those things. And the name? Well, sometimes I take a little detour from what I should be doing/dishes and do something more fun/quilting.
I’ll start off by saying that this is more of a ‘quilt recipe’ than a ‘quilt pattern’. I’ll give the instructions for the specifics on how I did my Cori Dantini “I Love Christmas” version first. I had the panels as well as a bunch of fat quarters from her previous Christmas lines because I’m an unabashed Cori Dantini admirer. When I happened to spot her at Quilt Market I took it as my duty to introduce myself. I believe my exact words were, “Hi! I’m a big fan of yours I stalk you all the time online not in a scary way but I really love your fabric.” Yep. I’m that cool. Anyway, Cori’s Christmas lines smoosh together beautifully to give my Christmas Detour more depth. The more fabrics, the merrier!
To start, I cut and trimmed the big Santa panel to 14″ x 23.5″.
Next, I cut a total of (72) 2″ x 21″ (or whatever the length of the fat quarter) strips from all of my fabrics. I selected nine strips for the top of the panel, stitched them together side by side, then stitched an additional nine strips side by side for the bottom of the panel. Press.
This is where the recipe part comes in—I trimmed my panels down to 16.75″ unfinished before stitching them to the panel. I didn’t need the extra length, and I didn’t have to pick which strips went where before I had them where I wanted. If you do leave your vertical strip sections longer, you’re going to need to cut more strips for the next section. Stitch your vertical strip sections to the top and bottom of the panel. Press. This section should measure 56″ long unfinished.
Now comes the fun part. Stitch your remaining strips together, offsetting the strips by 1.5″ each time. I like to keep my selvedge end of the strips towards the bottom and offset all the cut edges. That way if your strips are different lengths, like mine, then you have one side that is consistent.
When you press (yes I always press my seams open, less bulk and all that jazz), this is what your strips will look like.
Keep going and stitching and offsetting until you have a giant diagonally pieced section. Now, you’re going to join the ends and stitch it into a loop. Fold it in half, it’ll look like this, and that’s ok. Don’t panic.
Join the ends, still offsetting by 1.5″.
Ta da! A loop.
Now comes the slightly scary part, slice the loop. Line up the 45 degree line on your ruler with the seam of part of your loop. This should make it perfectly perpendicular. Go ahead and cut the loop so that you have one long rectangle again. The magic of making the loop is that you have perfectly even ends; you don’t have to fiddle with different lengths of strips to square off the edge and you don’t have waste.
Next, trim the edge that you were using to offset your strips. You’ll notice it’s the side with the even stair-stepping, not jagged and uneven.
This is where I like to get out my big square ruler. Depending on the length of your strips to start, remember that I used fat-quarters, trim the other side so that you can get the most out of your diagonal piecing. For fat quarter strips, I can normally get at least 13″ so that’s what I used to trim it up. Again, use your 45 degree angle as a guide to try and keep your strips at the same angle.
You should have one long diagonally pieced strip of uniform width, in my case 13″ unfinished. Measure the length of your center panel and vertical piecing sections. If you’ve been following me, it should be 56″. Cut (2) 56″ chunks from your diagonally pieced strip. Sew on adjacent sides of your vertical panel and press. I recommend stitching the side piecing one with the diagonal piecing on top. That way your feed-dogs won’t stretch out the piecing and biased edges as you stitch.
There you go! Your quilting Detour is complete. But be kind to your quilter, and stay stitch around the edge! They’ll thank you, and you’ll thank yourself. I’m sending this off to the lovely Vicki of Orchid Owl Quilts to work her magic. I think it’ll just need edge to edge, let the fabric show off!
Tomorrow I’ll give you the low-down on how to tweak this quilt recipe.