Friday, May 29, 2020

Castles on the Horizon - a quilt pattern tutorial

This my Castles on the Horizon quilt that I designed and was featured on the Moda Bakeshop in November 2014.  I've had a few requests for the pattern recently because it's no longer available on the Moda site so I'm posting it here for you.
This was my first project for the Bakeshop and I was so excited that this design turned out exactly as I imagined it would.
This quilt came about after I had one of those "light bulb moments".  I was flipping through a quilt block book, came upon a Castles in Spain block and thought it would be the perfect block to use with Kate Spain's Horizon line.  I named it Castles on the Horizon as a play on words.
This quilt was a challenge to see if I could make the blocks only using Half Square Triangles instead of the typical Flying Geese and although it does take a bit of effort, the results were definitely worth it.

To make your own version of Castles on the Horizon you'll need:

- 4 charm packs or 164 charms in your chosen color palette.  Each block uses 8 charms and the rest are used for the outside border. (Note: you might want to have a few additional charms available for the outside border if you want to have a planned color layout as I have done).

- 3 solid charm packs or 2 yards of a solid fabric cut into (96) 5" x 5" squares

- 1 yard of a solid color for the inner border

- 5 1/2 yards for the backing

- 3/4 yard for the binding
* An important note before you begin: I recommend that you press all seams open for this project.  There is quite a bit of bulk in some of the seams when sewing parts of the block together and pressing all of your seams open will help minimize that as much as possible.  Back tacking at the start and end of each seam when assembling the block is also recommended.

Each Castles in Spain block requires:

- 6 print charms in the same color way
- 2 charms in a contrasting color way for the corners
- 8 white charms

Begin by sorting your charms in the groupings you wish, making sure that the 2 charms for the corners strongly contrast with the charms for the rest of the block.  Here are my groupings.  I used 6 charms in the same color way for each block plus the 2 charms of the same print in a different color way which will be the corners.  You'll need groupings for 12 blocks and the remaining 72 print charms (68 if you aren't using charm packs) should be set aside for the outer border.  For the blocks you'll need a total of 96 print charms and 96 white charms.
The first step is to make 96 Half Square Triangle (HST) blocks.  On each of the White charms, draw a line from corner to corner with your preferred making tool.  I always use a purple disappearing marker or you could use the new 1/4" Diagonal Seam Tape created by Cluck Cluck Sew.  That would have been really helpful if it existed when I made this quilt.
Pair up each of the White charms with a print charm and using the drawn line as your guide, sew a seam 1/4" to the left of the line.  Chain piecing is a fast way to complete this step for all 96 pairs.
Turn the charms around so that the stitch line you just complete is on your right and again, using the drawn line as a guide, sew another seam 1/4" to the left of the line.  Again with more chain piecing, you will have this done in no time.
Using a ruler and a rotary cutter, cut each HST apart on the drawn line, down the center of your two lines of stitching.
Press the seam open on both the back and then on the front, taking care not to distort the bias edges. (Wow, my ironing board cover back then was a wild print).
 Trim and square up your blocks to measure 4 1/2" x 4 1/2".
Before sewing the HST blocks together, lay out your pieces to check for correct orientation and color placement.  Using your preferred method, pair up/mark/stack each pair of blocks for sewing.
Nest the two centers of the ends of the HST and pin in place.
Sew each pair together using a 1/4" seam, taking care to not let the back seams fold over.
Again, press all of the seams open.
Careful pressing of the blocks will ensure they fit together better in the future steps.
To make sure you haven't accidentally turned a block in the wrong direction while sewing it to it's mate, again lay out your pieces to check for correct orientation and color placement.
Don't ask me why I recommend this.
Match up the center corners of the HST to match up the seam lines and then sew together the two double HST pairs to complete each row.
Once more, double check the placement before sewing the rows together.
Then sew row 1 to row 2 and row 3 to row 4.
Go slow when sewing through the intersecting seam of the 4 HSTs unit since this area will have quite a bit of bulk. Slower sewing will also help ensure perfect points.
This is a completed block.  It should measure 16 1/2" square.
Make 12 blocks.  Lay out your blocks in a pleasing design and sew the blocks into 4 rows of 3 blocks each, matching up your seams as you did before.
Sew the rows together, row 1 to row 2 and row 3 to row 4 and finally sewing the 2 halves of the quilt top together to form the quilt center.  It should now measure 48" x 64"
Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the next step of adding the inner border, but it's pretty straight forward. 

From the solid yardage cut 8 strips 4 1/2" by the WOF for the inner border.  Piece together 2 strips, trim to 64" long and sew to one side of the quilt.  Repeat on the other side.

Then piece together 2 more strips, trim to 56" and sew to the top of the quilt.  Repeat on the bottom.  Your quilt now should measure 56" x 72".

To make your final border, you will make 68 HST from your remaining charms.  I wanted to do a specific color planned border for my quilt and you can choose to do the same if you like.

To plan out my borders I actually found it easier to cut my charms in half on the diagonal to create triangles and then I was able to move the pieces around as I wanted in order to create the color plan I was going for.

You could also create your borders in either 1) a scrappy HST layout, not worrying about the color placement or 2) a planned color layout, placing the same colors next to each other to create the larger triangles. It's totally up to you.
Each side border will require 18 HSTs and the top and bottom borders will require 16 HSTs each for a total of 68 HSTs.  You should have 4 charms leftover if you are using charm packs.  

If you used triangles like I did to plan your borders, sew each of the 2 pieces into HST blocks and then double check your placement and orientation by laying them out before sewing the blocks into rows.  Attach the 2 side borders first and then attach your top and bottom borders.

Ta Da!  You now have a completed quilt top that measures 64" x 80".
Layer your quilt top with batting and backing and quilt as desired. At the time, I had another quilt on my frame so I couldn't quilt this with my longarm.  I also wanted to keep the quilting really simple so I quilted it on my domestic machine Lucy with easy straight lines.  The overall effect when it was done was perfect.
The backing was a Moda Marbles print and I loved the way the sun that day shone through from the front giving it this stained glass appearance.
I hope you enjoy making your own version of my Castles on the Horizon quilt and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.  This quilt lives on the back of one of the couches all year round so it gets a ton of use by my kids.  It has become ultra sofa and snugly and it's definitely been loved a lot over the years.
If you want some additional inspiration, stay tuned for my next post where I'll share some pictures of this quilt pattern made by others. There are many beautiful versions that have been completed so far and there was even a group of friends that made it as a quilt along. 


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