Prism Quilt in Liberty of London
Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn prints are some of the most beautiful fabrics in the world. The woven cotton is so smooth that it feels like silk. The designs are intricate, distinctive, and insanely lovely. The colors are rich and sophisticated. The fabric cuts and sews like a dream.
My Prism Quilt in Liberty of London is the ideal way to celebrate these extraordinary fabrics. I used Purl Soho’s Liberty Half Rainbow Bundle, which includes twenty-six Tana Lawn prints in either a Warm or Cool spectrum (I used Warm), and I paired it with Moda’s super soft 200-count Muslin. The result is a true heirloom quilt, traditional in approach and modern in design.
This is a wonderful wintertime project, requiring equal parts methodical work and creativity. One hundred and ninety five blocks later, the Prism Quilt may take a little time and devotion, but that’s why we love quilting! –Molly
UPDATE: NEW COLORS
October 21, 2016
We made the Prism Quilt with the Cool Bundle, too! If that’s more your mood, read all about it here.
UPDATE: NOW IN SPECTRUM COTTON
July 31, 2019
Our classic Prism Quilt is back with a whole new look, a true color explosion inspired by our Spectrum Cotton collection. Twenty six extraordinary colors flicker across this quilt’s field, lively and wonderfully capricious! Get started on your own Prism Quilt in Spectrum Cotton with our Prism Quilt Fat Eighth Bundle. It includes 26 fat eighths of our gorgeous garment-dyed Spectrum Cotton. Add the background, binding, and backing colors of your choice and let the play begin!
- Contrast Color Fabrics: Purl Soho’s Liberty Half Rainbow Bundle, which includes twenty-six fat eighths selected from Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn collections. We used our Warm Bundle, but this beautiful Cool one is also available:
You’ll also need…
- Background and Binding Fabric: 2¾ yards of Moda’s 200-count Muslin, 45-inch, Natural
- Backing Fabric: 1¾ yards of Moda’s 200-count Muslin, 90-inch, Natural
- Quilter’s Dream’s Cotton Batting, Request loft, Twin size
- Two 274-yard spools of Gutermann’s Cotton Sewing thread in color 1040
- A Water Soluble Fabric Marker
- Purl Soho’s Rotary Cutting Tool Kit, which includes…
Finished Dimensions: 52 inches wide x 60 inches tall
Prewash all of the fabric but not the batting.
All seam allowances are 1/4 inch.
I found it helpful to have a Print Order Chart of all 26 Contrast Color Fabrics. If I ever got confused about which ones I had already cut or my prints got out of order, it served as a good reference. To make your own chart, just cut a 1 X 2-inch swatch from each fabric and tape these swatches to a piece of paper in the order in which they are folded in the Bundle. You don’t really need the numbers, but I found them helpful to make sure all 26 fabrics were represented.
From each of the 26 Contrast Color Fabrics cut…
- Two 4 7/8-inch squares [52 total]
- Two 3½-inch squares [52 total]
- Two 2½-inch squares [52 total]
Try to keep the fabrics organized by color and size as you cut and throughout the rest of the pattern!
From the 45-inch Background Fabric cut…
- Fifty two 4 7/8-inch squares
- One hundred and four 4½-inch squares
From the Binding Fabric cut…
- Six 2¼ X 42-inch strips. These are the Binding Strips. Put these aside until the Binding section of the pattern.
From the 90-inch Backing Fabric cut…
- A rectangle 60 inches wide X 68 inches tall. This is the Backing Fabric, which you can put aside until the Baste section.
Piece the Blocks
Half Square Triangles
Gather all of the 4 7/8-inch square pieces, both in the Contrast Color and Background Fabrics.
You will chain piece together all of the 4 7/8-inch squares for a total of 52 Half Square Triangles. Here’s how…
Note: Please be sure to also read our Chain Piecing Tutorial, if this is your first time chain piecing.
Using the Water Soluble Fabric Marker, mark each Background Square from corner to corner with a diagonal line. This is the Diagonal Mark and it is on what-is-now the wrong side of the square.
Pinning along the Diagonal Mark, pin each Background Square to a Contrast Color Square, right sides together, until you have 52 pairs.
Chain piece the pinned pairs together, first by sewing ¼ inch from one side of the Diagonal Mark and then flipping around the pieces and sewing a ¼ inch from the other side of the Diagonal Mark.
Once you’ve sewn all of the pairs and clipped them apart from each other, use your rotary cutter and non-slip ruler to cut along each Diagonal Mark. This yields two triangle shaped pieces from each pair.
Press all of these pieces open so that they form a 4 ½-inch square, pressing the seam allowances towards the darker side of the square.
Piece the Medium and Small Triangle Corner Blocks
Gather all of the remaining cut squares (the 104 Background 4½-inch squares and all of the Contrast Color 2½ and 3½-inch squares, 52 of each).
On its wrong side, draw a Diagonal Mark across each of the Contrast Color Squares.
Pin a marked Contrast Color Square to any corner of a Background Square, right sides together, matching up the corners perfectly. The Diagonal Mark should run from one edge of the Background Square to another and not bisect the corner.
Repeat this marking and pinning until you have pinned all of the remaining Contrast Color Squares to the remaining Background Squares. You will have 104 pinned pairs.
Chain piece all of the pinned pairs together along the Diagonal Marks and clip the pairs apart.
Lay a pieced Square out with the Contrast Color Square on top and oriented at the bottom right corner. Trim the corner where the Contrast Color is attached, ¼ inch from the Diagonal Mark. Discard the trimmed corner, or save it for another use.
Press the Triangle downward, pressing the seam allowance towards the darker side of the square.
Repeat this for all of the remaining sewn pieces until you have 104 Medium and Small Triangle Corner Blocks.
Lay Out the Quilt Top
Now for the fun part! Clean a flat section of floor and, keeping the squares oriented so that the right angle of the Contrast Color triangles are at the lower right hand corner of the squares, arrange your blocks into a grid 13 squares wide and 15 squares tall. You can arrange them in any order you like. Note that you can expect to have some squares left over!
I came up with my layout by starting with Print #1 in the top left corner and arranging the pieces diagonally in color order until I got to Print #26 in the bottom right corner. I alternated between using 6, 7, or 8 squares of each print. Once I had this initial layout, I moved some blocks around to make things a little less orderly.
Some other suggestions are to try a completely random layout or maybe lay the blocks out in color order going vertically or horizontally. Or perhaps try starting in the center and building outwards. There are endless combinations! (This is when your Print Order Chart might come in handy. If you try something you don’t like, you can always get the prints back in order by referencing it.)
Pick up and Organize the Rows
Once you have settled on a layout that you like, take a photo of it (just in case anything goes awry in the next steps!). You should have 15 horizontal rows. Row 1 is at the top and Row 15 is at the bottom.
Starting at the top of the layout, neatly pick up each of the 15 horizontal rows. Here’s how…
First pick up the right-most square of Row 1, then pick up the next square to the left and stack it on top of the first, keeping the squares oriented so the right angle of the triangles are all at the bottom right corner of the square. Continue in this manner until all 13 of the squares from Row 1 are stacked, with the left-most square on top and the right-most square on the bottom. Mark the first square with a “1” (for Row 1) and put the stack aside (I kept each of my stacks in labeled plastic bags).
Repeat this process until you’ve picked up all 15 rows, making sure to keep them in order, neatly labeled.
Piece the Rows
Gather the first two pieces of Row 1 (the upper left corner square and the one to its right). With right sides together, pin the right hand side of the first square to the left hand side of the next one.
Working in row order, pin all the first and second squares of all of the remaining rows in the same manner. Once you’ve pinned a pair, stack it immediately on top of the previously pinned pairs. This way you’ll keep the pairs in row order.
Chain piece each of these 15 pinned pairs together, keeping them in row order.
Next, clip the first pair of squares free from the chain and pin the left side of Row 1’s third square to the right side of Row 1’s second square. Repeat this for all the rows and then chain piece these pinned pairs together, keeping them in row order.
Continue to build the rows like this until you’re finished with 15 rows consisting of 13 squares each.
Piece the Top
Press the seam allowances of Row 1 and all other odd number rows to the left.
Press the seam allowances of Row 2 and all other even number rows to the right.
With right sides together, pin the bottom edge of Row 1 to the top edge of Row 2. Make sure to line up the seams between each square as perfectly as possible. Since the seam allowances are facing opposite directions, these seams should be easier to line up with one another. Use lots of pins!
Sew the two rows together along this pinned edge and then press the long seam allowance downward (towards Row 2).
Repeat for all of the remaining rows, pressing all of the long seam allowances downward.
Once you’ve pieces all 15 rows together in order, your quilt top is done!
Baste the quilt to prepare it for quilting. If you’ve never done this, please check out our Pin Basting Tutorial. (When you make the quilt sandwich, trim down the batting after you lay it on top of the Backing and before you place the quilt top on it.)
You can quilt in any pattern you like! We chose to “stitch in the ditch” for our quilt, sewing along every vertical and horizontal seam of the quilt top. To quilt by machine, use your machine’s walking foot and sew right next to the seam. For the horizontal seams, sew along the side of the seam without the seam allowance.
Once you’ve finished quilting, trim the batting and Backing to match up with the quilt top.
Use the Binding Strips you cut to bind the quilt with double fold binding. For instructions on how to do this, please check out our Making Double Fold Binding and Sewing on Double Fold Binding Tutorials!