Monday, May 5, 2014

How Do You Make a Rhapsody Quilt?

I used to look at some quilts and wonder how on earth anyone could have sewn them.  On a whim I bought Ricky Tims' "Rhapsody Quilts," then discovered it meant doing a lot of machine appliqué, which I did not want to do so I closed the book and hid it in my library.  Some months later I picked up the book again and discovered that he does his appliqué with a machine blanket stitch.  I loved the look and tried it out with great success on my Bella Bella Blue quilt for the flowers in the center and corners.  I was ready for a new challenge.  Thus began the designing of my own Rhapsody quilt.  I will share an overview of the procedure for the interested and curious, but if you really want to make one of these quilts I highly recommend purchasing the book for in-depth directions as I do not intend to rewrite the book here.  There are no must do your own.  Even my overview will take more than one post.

Initially I cut a square about 8x8 inches from freezer paper.  Size here is not critical as it will be used only for establishing the basic lines of a design.  I prefer a pencil and eraser rather than the computer for this process.  I folded the paper on the diagonal, shiny side inside, and drew a shape on the dull side to form a border line.  Then I drew a few lines below the border line, straight and/or gently curving.

TIP:  A mirror is helpful to see what the design will look like after the mirror image is transferred to the other side. 

When I liked what I had drawn, I refolded the diagonal line of the square so the shiny side is out and used the side of a fork to rub over the lines until they showed up on the empty, dull side of the square.  Remember doing that when you were a kid?  Magic!  Then I opened it up, traced the markings so they were more visible, and I had the main building block of my design.

TIP:  You have to rub the lines with enthusiasm and check often to see if the lines transfer.  They will be light, but should show enough to draw them accurately on the dull side of the paper.

TIP:  Remember that the diagonal line in my drawing is black like the seam lines.  In actuality it will only be a fold line and the elements that cross that line will each be cut in one piece.  Try it.  You will see what I mean.

Each line (except the diagonal) will be a seam so I checked carefully to make sure that all the seams and their intersections would be possible to sew.   It is important to plan out how to put this together, so I numbered the pieces in the order they will be sewn.  I also like to see what the design will look like when I put the four corners together so I scanned it into Illustrator and rotated copies of the corner to see the whole.  Mirrors work too.    

Finally, I transferred one corner of the design to a large piece of freezer paper, or two taped together, to equal 1/2 the measurement of the finished quilt.  This must be a perfect square.  I copied my lines freehand onto the large freezer paper folded diagonally just like on the little square.  I refolded it shiny side in, rubbed, and traced the design to the other dull side to complete the full-size square corner.  I added registration lines so I could line up the seams notches in clothing construction.

TIP:  Allow an extra 1-2 inches outside the border to provide leeway when the quilt is done and ready to bind.  I missed that part of the lesson and I ran into difficulties at the finish line.

Give it try and see what it looks like.  It is fun.


  1. That looks challenging, and I can see why you hid it back in your bookshelf. Thanks for linking up while I hosted Anything Goes Mondays!

  2. I love applique and this looks like fun, I don't remember trying the marking thing when I was a kid.....hmmmmm Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  3. wow, that's a pretty pattern!

    Thanks so much for sharing at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation