Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Boston Commons quilt fabrics, photo by Robin Atkins Boston Commons Quilt ~
In Progress!

Before beads, in the 60’s and 70’s, I made a number of full-sized bed quilts and quite a few baby quilts, mostly using appliqué techniques. Since then, I’ve only made two wall-sized quilts, plus I've used log cabin quilting techniques for extending beadwork for handbags.

About a year ago, I joined Rainshadow Quilting Arts, the local quilt group on San Juan Island. It’s such a warm and friendly group of talented women, with interests and experience in many types of quilting. How could I not get hooked?

At our fall quilt camp last year, Kitty Sorgen was sewing the binding on her Boston Commons Quilt. Here’s two pictures, one showing the whole quilt, one a detail so you can better appreciate her fabric choices.

Boston Commons quilt by Kitty Sorgen
Boston Commons quilt by Kitty Sorgen, detail
Smitten with Kitty’s quilt, another member, Kris Phillips asked Kitty to teach her how to do it and to help her with fabric selection. As soon as I saw what Kris had made, I was over the top ~ with wanting one, of course. Here is the one Kris made, and a detail showing her fabrics.

Boston Commons quilt by Kris Phillips
Boston Commons quilt by Kris Phillips, detail
Now this is not a difficult quilt to make… nothing like one of Allie’s crazy quilts or Debra’s pieced lone star quilt. All it is, really, is cutting 3.5 inch strips of fabric, sewing the strips together, cross-cutting the sewn strips into new strips, and sewing the new strips together. If it wasn’t for my back giving out at the cutting table, it should be possible to complete the top for a generous king-sized quilt in about three long days.

The quilt is worked from the diagonal in both directions. Here is a grid that I colored with approximates of my fabric colors. The grid came from this fabulous site, full of free grids of various types that can be sized exactly how you want them and then printed. I’m nearly finished with the sewn strips, and to the stage where I’ll sew those long diagonal strips together to complete the top.

Boston Commons Quilt, colored grid, Robin Atkins
Here is a picture of my quilt in progress. It’s complete out to fabric number 10, and I’ve started adding the next set of strips.

Boston Commons quilt by Robin Atkins, in progress
I’ll try to take and post a picture (later) of it at it’s current stage of completion, which is out to fabric number 18, with only three to go. By the way, the fun part of this quilt is selecting the fabrics. Unlike Allie’s recent post about the enjoyable, on-going process with her crazy quilts, for me the sewing part is pure “character building.” Maybe I should try crazy quilting. It would be more like improvisational bead embroidery, which I adore doing, and which is always an absorbing process. Yet, no doubt about it, I will love having my new Boston Commons quilt on our bed!

Does anyone have a good (tried and true) recommendation for a reasonably priced machine quilter? If so, please email me: robin[AT]robinatkins[DOT]com. Thanks ;>)


  1. Robin, why is it called a Boston Commons quilt? I just wondered, because I was there two years ago at about this time.

  2. What beautiful colors you chose. I love how they all blend together yet they're very seperate. Does that make any sense?!!

    I've always loved crazy quilts and I read several blogs by crazy quilters but have never tried any form of quilting.

  3. Oh, I really love the red one.

  4. To Kay Susan ~ The quilt design is named after the Boston Common, a 40 acre park (the oldest in our nation's history) located near the center of Boston. This is an old quilt design. Perhaps the early makers of it lived near Boston, and were reminded of the park because of the quilt's central rectangle, bordered by other colors. BTW, there are a couple of books in print about this design and techniques for making it. I searched "Boston Commons quilt" on Amazon and found two titles available. I haven't seen either of them.

  5. Anonymous5:08 AM

    This quilt is going to be very beautiful!

    Not being a quilter myself (but a collector of fabrics, just in case ...), I admire this art greatly. What I don't understand: What is so easy about a Boston Commons Quilt in particular? Sewing strips, cutting them, piecing them together, doesn't all that need an awful lot of planning and very precise measuring, sewing and cutting?

    Thank you for providing links. Maybe the picture of your finished quilt and reading more about the subject in other places will get me started ...


  6. Oooo, this is my kind of sane quilt... lots of great colors and a pattern that looks intricate and hard but isn't. Lovely! I see one of these in my future!

  7. Anonymous6:33 AM

    Piecing is always the hard part of any quilt for me. I'm far better at making a sketch and just going from there. So called, art quilting, is my thing. I can appreciate that you are working to get all the squares to line up. Now the color choices make sense to me and are really going to be lovely. Can't wait to see the top done.

    I do what is called 'First Saturday' here in town at a quilt store. We have to be there before 9:00 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month with a finished block and then we get the next block free with the pattern and the fabric and if necessary the cutting chart. I chose to do the embellishing and bonus blocks this year and get several applique blocks and the borders and binding, which sad to say, I have to pay for extra, but it will be a lovely quilt top when I'm finished. Unfortunately, I still have one from a couple of years ago that I'm still quilting by hand. I may have to have this new one done by a commercial quilter. Sigh! But it will be a lovely quilt when I'm done.

    A whole day of cutting would wipe me out. I'm off to the basement and doing my last block for the month. I feel so noble just doing two piecing blocks! I can imagine a whole quilt of piecing! I'm totally impresseed.

  8. Robin, this is wonderful and will be so worth it when you are finished...but it not your natural mode of working, for sure. (You're doing a great job, though!) Crazy quilting would be a more natural fit for you for sure, and I am just waiting for you to get your toe in the water...You can't sleep under those, though. Too many beads to get caught in your hair!

    Thanks for posting the lovely quilts.....

  9. What a beautiful color scheme. Thank you for the pics, the colors are very inspirational...something to jump start my day!

  10. Anonymous7:22 AM

    Nice colors!!

    And, I wuz gonna say- the Boston Common looks nothing like that. LOL

  11. Robin, as always your work is stunning and I wish my talent extended beyond admiring others beautiful gifted art.

    So pleased to be back here after being ill and look forward to many lovely pieces on your blog to admire.

    have a lovely day.

  12. I hear what you're saying about character building. I feel the same way when it comes to piecing.

    My favorite parts are designing, & quilting. & I want the quilting to show, so I don't do a lot of piecing.

    I enjoy crazy quilting too for hand work. I love to embellish.I guess that makes me something of a show-off, doesn't it.

    Thanks for supporting my idea of painting the carpet. My DH was not keen on the idea, but I think it may be my only solution. The splotch seems to be getting darker every time I look at it!

  13. Oh my, it isn't fair we only have one lifetime. There are so many things it would be wonderful to do -- Including the Boston Commons Quilt. What you have done so far is lovely and your fabric choice fantastic. Love it.

  14. Anonymous9:59 AM

    As I work on my "Quilt in a Day" (or as someone said... Quilt in a Month) version of the Boston Commons Quilt, I have such admiration for your version and the amount of work that goes into this quilt.

  15. Do you think it will work with 2.5 inch squares. Have to use an ACCUQuilt.

  16. Yes, it works with any size squares. :)


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!