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Sunday, 27 June 2021

Starting with a block

Folded Lockstep quilt

The Lockstep quilt was a bit of an experiment for me. I started with a traditional block and a grab bag of upcycled shirts and a doona cover. If I'm honest, I knew I didn't have anywhere near enough fabric to finish the throw size I was planning, but I went ahead anyway...

Handful of fabrics for the Lockstep quilt

I also decided I didn't want to cut on the mat, but rather with scissors. Cutting on the mat gives me back and shoulder issues and given I was starting this in lockdown, in winter, without being able to get out and walk much and with no access to my physio, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Oh, I didn't bother with measurements much either. Just eyeballed 2 and a half inches and away I went. 

Not enough fabric, no measuring and less than perfect cutting – what could go wrong?

This is where I thought I was headed with the quilt design, but even before I had half the number of blocks required I started running out of fabric. Why didn't I figure out all my yardage beforehand? Do you know, I mostly don't do that when designing. I don't know why. Maybe it's something to do with working with upcycled clothing etc, but maybe I like the challenge of coming up with solutions to those design problems on the fly?

Original Lockstep quilt design

At first I just swapped the colours I ran out of with something similar, as you can see with many of the fabrics in the pic below. A few blocks in I realised I still wouldn't have enough fabric, so I did what I always do when I get a bit stuck and shoved it all in a drawer.

This pic also gives you a good idea of how wonky these blocks are. Just look at those seams around the acid yellow in the top left block – no matching going on there!

Four Lockstep quilt blocks

My next step was to play around with some new layouts on the computer. While I didn't mind the addition of more colours, it was starting to look a bit overwhelming, and the bottom right looked too much like the coronavirus so it got discounted pretty early on. Nothing was quite right for me yet.

Lockstep quilt design options

It wasn't until I took the option below and made it in a few different colourways that I knew this was my most workable solution. Keeping in mind I had one eye on my stash too. Buying more fabrics wasn't something I wanted to do and I quite liked the idea of swapping a few fabrics out if I needed to. 

Final Lockstep quilt design

colourways for Lockstep quilt
Things moved quickly from here. I ended up using three different solid, or read-as-solid bright orange fabrics; there are two different bright blues, though I was able to keep one in Block A and the other in Block B; and I ran out of the acid yellow so replaced it with a darker shade in three of the blocks.

Once all the blocks were complete I had to think about constructing the finished top. Since the blocks were so uneven (as you can see below), I didn't want to trim the down to a fixed size but rather allow some of that wonkiness to continue in to the top construction without it buckling and warping the overall top.
Lockstep finished blocks
To deal with this I lay the blocks out with like sizes near each other and constructed it in sections rather than in rows, trimming blocks and sections as I went to fit the jigsaw together.

I originally had visions of hand quilting this, but since it was due with Make Modern early January that quickly became a fantasy and I sent it off to Leanne at Mount Vincent Quilts instead and asked her to do an Overlapping Crop Circles panto. It was perfect!
Lockstep quilt swirl
So to all those who worry that their seams don't match, or they're not cutting perfectly straight, you can stop stressing right now! I'm so happy with how this one turned out, especially because of its imperfections and I'm looking forward to taking this approach to quilting again soon. It's very freeing, I can tell you.

And my last favourite, wee detail is the bright orange big stitch binding you can see in the pic at the start of this post.
Full Lockstep quilt

The pattern for this throw size can be found in Issue 39 of Make Modern magazine and the throw along with queen size and options for sashing with both (as shown below on the throw size) can be found in my Etsy store. If you're not quite ready to abandon the cutting mat and measurements that's OK as the pattern is written as normal with tips on how to go wonky if you wish.

You can also see Kendra and Michelle's pattern tester versions over on my Pinterest page or by viewing the #lockstepquilt hashtag on Instagram.
Lockstep with sashing


  1. Your process for making this is so interesting! I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to do it, or else if I did, I'd be feeling very uncomfortable about it! It might have been difficult to quilt on a domestic, even if you'd had the time, because the wonkiness might have made it more challenging to quilt flat. So glad you had the longarm option because the quilting is gorgeous! It's a pretty quilt. Good for you to make from upcycled things. That's a special talent, and you have it.

    1. Thanks Linda! Let's face it though, if it had all gone pear-shaped, I probably wouldn't have posted about it ;-) I confess I definitely felt uncomfortable looking at how different the blocks were in shape, but I've just seen so many older wonky quilts and waggas online that I figured it was worth trying.