Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Beginning to build

Hi everyone! How is your week going?  So far, it's yet another busy week around here.  To top everything, the hubs had some serious dental work this morning, but the wifi in the waiting room was not good for writing a blog post, which is what I had planned to do while waiting.  In fact, it was not good for much, so I had a totally unproductive time and learned waaay too much about various celebrities from the magazines they had.  (Who dresses them? Seriously.)  He came out fine, but a little loopy.

After all that, I have a new project to share today.  For some time I've been planning to build a free-pieced barn, as detailed in Julie Sefton's great book Build a Barn, No Pattern Construction.  Those quilts are awesome!  My problem is that I don't like barns.  But I do like churches, and I'm especially fond of this little chapel:

This is the Joan of Arc Chapel on the campus of Marquette University.  It has a great backstory--originally built in France in the 15th century,  it was eventually deconstructed and shipped to the US, and later made its way to the Marquette campus in the 1960s.  It's still used daily for Mass and is one of the oldest buildings in continuous use in the US.  It's also really charming inside.  You can read more about it HERE, plus see pictures of the reconstruction process.

This little chapel (and it is pretty small) really means a lot to me in a lot of ways. I have this picture framed and in my office so that I can see it every day. Besides the sentimental attachment, it also looks like a good candidate for a first foray into free-pieced construction--it's simple, with clean lines and few details, but is interesting enough to make a fun quilt. There are also literally hundreds of pictures of it from every angle on the Internet. Maybe I'll try flying buttresses another time, but for now this looks like a good bet.

Here are the fabrics that I pulled for this project:

Most of these did not work at all once I started, though the flowers will be very helpful.  Julie says to start with a detail, and don't start too small, so I started with the doors.  First I put a little tiny black strip in between two brown ones to make two doors:

The doors on the chapel are pretty tall, so I made this longer than necessary.  The next step was to add the batik for the stonework around the doorway.  If you look closely, you'll see that the tops of the doors are slightly rounded, so I added small triangles to the top edges to round them off:

The triangle should go under the strip, not over it.

Yeah, that was a bonehead move.  I ripped it and fixed it, then added the strips to the top and sides, then trimmed the bottom to the correct size for the piece. So far, this measures about 9 by 10.  I left the sides and top wide to give myself room to get the proportions right when I add the top and sides of the chapel.

And this is where my project stalled for a bit.  I realized that the fabric that I chose for the body of the chapel doesn't contrast enough with the stonework fabric.  It looked fine when I bought it and when I put them together, but now that the doors are stitched I just don't like it. The next step is to add the trianglular pieces above the doors, but I can't do that until I figure out the main fabric.

I'll either have to find a lighter color for the main part of the chapel or something weightier for the stonework.  Actually, I'm thinking of using the current stonework fabric for the body and getting something else for the stonework.  I'll take the door piece with me when I go shopping and see if I can work it out.  I happen to have a plan to shop with a friend this weekend, so by next week I should be back to building.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this, fabric choices aside.  It was not as hard as I thought it would be, though there are some things to still work out.  I have high hopes!  At least until I get to the steeple. . .

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Sharing at Linky Tuesday and Let's Bee Social.


  1. What a beautiful little chapel, and a great inspiration for a project! I can imagine that choosing the fabrics can be the trickiest part of the whole thing, but it seems like you have a good start!

  2. It's a great start, and it's funny how what you think will work great when you choose fabrics suddenly doesn't look so hot when you start sewing it all together. You'll figure it out!

  3. What a great undertaking! It will be beautiful when finished. I'm going to enjoy watching it go together! What fun!

  4. I think you have the right idea for using the current stonework fabric as the chapel walls. In the photo of the chapel the stonework around the door is darker than the wall. This looks like it will be quite a challenge.

  5. Oh, this is going to be wonderful. I already love that nifty little strip that defines the doors. I think the stonework color will look great as the main color--with a more grayish tone for the stonework. Isn't it amazing how fabrics change right before your eyes depending on what they're next to? It's a fabric plot to get us to collect more of them.

  6. Wow, this is wonderful Mari, from actual church (I LOVE stuff like that! There is something similar in either Quebec I believe, a deconstructed and then reconstructed church or smaller part of a church...I'll have to have a think and look back at photos of school trips I did with my students. Anyhow, the fabrics are looking great--like Janine said, it's amazing how they change depending on what they're next to. Much like our granite which now looks pink when husband tore off the white beadboard to reveal pale pink plasterboard beneath! ack! Ah well, it will get mudded and sanded and painted. Will be watching to see your church construction, here and on Instagram.

  7. You are so amazingly talented! I love how you're making a quilt from an actual building! So pretty! One day, when I grow up, I'll do the same! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Hooray for you for giving this a go! And you are SO right about how the fabrics you THINK will work end up not working as well as you'd hoped. Happy shopping for replacements and please don't forget to also shop your stash and scraps. You might be surprised at what ends up working . . .

  9. Oo, a quilty chapel building! Very cool interpretation of the free pieced barn thing. I can see some interesting use of bright fabrics for stained glass windows in the future, perhaps.

  10. I really like your subject matter for this project. Hope you found the perfect fabrics last weekend.


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