Rainbow Bar Code - or how to match the binding to the quilt's colours
I'm excited to show you this scrappy rainbow Bar Code quilt that I finally managed to finish and photograph.
It's the quilt I made during the Bar Code Quilt-Along in October, and the finished top has been sitting around for a little while while I decided on how it was going to be quilted, and scoured quilt shops for the perfect backing.
I'm super happy to say it's finally done, though, and I get to admire it in all its scrappy rainbow glory.
This is the first quilt where I tried to match the colours of the binding to the colours of the quilt itself. In this case, that was a scrappy rainbow going around the outside of the quilt, following the colour gradation of the pattern itself. I'm explaining a bit further down how I did it, in case you want to give this technique go, too.
Bar Code Quilt Pattern
The Bar Code quilt pattern is a modern, somewhat minimal design that comes with instructions for three colour versions and four sizes.
Bar Code is a block based pattern with a nod to the traditional Rail Fence that will help you flex your strip-piecing muscles. Or learn a new skill if you've never strip-pieced before.
The Bar Code quilt pattern is available in the pattern shop.
Since this is a block based quilt, it's also very easy to just add more blocks to make the quilt (almost) any size you like.
Scrappy Rainbow Bar Code
Bar Code is perfect for all sorts of colour variations. The pattern comes with instructions for three colourways - six colours plus background, two-tone, and scrappy.
I knew I wanted to make a scrappy version after I finished the cover quilt, but I didn't know it was going to be a rainbow scrappy quilt until I started to pull out scraps for the Quilt-Along and the rainbow just kind of happened on its own.
I started by using the colouring page and my favourite coloured pencils to work on a rough outline of how I wanted the rainbow gradient to look, before I started to actually cut into the fabric. For the scrappy version, the pattern includes instructions for strip-piecing two blocks at a time, as well as single block construction, depending on what sort of scraps you have. I chose to go with the single block method so I could lay out all the strips on my design wall first and make sure the rainbow was going to work out the way I wanted it to before sewing them into blocks.
We had some wonderful longarm sponsors for the Quilt-Along who were offering a discount on edge-to-edge quilting, so I decided to take advantage of that.
I dropped my quilt off with Heather of Red Willow Quilts, and I love the pantograph we picked out. Or I should say, she picked out a few pantographs for the first Bar Code I sent her, and I had a hard time deciding between two of them, so the cover quilt has one and I got to use the second one on this quilt.
The pantograph is called Friends of P, by The Longarm League, and I just love how it looks. It's geometric enough to match the quilt, but curvy enough to complement the straight lines of the blocks and give it movement.
Credit for both of these photos go to Heather.
I have wanted to make a binding that matches the colours in the quilt top for a long time, but never quite got around to it. I think it was partly out of fear of getting the calculations wrong and then ending up with the colours in the wrong places. Especially in a quilt where the colours and seams are literally right at the edge.
But, this rainbow quilt was just perfect to try it out because there is enough background between the stripes and the edge that it doesn't show if I'm half an inch further one way or the other.
I pulled fabrics from my stash for this binding, and stuck to a very pared-down rainbow of just the main colours. Not trying to make it fully scrappy for each colour, just a yellow strip, then an orange one, a red one, and so on.
Matching The Binding
If you want to do the same, here's how I made this rainbow binding and matched it to the quilt top. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the process because I didn't think that I would need them, so I'm just going to explain it. It's super simple, though.
Start with the colours you want to have in your binding and decide how many you'll need. I'd advise going with longer strips and fewer colours. Of course you could try to match colours block by block, but I think that level of precision exceeds what this "tutorial" can do :-)
Like I mentioned above, I went with the basic colours in the quilt, so I ended up with yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, dark blue, light blue, teal and green. Since I was using my stash, not all of the fabrics I pulled were the same size so I just cut one strip of each colour to start with, and then laid them out along the edges of the quilt, butted up against each other, to see if they would cover enough of the length or if I needed maybe another strip, or a half.
I usually join my binding strips on the diagonal, so I overlapped each of the strips by 2.5" as I was laying them out to allow for the seam, and folded them up and down for the miter in each corner as well to make sure I had enough fabric.
For this quilt, it wasn't going to matter if the seam between two colours landed at an exact spot along the edge, as long as it was roughly where the colours of the quilt top transitioned it was good enough. So, roughly laying out the strips like that was precise enough to see if it was going to work or not. Once that was sorted, I sewed the strips together and made sure to leave both the starting and ending colour extra long so I would have enough room to play to sew them together and make that seam match the colour transition, too.
And the rest of the process is just like your regular binding (if you need help, there's a tutorial here). Line up your first transition where you want it on the quilt, pin, and back up to where you want to start sewing the binding onto the quilt. The rest should fall into place.