Thursday, May 26, 2016

Buffalo-chex patchwork

Trompe l'oeil buffalo-chex patchwork

This buffalo-chex pattern in black, teal-blue, and gray is created by using a cross-weave printed fabric along with black and a coordinating color. I learned how to do this on Shay Henderson's Empty Bobbin Sewing School weblog post titled "Buffalo Check Quilt Pattern". I love this, and think it's like magic to watch the fabrics transform into the buffalo-chex pattern.

The secret is in using a "weave" printed fabric as the foundation of your design. The teal-blue "weave" print pictured below makes the "gray" blocks in the teal colored, buffalo-chex, patchwork I demonstrate here.

 Moda Rustic Weave -- teal color, purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Co.

This "Rustic Weave" fabric looks like it is course woven, but it is actually printed to look like a woven fabric of a teal color with a black background. Other blended fabrics of this type include: "Essex linens", "chambrays" and "cross weaves". The Moda "Rustic Weave" collection features a variety of options; so you can make your buffalo-check patchwork in whatever color you like. 

Selection of Rustic Weave by Moda available in a variety of colors.

Your blend fabric must have this black "woven" feature in order for the trompe l'oeil buffalo-chex effect to work.

I chose the Moda Rustic Weave teal shade shown above because I thought it was bright and pretty and would make a nice contrast with the black of the traditional check pattern.

Henderson's directions called for a basic six-inch square but I cut five-inch blocks using my five-inch wide ruler, just to make cutting easier. I followed her method of using strip-sets to create the patchwork in a quick and simple fashion.

To make a 38-inch square of buffalo check, you will need:

  • eight, five-inch cuts or 1-1/4 yard of the "weave" fabric in the color of your choice plus
  • four, five-inch cuts or 5/8-yard of black such as the Bella Solid black shown below,
  • and four, five-inch cuts or 5/8-yard of the bright color that matches your choice of "weave" fabric: i.e. red to match the red-weave, blue for blue, yellow for yellow, etc. This color should be bright and true with no dusty or gray undertones such as the bright teal shown below.

Bella Solids black by Moda purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Co.
Bright teal color cotton yardage
To begin:
Cut 5-inch wide strips across the width of each cut of fabric to make:

  • eight 5-inch wide by 43- to 45-inch long "weave" strips,
  • four 5-inch wide by 43- to 45-inch long black strips,
  • and four 5-inch wide by 43- to 45-inch long color strips.
Trim selvages and make strip sets using 1/4-inch seams as follows:

Sew two strips of black to two strips of "weave" alternating: black, weave, black, weave. Repeat to make second strip-set of black/weave.

Sew two strips of "weave" to two strips of color alternating: color, weave, color, weave. Repeat to make second strip-set.

Cut 5-inch strips across all strip-sets of fabrics.

Stitch two matching strips together end-on-end, to make four 40-inch long strips alternating color/black, and four 40-inch long strip alternating blend/black.

Lay out strips horizontally, alternating black/blend strips with blend/color strips as shown in photo above. Stitch rows together.

Layout of buffalo chex with five rows completed. See top photo for image of all eight rows completed.

Add sets and rows as desired to create patchwork of your desired size. Add borders, as you choose.

A downloadable PDF of Shay Henderson's "Buffalo Check Quilt" is available online. 

UPDATE Aug. 16, 2016: 46 x 66-inch lap quilt made with two sets of strips as described above. I used the second set of strips to add five rows and one column (two strips) to my original set of strips -- leaving one un-used strip. I sewed on a border of 2.5-inch strips of black, and I plan to add another border in a split complementary color -- maybe lime green. I will probably bind the quilt in the clear turquoise fabric used in the quilt. 

UPDATE: Oct. 8, 2016
Added three-inch chartreuse border and binding made of leftover cuts from leftover quilt fabric. Machine quilted on seamlines with my vanilla Janome using walking foot, teflon machine mat, and quilting gloves.

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