By Jackie Hillman
Living in a small town outside of Houston, Texas, known for growing watermelons, I was motivated to design a watermelon quilt. The center of SLICE OF HEAVEN looks complicated, but it is actually made using a bargello technique. Follow these instructions to make a fun watermelon bargello table topper. Information on making the border watermelon blocks from Flying Geese is offered as a web bonus at www.AmericanQuilter.com.
Trim the selvage from one edge of the fabric strips. Use leftover fabric or selvage scraps to make a fabric guide in the order that the strips will be joined. That order is as follows:
|1 – Red #12 – Red #23 – Red #34 – Red with white5 – Green #1
6 – Green #2
7 – Green #3
8 – Green #4
9 – White #1
10 – White #2
11 – Red #4
12 – Red #1
13 – Red #2
14 – Red #3
15 – Red with white
16 – Green #1
17 – Green #2
18 – Green #3
19 – Green# 4
20 – White #1
21 – White #2
22 – Green/white/red
23 – Red & white check
24 – Black
25 – Red & white check
27 – White #1
28 – White #2
Joining the bargello strips
Following the guide order, align the trimmed edge of 2 strips and sew together along the long edge. The opposite selvage ends will not match. Press seam allowances toward the even-numbered strip. Set the strip-set aside. In the same way, join the rest of the strips in order to form pairs.
To prevent bowing, draw a long straight line on your pressing surface with a permanent marker. With right sides still together, align the raw edge closest to the seam with the line. Using a hot steam iron, press the strip-set (fig. 2). With the raw edge still along the line, carefully open the strip-set and press seam allowances to one side.
Match the raw trimmed selvage edges as before and join the fabric pairs together in order. Stitch in the same direction as the original pair sets. Sew the strip-sets together until all 28 strips are joined. Press all seam allowances in one direction.
Cutting the segments
To make a tube, match the trimmed ends of the top red strip and bottom white strip, and sew together. Press. Leave the tube wrong side out.
Lay the tube on a large cutting mat. If the tube does not fit on your cutting mat, fold as necessary so you will be able to cut it accurately. Before making a cut, make sure that seams are straight, parallel, and smooth. Trim each end of the tube so that the strip edges are even (fig. 3).
Starting at the left edge, prepare to cut the tube into widths. Tip: Use one ruler on the left to measure your strip. To make sure the tube is straight, use a second ruler to line up the bottom edge of the fabric (fig. 4). Remove the second ruler to cut.
As you cut, label the segments by letter and lay them out starting with segment J in the center of the bargello and placing a segment on each side of the center as you go. Be careful to keep the red strip 1 at the top of each segment. Cut segments parallel to the selvage:
- Segment J – 4″ wide
- Segments I & K – 3½”
- Segments H & L – 3″
- Segments G & M – 2¼”
- Segments F & N – 2″
- Segments E & O – 1¾”
- Segments D & P – 1½”
- Segments C & Q – 1¼”
- Segments A, B, R, S – 1″
Editor’s note: There is extra width allowed for small mistakes or to straighten an edge. If you make a mistake in cutting, trim the segment to a segment size next in line. If you run out of tube before cutting is done you may eliminate segments A and S.
Turn each segment right side out and fold in half on the seam between red strip 1 and white strip 28. Remove the stitching between patches for the segments as listed.
Refer to your fabric guide and figure 5 to make sure you remove the correct stitching. Note: Figure 5 shows the segment laid out – yours will still be in a tube.
- Segments A & S – between the red strip 1 and white strip 28
- Segments B & R – between white 27 and white 28
- Segments C & Q – between green/white/red 26 and white 27
- Segments D, E, O & P – between red check 25 and green/white/red 26
- Segments F, G, H, L, M, & N – between black 24 and red check 25
- Segments I, J, & K – between red check 23 and black 24
Making the bargello
Following the bargello assembly diagram, lay out the segment strips in alphabetical order. Re-press seam allowances in adjacent segments in opposite directions. Line up green segment patches (for both watermelons) as shown in figure 6 and pin. Don’t worry about matching other seams than those.
Note that the seams joining segments A through D and P through S are offset more than the others to provide a sharper curve for the watermelon slice. Those seams are offset 2 green patches. All others are only offset 1 green patch. Sew the segments together. After all the segments are joined, press seam allowances away from the center.
Straighten your bargello on a cutting mat. Referring to the bargello assembly diagram, trim the top even with the top red patches on the side segments. At the bottom, trim 3/8″ below the seam between the white strip 21 and green/white/red strip 22 on the center segment.
Quilting and finishing
Using your favorite method, appliqué 14 watermelon seeds. Layer the backing, batting, and quilt top. Baste the layers together. I quilted meander loops in the center of the full-watermelon slices and squiggly lines in all other areas.
Sew the binding strips together to make 169″ of continuous binding. Finish the edges of your quilt with doublefold binding. To display your quilt, make a sleeve and sew it to the back of the quilt.
Please respect copyright laws. This pattern is provided for individual use only and may not be reproduced or distributed without written permission from the American Quilter’s Society.