TIPS FOR TONGA RHAPSODY
You are welcome to follow me
while I create the queen-size quilt,
TONGA RHAPSODY by Wing and a
If you would like to purchase
the pattern and/or fabrics, click here to go to my web store.
This is a fabulous
It is not a beginner's project.
But an advanced or "experienced" beginner may do fine, with
some guidance. The designers give a lot of information on the
first page. Be sure to read that.
The cutting is not particularly
difficult. Use a good, well marked ruler and a rotary cutter
with a new blade.
The pattern is written in what
I call a "slop & chop" cutting & sewing method
that I do not care for, but it is more friendly for those whose sewing
skill level isn't yet producing accurately sized blocks. The
instructions are to cut pieces over-sized, stitch them together and
then trim them down to the desired size.
Particularly if you are a more
experienced quilt piecer, I feel it is faster to
cut the quilt pieces more accurately in the first place, sew together accurately,
and be done.
There are a couple of
"glitches" in the pattern. At least one has been noted
on the designers' web site and you should check that for possible
I will mention here the other
"glitches" I've discovered as I work through this
quilt, as well as TIPS I feel strongly about! So check back
periodically to see how I'm doing!
the text here, if something is underlined,
you can usually click on it to see the product I'm referring to in my
Here is some of what I've accomplished so far.
Think of the sampler blocks as
10 INCH FINISHED.
They will measure 10-1/2 inch
with seam allowances.
But they will be 10 INCH FINISHED.
This is important so that you
understand if a block has 5 equal parts, each part, when stitched,
should measure exactly 2 inches.
A square for that unit will be
A half-square triangle unit, traditionally, would start with
2-7/8" squares, which when sewn together, 1/4" each side of
a diagonal center line, will yield two 2-1/2" half-square
triangles, which include 1/4" seam allowances and when sewn into
the quilt, will be 2" FINISHED.
I mention this, as I like to
cut exactly, and accurately, and often use Marti Michell's Perfect
Patchwork Templates for cutting sampler block pieces.
Perfect Patchwork Template Set
B will work for cutting all the blocks in this quilt. Template
Set D has the elongated triangle needed for Block 1. You can
also use the EZ
Tri-Recs Ruler for that piece, if you have it.
You may also find that a Triangle Ruler, like the Omnigrid 96 is
helpful for cutting triangles from strips. In this case,
2-1/2" strips that yield triangles which sew into 2"
Both these techniques, the
Marti Michell Templates & the Triangle Ruler, save fabric by
eliminating the "dog ears" from the shapes cut. When
used throughout the cutting of an entire quilt, this can save a fair
amount of fabric & time by not having to cut off those little
corners of "waste" fabric.
If you pattern doesn't have
one, print an IMAGE KEY and cut and
paste these illustrations to your pattern. If you are a visual
person like me, you will find it very difficult to follow the pattern
The earliest versions of the
pattern did not have this. You can open and print my
version of a KEY here:
I've laid some of the sampler blocks,
Inset Blocks & Corners together
to start to get a feeling of how this is going to work.
It is really turning out neat. I love this
design! Great use for hand-dyed & batik fabrics!
The gap in this series illustrates where the inset block is
sampler blocks 1, 2 & 3, but not in position as shown on the
just anxious to start to see how the rows (vertical) are going to go
also wanted to know how the various inset blocks & corners A &
B and C & D were going to work.
glad I did, as I discovered an error on the illustration of Inset
Corners C & D. The top two units in each stack are
Unit C the Cosmos Blue should be on the left and the green on the
right. On Unit D, the Green should be on the left and the Cosmos
on the right. It just took a minute to unstitch and reverse
these, but I'm glad I hadn't trimmed them yet.
Most of the patterns in
print do not have this problem. The designers noticed
this mistake and corrected it in later printings. So
don't worry if you look at your pattern and it looks ok, it
to what the pattern says,
I suggest that you
wait to trim
the INSET BLOCKS &
until after they are sewn to the blocks and you can trim the
columns straight all at once.
(See my photo above. All the fabric is still on
these units, waiting to be trimmed.)
Tip # 4
ANY BORDERS, measure your quilt, and double check
On page 19, I
calculated (haven't gotten here yet, so may change my
mind) that the center pieces on the sides and top &
bottom units should all be cut 1/2" longer
than is shown on the pattern.
i.e. the Outer
Border center Cranberry pieces should be cut 36"
and 22" respectively, and the Inner Border center
Mountain pieces should be cut 56" and 42"
Tip # 5
There are several different
styles of blocks in this quilt. All are finished 10 inches.
But some are divided into 5
equal parts and some are divided into 4 equal parts, like Block 6
4 equal parts are each 2-1/2
inches finished, and that means you can use Marti Michell's Perfect
Patchwork Template Set Q.
Whenever possible it is
advantageous to reduce seams. This means less bulk, and is
easier on the quilter. The booklet that comes with Set Q is full
of information and illustrations on how to use the rotary cutting
templates to cut shapes needed to reduce seams.
I also used Marti's Flying
Geese Ruler, which cuts both parts of the Flying Goose.
28-page booklet comes
with the Set Q Template Set
The pattern provides paper templates
for cutting the A & B units.
If you are like me, you'd prefer to cut them
with a ruler, to the exact size.
The paper template measures
6-3/16" x 9-1/16".
At this point I suggest double checking the measurement of your quilt.
The blocks have been sewn together in rows,
so measure from point to point of blocks,
add 1/2" (seam allowances) and this is the measurement of your zig-zag unit.
Mine measure 8-1/2" so I am
going to cut the units 9" including seam allowances.
The width is then going to be cut 6-1/4". There is probably
a "rule", but I can't explain the math. This is just how
wide it ends up when the diagonal seams are in each corner of the
My rectangles are cut
6-1/4" x 9".
This is slightly smaller than
the pattern template, but is consistent with my type of sewing.
While striving for accuracy, even stitching 1 thread wider than
1/4" will give you a variance of 1/16th inch in not very many
If you look back to the top of the page, the second
image is of a row and you can get a better over-all view of what I'm
measuring in this next image.
Measure from the tip of a Sampler Block to the tip
of the Cosmos Blue square in Inset Block A. Take several
measurements and go with an average. These should all be within a
small fraction of each other, hopefully, close to 8-1/2". Add
1/2" seam allowances and this is the length your unit needs to be
to fit your quilt.
The width is then
going to be cut 6-1/4". There is probably a "rule",
but I can't explain the math. This is just how wide it ends up when the
diagonal seams are in each corner of my rectangle.
My final units measure 6-1/4 x 9 inches and are ready to be stitched.
I know they will fit, and I know what points I need to
match to which
seams of the
sampler block units.
Since the edges are all bias, take care not to distort while handling. But
they will ease where necessary.
I discourage quilters from
pointing out their "mistakes" to innocent on-lookers!
However, to put your minds at ease, I will add some images here of my stitched quilt so you can see that
some of my zig-zags are "right on", and some are a bit