WELCOME to the 2022 Aquarian QAL! I hope you're as excited as I am tor work thorough this pattern together! Below is a lot of information considering the quilt-along as a whole and what we'll specifically be working on in January. If you haven't already, don't forget to grab a copy of the Aquarian quilt pattern so that you can get in on the fun.
Over the course of 2022, you, me, and many other quilters will be working on our own Aquarian quilts. This quilt along is a marathon, not a sprint, so the pace will be pretty relaxed. Each month we’ll be making 2-3 blocks. For several of the months that means making a small and large version of the same block, for other months it’s 2-3 different blocks.
You probably already noticed that January is reserved for selecting and cutting your fabric. This quilt does have a lot of pieces of various sizes, so it’s a good idea to take the time to get everything organized before you begin piecing. There are a few tips that I’ve found helpful towards the end of this post.
The quilt along schedule is below, as well as on page 7 of the Aquarian pattern.
JANUARY - Fabric Selection & Cutting
FEBRUARY - Pinwheel Star Blocks
MARCH - Churn Dash Blocks
APRIL - Log Cabin Blocks
MAY - Ohio Star Blocks
JUNE - Rising Peaks Block & Rogue Geese Blocks
JULY - Geese Crossing Block & Diamond Geese Blocks
AUGUST - Old Maid’s Puzzle Blocks
SEPTEMBER - Shoo Fly Blocks
OCTOBER - Birds in Air Blocks
NOVEMBER - Friendship Star Block & Spare HST Blocks & Nine Patch Block
DECEMBER - Quilt Assembly
On second Tuesday of each month, I’ll be sharing a blog post with any tips and tricks that are relevant to that month’s task. If you haven’t already signed up for the Aquarian QAL newsletter, you can do so here.
I’ll also be sharing my progress on Instagram with #AquarianQAL. I would love for you all to do the same so that we can encourage each other throughout the year!
There shouldn't be any major surprises here. All you need are the Aquarian pattern, fabric, and some basic quilting supplies. I have made a few recommendations below if you're interested.
Cutting Rulers - There are so many sizes and brands of quilting rulers. Below are the four I used when cutting out my Aquarian quilt. Obviously, you can use whatever sizes and brand you want, but if you’re looking for a recommendation, here’s mine:
I prefer OmniGrip rulers to all others simply because I think they “stick” to the fabric the best and prevent slipping that can occur while cutting. NOTE: OmniGriP rulers are green and OmniGriD rulers are yellow. The yellow ruler slip way too often in my experience.
6” x 36” – This ruler is great for cutting those Width-of-Fabric (WOF) strips. My only complaint is that I wish it had a full gird, not just inch lines. I know there are many that do have the full grid, but so far this one has worked well enough for me.
12.5” square – This is one of my most used rulers. You can cut WOF strips if your fabric is folded over twice (four layers) and it’s great for squaring up larger blocks.
5.5” square – I find that cutting the smaller pieces with a larger ruler results in slipping and mistakes, so I prefer to using the smaller square ruler whenever possible.
3” x 16” – For a long time I only used the first three rulers but have fallen in love with this skinny ruler. It’s especially helpful when cutting strips, or when marking/cutting diagonal lines for Half-Square Triangles (HSTs) of Flying Geese.
Wonder Clips – These are one of my favorite quilting tools. Full stop. I use them to keep my pieces organized, in place of pins while piecing, and to help with binding. The name brand version is rather pricey in my opinion, so I use these that I found on Amazon. I’ve had them about two years and only 2 have broken. So they’re great quality.
Project Box – Since we’ll be working on this quilt over the course of a year, it’s a good idea to keep everything stored in some sort of box or bag while you’re not actively working on it. This will help to prevent misplacing pieces or blocks along the way. Anything will do, but I like to use these clear bins form Target. It’s hard to beat that $1.50 price tag!
Picking Your Fabrics
Okay, now to the good stuff. FABRIC! Aquarian uses 5 different fabrics and there are a few ways you can approaching selecting which you’d like to use.
For a more traditional look, consider Fabric A and B to be your “background” fabrics as they make up the majority of the quilt. There are several blocks that have these two fabrics next to each other, so you do want some level of contrast, but it could be subtle. In this case Fabric C, D, and E would read more as your “feature” fabrics. See the two examples below.
For a bit more modern look, you could only use Fabric A as a “background” and let the other 4 read as feature fabrics.
Or really mix it up and make all 5 the “feature” fabrics.
As noted in the pattern, when picking out fabrics, I like to focus on the Rising Peaks block to make sure that my fabrics “work” together. I prefer for Fabric A through Fabric D to create an ombre or gradation and then for Fabric E to pop. Below are the Rising Peaks block for the previous 6 examples to help demonstrate what I mean by that. Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule, so go crazy and play with your fabric options!
Cutting Everything and Staying Organized
GENERAL CUTTING TIPS
The best advice I can give you here is the ol’ adage, “Measure twice, cut once.” And while you’re at it, I prefer to “Measure thrice and cut once!”
Don’t rush the cutting process. No one is timing you and inaccutare/sloppy cutting now can make things difficult down-the-road when it comes time to piece the blocks and quilt top.
Use a fresh(ish) rotary blade.
Whenever possible, it’s better to line up your fabric using the grid on our ruler, rather than the grid on your cutting mat. Your cuts tend to be more accurate this way. Not sure why, but in my experience, it’s totally true.
You can cut your selvedges off before cutting WOF strips, or after. It truly doesn’t matter. (Selvedges are the frayed parts of the fabric that run along the top and bottom of the cut. Generally, it’s about 1” tall and doesn’t have the pattern printed on it. You may also see holes running along the edge. While it’s essential for the weaving process, the texture is a bit different than the rest of the fabric and shouldn’t be used as part of the quilt.)
AQUARIAN-SPECIFIC CUTTING TIPS
Measure thrice, cut once. I know I already said this, but seriously! With so many different cuts, it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re cutting the right dimension.
I find it easiest to cut all the WOF strips for one fabric, then go back and sub cut them in the actual pieces. I only work on one fabric at a time, and clip same-sized pieces together with the appropriate dimension label. (Cutting labels are included in the pattern.)
*Please note: There is one mistake on the Fabric A Cutting Labels. One of the labels is marked as 4 3/4. It should instead read 4 3/8. The cutting instructions, piecing instructions, and piecing labels are all correct. Only the Cutting Labels have the mistake. This mistake has been corrected as of 1/11/22.
After you’re finished cutting out all the pieces, it’s best to reorganize them according to which block they’ll be used in. This makes it so that each month you only need to grab the 2-3 piles for the blocks you’ll be piecing and don’t have to worry about sorting through everything. (Piecing labels are also included in the pattern)
If you wanted to, you could also place the 2-3 piles you’ll need for each month in a separate baggie and label it with the appropriate month. You could even print out the piecing instructions for the blocks and add those to the baggie. Then all you have to do is grab the baggie and get to piecing!
I think that covers it for January, but if you have any questions or concerns at you get started, please don’t hesitate to reach out. And don’t forget to share your progress with #AquarianQAL.
*FAQ: Many have been asking about prizes. I know that some quilt along offer prizes if you post your weekly/monthly progress. I am not planning on offering prizes at that time, but am running this quilt along to offer my support and help guide you through this pattern whether it’s your first quilt or 100th.