A little about stepwells and a lot about the Stepwell Quilt Pattern
The Stepwell quilt pattern is a modern quilt pattern inspired by the famous stepwells of India and Pakistan. This quilt uses yardage, from two different fabrics, to mimic these incredible ancient structures. The Stepwell quilt is an elegant quilt design with a timeless feel.
My first exposure to a stepwell was on my birthday 4 years ago. I had heard there was a famous one nestled in a bustling neighborhood in Delhi, India, not too far from where we were staying. We packed our family into a rickshaw and headed out for an adventure.
This stepwell was magnificent. The farther I walked down the steps the cooler it was, and in India, it's rare to find a cool place outside. There was also quite a few bats. This stepwell is quite famous among young Indians because it has been featured in several Bollywood films and music videos. I love this picture because it shows the contrast of new and old. There are new high rises all around, yet in the middle of all the modern is this ancient stepwell.
The Stepwell modern quilt pattern was inspired by a stepwell we literally stumbled upon while sight seeing in Jaipur, India. This one was roped off and had a guard so we could not explore or climb around in it. But the beauty of it was awe inspiring none the less.
Stepwells are not only architectural marvels, but were gathering place of women and children. It was and is still a women's job to get water for the family. So imagine women climbing these stairs with large jugs of water while spreading the news of the day. I just love seeing history with my own eyes. That's probably why I loved the stepwells so much.
About the Pattern
The Stepwell pattern is a block based quilt pattern which uses two different fabrics to create the design. To get the design to stand out the fabrics should contrast so the pattern really pops. As you can see in the quilt picture above, I chose a dark background fabric and light, low volume prints for the tiny rectangles.
This modern quilt pattern is strip pieced. This makes the blocks come together so much faster. I don't love working with tiny pieces. I am a homeschooling mom of four kids. I'm busy like most people. I like quilts that are beautiful, but don't take forever to make. This is one of those quilts. It has a classic, elegant style to it, but when you break it down, the Stepwell quilt comes together in a decent amount of time.
For starters, only half of the blocks are pieced in this quilt. So think of half of the work already being done for you. And as I said earlier, the other blocks are strip pieced. So you really aren't sewing one at a time. You are making several at a time.
When I first started developing the pattern I spent a while trying out different sizes of rectangles to try to figure out which size would best capture the look of the stepwell. It took several attempts before I was happy with the result. Once I got that down, my pattern testers helped a lot with the correct measurements for the strip piecing. Those pattern testers are life savers.
A couple nice things about this pattern:
- no special rulers required (just a nice straight edge is all you need)
- only two colors of fabrics used (easy for those of us who are color blind)
- two options on how to finish the quilt
- sizes include baby, throw, twin and queen
Details on this quilt:
For my first full Stepwell quilt I used Pure Solids by Art Gallery Fabrics. I had a large amount already of the color Magnetism. I have never used a dark color like this for a background and to tell you the truth I was quite nervous. I tend toward bright colors and Magnetism is definitely not that. In fact my 13 year old son told me it was "off brand". LOL!
Around this time Art Gallery Fabrics (can you tell I am a fan of theirs?) released their Soften the Volume line. I bought a fat quarter bundle of it because the designs are so beautiful and subtle. I ended up using 6 of the fat quarters as the rectangles in the quilt. I used the lighter fat quarters from the bundle. Depending on the picture you can see some of the rectangles might have more of a cream color to them and others might be more on the white side. If you look up close at the quilt you can see the little details in the fabrics. You can find the fat quarter bundle I used here.
If you look at the picture below and then the image of the finished quilt you might notice that the quilts look a bit different. I decided after I finished this top that I didn't want it so wide and I wanted it to better mimic the stepwells of old. So I trimmed off some of the edge to give it the design I wanted. I included this option in the pattern.
For the backing fabric I wanted to stay in the Art Gallery family of fabrics. I chose India Ink Parchment from the Kismet Collection by Sharon Holland. I fell in love with this fabric because it's design reminds me of many of the block designs I would see in the markets in Asia. Except this design has way more detail and doesn't have the breaks in it that a usual block print would. In fact Sharon wrote on my Instagram page about how much work this design took her. She said it was a painstakingly detailed design to draw.
I sent this quilt out to be quilted by Kaitlyn from Knot and Thread Design. To be honest I was terrified of quilting on such a dark color. I am fine at quilting. I'm not the best though. And no matter how many guides I use or lines I draw I still feel like my lines could be straighter. I think I was a little hung up with the quilt pattern and which quilting design would look the best with it. Kaitlyn did an amazing job and I am really glad I didn't attempt the quilting at home.
The binding is also Magnetism. I thought about using the India Ink fabric as binding just because it is such a beautiful fabric. However, I think one of the draws of this quilt pattern is the modern, simple design. I didn't want a busy binding taking attention away from that. So I decided to have the binding blend in with the rest of the quilt.
The Stepwell modern quilt pattern is a classic mildly quick quilt pattern. Don't be afraid of all those tiny rectangles and remember, only half the blocks are pieced. Maybe even make it in some brighter colors just for my son. LOL!
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