Making an On the Bubble quilt is a lot of fun because you get to combine solids and scrappiness all in one visually interesting quilt. I named it “On the Bubble” because of the appliqued circles, but also because the placement of the color values of the squares builds an illusion of a curve where none exists. I made mine with shades of gray, but you could easily convert this to an ombre selection of fabrics, or for a different look you could switch the solids and prints to have a layer of solid bubbles floating over colorful scrappy squares. This will make a lap sized quilt about 67.5″ square.
I purchased a yard each of Robert Kaufman’s Kona cotton solids as listed below. Beside them I’ll list the number of five inch squares you’ll need of each:
- White 13
- Silver 24
- Shadow 28
- Medium Gray 36
- Coal 44
- Charcoal 52
- Pepper 28
You’ll also need 225 circles cut from various scraps.
I used a 2.75″ diameter circle template. I’ve made a circle template and a placement template that you can download and print on cardstock: On The Bubble Templates from CoopCrafts_20150206_0001. I traced 225 circles onto the paper side of Heat n Bond Light. (Numbering the circles as you trace will help you keep track.) Then roughly cut them out, leaving a little space around the edge of each circle. Follow package directions to attach the circles to the back side of your fabric scraps, then trim carefully around each circle. You can use the placement template provided (cut out the center square) to help you center the circles, or if you have one, you can add washi tape to your five inch square ruler as I did below. Then, following package directions, attach the circles to your squares.
The next step is to stitch around your circles. If you want to keep your edges neat and free from fraying, use a zigzag stitch that encloses the edge of the circle. For my quilt, I’ve used a vintage hand crank machine that only makes straight stitches (and doesn’t stitch in reverse), so the edges of my circles will lift over time to give ruffly, textural interest. For whichever method you choose, I recommend this trick to keep your applique from unraveling. If using straight stitches, complete about three rounds, as seen below. Try not to stitch over the edges if you’re going to let them ravel, but let the circles “drift” a bit as you sew, kind of like the first few rounds of a Spirograph drawing.
The backs will look like this, with the thread ends neatly tied:
Once all your circles have been appliqued, it’s time to lay out your squares. Here’s the fancy grid I used, direct from my sketchbook, with the color numbers from above to help with placement.
It may help to start in one corner. Once you approach the middle, it’ll be easier to see and follow the pattern.
Mine looked like this, with a couple squares needing to be remade because my hand crank machine gets grouchy as her bobbin runs low.
Begin stitching your rows together, taking time to admire your favorite fabrics as you go. This was a gift from a friend and I love it!
And although it’s not even quilted yet, I’m sharing the tutorial because several Instagram friends are eager to start bubble quilts of their own.
If you make one, I’d love to see it!