It is a pretty rare occasion when I know exactly what I’m going to do with a piece of fabric when I buy it. Normally I see a fabric I like, I buy anywhere from half to 2 yards, and then I wait for the fabric to tell me what it would like to become. Clearly the fabric doesn’t speak to me, like an audible voice from God to a prophet. But over time I get a feel for the print, color, motif size and an idea forms in my head.
That was the case with a few Superman prints I bought a couple years ago. My husband was in a quilt shop with me – a dangerous move on my part – when he was pulled from his boredom and spotted two Superman comic book prints.
“Can we get those?” he asked.
When your husband asks you to buy fabric, you say yes. Of course he then asked if all fabric cost $10 a yard when we checked out. I should have said, “Oh no, that’s just because of the licensing fees for the Superman image.”
I wasn’t that witty and he knew the truth from then on.
The fabric sat in my sewing room, prewashed and neatly folded until Saturday morning. My husband and I were getting ready to go see the “Man of Steel” movie. You see my husband is OBSESSED with Superman. We own every Superman movie, he has multiple Superman T-shirts, a book on the history of Superman, a Superman Snuggie. Heck my husband even has a scar on his head from pretending to fly as a child. He flew alright … right into a mailbox.
But as he noted that he felt like a kid on Christmas morning, the pattern for the Superman fabric jumped into my head.
I had one print of vintage Superman comic covers that would be difficult to cut up in small pieces and maintain its appeal. So I decided to use it as one large block. To find out how large to make it, I measured from the bottom of one comic book to the bottom of the same point when it repeated.
The number was 11 1/2 inches, which became the size of my block, including the seam allowance, and I cut 12, 11 1/2 inch blocks from the fabric.
At this point my husband couldn’t take it anymore and I took a break to go see “Man of Steel” with him. We liked it. There was a good story, lots of action and who doesn’t love Henry Cavill’s abs? I also brought my husband into the quilt shop again after the movie to pick out red and yellow fabric to match the Superman prints for the next step.
I measured the comic book panels to see how wide two panels measured, 6 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches. From there I added my seam allowances and fussy cut 13, 7 by 8 inch comic book panels.
I needed the block to measure 11 1/2 inches to match the other square, so I framed the comic book panel in yellow fabric to make it 10 inches square (8 x 2 inch strips to the top and bottom and 10 x 1 1/2 inch strips to the sides), and then added 3 1/2 inches of red fabric to all sides of the yellow (3 1/2 x 10 to the top and bottom and 3 1/2 x 16 1/2 to the sides).
Besides increasing the size of the block, using solid prints to frame the center fabric gives the eye a place to rest, adding balance to a quilt filled with very busy prints.
Now if you’re following along with the math here, then yes, I did just tell you to create a block that measures 16 1/2 inches square, and no, that does not fit next to an 11 1/2 inch block. But now comes the fun part. Tilt your ruler to the side, position it so the corners of the yellow fabric are 1/4 of an inch inside the 11 1/2 inch mark on all corners and cut.
Isn’t the tilted block so much more interesting than one pieced straight on? Plus the tilt echos the look of the comic book cover fabric on the alternating block.
Now the hard work is done and you just have to sew the blocks together alternating the pieced blocks with the solid fabric. I also added a small border of 2 inch wide yellow fabric and 2 inch red squares in the corners on all sides. The finished quilt measures 58 inches square, not bad for a quilt top I started and finished in just one weekend.
Note: This pattern can be used with any large print and panel. But these measurements are just guidelines and may change depending on the repeat of your large print and panel motif. I recommend airing on the side of caution and purchasing extra fabric.
Large print (Superman comic book covers) – 1 1/2 yards
Panel (Comic book panel) – Enough to fussy cut 13 block centers, for me this was 1 1/2 yards and my fabric looked like Swiss cheese when I was done.
Yellow solid – 1 yard
Red solid – 2 1/2 yards (half-a-yard is for binding)