"Cheater cloth became available in the 1850's. The first cheater cloth patterns where imitation chintz patches. In the early 1900's, other patterns such as Log Cabin and Charm Quilts became available on cheater cloth. In the 1930's, Sears offered cheater cloth in patterns such as Dresden Plate. Double Wedding Ring, and Grandmother's Flower Garden. Cheater cloth is still being produced today and a bolt or two can be found in just about every quilt store."
Last fall, I created a design for a one yard long “cheater cloth” panel to enter in one of Spoonflower.com's weekly contests. Although I am an experienced seamstress and fabric designer, I am a novice at patchwork and quilting. This seemed like a fun project to design, print and then actually try quilting! Since cheater cloth is fabric printed with the entire quilt block pattern design on it, no piecing is necessary. The “cheating” is in the fact that you can skip the patchwork step and go straight to quilting the printed fabric, batting and backing as desired and voila, you’ve got a finished quilt.
Quilting purists might say that these aren’t “real” quilts, but I am not a purist when it comes to these sorts of things. I don’t like too many rules. Especially when we’re talking about making things with fabric. No one is going to get hurt. I just wanted to design a quilt, practice hand quilting and see how it turned out. As chevrons were ubiquitous for 2012, and possibly are for 2013, the design theme for this contest was chevrons. Using an existing collection of prints, I created this chevron themed design:
I’m not completely finished with the quilting yet, and then there is also the binding to add. But it’s going well:
Up to this point, my quilting has really only been piecing. That is, making various pieced quilt blocks to learn more about the design process and what it is about quilting that appeals to me. I've been experimenting and haven't yet completed a full-size quilt. I’ve been wanting to try hand quilting as I’ve machine quilted a few accessory items and don’t really love wrestling large items on my sewing machine. I am quilting this “in the ditch” by hand, following along what would be the piecing seam lines in a real patchwork project. I'm not using a quilt frame. I just basted the layers together and I'm working through the design from the middle outwards with the quilting. My quilting stitches are neither tiny nor perfect, but I am mesmerized at how it is transforming the fabric-batting-fabric sandwich and love the effect. I do enjoy handwork and it is a very relaxing process. The quilted effect is completely different and much softer than machine quilting. I know I will hand quilt more projects in the future.
Creating real patchwork blocks and discovering the beauty in each different design as it reveals itself in the process is really fun. However, I can see myself utilizing the cheater fabric process to test out a quilt design through Spoonflower. It’s a good, quick way to see how a quilt block or pattern will look using my fabric designs. And the possibilities are endless.