Friday, September 18, 2015

Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt

*Don't forget to enter my 5 year Blogiversary giveaway!*

It's done! It's done! I haven't made a quilt that meant so much to me personally since Dresden Rainbow. Reading is my second-most favorite hobby besides sewing, and I've been reading voraciously since I learned how. Enter the Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt!

 Posing with my favorite sign from Marden's.

This quilt is an abstract version of a bookcase quilt (in that it does not have a border or super-clearly-defined shelves). I fell in love with this quilt in 2011 on Pinterest (though I haven't been able to track down the maker). So, I started saving my selvages, and finally, with the start of the Selvage Along with Renee (@quiltsnfeathers) this summer, it was time. I rainbow-tized them (this is totally a word now), and, with your encouragement, I used a white/low volume background like my own real-life bookcase instead of a traditional brown.

This is one of those projects you can pick up and put down just to do a block or two (although it's hard to account for hundreds of selvages laying out for days on your table/floor/master bed etc.). At first, I dove in headfirst and couldn't stop. Throughout the summer, I completed one or two blocks at a time.

P.S. Why selvages? Because the names on fabric looks like book titles and their authors (like "Honor Roll" by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit). I used those parts of the selvages as much as possible. 

The selvages are appliqued and sewn on directly to the background fabric (you can see a mini tutorial of the two different ways I used here). Eventually, I joined all the blocks together using partial seams, since they were all different sizes (inspired by this lovely bookcase).

Next: how do you quilt a ton of selvages while preserving their loveliness? How do you quilt a heavy quilt (with lots of applique?). I decided to straight line quilt in all the white space, using my walking foot. It gives the quilt a great texture and it makes the "books" pop out. Then, I quilts one line down each book to secure them in place with the backing. I didn't have to do that, but it made them look more individually placed. This would be a great project for quilt-as-you-go, as many selvage projects are. I did it the long, round-about way, and I'm okay with that.

Then, I wanted to quilt something special on the actual shelves. With encouragement from Instagram, I sketch-stitched (with free motion) eleven of my favorite books in black thread (Aurifil). I had a list of book that I kept changing (this was a very important process!), but these were the ones that made the most impact on me. They show up enough to give those who look at the quilt one more special thing to find.

The books (in no particular order) are:
1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I grew up with Harry and the gang. Changed my life for the better. Enough said.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien - As a teenager, LOTR captivated me like no other series (besides HP).

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - An amazing book that I've used to interest teens in reading, including my own siblings. A wonderful children's story that is really for adults (in my opinion). :)

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Spoke to my geekiness and my high school/college life more than I can really describe.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - A beautiful tale that lived up to its hype. One of those books I've thought about for months after finishing it. I never wanted it to end.

The quilt is bound in Memoir by Violet Craft - an out-of-print fabric that is hard to find. It tells a story!

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Historical fiction, a love story spanning roughly 6,000 pages/8 books so far, kilts, and Jamie Fraser? What more could one want?

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this book this year for the first time. I wish I had had the chance to read it as a high school student like so many others, but this book resonated with me as an adult because I could relate to Jean Louise AND Atticus. Plus, I love history.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Probably my singular favorite book. I love everything about it (Colin Firth included - okay I realize he's not in the BOOK but you know what I mean!).

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This story's twists and turns inspired me as a high school writer/reader.

10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Another masterful piece of fiction. I highly recommend Mitchell and this was the first of his books that I read. He weaves between 6 people and time periods like it's no big deal. It's truly a piece of art.

11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I grew up reading this book (and watching the movie). I can't wait to share it with my daughter(s?) one day.

Oh, and there is one little sewing machine - I felt like it needed just one knick-knack to pull it all together. After all, I keep frames and bookmarks on my bookcase, too (and hopefully a little sewing machine one day). Tracy (@traylas) from the North Jersey MQG helped me decide!

The back is a huge swath of fabric from Burkholders in Denver, PA (I bought a whole bolt for an amazing price). It's from 8 Days a Week by Windham Fabrics - it's supposed to answer the question: when do I read? On the sides, I pieces together large scraps from my in-progress Meadow quilt.

I envision this bookcase hanging in my library and future kids' library for... well, forever. I'll rarely let it out of my sight. Thanks for sticking with me through this process. :)

Don't forget to come back on Monday and link up your Selvage Along finishes!

P.S.S. You can really see the color gradation in a small picture like this one, or from far away! :)


  1. I have loved this ever since you first showed it and the finish looks awesome! Kat@

  2. I have loved this ever since you first showed it and the finish looks awesome! Kat@

  3. It turned out SO great! I love all the details you included, especially how you rainbowtized the "books" and included your favorite book titles.and the quilting really emphasizes the selvages! My favorite parts are the wonky-stacked books. My shelves always look like that!

  4. I just love this. The colors and idea are both so amazing! Books have always been my passion. Before I could read I listened all the time. The only way my mom got me to go to school was by telling me they would teach me to read (my reaction when I came home after that first day without that skill is another story). I LOVE that you stitched out some favorite books. Many of your choices are favorites of mine. I may need a book quilt next. And I am putting Cloud Atlas on my list of "to read;" with such a glowing review, I have to read it!

  5. Wow!!! Im feeling inspired :) So very clever and super creative big thumbs up all round :)

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  7. Thank you for documenting your quilt and sharing it with us. I love it! We are a generation apart as my children grew up with Harry Potter and we purchased and read them as they came out. I am not familiar with a couple of books in your list so must look for them in the library. I reread Little Women and To Kill a Mocking Bird last year!

  8. gorgeous, gorgeous, GORGEOUS! I love the book titles on it so much- actually I love everything about this quilt. It really is a masterpiece!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  9. I love this quilt, and the backing is perfect!

  10. It turned out to be amazing, Jess! I *love* the quilting details of adding in the book titles that mean so much to you, that was a brilliant idea. What a family heirloom that will be!

  11. love your quilt and the organicness of it. (yes that's a word too, I've decreed it). ~As a reader I love the way you incorporated some book titles and a true bibliophile has their bookcases stuffed full of books.
    ps I may be borrowing the word rainbow tized.

  12. This is so stunning, Jess. I love the book titles and that you were able to commemorate them in this way! You really need a shift in profession to librarian (in Maryland... in my system... hehe) Have you read The Nightingale yet? You would love it I'm sure.

  13. This is definitely a labour of love.

  14. I love all of the details you added to this quilt, from the hundreds of salveges, the quilted titles, and the little sewing machine.

  15. You've definitely given this quilt the royal treatment! From start to finish you seem so engaged and in love with it. My favorite is the little cute! And I toss out selvages like they are trash!

  16. Love it! I really like most of the books you included. Except I've never read Fangirl (but might need to change it out now) or Night Circus (this one might have to move up my list).

  17. You must be super happy with this quilt. It's beautiful!

  18. Congratulations on a beautiful personal quilt! I love the selvages - and rainbow at that!! Plus I must agree that Cloud Atlas is a great read - it's one of the few books that I've read that I wanted to carry around with me just to feel it with me and remember what a great read it was. Yeah, I like books too :)

  19. I love your bookcase quilt, Jess!!! I am planning a bookcase quilt for my Librarian sister and am Pinning ideas for future reference.


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