Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

Gigi 225px Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi KhalsaWelcome resident blogger, quilt designer and McCall’s Quilting and McCall’s Quick Quilts Associate Editor, Gigi Khalsa! Gigi‘s quilt, Chalkboard, is featured in the McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017 issue. Gigi used novelty prints for this adorable baby quilt, which she paired with coordinating prints to create eye-catching quilt block frames. She also used a technique that gives the look of mitered corners without all the work! This wonderful technique is included with the quilt pattern. Read on, and don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Hi there! Thanks for joining us on the McCall’s Quilting Blog! Today, I’d like to talk a bit about my quilt Chalkboard, featured in the McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017 issue. I don’t know about you, but opportunities to make baby quilts are coming thick and fast for me these days! When I hear that a friend or family member is expecting, I immediately start thinking of what kind of quilt to make for them. It’s really fun, but sometimes the quilt needs to be made really quickly, which limits the kinds of patterns and techniques I can use.

chalkboard style 1500px 300x300 Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

Chalkboard Baby Quilt

chalkboard flat 1500px 293x300 Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

Designed by Gigi Khalsa

Once I got the general idea for Chalkboard sketched out and planned, it was very quick to sew. I credit that to the way I decided to sew it. The quilt block combines the idea of a Log Cabin block with the look of mitered borders. The way I constructed it was to stitch strips to a half-square triangle, then trim the strips so that there are basically two diagonal halves of a block which are then joined. There are multiple ways to make this block, which I’ll share below, but there are a few good reasons I went this easy trimming route.

chalkboard ht3 300x267 Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

Mitered corners look great, but they’re a little fussy when you’re trying to make something quickly. So, to make things easier, one could replace the miters with triangle-squares as shown below. It’s more cutting and piecing to do it this way, but could be considered easier by some. Remember to add ⅞” to the short finished side of the triangle-square to get the cut size, if you want to go this route.

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Alternate block construction #1

Or, one could strip piece and cut segments to the size of the center triangle-square, then add pieced units to each corner. Look at the pieced square, cut diagonally, that could substitute for the mitered corner! It’s a neat idea, and I like the idea conceptually, but it seems like this method would be quite a bit more work, ultimately, than the way I made it (and more math to figure out what size that pieced square should be).

scanned image 2 300x227 Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

Alternate block construction #2

I’m discussing these theoretical construction methods simply to demonstrate that there is no set way to do most things in quilting. Once an idea is formed, that’s not the end of it—one still needs to figure out how to turn that idea into a reality.

The main reasons I went with my construction method are pretty simple and probably relatable. I really like the clean, uninterrupted seamless strip going directly into the miter, plus I didn’t have a whole lot of those green-and-white prints framing each block. The more seams that were in the block, the more patches I would have to cut, and the more fabric is hidden in those seams rather than sitting prettily on the quilt top.

As shown above, I could use different piecing techniques to achieve the same effect, but frankly, more piecing equals more time and more work, so that’s one big reason I like my construction method. Another reason was the amount of fabric I had. The pattern calls for ⅞ yard for each print, and I had a ½ yard each. I made a practice half-block with scrap fabric and determined the very shortest I could make those strips and still have enough to trim them diagonally. I don’t remember the exact lengths, but that is a tip if you have a little less than the recommended amount of fabric—make a practice block and decide what you might do differently, if anything.

The recommended yardage for Quick Quilts patterns tends to be forgiving, in case it shrinks during pre-washing, or if you make a cutting mistake or two, so it’s useful to read each pattern before starting and figure out where you can make adjustments that suit your particular needs. So, while I was able to get away with less fabric, there was zero room for error in cutting, and so that was another reason for my construction plan.

One traditional tool that helped with my less-than-traditional approach was using starch. I don’t always use it because it takes extra time, but since I sprayed my novelty print fabrics with starch before cutting them in half diagonally, I was able to control the bias a little better and prevent it from stretching out while I worked on my blocks. Try it if you make this pattern, it helps!

Even the simplest patterns provide lots of food for thought if you consider them beyond the surface. Though thinking of different ways to make the same block is just a thought exercise, and nothing more, it helps because it makes me pull on all of my previous quilting knowledge to solve a new quilting problem. It could even be a route to new ideas and new designs because of the different methods and ideas I had to access to come up with a single solution.

Well, that’s a lot to say about a cute, simple baby quilt that’s fast and fun to make! Fast and fun can spur serious thoughts on the nature of patchwork itself if you put your mind to it. I hope you’ll give this pattern a try, however you decide you’d like to make it!

Thanks so much, Gigi! As Associate Editor of McCall’s Quilting and McCall’s Quick Quilts, Gigi would like to give away the latest issue of each! Leave a comment below before midnight March 16, 2017 and you’ll be entered into our random drawing to win McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017 (featuring Chalkboard) and McCall’s Quilting May/June 2017. The winner will be notified by email with subject line beginning YOU WON.


If you’d like to make your own version of the Chalkboard quilt, and don’t yet have a copy of the McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017 issue, you can order print and digital versions in our online shop. The Chalkboard quilt pattern is also available separately as an instant digital download.  

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33 Responses to Chalkboard: A Visit with Gigi Khalsa

  1. Kathy E. says:

    Baby quilts are my favorite to make and the Chalkboard Baby Quilt pattern is a magical one. It’s a great way to showcase beautiful fabrics and would look great in both boy or girl fabrics. I’d love to make one!

  2. Sue S. says:

    I’m going to try this tomorrow, as I’m at that stage on my quilt! Timing couldn’t be better. I like how this turns out.

  3. Amy Caldwell says:

    With a new granddaughter two states away. I’m just gonna make lil’ 2 month old “Iva Jane” quilts until I get to meet her. Hopefully, warmer weather will be here soon. This will be a perfect pattern to make her another!!! Thanks sew much for sharing

  4. Anna Hollar says:

    thanks for sharing your beautiful idea. As it turned out you have inspired a lot of quilters.

  5. Jorja Davis says:

    Here is a label for your quilt, or take a photo of the quilt and print it on one side of a piece of card stock , leaving room to print your name below the picture of the quilt. Or turn up the corner of the quilt so your label is also in the picture. Oh, my, another half square corner with your mitered binding showing

  6. Heather says:

    Very cute quilt! Thank you for sharing :)

  7. Elizabeth Dale says:

    I love the eye tricking effect this design has. I think it would also look great as a black, white, and red quilt.

  8. Nancy Yardley says:

    What a cool trick. I love mitered corners but it never comes out right. I am always short.

  9. Nancy Yardley says:


  10. Diane Schwandt says:

    What an adorable baby quilt pattern. I make many baby quilt and reuse the same ideas. I would love to try this pattern for a new fresh look. I have fabrics that would work perfectly. Love your quilt!

  11. Monique Atkinson says:

    That’s a cool idea.

  12. DeAnn Oliekan says:

    Great idea, cute quilt!

  13. Julie B says:

    Thanks for sharing this technique for a fast quilt.

  14. Linda Mehlenbacher says:

    Your Chalkboard baby quilt is so cute! I’d love to make it.

  15. Anna brown says:

    Love baby quilts.. The thoughts of a baby snuggling up with my blanket is warming to the heart. ..

  16. Janice Mc Laren says:

    Great idea and very cute!

  17. Vicki L says:

    Grandbaby 13 will soon be here! Enjoyed the tips Gigi provided in this article. And, the quilt is truly awesome!

  18. DM Diana says:

    Gigi got me thinking about quilts and getting back into my studio. Thanks!

  19. Diane says:

    Love your design. Can’t wait to try your technique.

  20. Annette Ackley says:

    Love your idea!! Not only would this be great for a baby quilt, I would think this method would work for any kind of quilt for a unique look. Thank you for sharing, will be looking for the Magazine, so I can make a quilt using this technique.

  21. Julie says:

    Love the look of 3D with this one!! Thanks for the great pattern!!

  22. Kathy says:

    Thanks not only for the cute quilt but also for the thinking that goes into putting your idea into reality. I find myself looking at patterns and wondering if there’s a better or quicker way to accomplish the same results.

  23. Nancy Morey says:

    I make lots of cuddle quilts and this looks like fun!

  24. Anita says:

    Great idea for an easy baby quilt. Thanks for getting me thinking.

  25. Joanne Scott says:

    I really like this quilt and its wavey.

  26. Marj deGoede says:

    I will have to try this technique. I like this pattern.

  27. Sheila W. says:

    Very creative idea. Love making baby quilts and your design is awesome!

  28. Laura C says:

    I love this pattern! Time to get sewing! I hope to need a baby quilt for my newly wed daughter in the next year or so, so I have plenty of time to make several!

  29. D Gross says:

    Neat idea to use for kids quilts.

  30. Pam Sickles says:

    Thanks so much! this is very helpful! I’m a newbie at this!

  31. Angela Short says:

    Such a lovely quilt!

  32. Lee says:

    I love this beautiful pattern! Thank you very much!

  33. Aby Dolinger says:

    This is a great way to use novelty prints. I have a tubful and will have to try your design. It was fun to read the whys and wherefores of your mitering method.

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