Monday, January 9, 2017

Scrappy, Scrappy, Scrappy

During December, I "proquiltinated" a start on this scrappy quilt. 
It was all perfectly justifiable?!?
I needed to clear out the overflowing box of 2 1/2" strips and I have been wanting to work with Lissa Alexander's Color Me Crochet pattern (April, 2013, American Patchwork & Quilting) since first seeing it in the magazine.  It is similar to Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips but would enable me to use lots of the short strips in the box.   If the piecing was fun, it would be a good pattern for my "good deed" quilting group to use this winter.

The group has used Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Bargello quilt pattern to make some delightful children's quilts and I thought they would enjoy working with this pattern, too.  So in the beginning, the intention was to experiment with the piecing process, be sure I understood the instructions and prepare for instructing the group.  A side benefit was that it would give me some non-deadline stitching and a brief daily respite from holiday fussing and fretting.

During the first three experiments, the accidental color combination of this block called out to me to expand it into a quilt and so I ransacked my strip box for all the reds, greens, browns, and golds.
(At the same time, I pulled out all the blue strips for one of the gals in the group to try her first 1600 quilt -- I haven't seen the results yet, but her top is finished and ready to layer up later this week!)
Lissa's pattern calls for 2" cut strips so I had to recalculate the measurements for my 2 1/2" strips.
Eventually, I realized that sorting my strips into piles by the length of each strip helped me stay organized and saved time when pulling the assortment for each block.
Here is one of the assortments ready to piece into the necessary strip set.  The red/green hombre with the black polka dots will be the central row of squares in the finished block. 
I made one small change to Lissa's instructions -- I pieced all 11 strips together before cutting the rows.  It saves a little time but my main reason for doing this was to simplify the pressing for me.

My teaching experience has made me fussy about pressing -- I want it to be systematic, straight forward and set me up for easy assembly as I move through the steps of making a block. 
The strategy we used for the Scrappy Bargello quilts worked well and I intended to apply it to these blocks.  While Bonnie doesn't specifically write out instructions for her pressing strategy, it is apparent from the pictures that she alternates the seams as in the photo below.
This pressing strategy is easier than it looks!
I begin by stitching my strips together in pairs and pressing those seams before stitching the pairs together into the final strip set.  My experiments also helped me discover that the seam direction needs to alternate with each block.  In the photos above and below, the seams of the center strip (reds) are pressed away from the strip.  That sets up the pressing direction for the rest of the block.
In the next block I "reversed" the seam direction of the center strip -- both seams of the center strip are pressed towards the center strip.  Now when the two finished blocks are joined, the seams nest together perfectly. 

To read some of my other thoughts about "pressing patchwork", HERE is a link to the first of a three part series of posts I wrote in 2013.  Parts 2 and 3 follow it when you get there.

To cut the rows, first you need to know I cut each strip 1" longer than needed to give myself a cushion so that  is why there are odd bits at the top of these rows. 
That yellow piece will be removed.
In the above photo, I have cut 3 rows starting at the left edge of the strip set and removed the extra pieces and laid them in the correct order below.
To cut the remaining 3 rows, I began cutting from the right edge and that skinny band you see in the photo below is the remainder from the center of the strip center (which must be thrown away because the whole point of this exercise is to use up fabric, not make more bits to save). 
I made the blocks one at a time and placed them on the design wall.  From the beginning, I planned each block with a "dark" print for the center diagonal row of squares.  By the fourth block, I decided I needed to be sure there was some gold/yellow in each block to keep the cheerful look of the color palette and some black was pulled into the assortment to create more drama.

Here are the first 8 blocks set together.  The strips hanging across the bottom of the design wall will be the center strips of the next row of blocks.  That was the only planning I did to assure that the darks were distributed evenly across the quilt.
It took a couple blocks for me to realize that I needed to lay each block out BEFORE I stitched the row together so the diagonals were going in the correct direction.  Try as I might, rotating the block never changed the direction and maintained my pressing order of the diagonals once the block was finished!!

I laid out half the rows in this block with the diagonal going from the upper left to the lower right (on the left) and the other 3 rows with the diagonal going from the lower left to the upper right (on the right).   Just trust me on this one -- I've already made the mistakes!
Once I had all the color and pressing experiments sorted, the blocks went quickly.  As I finished each block, I would organize the fabric combination for the next one so when I came back to it, I was able to piece a block in about 30 minutes.  This proved to be just enough of an escape from the holiday deadlines to calm me down and prepare me to "go back at it"!!
I finished the top, added borders and made a backing last weekend -- ready to quilt!! 
It's 56" by 68" and the top and backing used approximately 6 yards of my stash -- wahoo!
I love looking at  it and discovering all the "spontaneous" design that is happening.
Between this quilt and the blue 1600 strip quilt, half the strips in the scrap box have been used and the box is ready to restock!!  While piecing this quilt, I decided on a destination for it plus I'm ready to share the process with my "good deed" quilt group!

Happy piecing this week!!



  1. I love this! Careful planning equals success. I would love to make one.

  2. What a fun happy quilt! Bonnie's Scrappy Trips has been on my list for awhile, but this pattern looks even more useful since I, too, have a lot of shorter strips. Thanks for the look!

  3. It's amazing how these quilts work out with all the different scrap fabrics in them - fun quilt

  4. I always love the look of these awesome scrappy quilts! Great work!

  5. Beautiful quilt! I like the dark drama pieces! Nice tutorial

  6. Good plan to try it out before committing to the good deed quilting group! It is a great way to use up strips and makes a fun quilt. Thanks for linking up to #scraptastictuesday!