Squaring Up Wonky Blocks

Remember the wonky log cabin blocks I’ve shared with you the last couple of weeks.  Well I have all 35 blocks made now, and some of them are very wonky.  I auditioned several different colored backgrounds based on solids I had on hand already.  I decided I really liked the darker blue backgrounds.  The blue I chose ended up being the one I had the most yardage of.  I really liked the other one better, and I might have had enough, but it was just too close to be sure and I didn’t want to get 90% done and then run out.

Turning them into a square, rather than a wonky, 13 1/2″ block has proven to be challenging.  Not because it’s hard, because it’s not.  I could just cut a strip the width I need (3″ wide should be largest enough for most sides), sew around all 4 sides, and then trim to be square discarding the parts that I trimmed off.  That would be easy, but it would create a lot of waste and a lot of new scraps. In the example below, the piece I cut off is approximately 1 3/4″ on one end, and 0″ on the opposite end.  Which basically means I can’t use this scrap  on another block and it will have to go in the scrap bucket.  Oh the horror!

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Remember the whole point of this was to use my scraps, not create more.  So I have been challenged in how to square up each block with as little waste as possible.  I started out trying to use a spreadsheet and that didn’t work.  Eventually I moved on to a post it note that I could pin to each block.  Still took me a bit to figure out how to measure what each block needed.  Don’t worry about trying to figure out this mess.  I’ll give it to you in a nutshell below.

 

What I have come up with is to pair up the squares, and then to cut the strips wide enough so that what is cut off of one block is close to the right size to fit on a different block.

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pair blocks with similar but opposite wonkiness (is that even a word??)

I put the block on the left under the ruler centering it as best I could between the 13-1/2″ finished square size that I wanted.  I’m working with just the right edge of that block right now.  It measures 2-1/2″ from the top edge and 1″ from the bottom edge. (see below)  Add 1/2″ to both of those numbers for the seam allowances for each fabric, and that means I need a piece 3″ wide on the top and 1-1/2″ wide on the bottom to finish the right edge of this block.  The left edge of the other block I measured the same way, and for it I needed 1-1/2″ on the top and 2-3/4″ on the bottom (no picture).   So I took either the top or bottom measurements, which ever were the largest in total and then added 1/4″ for safety.  In this case, the top measurements were the largest so 3″ left block + 1-1/2″ right block + 1/4″ for safety means I need to cut the strip 4-3/4″ wide.

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Here is my 4-3/4″ wide strip between the blocks.

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Cut a wide strip

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Sew to one size. Cut off amount not needed

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Sew to opposite block

I might trim 1/8″ off each of these in the end (remember we added 1/4″ for safety).  Also, this method is taking about 10 times longer than it would otherwise, but at least I won’t have much wasted fabric when I’m done.  So, in that manner, I’m meeting my goal.

Also, since I cut a strip 4-3/4″ by WOF (width of fabric), I still have about 34″ left of that strip after the two blocks above.  So I matched up more blocks that needed that same width (or close to it) and did the same thing with those blocks using up that entire strip I just cut.  Do this same thing for all 4 sides of each block.  I made 35 blocks, so in this case that’s 140 sides!

Let me know if you would like to try this or if you have questions on how this is done.  I can write up more detailed instructions.

Now to work on squaring up more of these blocks.  I’m ready to get this thing put together.

If you want to read about how (and why!) I started this scrappy log cabin adventure click here, and I share some helpful tips and tricks here on working with wonky blocks.

 

 

Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin Blocks – Hints & Tricks

Last week I shared with you the Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin blocks that I was starting with the gazillion scraps from my 1″ scrap bucket.  As I was working on these scrappy wonky blocks, I thought of several hints and tricks that might help should you decide to also make some of these blocks.

  • If sewing a strip to the block and there is an acute angle on a corner to which the strip will be sewed (in the block below both corners along that top edge are acute angles), or an angle pointing out, make sure you use a longer strip to account for extra length needed on that new strip when trimming.  If I had used the same length of strip as the widest point on the side of this block before the new strip, it would have been too short if wanting to keep that same angle once trimmed.
  • If scrap is a weird shaped, trim sides of the scrap first and then trim long edge based on where the straight edge of the sides ended.
  • Trim the whole side, not just the end of the last strip sewed on.  Sometimes, due to fabric stretching or not a completely straight piece of fabric, there is a little extra that needs to be cut off to make that side straight for the next strip.
  • If the block is getting too wonky, and you want to square it up a bit, you can do that too. In this first example, my block is a bit too rectangular, instead of square, so I just needed to plan what the next couple of strips would be.  By planning to sew a more narrow strip to the side and then a wider strip to the bottom my block will be more square once those strips are trimmed.

Then in this example, my block is getting too wonky.  The top is much thinner than the bottom, and after another round or two and it will be a triangle.  Not a bad thing, but not what I am wanting here.  So, I sewed a wider strip to one side, and then purposely trimmed that strip at an angle such that the wider portion is at the top of the block where the block was slimmer, and the thinner portion of the strip is at the bottom of the block where the block was wider.  Although the other (left) side of the block is still not squared with the rest of the block, the block as a whole reads more square than triangle now.

After 3 rounds, my smallest block is approximately 6-3/4″ x 7″ and the largest block is approximately 7-1/2″ x 8″

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Next week I’ll share with you how I’m squaring these blocks up to the same size so I can sew them together to make a complete quilt top.

Wonky Houses & Trees Quilt

I have shared with you before that I am a member of a group with do.Good Stitches that makes charity quilts.  The group that I am a part of donates our quilts to Enchanted Makeovers, a non-profit organization that updates, or makeovers, shelters for abused women and their children.

It’s has taken me a while to get this quilt finished.  Well, that’s somewhat true.  It did take me several months to get it finished, but then it took at least that long to get pictures of it. I didn’t have a good way to take pictures of larger quilts (this one is twin size).  My honeyman was making something for me to hang large quilts from for picture taking, and he took his sweet time.  But we finally finished so I was able to get some pictures and am now able to share this fun quilt with you.

I asked each member of the group to make a wonky house and a wonky tree.  It could be pieced, paper pieced, or applique. There was complete freedom there.  I also didn’t want it to follow a pattern.  I wanted it to be very improv.  So I didn’t provide them with any instruction other than the idea below.  I designed this in excel when I was away from EQ7, so it is very rough.  But it’s gives you a good idea of what I was looking for.  (Bet you never thought of use excel to design quilts!)

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The finished blocks only needed to be within a certain size range.  The idea was to fill in the space between the blocks with scraps of fabric to keep the ‘improv’ look throughout the quilt.  I regretted that decision!  It turned out great!!

Ok, so it did take me a while to fill in all the spaces.  It turned out to be much easier to do on excel, than to actually do it with fabric.  I did a LOT of rearranging of the squares and a LOT of measuring.  Followed by a LOT of praying when cutting into the fabric just hoping it would be the right size.  And then I had to get very acquainted with partial seams.  And sometimes I even had to take out a seam and adjust things.

Here I am in the middle of trying to put it all together.  I have the left half done.  Just have to do the right half.

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Whew!  I finally got it together and quilted.  I love how FUN it turned out to be.

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Here is a close up of some of the blocks.  I quilted it with a meandering loop-d-loop.  And I washed it before taking pictures so it has a wonderful crinkly look and feel.  I could just snuggle up under it.

I also asked each member to make a fun additional block if they felt inclined.  And one member did.  She sent me a really cute dog.  Since I didn’t have others, I found it very challenging to fit it on the front of the quilt, so instead it because the honorary quilt label on the back.

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A special thanks goes to A Stitch in Time quilt shop in Franklin, NC, for providing the fabric for the back and binding.  If you’ve never been to this shop you really should make a special trip.  It’s one of the most beautiful shops I’ve even been in, and the people are just the nicest!

Measures 70″ x 90″.

Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and  Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Merry (day after) Christmas!

Merry-Christmas

Merry (day after) Christmas!  I was hoping to post again before now, but I have been sick with the crud that’s been going around so everything else got put on the back burner.  Our plans for brunch at the in-laws, dinner get-together with dad’s family, and then my sister and family staying with us for several days was all canceled.  Being sick is not fun, and being sick at Christmas really sucks.  But, then I had to remind myself that there were others in this corner of the world that were having a much worse Christmas – families with loved ones in the hospital, families recently affected by the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut, families with loved ones in the military overseas, those affected by the storms ravaging the U.S. on Christmas day, and those lonely individuals with no families with which to celebrate.  It’s so easy to have a pity party because our plans get canceled by something we can’t control.  But when you stop to think about those that have it much worse off than you, it becomes easy to thank the Lord for the blessings we do have — family and friends that we love and miss but that we know we will see again soon, health that we know will return once the crud has run its course, a warm home, and knowing that we have life because of God’s son that was born on this day very long ago.

for unto us a child is born

So, I didn’t get as many projects finished as I was planning on before Christmas.  But I did want to share a few of them with you.   I have been participating in a monthly challenge through Art Gallery Fabrics.  Last month the challenge was to make a patchwork toy.  I designed and made this cute little turtle for my niece.  Each scale is a learning toy — she can learn to button, snap, tie, velcro, zip, and one is a noise maker. Also, if you lift each scale up, I have patch-worked a letter. As you go around the turtle, the letters spell her name starting with the T on top. And opening the zipper also allows you to peek-a-boo through to the letter.

Torreya Turtle

She is a little young to really play with the turtle now so I also made her some soft rings from a pattern found here.  http://www.michaelmillerfabrics.com/Blog/Baby_rings.pdf These are a great way to use up those fabric scraps and are nice soft toys for a wee one.

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Also, I found a great project from a young lady I met at the local fabric store.  If you have children that love to play with Legos, you will understand the fact that they get everywhere.  All those little bricks are super hard to keep up with.  She told me about a ‘lego play mat’ that lays flat in order to be played on, but then when you finish playing you just pull up the strings on either side, tie a bow, and the legos are cleaned up.  I bet this doesn’t stop all the stray legos, but it should help.  I made this for my nephew.  It was super quick — I like projects like that.

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There are many tutorials on the internet.  I skimmed several and started out using one, but I ended up making some changes as I went along.  I plan to make another one in the next month or two for my grandson, but I want to make it a play mat for cars rather than legos.  I found some cool fabric that will be perfect as a play mat for cars.  I’ll post a tutorial when I make it.

Up next though is the next, and last, challenge through Art Gallery fabrics — a messenger bag.  Wish me luck!