Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin Blocks

A couple of weeks ago I was working on scrappy heart blocks for a charity bee that I am part of.  I was buried deep in my 1″ scrap bucket (Strips and pieces that I can make at least a 1″ square with.  But in no case no larger than 1-7/8″ wide.  Once they reach 2″, they go in the 2″ scrap bucket.)  I used almost 200 pieces in these blocks, and other than the fact that there were scraps everywhere, on every flat surface and strewn all over the floor, when I put them back in the bucket you couldn’t even tell that I used any.  The bucket has been overflowing for a while and I really couldn’t fit another scrap in it.  I love how pretty these hearts turned out to be, but they honestly didn’t make a dent.IMG_6973 (2).JPG

So, I decided right then and there that I needed to make a quilt with those scraps.  Since it was mostly full of strips, I decided to make a scrappy log cabin.  This is only a small portion of the strips that I started with.  My first thought was to use this as a leader-ender project.  But once I started, I couldn’t stop!

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As I started forming the blocks, rather than squaring up the block with each round, I would let the fabric decide how the block would be shaped since I wanted as little waste as possible.  Some strips were cut straight across, whereas others were cut at an angle. And if they were cut at an angle, I just left it there.  I did trim them to create a straight line I could sew another strip to, but I didn’t trim to 90 degree angles.  So not only were my blocks scrappy, but they were turning out to be very wonky as well. This is what they looked like after just 2 rounds.

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The plan is to stop when they reach approximately 11-12″, and then even them up with a solid color to be 13 1/2″ square. I have 23 blocks started above but will need 35 blocks at 13″ sq each to make a twin size quilt.

So what are you working on?

Continue to read below if you want more detailed instructions in how I’m doing this.

For each block, I started with a 2″ square and various lengths of strips.

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Start with 2″ sq center and various length of strips to go around.

Also, since this method required a lot of trimming and ironing, I have a smaller cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter right beside my sewing machine, and the iron is just behind me.  All I have to do is rotate my office chair and roll about 6″ to reach the iron.  This saves me a lot of time because I’m not getting up every 10 seconds to walk to my normal cutting station.

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Cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter right beside my machine

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Start by sewing the shortest strip to the 2″ square and trim off both ends to create straight edges. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on (always)

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Sew on the next strip. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on. Here you only need to trim the one edge where the next strip will go.

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Sew on the next strip. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on. Again, trim just the edge where the next strip will be sewn on

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Sew on 4th strip. You can see we have circled the 2″ square doing first one edge, then the next, then the next, then the next. I went in a counter-clockwise direction here, but you are welcome to go in a clockwise direction (see the 23 blocks above.  I sewed those in a clockwise direction). Whatever works for you. What makes this a log cabin is that you continue to circle the middle square in this manner rather than sewing strips to opposite sides or jumping around to whatever side suits your fancy at that moment

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Before we sew on anther strip to start the 2nd go-around, we need to trim all edges to be straight. You can see that I did not bother to trim the strips all to equal widths. I could do that and create a square log cabin block, but when I trim them this way, leaving any angles that were already part of the strip, this is what creates a wonky block.

In the example below, it’s time to sew on another strip and start another trip around the block again.  I have another piece of fabric that is cut at an angle.  Depending on which way I decide to sew this on, I can create wonkiness on another corner.  In this instance, I think I like the one on the left best but that really is a personal preference.  Sewing it on the other way would not be wrong, just different.

Tune in next week for an update on how this is coming along.

 

Anchored with Love

Happy 2016!  2015 was a year of many changes, some of which I haven’t seen the purpose for yet, so I’m very excited to see what 2016 brings.

I’m starting my sewing/quilting year off with a project I just love.  The two oldest grand kids just left after visiting for a week.  While they were here, they batted their little eyelashes, smiled their sweet smiles, and asked me to make a pillow for their mom.  They decided they wanted an anchor on the pillow.

So I pulled out my small scraps- blue they said.  Well after looking at the scraps we decided to use turquoise colors instead of blue.

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We used various turquoise values and prints and they helped lay them out onto the traced image we had of an anchor.  And then we decided to add the heart in coral to show how much they loved their mom.  From my stash, we used a light grey print for the background and raw edged appliqued the anchor to it, and then used a dark grey solid as the border.  At the last minute I decided it needed a little something extra so I added the piping around the edges.

I love how it turned out and honestly hated to give it away.  I would be happy to have it in my house.  I just love the beach, and since we’re living in the mountains now, it made the sand, sun, and surf seem just a little closer.

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Finished at 15″.  Used a 16″ pillow form.  The back is done using an envelope closure so the pillow cover can be removed and washed if needed.

Linking up with SewCanShe for Show Off Saturday

Sorting Scraps

I have been keeping my scraps in a large drawer of an antique buffet (cabinet).  This is probably my most single favorite piece of furniture.  Unlike modern day furniture, it is sturdy, HEAVY, and holds a lot of fabric scraps at the moment.  I have batting scraps in one drawer, things like duck canvas in another, and quilting cotton scraps in yet another drawer which brings me to my present quandary.

I recently signed up to participate in the Gypsy Wife quilt-a-long at Factotum of Arts.

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As you can see, the Gypsy Wife quilt pattern is rather scrappy looking.  So rather than buy fabric, or use the larger cuts of my stash, I decided that I would rather use my scraps for this quilt since it appears to use such small pieces of fabric.  And we are talking small scraps here.  Anything around a fat-eighth or larger I typically fold up and put in a shoe box (or 3) with my regular fabric stash.  So, what I would be pulling from this drawer is anything smaller than that.  Also, I am not organized enough to have already cut my scraps into standard sizes – i.e. 2-1/2″ squares, 2-1/2″ strips, etc.  So, how am I to sort through this crazy mound of fabric to arrange all this into some sort of usable concoction?

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Should I sort by color — all the blues in one pile, pink in another, yellow in yet another?  Should I sort by shape — all the strips in one pile, triangles in another, squares/rectangles in another?   Should I also sort by tone — warm colors in one pile, cool colors in another?  Hmmm….

After pondering my pile of scraps for a while, I decided to sort by size.   These scraps are all different sizes since they are such wonky cuts of fabric.  So to make it easier  I decided that if I could get a 4″ square or more out of a piece of fabric it went in one pile.  Somewhere between a 3″-4″ square went into a different pile.  2″ in another pile, and 1″ in yet another pile.  So, no matter if it was a triangle, square, strip, or just a wonky piece of fabric, I added it to the pile that would provide the largest cut square.

1" fabric pieces

1″ fabric pieces

2" fabric pieces

2″ fabric pieces

I’m pretty good at planning so that when I cut larger pieces of fabric for a quilt, I end up with as little scrap as possible, so I wasn’t too surprised when the 1″ and 2″ piles ended up being the largest piles.  I was surprised however to find some 5″ and larger pieces of fabrics in the pile.  I must have thrown those in before I decided to fold them up and keep them with my regular stash.

So far, the sorting has worked pretty well.  Once I opened the pattern I was a little surprised at how the designer has you cut the fabric.  She has you start with a larger, around 4″ square, and then cut into half or fourth’s diagonally to get the smaller triangles.  And like I said, I have much more 1″ & 2″ scraps, than I have 4″ scraps.  So that kinda put a damper on using my small scraps.  But, I was able to improvise and  have cut the fabric for the first 12 blocks and put each in a little baggie.  There is a mixture of cool, warm, print, solid, bright, and muted.  This quilt is a lot of work, so I sure hope when it’s done, it looks wonderfully scrappy and not like fabric vomit.  I might just have to find room for a design board so I can lay it out and get a feel for it before I start sewing everything together.

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Now that I’ve made it this far, I decided to search the internet to see how others sort their scraps.  As usual, I’m a little backwards and try to invent my own method before seeing what other great quilters have already determined to be the best method. Haha. One day I’ll learn to stop reinventing the wheel.

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Bonnie Hunter has a great tutorial here.  I would say the method I came up with is similar but much more simplified.  She has 1″, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″, 3″, 3-1/2″ piles, and then further sorts by strips, squares, or bricks.  Maybe I’ll follow this method once I get more scraps and more space to keep the different sizes.  I guess anything is better than the method I had last week, which was to jam them all in one large very stuffed and overflowing drawer.

And if you are one of those crazy people that just throw scraps away, grab yourself an empty cardboard box and place it near your cutting table and throw the scraps in there.  When it gets full, tape the top closed, put my name and address on it, and ship it to me.  It will be like Christmas morning when the postman gets here.  Oh, and then find yourself another empty cardboard box and start the process over…   (By the way, I am VERY serious about this!! LOL.  No really, I am!)  🙂

So, how do you sort your scraps?  I’d love to hear from you.  Maybe you have found an even better method.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Scrappy Trip Along

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Even with working 65 hours a week, I have been able to finish a small project.  One of my goals this year was to do a Scrappy Trip Along quilt.  This quilt pattern has really taken off — there is even a Flickr group.  Apparently this design has been around for 14 years.  Wow, I feel like I’m so behind having just recently discovered it.  But it’s still very popular, and pictures of new quilts made with this pattern are being uploaded daily.

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I used a 1/2 jelly roll of Moda Birdie that I had left over from a baby quilt I made a few years ago.  I had just enough of the jelly roll left to make this quilt 40″ x 40″, which is also a good size for a baby quilt.  I did have some problems with the strips of fabric stretching, so not all my seams line up correctly.  I hate that — but sometimes I have to tell that perfectionism thing to take a back seat.

I also used this opportunity to practice some free motion quilting.  I chose a design called Paisley Flower by Leah  Day and then adapted it for a larger quilt versus a 6″-8″ square.  My flowers ended up being 3″-7″ in diameter, with the average being about 5″, and it still took quite a while to quilt.  I still need to practice sewing over the same line more than once, but I am very pleased with how it turned out.

DSC_0701And look at the colorful pile of fabric scraps I had left over.  I think I might put this outside and lets the birds use them to decorate their nests.  Or maybe I’ll make one myself similar to this.  DSC_0683

 

This would be a great quilt to use with scraps.  I might just make another one another day. They all look great when done