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!

FullSizeRender (4)

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.

FullSizeRender (5)

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.

FullSizeRender (14)

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

FullSizeRender (6)

Cut a wide strip

FullSizeRender (7)

Sew to one size. Cut off amount not needed

FullSizeRender (8)

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″

FullSizeRender (12).jpg

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.

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!

IMG_6965.JPG

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.

IMG_6971 (2).JPG

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.

IMG_7083

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.

IMG_7085

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

IMG_7086

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)

IMG_7087

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.

IMG_7088

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

IMG_7089

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

IMG_7090

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.

 

Finish-A-Long Q2 2017 Goals

Time to set my goals for the second quarter Finish-A-Long.  I did finish one of my quilty goals from 1st quarter, but then forgot to link it up to the linky party.  That’s ok though.  A finish is still a finish and worth celebrating!

I finished this quilt that was part of a design and challenge that I did for Quilt Design a Day.  You can read about it here.

img_5746-2

 

Last quarter we talked about making your goals SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, & trackable.  You’re more likely to reach those goals and less likely to get sidetracked with extra stuff when you do that.  My goals are specific, measurable, and trackable.  However, they are probably not realistic or achievable in that I don’t think they will all be finished in the next 3 months, but maybe by the end of the year.  So, yes, I will still call them goals.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend QuiltCon in February, and now I have a whole other list of other quilty goals – designing, teaching, learning, etc. – to work on.   But that’s for another day.  Today is about the quilts I need to finish as part of the Finish-A-Long.

So, here goes…  From last quarter:

Finish improv quilt.  About 1/3 – 1/2 done with piecing top.  It’s improve.  No real plan, so I really won’t know it’s finished until it tells me.

IMG_3288

This quilt top needs a back, to be quilted, and then bound:

DSC_0059

This quilt top needs a back, to be quilted, and then bound:

img_5687

This table runner needs a back, to be quilted, and then bound:

img_5688-2

These blocks need to be joined into a quilt top, then backed, sandwiched, quilted and bound.

img_5220

Finish quilting and then bind these Fall placemats

img_5691

Finish Hoopsisters Mystery 201? quilt.  About 12 blocks done.  Need to finish all blocks, then put together, and bind.

IMG_5692 (2).JPG

I have 80+ of these blocks that need to be turned into a quilt.

img_5693-2

And my oldest UFO… finish hand quilting this King size monster.  And the fact this it is ‘hand quilted’ is why it isn’t finished.  LOL

img_5694

And a new quilt that I started… Finish this rainbow quilt.  Top is done.  You are seeing just a small part of it.  It needs to be sandwiched, quilted, and bound.

IMG_6455

Wow!  This list is a bit overwhelming.  These are not all my UFO’s, but they are the ones I could easily put my hands on.  And it’s ok if I don’t finish them all.  But at least they are now on my radar.  They are written down, and now I am more likely to finish them.

Of course there are other items on my list.  I have several bee blocks to do. I’m still working on Splendid Sampler blocks.  I am working on designing several blocks and quilts.  And I am doing the Riley Blake Creative Rockstar challenge.

Since tax season is almost over, maybe I can get more than one of these quilts finished this quarter.  That would be nice.  Although the garden is calling… So, maybe not.

What are your goals?  Write them down.  Make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, & trackable) and let’s see how much you can achieve!

Linking up with 2017 FAL – Q2 at She Can Quilt.

Finally, Back To The Sewing Room

Finally, I am back to sewing.  We have spent months rehabilitating the house and packing all our worldly possessions.  Well, all our worldly possessions that were left after a dozen or more trips to the dump and as many trips to the donation center.  Of course, I kept all my beautiful fabric; although it is all packed up and in storage.  🙂

We have moved to the mountains of NC and arrived this past Saturday night.  We are living with my parent temporarily until our house sells, so technically we still have to move one more time.  The house is not on the market yet, but hopefully we’ll have it listed by July 1.  We have some workers in to finish things we couldn’t do so that is what we are waiting on now.  Aren’t these mountains just gorgeous?  We’ve been driving around exploring the area and at every turn we see more beautiful scenery and are just in awe of God’s majestic handiwork.

smoky mountains

I have been able to set up a little sewing area in the downstairs bonus room at my parents house, and I’m so happy to be back to my sewing machine.  We were apart for such a long time.  I brought a large plastic bin of WIPs with me and my goal is to get them finished while we are here.  And, if by some miracle I get them all finished, I have another large plastic bin of WIPs waiting for me in storage.  And if they all get magically done, there is a smaller bin of WIPs.  The amount of WIPs I have is staggering, but hopefully I’ll get many of them knocked out in the next several months.

You may recall the lone star I started in January.  This is the first WIP I plan to finish.  I just picked it up this afternoon and am busy piecing each of the 8 panels together.  It’s going together rather easily, so hopefully I’ll have a finished project to share with you in the next week or so.  We’ll see.  Usually the timing of my goals are a little unrealistic.

lone star for Michael

And, I’ve picked up another hobby.  I know, I know… I don’t have enough time to focus on the hobbies I do have, but I wanted to spend some quality time with my dad.  He’s been taking painting lessons for several years from an art teacher in the area, so I thought that would be a good way for us to spend some time together.  I’ve tried my hand at painting 3-4 times in the past 10 years or so and always enjoyed it, although it was never something I felt I could continue on my on.  So I went yesterday with him to his painting class and started a landscape.  It’s about 1/2 way finished, and I’m very pleased with it so far.  Tomorrow afternoon we go again, and I hope to finish it then.  Then I have plans for another painting that I plan to start next week.  I’m really excited about it.

IMG_1837

So, I want to know… how many WIPs do you have?  Please tell me that I’m not alone in having too many to count.  I really haven’t counted, but if I had to guess, I would guess I have 30-40, and the true figure is probably even higher.  Oh, that sounds just awful.  LOL.  What about you?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Half Square Triangles

I started cutting and sewing half-square triangles (HST) for the quilt I decided to do for my parents.  I wanted the quilt to have a scrappy look with 10 or so different fabrics in each of the two colors.  But golly, this is a lot of cutting and trimming.

Putting the HSTs together really isn’t that bad.  I’m cutting my fabric so that I can sew and then cut 50 HSTs at one time.  Ironing and trimming to size comes next.  I realize that trimming them to size is probably the most important part, but it is taking forever.  This is what 400+ HST units look like.

DSC_0185-002

Only 800 more to go…

The embroidery design I’ve been working on for the baby blanket is now looking like this.

elephant & robin applique satin stitch1

And just because she couldn’t let me have the camera out without taking a picture of her..

DSC_0188-002

So what are you working on?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky

WIP Wednesday

My first WIP Wednesday… normally, I post projects once they are completed, but it seems as if I’m not completing much these days.  Well, that’s not really true – we made it through my daughter’s wedding and that was a huge project.  But quilting projects are stalled at the moment.  I am working on designing, but the sewing is stalled due to waiting for coordinating fabric to arrive or waiting for the inspiration to strike.  And rather than show all the WIP’s I have because that would be too overwhelming for the both of us, these are the ones I hope to have completed in the next 4-6 weeks.  That’s a good goal, right?

First, I decided to make my parents a quilt for Christmas/50th anniversary (which was in June).  I know, it’s a little late to be planning this – I just haven’t had much time before now.  So I’m looking at doing a pastel blue/pink and am working on an original quilt design.  I pretty much have the center of the quilt figured out — lots of half square triangles which means lots of cutting and lots of sewing.  While I wait for the rest of the fabric to arrive (had to mail order it since the local quilt shop didn’t have any in stock), I am working on whether I want small borders or large borders, or borders with designs.. hmmm…

IMG_3346 IMG_3347

WIP

Then I am doing the Riley Blake challenge through the Modern Quilt Guild.  Here are the fabrics — we were given 6- fat 8ths.  The challenge is that you can only use other Riley Blake prints or other solids to create something quilted.  I’m thinking a baby boy quilt with large blocks and a modern arrangement.  Something easy and quick to put together.

IMG_3348Next up – a quilt I started in June (?).  The challenge was to create a quilt using just one color and one print we drew out of a bag.  My color was purple and my print isn’t pictured here so you’ll just have to be surprised.  So I stocked up on purple solids, designed a quilt and started sewing.  I hope it turns out like it did in my head!  It’s been a WIP for so long now I really need to get it finished before it makes it’s way into the pile of WIPs that are a year or more old (yes, I have some of those too).  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to them…

IMG_3350Last but not least, and likely the one I will actually finish first… a friend has asked me to make 2 baby blankets for a niece that is soon due.  She wants an embroidered elephant with a bird on its back.  So I’ve been working on digitizing the design in my “super expensive that I will probably never get’s my money’s worth out of” software.  Every time I try to do something in this digitizing software I feel like I’m having to learn it all over again.  One day I’ll gain a comfort level with it — I’ve only had it 1-1/2 years! Haha…  But the more I use it, the easier it will be (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).  Right?

bird on elephant

So, that’s it.  These really are my quilting goals for the next 4-6 weeks.  I’ll probably rearrange, and likely add more to it, but here it is for this moment in time.

What are you working on?  Do you tend to have more than one project in progress like I do?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky