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.

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.

 

A Quest for Adventure

I don’t even know how long it’s been since my last blog posting. We’ve been busy doing a lot of work around the house, but I’ll tell you about that another time.

I really like challenges. I tend to do some of my more creative work when I have been presented with a challenge. And so it was another challenge, this time from the Modern Quilt Guild and Michael Miller, and a quest for adventure that sent me down the path of designing and creating this quilt.

Here are the Michael Miller fabrics I started with.  At first I thought I would make a wall hanging with modern flowers similar to the fabric there on top.  Then I decided that idea was very ‘un-creative’ and, although it would be beautiful hanging in my house, it just wasn’t good enough for a challenge.

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So, onto other, more adventurous ideas…

Then I started thinking about the shapes that are used in quilts.  There are quilts made of squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, hexagons, and octogons. There are quilts made of strips, scraps, and generally wonky pieces. But I don’t remember ever seeing a quilt made with pentagons. Oh, there are quilts where the center of a square is a pentagon, but then the pentagon is squared up and you’re sewing squares together. And I think maybe I’ve seen English paper piecing pentagons, but those are like 2″ in size. I wanted to do pentagons on a larger scale. Then I found a picture of a pentagon bookcase and the idea for this quilt was born.

On the top half of the quilt, the colored blocks and pieces are supposed to look as if they were sitting on a shelf of the bookcase.  So the blocks are stacked, the books are laying at an angle, and the flower arrangement is lying on an angled shelf but not at the very edge.

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I made these blocks and a few others and they sat on my design wall for about 6 weeks while I just stared at them.  As I stared, I thought that an entire quilt made like this might be boring.  You can only have so many books on a shelf before the eye gets bored and you’re ready to move on to other things.  So I designed the small wonky diamonds that would be small bursts of color on the right side, and stared some more.

 

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I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the quilt.  As the deadline for the challenge drew closer and closer (it is today by the way), I decided that I likely wasn’t going to make it.  Then this past Sunday night around 9pm, in a burst of creativity, I decided I was going to finish the quilt in time for the challege.  I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the rest of the quilt, but I decided I could figure it out as I went along.  I was up ’till 2am that night, cutting and measuring, designing and sewing, and by the time I went to bed I knew how I was going to finish the top.  I took a half-day off work on Monday on finish the top and put the sandwiches together, and then spent the last several nights quilting and binding.  And voila, after a stare down contest and lots of freezer paper, it’s done and just in time to be submitted before the deadline.

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What I learned in the process… there is good reason no one uses pentagons in a quilt.  Hahaha!  The horizontal pentagons are a different size than the vertical pentagons, otherwise they wouldn’t sandwich together properly.  And then sewing them together requires Y-seams at strange angles, which is not exactly easy.  And then what do you do with the edges?  As you can see, I chose to leave mine as angles and have a zig-zag type quilt rather than a rectangular quilt.  Which created a whole different problem… how do you bind inside corners?  Thanks to you tube I figured it out!

I really like how the quilt turned out.  It is risky.  It’s definitely not your run of the mill quilt.  But I learned a lot and it was a huge step in boosting my creativity, so I think it was a good project in the long run.

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

Wonky Star

A couple of months ago, March I think it was,  I took a class at Spoonflower with Nicole at Mama Love Quilts    Nicole makes beautiful quilts, so not only was it an opportunity to possibly learn something new from a great quilt maker, but I was intrigued by the sample quilt.  Here is her quilt.
8568723788_18519fb6fbAlso, if you’ve not heard of Spoonflower, check out my post here.

None of the seams for the stars lined up so I was very interested in how this pattern was written.  And the class was free, so I really had nothing to lose.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that it used improv piecing and wasn’t a pattern in the typical sense.  I have never really done any improv piecing, but it didn’t take me long to get the hang of it.  And it was quite fun and freeing.  There are no rules, and no pattern — in fact, the wonkier, the better.

I decided to use scraps rather than cut up some of my stash, so I pulled out all my bright scraps from past projects.  I also decided to make my quilt large enough to be a baby quilt.  What’s really exciting about this quilt is that I have fabric from at least 8 other projects represented here.    I still need to bind it, but that should be done later tonight.

DSC_0278I used scraps for the back.

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Also, one of my goals this year was to practice my free motion quilting and get somewhat better at it.  So I used 4 different free motion quilting techniques on this quilt.  By the time I got done with the quilt, I was certainly better at the FMQ patterns I had decided to do.

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DSC_0285DSC_0286Now to start the binding.  Have a blessed weekend!

Linking up with Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.