I love scrap quilts. Maybe it’s the magnitude of colors or the gentle reminder of days gone by when grandma would “make do” with what fabric scraps she had left from the family sewing projects. Or maybe it’s because I entered into the quilting world being a “fat quarter queen” (translation – buying bunches of fat quarters to build more color more quickly and economically in a new stash). Whatever reason, scrap quilts seem to call my name.
Some time ago I received a shipment of several bolts ordered from Island Batik and to my great surprise and pleasure there was a bundle of fabric strips from the new Glowing Embers collection included in the shipment with a simple note – enjoy. I’m not sure, but my guess would be that these were the “scraps” from the edge cuttings for their yummy precuts. I love precuts…. I have made multitudes of quilts using precuts…I will have to show you some of the sometime….just remind me…
Have I mentioned that I also like traditional pieced patterns? Only I’m not into the 1930’s reproduction prints or those civil war prints. I love seeing them, especially antique quilts, totally enjoy quilting them for customers, but I’m not naturally drawn to those colors when I want to piece something for myself. Instead, I gravitate to bright tropical colors, jewel tones, juvenile prints and most definitely circles and stripes, and batiks!
So finding myself with a little personal weekend sewing time I pulled down my Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns to find a pattern to play with.
Actually, I had a pattern in mind. Pattern #3056 Hummingbird. Funny thing about patterns, a block can be known by several names but I love how Barbara Brackman has done the research on the earliest known names based on publications…This is a pattern that I’ve seen floating around the internet lately but it appears that everyone is doing a paper-pieced version. I’m not much into paper piecing either – I have problems with the reversal or mirror image or something, I become totally dyslexic ..nope…give me a good ruler and I can figure out how to make it work!
By the way, true confession. I’m a ruler queen. Trust me, there’s a ruler for everything and you can never have too many rulers! One day we’ll do a ruler drawer reveal…or a ruler challenge – would you like that? A challenge to actually use all those rulers in your drawer! or find out how I use mine?
Since I own every ruler made by Deb Tucker with her Studio 180 Designs I do tend to play around with them a lot. A while back I was trying to figure out a way to make this particular block scrappy using Deb Tucker’s Corner Beam Ruler. I cut a block and put it on the design wall…and that was that. Until this weekend when I decided it was time to play in the fabric strips.
Time to get busy. I opened one section from the fabric bundle and found that there were about 20 strips folded in half approximately 2″ by 20″ or so. I decided to let my scissors rip right up that fold line – GASP!! – Yep, I did that! Why not? Much faster than using the rotary cutter and besides, I was feeling adventuresome and decided this was more like a true collection of fabric scraps, sorta like keeping cuttings to make a string quilt. Once cut into smaller strips, I literally tossed them together like making a salad to mix up the scrumptious colors. How else can you randomly pull from a pile if they aren’t all mixed up?
I pulled out my favorite notions (we will do a notion review soon) and got to piecing!
Since the strips were not precision cut I had to improvise making sure to catch enough fabric to make a quarter inch seam. I would put the offending rough cut on the bottom so I could see it and just used the “good” cut strip as the guide for my quarter inch seam. Sometimes that meant that strip was well under an inch itself – but that’s what makes it interesting! It was okay to be a little wonky. This is where I love using my Stiletto & Pressing Tool by Annie to gently guide my strips – it’s so much easier than pins!
Soon two strips became four, four became six or eight until I had a section a little over 6″ wide.
Next, I went to my ironing station and pressed open the seams to reduce the bulk for when the block is constructed later.
Then I placed two strip sets that were close to the same width together on the cutting table to straighten the edges to make them the same width. Yep, I showed them who was boss! It didn’t matter that some of the strip was short or “crooked” looking – they were now equal width and on to the sewing machine to sew a quarter inch seam on BOTH of the long sides forming a tube.
As I mentioned, there’s a ruler for everything. I wanted to make my strips go across the diagonal instead of horizontal, so I used The Strip Tube Ruler by Cozy Quilt Designs and followed their directions to cut out a 6″ square. My “tube” was a little big but I planned it that way so I would have more variety of fabrics that didn’t look cookie cutter the same…. Trust me, it’s okay to have a little extra cuttings to work around for the look you want.
Once all my tubes were cut into triangles as per ruler directions then opened up to reveal the square it was back to the ironing board to press open that center seam and to give the blocks a good starching with Best Press. I found it rather interesting that my 20 something strips yielded 9 blocks – while those blocks were pretty in and of themselves and would have made a cute nine patch … I was on a mission!
Following the directions on the ruler I cut out the center portion of the hummingbird block from the pieced squares and cut the side triangles from a 6″ strip of Island Batik Sprinkles which I think makes a fabulous background fabric! I use this print in a lot of my scrap quilts…kinda calming and a good way to tie in a lot of different colors. One thing I love about batiks, they play nicely together. And have you ever noticed that for the majority of them, you can’t tell the right side from the wrong side? That helps when you are just grabbing random strips to sew together…just sayin’…
Time to assemble the blocks. Chain piecing is a must – especially if you are a smokin’ needle like I am with limited time to sew on personal projects. I must say that I truly love Deb’s rulers – she designs a little “wiggle room” in that the oversized cuts accommodate our “personal measurements” when it comes to sewing a perfect 1/4″ seam….try as I might I’m never felt like I was perfect…but with overcutting and later trimming to size you’d never know my secret had I not told you (GRIN). Yep, Deb makes me look like a pro!
Nine units trimmed, only eight needed to make the four patch which makes up the Hummingbird block….two beautiful scrappy blocks if I do say so myself…
But what about all the leftover pieced scraps you say? Never fear…not a decent sized scrap was wasted in this scrap quilt creation!
Have you ever “made fabric?” I’ll warn you, it’s kinda addicting! Simply take scraps of similar size and piece them together to make a bigger scrap and just keep going. Kinda like eating potato chips!
Yeah, I know, it’s kinda crazy. Maybe even a little obsessive in trying to use up ALL the scraps – but I thought it would be fun this time! After all, I wanted to make more than two blocks and I wasn’t ready to dig further into my fabric bundle today with all these gorgeous leftovers pleading with me to be included….
To simply things I used my Corner Beam Ruler to make a cardboard template and kept piecing the scraps together until I had one large enough to cut out the template. I did find that I had to use a “normal” cutting ruler over the cardboard to keep from nicking it (or my finger) but I was only hoping for 8 wedges and figured the make-do template would survive at least that long. It did, no fingers were run over with a rotary cutter and only one little nick on the cardboard.
I will admit that pressing seams became a bit of a challenge. Where I could, I pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk. When it came to pressing the background triangles sewn to my center wedge I had to give up “pressing to the dark side” due to the bulk and just pressed to the light background where the fabric wanted to naturally lay. No big deal. Sometimes creativity means breaking a few rules. The quilt police don’t live at my house so no worries!
Trust me, after constructing two blocks you quickly become an expert. In nothing flat I had two more Hummingbird blocks all pressed and sewn together. Don’t you just love the true scrappiness of the “making fabric” blocks? I do!
So after a few short hours I had four blocks pieced – did I mention pieced, not paper pieced – grin – and look – I haven’t even made a dent in the fabric bundle of scraps! There’s still a few fabric crumbs leftover from all that making fabric adventure… Some will get used again to make larger pieces, some probably have too many seams to continue being sewn…but for now I’m holding on to them until I’ve decided.
What I did decide is that I want more than 4 beautiful 10″ blocks from this lovely bundle of Island Batik scraps. I “just happened” to have an “orphan block” leftover from the center block in my Illuminated Journey class that I taught on the 2014 Quilting Cruise whose colors blend perfectly don’t you think? Of course they do! They are made from an Island Batik strip pack. Have I mentioned that I love LeMoyne Stars? And there’s a ruler for that too! But this is for another day…
….I just love the direction this is going….and don’t you just love batiks! They do play so nicely together.
Since this is such a long ramble (and that’s as far as I’ve sewn sew far so I’m out of photos) I believe that I will just make this a continuing saga sprinkled in among other rambles as time goes by. I’ve got a few ideas circulating around in my busy brain and I can’t wait to see where the possibilities will take me! Will you join me again for more Scrap Quilt Creations? I hope so! Thanks for letting me ramble on telling MY story today!
But Wait! There’s MORE!!
I couldn’t stop thinking about these blocks, so early Sunday morning before going to church I had an idea of how to be “more efficient” in my piecing…..
Remember how I confessed that I’m a ruler queen – well there is more than one ruler to use for a given project! This time I decided to make one long strip unit from the second set of strips in the fabric bundle. I continued with the idea of cutting the strips up the fold line and just sewed them until the unit grew to almost 36″ in length! That’s a yard in length by 20″ or so in width! Nice volume of scraps if I do say so myself! Would have been longer had I not split the strips…but that’s an idea for the third set….
Okay, so quickly here’s what I managed to figure out before heading out for the day….why not use my 6″ bias square up ruler or Tucker Trimmer to make the units needed to use the Corner Beam Ruler technique? Why not indeed! And to make matters a tad more efficient I simply placed a mark on my long ruler to cut a 6″ bias strip to then cut the 6″ bias squares….
This is yielding me enough blocks to make FOUR more Hummingbird blocks which I will finish another time. And yes, there will be some crumbs (leftover pieced strips) for which I already have an idea! So stay tuned!! More Scrap Quilt Creations Ramblings are in the works.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler -Telling Your Story, One Quilt At a Time
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