Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Scrappy Strippy Blues

Well, a week or so back I linked my post about my blue strippy quilt with the Show Off Saturday linky at SewSheCan.  That post was very popular and a few people asked me to write a tute on the block.  The block is dead easy to make and lots of fun.  Besides, it uses heaps of strips.  So here goes.

Scrappy Strippy Blues.

With this tutorial, I will end up with 4 x 8.5" squares.  You can adjust the size of these to any size you require.

There is a lot going on in these blocks, so I tend to stick with one colour only.  You can also offload some of those ugly fabrics that lurk in everyone's stash - just cut narrower strips, and the uglies just meld into the whole riot of colour.

1.  Select your strips.  The strips can be any width as long as they are accurately cut.  When I am making a lot of these blocks, I like to sort my fabrics into piles of light, medium and darks, and stack them beside my machine.    Also, in Step 5, I will be trimming the block to 12.5" square, so I tend to cut the strips to roughly 13" - 13.5" lengths before I start sewing so that there is little waste.  You can have full width of fabric strips, but then you will end up with too many blocks that look the same.

2.  Reduce your stitch length to roughly 15 stitches to the inch.  On my Bernina I set the stitch length to 2.0.  You need to do this because you are going to cut through all the seams, and the smaller stitch keeps the seams from drifting apart.
3.  Pair up the strips and sew.  Put a bit of contrast in as you sew, by pairing lights with darks etc.  I also like to add a strip which is a bit of a surprise in each block to give it some interest.  In the first photo, the surprise is the fabric on the far left. 
Keep joining the strips into pairs, then into fours etc. until you have sewn roughly 13" squares. 
4.  Iron the squares you have sewn - don't worry about ironing towards the dark fabric, just have all the seams going one way.
5.  Lay the squares down on your cutting mat and trim to 12.5".  Now you see why I do the squares to this size.  I have a 12.5" square ruler - easy peasy!  If you want to end up with smaller or larger blocks at the end, you need to adjust the size of the block at this point.

6.  Take the trimmed blocks back to the machine and lay them side by side with one block with the strips running vertically and the block next to it with the strips running horizontally.  See below.

7.  Flip the right hand block over onto the left hand block, and align the edges neatly.  Now beginning at one corner, sew right around all four sides with a 1/4" seam until you reach the start.
8.  Take your block to the cutting board and with your ruler, cut on the diagonal across from one corner to the other.  Without moving the fabric, swing the ruler around and cut across on the other diagonal.

Like so.....

9.  Iron your blocks with the seam flipped over towards the horizontal strips.  Double check the size of the block and trim to 8.5" square if necessary.  If for some reason, your blocks are not 8.5" you will need to trim them down to the lowest common size.
And here are the ones I made.

A couple of tips when you are making these.
Remember that the edges of the blocks at the end are on the BIAS.  So handle them with care.  If you add sashing, make sure you cut the sashing pieces to the right size and fit the block to the sashing to stabilise the edge.
Try not to have very narrow strips on the edge of the block.  Once you have trimmed and cross cut the block if your edge strips are narrow you end up with teensy triangles in the centre and corners, like this:
Can you see the tiny mid blue triangle just to the right of the pink flower?  These tiny triangles mean a whole lot of bulk in the middle of the block, which is good to avoid.
This technique works well with Jelly Rolls.
And this is what they look like when you have a bunch of the blocks.  I made these a couple of weeks back:

Eagle eyes may have spotted that I have added a tab at the top of the page titled "Tutorials".  I am planning to add this tute as a .pdf file onto that page for easy printing once I find out how.  LOL.  So keep an eye out - I might just have this up there in the next few days.
Edited 9/01/2014:  The link is up there now.
If you make some of these up I would love to see them.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

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