Tossed 9 Patch

The other day I considered what to do with my large stash of 5″ squares.

Bin of 5″ squares from a variety of sources

It occurred to me that I might be the only quilter in the world who hadn’t yet made a tossed 9 patch quilt.

Just on the off chance you haven’t made one yet, here’s the drill.

The 9-patch block was 15.5″ with raw edges. Drawing done with Electric Quilt 8.

Start by making a 9 patch (duh). I cut a bunch of light colored 5″ patches and enough red 5″ patches for 22 nine-patch blocks, then used various 5″ squares from my bin for the four corners.  (Yes, that only got rid of 88 5″ squares. Still…)

I included some old favorites from the 5″ bin:

Blueberry fabric bought in Maine, one of the Moda wildflower fabrics, the fruit ladies from Elizabeth’s Studio, and some of my favorite metallic dot fabric.

After assembling the 9 patch blocks, I cut them in quarters, resulting in 88 blocks like this:

This is one quarter of the original 9-patch block. Drawing done with Electric Quilt 8.

When all my 88 blocks were made, I played with layouts until I had one I liked. There are a lot of different ways to cut the 9 patch block, and even more ways to lay out the resulting blocks, so it took a while.

After it was quilted, I decided on a blue and white striped border, which I cut on the bias.

And here’s the finish:

Quilt Stats:

Name: Tossed 9-patch

Designed and made by: me, though of course there is nothing new under the sun, This idea has been around forever.

Finished size: 51″ x 71″

Quilted by: Linda

Super Fans Tutorial

When I showed this quilt last week, I promised a tutorial on how to make the blocks. So here goes!

The first (most important?) step is to choose a block size for which you have a square-up ruler in your collection. This makes the whole process easier, as you’ll see.

No my ruler isn’t a trapezoid, but I had to take the picture at an angle to avoid reflections!

Then choose a couple of strips that are about 2″ longer than the square-up ruler. My ruler trims to 9.5″ (for a finished 9″ block), so I chose strips about 11.5″ long. You can either cut wedges for your strips, or join the strips and then trim the edges to make them wedge-shaped. I had a bunch of 1.5″ strips, so I did the sew-and-trim way.

Continue to add strips to each side, alternating sides. Alternating sides makes it easier to keep the block symmetrical. It isn’t necessary to use 1.5″ strips–you can use any width from about 1″ on up.

Press all seams open to decrease bulk. And when you trim seams to make a wedge, leave at least 1/2″ of width at the narrow end to avoid extra bulk when adding the next strip.

The seam that is circled at the bottom just meets because the strip was narrowed to 1/2″ at that end

The piece will, of course, tend to curve. To counteract that tendency, I sometimes add longer strips to correct for the way the edges want to angle down at both ends.

Here’s a longer strip I added to be sure the edges weren’t curving too much.

Keep checking to be sure the block is outside the edges of the ruler at both the top and bottom of each strip.

And finally comes the happy day when the block is as wide as it needs to be at the top!

From here on you can add shorter strips. Align them at the bottom of the block to start sewing. Keep checking, and when the piece is wide enough, trim all edges with your square-up ruler.

When trimming, I pick a line near the middle of the ruler and lay it along a seam near the center of the block to get everything as even as possible.

I stitched about 1/8″ from the edges

Stay stitch all edges! This is important because you really, really don’t want those seams to start coming undone, and because there are many bias edges.

DONE!

You may notice that the last strips (bottom corners) are a bit wider than the others. That is done to avoid the possibility of having a seam in the block come at a corner when joining to other blocks.

Quilt Stats

Name: Super Fans

Designed and made by me, with inspiration from Pinterest

Finished size: 47″ x 65″ (5 x 9 blocks, 9″ each, with 1″ border on all sides)

Quilted by: Linda

There are 18 pieces in the sample block above. That means the finished quilt has approximately 810 strips. Thank goodness I didn’t calculate that until now!!!

 

Super Fans!

I haunt Pinterest in my “spare time”  looking at pretty quilts. OK, maybe it’s “procrastinating time” rather than actual “spare time”, but you get the picture 😀

After seeing a number of lovely string quilts, I was forced to make lots of string blocks and assemble them into this “super fan” quilt.

There are many similar examples on the internet. I did not use a fabric foundation, as many string quilters do.

I made no attempt to use the same number of strips in each block, and my husband points out that the blocks do vary quite a bit. All good, I say.

I used strips from my scrap bins.

Those scrap bins are filled by cutting all leftovers into uniform strips, which vary in width from 1.5″ to 4.5″. These strips are useful for many things, from tying up packages to adding just the right bit of color to some projects. They do often overflow, though.

Here are a few of the other projects made from the strip bins:

And WOO! Paducah quilt week is only a week away!!! If you’ll be there I’d love to meet you!

Meanwhile, I’ll have a tutorial next week on how I did this fan block.

Wonky

I’m currently on a program of finishing 2 UFOs (unfinished objects) before starting each new project. I caught up quite a bit last year, but there are a few things still to be done.

Most recently I pulled out these swap blocks from a long time ago. They should finish 24″ square. Of course, since they are medallion style blocks, there’s plenty of opportunity for the size and shape to get “off” with each additional border.

There was one in the group that surely was not perfectly square. I put 4 of them together anyway, figuring this could be a picnic quilt and “fixing” the wonky block was way too fiddly.

This worried me a little, even in a picnic quilt. (OK, like most quilters, I’m more than a little O.C.)

Then my daughter came along and said, “It’s not wonky, it’s organic in design!” Ha! So there! Art-speak is frequently useful!

Scrappy Triangle Swap Blocks

I’ve belonged to a block swap group for a long time, but we have done extra during COVID. Here’s the latest, a scrappy triangle block. In case you want to know, it’s made with the tri-recs tool, available several places–just ask Ms. Google.

What we haven’t done is put any of these into a quilt! Here are some ideas on layout:

And in case you’ve never made improvised scrap blocks, here are directions. We’ve been using single-color scraps, but there’s no reason the color scheme can’t be scrappy.

Start by choosing 2 scraps you like and sew them together any way you care to. If one has a curved side, you can choose to sew the curve or cut it off straight.

Trim up an edge so you can add something else.

Keep adding pieces, checking occasionally to see if your template is going to fit on the scraps.

It’s fine to add BIG pieces too in order to move things along.

Press all the seams open. Too much bulk otherwise with all those seams.

Finally, cut around your template and assemble the block.

What templates do you like to use?

Fiddlesticks!

I finished this quilt last month, but I’ve been doing a lot of quilting due to quarantine, so I’m behind on showing my work.  This is a scrap quilt, of course.  I’ve been seeing lots of quilts with little strips inserted on Pinterest, and finally got around to developing my own.

First, I got out all my solids, including the Grunge, and cut a 12″ square from each for background.  I planned to trim the blocks to 10.5″ after I finished inserting strips, since I have a 10.5″ square ruler 😀  No point making things difficult; let’s plan for easy!

Then I got out all my scraps and cut them into strips ranging from about 1″ to 2.5″ in width.  I made strip sets and cut them crosswise into strips for the quilt.   The inserted strips were cut in widths varying from 1″ to 2″, which of course means they finished 0.5″ to 1.5″ wide in the blocks.  I made more skinny ones than wide ones.

I just slashed the blocks at random angles.  I did slash and insert only one strip at a time. 

After I’d inserted enough strips to suit me, I trimmed each block to 10.5″ square.

Just look at the fun flower design my quilter used!

And yes, I left 3 blocks unpieced to add interest.

Quilt stats:  Fiddlesticks

Finished size: 49″ x 69″

Designed by me, based on multiple inspirations from Pinterest

Technique: Improvisation

Quilted by Julia Madison

Color Gets the Credit, Value Does the Work

I don’t recall where I first heard the statement that titles this post but, when I ask Ms. Google, I find it a common saying on art teaching sites. It is certainly true in quilting.

The class I taught most recently was about learning to use color in quilts. We used Linda Hahn’s pattern Junk to Jems. I gave each student a handout with numerous ways to vary the blocks. Everyone brought scraps and we all worked on different ways to combine them. It was fun and we got some very interesting color combinations.

Here are some of the blocks made in the class:

And here are a couple of variations I made as class samples:

As with all Linda’s patterns, Junk to Jems was clearly written.  I’ll probably use it again because so many variations can be made with this block.

And yes, I am using both cream and white backgrounds in the same quilt 🙂

A Swap Block for Donation Quilts

One of my quilt groups makes donation quilts about 40″ square for various organizations. The size is easy to construct and quilt at home, and is appropriate for the children who receive the quilts.  Here are the recent group donations:

We often use swap blocks for our quilts and recently decided on a new swap and I want to tell you about it. One of your quilt groups may enjoy it, too!  Here’s how:

First make a big wonky log cabin block. Our blocks started with a 5″ square, which was modified to make a wonky center.  It was then surrounded by strips from my scrap bins, and occasional strips were trimmed so they were wonky, too.

These big blocks are 21″ square (unfinished).

We cut each block in quarters, so each quarter is 10.5″ unfinished, and started arranging them to make a quilt top that would finish at 40″ square.

This was how we eventually decided to arrange them in the finished top:

And then, of course, we made 4 more:

If you decide to do this, there are only 2 things to watch out for:

  1. As you add strips, keep measuring to be sure the center block remains centered enough so that there will be a piece of it in each quarter when you cut the block up.
  2. It’s easiest if the final round of strips is considerably wider than needed so the block can be trimmed to (unfinished) size easily without running into seams.

This is a really fun way to use scraps!  If you make one, or use this for a group swap, send me a picture!

Scraps Happen, Part I

When I mentioned recently that I was making a basket to hold scraps as I work on a project, my blogging friend Elizabeth asked how I decide what to do with the scraps.  This first post will be about how I design scrap quilts; the second in the series will be about how I use inspiration from other quilters; the third will be about how I modify published patterns for scrap quilts.

My first improvised scrap quilt was made close to 20 years ago.  I absolutely just starting sewing scraps together and kept it up until I had a collection of blocks.  The scraps were all from an Amish-style quilt I had made, which kept the blocks cohesive.

improvisational blocks

I then added 2 shades of yellow for sashing.

improvisational quilt

Nothing Is Wasted, my first improvisational quilt, 2001-2002

Using scraps from a single project is one way to be sure the scraps all play well together, assuming the fabrics were well coordinated in the original project.  After making the quilt below for Modern Quilts Unlimited with some yummy Cotton Couture fabrics provided by Michael Miller…

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

I started sewing all my tiny scraps together and added a tiny paper-pieced star to make a donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

scrap quilt

Confetti Star, 20″ x 20″, 2014.  Some of these pieces finish less than 1/4″ square

I then started combining scraps of a single color to make blocks.  I called them “slabs”, since the idea of making single-color scrap blocks came from Cheryl Arkison (though hers are much more orderly than mine).  Here is one example of a quilt made from these single-color blocks:

On at least one occasion I decided a collection of yellow and orange scrap blocks were booooring, so I cut them up and inserted some bright blue before combining them in a quilt:Improvisational quilt, orange and blue quilt

Sometimes I am “forced” to design a new quilt because the scrap bins are overflowing.  When the strip bins got out of hand last spring, I designed this quilt.  The idea of putting a circle in the alternate blocks came from my friend Jerri.  The triangle blocks were because I have a 60 degree triangle ruler 🙂

Machine applique of these circles was done after the quilting, so there was no need for further stabilizer

On another occasion, some friends and I had way too many 2.5″ blocks, so we developed these blocks and set them on point.  That quilt hung around for a long time “needing something”.  Eventually I added a central motif, and here it is:

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them

Another design process I like to use is to simply fill a piece of batting with scraps.  For the table runners shown below, I selected a group of fabrics for the top and a piece of backing fabric about 6″ longer and wider than the finished runner.  I spray basted the batting to the backing, then started filling the space on the batting with pieces of fabric from my collection. I didn’t sew them down until I had a whole section done, since this type of designing involves cutting off bits here and there to keep edges even.

modern table runner

Here is one of the samples for my improvised table runner class

improvisational quilt

I have taught this method as a class, but it proved to be too unstructured for some people, who really just wanted to make my runner.  I continue to use the method for myself but have not attempted to teach it to others again!

So, in response to the question of my process for designing scrap quilts, it’s really just “by the seat of my pants”.  I do start with a collection of fabrics I like together, but otherwise it’s sew first, plan later.  What I’m not showing, of course, is all the “fizzles” that got thrown out along the way!

Please stay tuned for Part II, scrap quilts inspired by other quilters.  And go visit Elizabeth, who inspired this post!

Donation Quilt Catch-Up

I now belong to THREE groups that make donation quilts, and it may be a bit much.  I’ve decided to focus on the group I’ve been working with the longest, both because it was the original and because we donate the quilts locally.  (I fear there’s some truth to Garrison Keillor’s quip that most donation quilts sent to other countries go to hot climates where their best use is as compost.)

I see from my notes that I fell behind on donation quilts over a year ago due to being over-committed.  Duh.  Anyway, here are my recent attempts to catch up.

I found this panel in the SCRAP BIN at a shop where I teach, so I got it for $1 an ounce! The finished quilt is 34″ x 44″.

This top was started over a year ago when I wanted to experiment with half-rectangle triangles. The finished quilt is 40″ x 48″

This was made from slabs swapped in one of my groups. I spy some orphan blocks incorporated into slabs!

This one was done for leaders and enders, and is going to have to be entitled “Nobody’s Perfect”! Finished size is 34″ x 39″

I made this after starting the blocks as a class demonstration last time I taught “Twinkle”. Finished size is 40″ x 40″

I can just hear somebody saying, “Well!  That certainly is a variety!”  It would be more efficient to make the same pattern multiple times, but I just can’t do it.

What are your favorite donation quilt patterns?