A confession…I love leftovers, both food and fabric! They give me an opportunity to be creative, I feel virtuous for not being wasteful and sometimes they even save me a little time.
Here are a few recent finishes that began as orphan blocks, trimmings or bits and pieces floating around the scrap bin and design wall.
Some leftover strips became a table runner.
A few orphan blocks became a pillow and a table mat.
And sometimes everything “clicks” and a few units that have been marinating for a long while are the impetus for something that keeps me exploring, and revising, and reworking until it makes me very happy!
So, the moral of the story is… save all those leftover bits because you never know when they will be just what you need to get your next project started!
(The table runner and place mats in the featured image began as some odds and ends from the recent Riley Blake challenge.)
Welcome to the second day of the 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop!
It is so exciting to be part of the block hop, sponsored by Cloud9, and hosted by Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter! There are almost 70 bloggers designing blocks using the fat quarter bundle of lovely organic Cirrus Solids generously provided by Cloud9 fabrics. The hosts chose this palette for the hop, called “Berry Harvest”. I decided to use four of the colors, leaving “Lilac” out this time around.
My block, Woven Berry Basket, is an improvisational block based on the traditional basket weave design. It uses a free form cutting technique (a.k.a cutting without a ruler).
The goal of this tutorial is to introduce you to this technique. There are two main principles that I use in improv piecing:
if it is too short, add on
if it is too long, cut it off
Your block will not be exactly like mine, but I will describe a process that you can use to make one that is similar in design.
Tips for improv piecing:
A rotary cutter with a 60mm blade is my preference for free form cutting
Set the stitch length on your machine a little shorter than usual
Cut 4 strips 5 in x 18 in (approx) Here’s your first chance to cut without the ruler!
2. Free hand cross cut strips that vary from about 1 in – 2 .25 in width from each strip
3. Stitch 9 pairs of strips together, varying the colors and widths.
4. Press seams to the darker fabric
5. Add a third strip to each set, again varying the color placement and width of strips.
6. Lay out the 9 units in an alternating vertical, horizontal pattern.
*At this point, you will need to start making decisions based on how your units are sized. I will attempt to describe how I solved the puzzle.
For the first row, I decided to cut the bottom off the middle unit, and add a strip to the third unit.
I followed the same procedure for the second row:
But when the units were assembled, the second row was shorter than the first, and I was aiming to have each row approx 13 in wide so that I would be able to trim it down to 12.5 in. What to do? Add on!
To assemble the rows, I trimmed the top edge of the second row, then overlapped it onto the bottom of the first row (right sides facing up). Using that cut edge as my guide, I trimmed the bottom of the top row to match.
Follow the above procedures to assemble the third row and attach.
If your block is big enough, just trim to 12.5 in square and your block is complete. If it is too small, improvise! You might add some strips to form a frame, and then trim.
Here is my finished block:The thing I like best about improvisational work is that you are engaged making design decisions throughout the process. *Warning: this may be addictive! As I work, I find myself asking lots of “What if?” questions:
What if I cut the strips wider (or thinner)?
What if I used 5 colors?
What if I only used 2 colors?
What if it was scrappy?
What if the units were smaller and I made a 4 x 4 grid?
I hope you will give this a try, and that you will enjoy the process as much as I do. If you make a block, I’d love to see it! For those on Instagram, tag your photo @pennylanequilts and use the hashtag #wovenberrybasket.
Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have.
And don’t forget to enter the Giveaways! Visit each of our wonderful hosts for the chance to win 3 separate fat quarter bundles of beautiful Cloud9 Cirrus Solids.
Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the hop. You’ll be glad you did!
Pillows are one of my favorite projects to make. Each one is its own little composition, and it’s a great way to create something decorative and functional for your home. I think they make great gifts, too.
If you want to try a new piecing technique, a bit of free motion quilting or even some hand quilting, a pillow is a much smaller commitment than a quilt. Last month I experimented with some worn out jeans and some thrifted shirts.
Orphan blocks can find a new home in a pillow. A bit of special, long hoarded fabric can be featured in a place of honor. Experiment with a new color scheme and see where it takes you.