Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scrappy Quilts

Last year I participated in a Quiltville Yahoo group block swap. It was for Bonnie’s Chunky Churndash block.

I loved the blocks I made for the swap. (There's a little preview of what I'm doing for the setting blocks.)

But unfortunately I wasn’t happy with many of the blocks I received in return. Some will work in my quilt. Some were well made, but in fabrics that I'm not sure will fit into the quilt I have in mind.

And some that I can't make work because they were so distorted during sewing and/or pressing that they are misshapen. Plus, they didn't follow the swap rules (i.e. dark fabrics in the corners and lights in the outside of the pieced squares). These were the worst  of the bunch.

Sadly this swap kind of turned me off swapping blocks in the future. In the time it took to make the blocks I swapped, I could have done more blocks that would have fit into my quilt.

So now I do need to make a few more chunky churndash blocks to have enough for my intended quilt. But I also knew that I didn’t want to do hourglass setting blocks like Bonnie’s original quilt. Then I remembered one of Kim Diehl’s quilts and the darling appliqued blocks she used in her Peas in a Pod quilt (from “Simple Comforts”).

So I cut freezer paper templates for the dozens of arcs that I would need for the setting blocks. I went through my scrap basket to find scraps that would work for the arcs.

 Yup, I only used scrappy bits of fabrics – from leftover 2-1/2 inch strips, trimmings from backings and borders, and miscellaneous pieces of fabric – none of which was bigger than about a 6-inch square. Every arc is a unique fabric – and with only a couple exceptions, they aren’t used in any of the chunky churndash blocks in the quilt. I was somewhat indiscriminate in selecting fabrics for the arcs. I used pretty much any scrap except for 30s repros, batiks and brights.

I figured that I would take the fabric scraps and templates with me to Philadelphia next week and finish the prepping by pressing the fabrics around the templates in my hotel room. But I got started and couldn’t stop! I got them all prepped in about 90 minutes.

Then I started mixing and matching them onto the background fabric – and about 30 minutes later I had all of my blocks glued to the backgrounds and ready to machine applique.

I laid out a few of the blocks on the floor to see how the quilt might look when assembled – and I’m loving it.

I do love scrap quilts – but I like to do some things that unify the blocks. Here are my “rules” for scrap quilts:

1) Each block must look great by itself. The 3 fabrics I used in each block were carefully selected from my fat quarter stash to go together. Even though I used a variety of fabrics in all of the blocks (some of which wouldn’t go with each other), those in each block are definitely coordinated. I think this makes the quilt easier on the eyes because each block, in and of itself, is very pleasing to the eye.

2) Depending on the quilt pattern, there is at least one fabric that unifies the quilt. This might be a sashing fabric, as in this 9-patch square-in-square quilt top (needing to be quilted).

 The black sashing creates that unity, and also gives the eyes a place to rest as you look at the quilt with many different fabrics and colors. For the chunky churndash quilt, the unifying fabric will be the background of the appliqued setting blocks. (I have enough to use it for the border as well, but may opt for the srappy border that Kim did in her original quilt.)

3) Lastly, I try to use fabrics that are a similar style. For example, I’m not including any 30s reproductions in my chunky churndash quilt because they are just too “cute” for the look I’m going for. Similarly, some of the fabulous “modern” or “pop” fabric collections that are so popular today probably wouldn’t fit in this quilt (although together they would make a wonderful quilt in their own right.) I'm also avoiding florals for the most part because they are too "realistic" and not folk-arty enough. Civil war repros, on the other hand, would work in my quilt, as well as the fabrics from Kansas Troubles, for example.

I guess I’m just not enough of a risk-taker or rule-breaker to go totally scrappy and mix different styles of fabrics.

Time to get these blocks appliqued so I can get the top finished and deduct some fabric from my stash account!

Bye for now. (PS: yes, my computer is back in business. They claim I had a virus and several malware programs on the system. It's working now -- but I'm surprised that I had a virus, etc.  I run virus protection and malware software.  Oh well.)


Joanne said...

Great scrap quilt tips!♥
Too bad about the poorly made swap quilt blocks!! Unbelievable really. If I was sending something out, I would try to make it perfect.

Appalachian Quilts said...

I love what you are doing with the blocks, but I love anything Kim Diehl! :) I'm with you on swapping....I've had my fill. I now have a few UFOs that I stuck aside for the same reason, and just never got back to them. I have one group that I swapped with where we always got quality blocks back, but....they are still sitting there too! Can't wait to see your finished quilt!

Booklogged said...

Nancy, I have just stumble across your blog and I'm loving what I'm seeing. You are really an artist. Your quilts are beautiful.


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