Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Simple Strips and Scrappy Herringbone {Contributor Tutorial}

Hello! My name is Kat and I am thrilled to have been invited to be a part of Amanda's week of tutorials.  I blog over at Kat and Cat Quilts where I talk about quilting and my cat-allergic cat, mostly ;)

Simple Strips on left and Scrappy Modern Herringbone on right.

Amanda asked my to share my tutorials for a couple of my favorite scrap quilts, the Simple Strip Quilt and the Scrappy Modern Herringbone.  I am the consummate scrap quilter, so nothing makes me happier than being able to dig into my scraps and make something usable!  While both of these quilts could easily be made in larger sizes, baby quilts provide instant satisfaction because they take so little time to make.

Scrap management in action

Step 1 for both of these quilts is to organize your scraps.  No, really!  Amanda Jean talks about it in Sunday Morning Quilts and it really is true, it's really hard to use your scraps when they're just in one big bin. Besides, I find all the pretty colored piles really inspiring.  I sort my scraps by color and shape. The jars hold strings, triangles, and crumbs, the larger pieces are kept in small piles on the shelves. I usually look at whichever color pile is tallest to decide what the color scheme of my next scrap quilt will be.

Simple Strips

First up is the Simple Strips quilt. I have made a few quilts of this type and it's one of my favorite ways to make a quick baby quilt, use up a lot of scraps, and get a great effect.

Step 2 (after you get organized) is to decide on a common width to cut all your scraps to.  I chose 3.5" because I figured I'd be able to find plenty of scraps at least that size (I tend not to consider fabric a scrap until it gets under 5").  Whatever you decide on, that will be the unfinished height of the rows in your finished quilt.  Go through you chosen scrap pile and cut your fabrics to measure your common dimension in at least one direction.  (So for example, my fabrics were 3.5"x2", 3.5"x6", 3.5"x4"... etc.  3.5"x Whatever. You get the idea.)

I don't have step-by-step pictures, so these will have to do

Step 3 is to begin sewing the scraps together into one looooooong strip.  Start by sewing them into pairs, then sew the pairs together, and continue sewing the scraps together into longer and longer sections until you have joined all your scraps into one long strip several hundred inches long.

Step 4 is to do some math.  If you'd rather avoid math at all costs, trial and error is also a fine method.  There are a couple of ways to go about this.  What I usually do is decide on the width I'd like my final quilt to be (in this case I chose 36"). I put something like a yard stick on the floor and begin folding my long strip back and forth in sections the width I'd like my quilt to be.  However many folds you can make, that's how many rows of strips you'll have for the finished quilt. Multiply that by the height of your finished strip (3" for me) and you'll have the height of your finished quilt.  If it's enough, move on to step 5, if not, add some more scraps to the end of your strip.

Alternatively, you can determine how many linear inches of strip you need to make a quilt of certain dimensions, then compare it to how many you have so far.  Say I want to make a quilt 36" wide and 42" long and my strip will finish at 3" tall.
42" long/3" per row= 14 rows of scraps needed
14 rows x 36" wide = 504 linear inches of scraps
So once my long strip of scraps reaches at least 504" long I have enough.

My scraps even included some pieced pieces!
Step 5 is to subcut the long strip into the rows of your quilt.  Whatever you have decided on as the total width of your quilt (in my case, 36") cut the strip into sections that long.  My scrappy strip made (13) 36" long rows.  I can't tell you enough how easy and fast this technique is.  You can literally make an entire quilt in an evening.

Step 6 is to stack the rows up on your design wall and decide what order they should go in. When you are happy with the arrangement start sewing the rows together into the finished top.  Square up the edges and ta-dah, you're done!

This quilt, blogged here, is another made using the same technique with a few tweaks.  First, instead of using just one common dimension I used three, so I had strips that finished at 3" tall, 4" and 5".  I subcut the strips to a common length and arranged them just like in the steps above. Then, before sewing the rows together, I added a thin sashing between the rows.

You could also easily add a vertical sashing between each of the scraps as you sewed them into your long strip for a sort of crooked bricks look. There are endless variations you could make with this same technique!

(You can view the original version of this post here. You can also view the "finish" post for the pink Simple Strips quilt here, which includes details about the spiral quilting.)

Scrappy Modern Herringbone

Second up is the the scrappy modern herringbone. I have been seeing these quits pop up every where in the modern blogging world and just had to make one.  It makes a perfect quick, scrappy baby quilt AND a great scrap buster!

Just like I said up there at the top of the page, before you start sewing, really pre-quilting step one, is to organize your scraps.  Having your scraps organized makes them sooo much easier to use and be inspired by.  So, scraps organized? Good! On to the sewing!
Step 2 is to pick two contrasting colors (or color groups) for your quilt. I chose muslin and blue with a bit of green.  Pick a size of square to start with.  A 5" square will yield finished half square triangles of about 4" square.  It doesn't really matter what size you choose to start, as long as they are all the same.  You will need half as many squares of each color as the total number of HST blocks the finished quilt will have. (So for an 8x8 layout, that's 64 blocks, meaning I need to cut 32 squares from each of my colors.)

Step 3 is to go through your scraps cutting squares of your chosen size until you have enough.  If you start running out of scraps large enough to get a square from, you can also cut triangles half the size of your chosen square. 2 triangles = 1 square.

(Method #2 here details the technique we are using to make our HSTs)

Step 4 is to begin sewing your HSTs.  Use a pencil and your ruler to mark a line from corner to corner on the back side of all the squares of one color.  Then pair up the fabrics with the opposite color, right sides together, and sew 1/4" to either side of the line.  Cut the blocks in half along the marked line to yield 2 HSTs per pair. Press and trim if desired (I hate trimming, and since this is a scrap quilt anyway, I just let it go.)

Step 5 is to arrange your blocks on the design wall.  In retrospect, I wish I had tried more to keep the blues similar where they touch. Oh well, just an excuse to make this design again!  When you are happy with your arrangement begin sewing the top together. I prefer to sew this type of quilt together by grouping the small blocks into larger and larger blocks, rather than rows.  It makes it so much easier to make those points match!

That's it! There are plenty of potential variations to this design. Try going for rainbow colors, or creating a gradation across the quilt.

(If you wish you can view the original version of this tutorial here or the "finish" post for this quilt here.)

If you enjoy this tutorials please comment and let me know. I love to hear your feedback! You can find more of my tutorials on my blog under the "Tutorials" tab.  Thanks to Amanda for inviting me to participate this week!


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