Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scrappy String Blocks + Bonus tutorial!

Hi everyone! January is my month as queen bee in hive 10 for the 2014 round of Stash Bee, and since I just spent what felt like forever writing a tutorial on how to make these blocks I thought I'd go ahead and share the tutorial with all of you.  Enjoy!

January Block- Hive 10: Scrappy String Block

Materials needed:
-Fabric scraps in bright fresh colors (ranging in length 12 inches to 2 inches, and in width 1 inch to 2 inches)
-White fabric measuring 4 inches by 12 inches
-Glue stick
-Scratch paper

We'll start our blocks by making our templates.  We're going to be sewing our fabric strips directly onto the paper and then tearing the paper away, so it's good to use a thinner paper.  I know some people like to use pages from a phone book since they're nice and thin.  I didn't have any phone books laying around, so I just used scratch paper.

Using your ruler draw an 8 inch square.  Draw a diagonal line through the square, and then draw a dotted line 1/2 inch above and below the diagonal.

Next cut your white fabric into 4 strips 1 inch by 12 inches long.  I used Kona white, but you can use any white or off white. 

Now for the fun part! Time to pull your fabric for the strips.  I went a little overboard and this is the pile I pulled.

I then ironed the scraps and cut the fabrics into strips ranging from 1 inch wide to 2 inches wide.  I think the majority of my strips were around 1.5 inches to 1 inch wide.  I didn't worry too much about the length of the strips, I just made sure some of them were at least 12 inches long.

Now grab some strips and arrange them over the template.  You want to make sure the fabric overlaps each other and the edges a bit.  One you have the strips picked out you can stack them in order and set them to the side.

 Now take your gluestick, your template, and one of your white strips... it's time to get started. 

On the template, zig-zag your glue stick along the diagonal, filling in the spaces between the lines.  Then lay your strip on top of the glue.  (you could, of course, omit the glue and either pin your strip in place or carefully hold it in place, but the gluestick works wonderfully)

Next, grab your first strip and lay it on top of the white strip, right sides together.   You'll want to make sure that the fabric strip you're about the sew is long enough that it goes over the edges of the template where the seam will be (1/4 inch from the edge).  Check your needle placement to make sure you have a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and shorten your stitch length (I set mine to 4, where my normal stitch length is 5), and you're ready to sew.  Sew down the edge of the strip, going back and forth at the beginning and end of the strip to lock the stitches.

 Now either finger press the seam open or press using an iron. 

Grab your next strip and lay it down right sides together with edges aligned.  Sew along the edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Open and press. 


 Repeat until you've covered one side of the template.

Now grab your other stack of strips and start on the other side of the template.

Now that your template is covered it's time to trim it down to size (8 inches by 8 inches). I found it easy enough to flip the paper over and trim along the lines drawn on the front of the template.

I found the easiest way to tear the paper away from the block was to fold along each seam, and then give the block a tug to pull the paper from the seams.

The seams will all be pressed towards the outsides of the blocks as a result of pressing the block as you go.  Don't feel you need to press the seams open, having them pressed to the sides is fine.

 Now give it a good press with your iron and it's ready to go!


Now that you've made one, it's time to make 3 more!  Once you get the rhythm of how to make them down they go very quickly.  Here are six of them that I made:

****Bonus Tutorial****
How to add a selvage edge to your quilt block:
On the sixth block I made I added a selvage edge.  I thought it was fun and added an interesting aspect to the block, so I thought I'd share how I did it.
Cut the selvage strip just like any other strip, but do not cut along the finished edge of the fabric, since it's already finished :-) (I probably didn't need to say this, but I thought I'd include it just in case there was any confusion)
Start your block just like any other block.  

When it's time to add in the selvage strip, instead of laying the selvage strip right side down on top of the template and matching the seam with the strip below it, you're going to lay the selvage strip right side UP and overlap the finished edge with the strip below it. 

Now sew down the strip as close to the edge as you can get.  In the picture below my needle is approximately 1/8th inch (or possible even less) from the edge of the finished selvage edge.

Once you've sewn down the selvage edge, just continue your block following the tutorial above!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WIP Wednesday 12-4-2013

Wow... can anybody sad "bad lighting"?  Oh well, I don't have time to take a better shot. This is as good as it gets for now.

As you can see I've made a little bit of progress on the quilt I'm making my niece since the last time I showed it.  All of the face pieces are on but I haven't done any actual SEWING of anything yet.  I definitely missed my goal of having this done by Thanksgiving.  Instead of stressing in the sewing room I just admitted to myself that it wouldn't be done in time and allowed myself to enjoy the holiday.  Holidays and family are stressful enough without trying to add in a crazy sewing deadline.

And as proof that I enjoyed my holiday, here's an impromptu photo we snapped of our little family while we were waiting for our photo with Santa.  <3 them!

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