Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures in fabric therapy...

When I was on my anti-cough campaign a few days ago, I did some mindless chain-piecing of bright and novelty scrappy strips and chunks.  REAL fabric therapy!  I've had an idea for a scrappy string-like quilt for a long time.  I was looking at a guitar a few weeks ago and noticed the fretboard structure of the guitar neck.

When I look at these scrappy strip sets, I see each strip as a fret board on a guitar neck (once a musician, always a musician...).

Instead of just doing the basic "piecing strings on the diagonal" block idea, I knew I could come up with some way to make and use these "fabric fret boards" in a bigger block.  These little stubby strips were really piling up in the quilt cave, and it seemed like a good way to use them up without too much handling and re-processing of them.

I didn't take time to trim them...just kept grabbing pieces that were approximately the same length.  With some of the novelty pieces, I tried sort of "fussy-piecing" them so that I would end up with the desired little picture in place once I trimmed the strip set down to the final width (this will give the finished project the additional whimsical surprise of an "I spy" quilt that I love...).

I settled on a a final block design that would feature this strip set centered on the diagonal of a finished 8 inch block, and the strip set would be about 3 inches wide.  I'm sure someone else has done something like this before...

I decided to set this diagonal strip apart from the remaining block components with scrappy black strips on each side.  This will be the one unifying feature for the top, and help contain all that scrappy, crazy loveliness.  The first strip was easy...I just lined it up and sewed it down.  When I was chain-piecing the initial skinny scrap strips, I pressed all seams in one direction.  As I sew on the black scrappy strips, I sew in the direction of those pressed seams so that everything will press nice and flat as I go.  Since there will be so many pieces in each block, it is important to do neat seam pressing maintenance as I go so that the top will lie really flat and nice for either hand or machine quilting.

After sewing the strip down, I trimmed away the leftover edge of the strip set.  If that strip was wide enough (and it usually was after sewing down the SECOND black strip), I actually SAVED IT thinking I could do something funky with the leftovers later...am I a nut, or WHAT?!?  I just trimmed with scissors instead of the rotary cutter.

Then I pressed the strip to the outside.  As I work, I have a 8.5 x 8.5 square ruler handy to make sure that what I am doing will "cover" enough fabric real estate to be able to trim the resulting mess down to an 8.5 x 8.5 block.  I'm paper-piecing without the paper!

Then, I "eyeball" where the second black strip should be placed in order to end up with the skinny strip sets  between the black strips measuring about 3 inches.  I was intentionally a little loosey-goosey with this 3 inch measurement.  I want the finished product to look a little accidental, or liberated.

I use my ruler just as a guide only, since I'm not looking for accuracy here.  This is really a liberated, or pattern-less project.  "Wonky" and "inconsistent" are key elements of liberated quiltmaking.

As I prepare to sew down this next black strip, look at that nice, FAT leftover strip I will cut off...I will definitely save THAT for later consideration...

(some of THIS leftover pieced strip is too skinny to keep...bummer!)

So I end up with a nice diagonal piece for my final block puzzle.

I'll show the next step of this adventure on Friday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Cute fabrics and idea - can't wait to see the rest.

  2. Gld to hear you're feeling better. Is this a good thing or a bad thing when I look at all your fabric strings and realize that I have most of them in my stash too....

  3. (As you can see I'm having a catch-up read!). It's really interesting to see what you are doing, looks like a fun idea. I'm like that too - keeping my scraps cut off my scraps!

  4. Really cute idea. I can't wait to see what the finished quilt looks like. What a great way to use up those scraps. I save my little itty bitty's, too. Heaven forbid that I throw anything away. You'd think they weren't going to be making fabric anymore. (I'd still be fine for the rest of my life!LOL) I hope you are beginning to feel better and stronger each day. :)

  5. Happy thanksgiving! I do love what you're doing with the fabric, I'll look forward to seeing more.


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