"X" MARKS THE BLOCK - THE TUTORIAL
Are your strippy scrap bins or bags stuffed to bursting? This is a great scrappy project to help you reduce some scraps and ALL WITHOUT A PATTERN (sometimes a project without a pattern is like a day without pantyhose...ahhh...).
I don't use a paper or fabric foundation when making these blocks...mostly because I am too lazy to reproduce the foundations, then later peel all those pieces of paper off my sewn blocks. If you would like to use a foundation, go right ahead...it's all good. But I challenge you to try one block without a foundation to s-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself.
Here's the ONE I tried with a 8.5 inch paper foundation...it was really harder than doing it without one, believe it or not...
This block/quilt uses mostly "strips" and "chunks." I define strips as anything from 3/4 - 2-1/2 inches wide. I try to keep them separate in my quilt cave - that way I don't have to dig through all my scraps just to find strips. Chunks can be odd-shaped, cut-off chunks of leftovers or wider strips, maybe even extra triangles or squares.
If you are careful and use fatter strips at either end of the central pieced section, you don't have to fool with using chunks. We just don't want to trim down our final blocks and find too many seam allowances in the corners where blocks meet.
The focus fabrics that form the "X" need to contrast the rest of your general scraps. I used blacks with brights. You could use something light as well, or maybe a color. Your "X" strips can either be scrappy like mine or all one fabric/color. Medium to dark batiks with light "X" strips would look cool. Maybe red and neutral scraps with green "X" strips for a holiday quilt. The sky is the limit!
I cut my "X" strips 1 - 2 wide. The variation just adds to the wonkiness and draws attention away from the fact that the "X" strips don't line up between blocks. You can see below how the scrappy black strips are different widths and don't match up precisely...charming! Sometimes, my strips are wider at one end than the other...even MORE charming!
After looking at my available strips and chunks, I chose to make blocks that would finish eight inches square. I had some short, stubbly strips that were 3.5 to 4 inches long, so I decided on a center diagonal strip that would finish about 3 inches wide.
After looking at your scraps, you may decide to make smaller or larger squares, of maybe even rectangles, triangles, or other shapes. I will show you how I figured out the rough dimensions of my units, then you can apply what I did to your size block.
Here is my 8.5 inch square ruler with a 3 inch wide ruler on top (which represents my central pieced strip). See how I have allowed roughly a half inch at each end?
You can see, from the pictures above, that the unfinished length of that initial, central pieced strip needs to be at least 13 inches, once it is pressed.
In my quilts, the strips that define the edge of the central pieced strip and make the prominent "X" design are scrappy black. Yours could be light, dark, or a certain color. They can be scrappy or cut from one fabric. You can see in the pictures above and below how to determine the minimal length of these setting strips.
Each strip added to the central pieced strip needs to be at least a half inch longer in each direction than the edge of the ruler.
Now you can vary the size of your blocks and central pieced strip to please you. Just be sure to allow adequate overhang of strips so that when you square up your blocks you won't have any holes!
Just because you see brights and blacks in my tutorial doesn't mean that is the only color option possible. Look at your scrap stash, then decide how YOU want to proceed. You can even do it without a contrasting color for the "X" strip.
Look at the backside of this finished block to see how you should press your block as you progress. I pressed the central pieced strip only after piecing the whole thing, then pressed the seams in the same direction, either way.
Then starting with the black focus strips, I pressed each added strip to the outside.
Now just fill some bobbins, put in a new sewing machine needle, replace your rotary cutting blade, and let's get started!
I do not cut the short strips to 3.5 inches before chain-piecing the little strips together into a long section...as long as they are at least 3.5 inches long, it's OK of they are a little longer.
Some of these strip sets have a triangle or chunk at either end, sometimes just a piece of a wider strip. I do this to avoid an accidental seam too close to the corners where 4 blocks will meet.
Start with a chunk, wide strip or triangle at one end, then chain-piece strips together, matching up one end of your irregular, variable in length, short strips. Do not worry about pressing after each addition of a strip. Check the length of your pieced strip as you go. This central pieced strip needs to be at least 13 inches long...make sure you stop in time to place another chunk, wide strip or triangle at the opposite end.
Press strip to the outside.
Place this opposing strip. face down and centered on the other side of the strip, with the help of a ruler (or just "eyeball" this for extra wonky-ness). Your stitching line should be at 3 inches (or the outer edge of this strip should be 3.25 inches from the opposing seam).
After stitching, trim away extra seam allowance with your rotary cutter or scissors. (Would you believe I save some of these longer cut away leftovers? That will be the subject of another liberated tutorial project!).
Lori L used fun, colorful scraps with lime green "X" strips. I've never seen such a fun bag of colorful, happy scraps (I admit it...I had scrap envy!) Both had stunning results!