I recently joined the Lib-Quilters group on Yahoo. This group is dedicated to the spontaneous and wonky style of piecing pioneered by the original liberated quilter, Gwen Marston. I’m just dipping my toe in the waters of wonky piecing, but I like the free spirit and crazy color combinations that prevail in this group. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out all the many online quilting groups at http://groups.yahoo.com, you are really missing out.)
I was poking around the group’s files and stumbled on an announcement that an international swap was about to start. Confession: in all my years of quilting, I have never once taken part in a swap of any kind. I’ve never swapped so much as a needle or a two-inch square of fabric. But if there’s one thing I have plenty of, it’s stuff to share with another quilter. So I signed up.
Here’s the swag I’m going to send to my swap recipient. Someone else is sending some swag to me. I can’t wait to see what goodies I get!
Right after I finished my post on how to sew a Friendship Star block, I discovered an easy variation of the block that uses three fabrics instead of two. This gives the block a whole different, scrappier look. In the three-color variation, the star’s center square is a different fabric from the star points. Here’s what the three-color star block looks like:
Compare that to the two-color block:
I love the zing the added fabric gives this block.
To make the three-color variation, you simply substitute one 4-1/2″ block of a third color for the center square. Then piece the block as described in the instructions in my previous post.
Every quilter should have a few star blocks in her bag of tricks. This week’s easy quilt block, the Friendship Star, is one of the simplest star blocks you can make. I also like it best among the star blocks because of its charming pinwheel quality. The block is made by combining squares with half-square triangle blocks. Here are two Friendship Star blocks I just made. The first one has a pale star with a darker background:
And the second one has a darker star with a pale background:
Friendship Star Supply List
The instructions in this post show you how to make a 12-1/2″ inch block (finished size 12″). You can make a smaller block by using smaller squares.
You need two fabrics to make a simple star block: one lighter and one darker. For each block, you will need to cut a number of fabric squares.
- You will need two 5″ squares of each fabric to make the half-square triangle blocks for the star points. (If you are a very accurate cutter, you can cut these squares 4-7/8″, but I prefer to make the triangle blocks a bit larger and trim them to the perfect size.)
- You will also need one 4-1/2″ square of the star fabric to be the center of the star, and four 4-1/2″ squares of the background fabric:
- Take the two sets of 5″ squares and use them to make four half-square triangle blocks. These will be the points of the star.
- Lay out the squares and triangle blocks like this:
- Sew each row of blocks together with a scant 1/4″ seam. I like to sew the rows from top to bottom. When you have joined the rows, the block should look like this:
- Sew the rows together and trim the block to square it.
You’re done! You have made a Friendship Star.
In the spirit of making good use of the blocks that are taking up space in my sewing room, I’m in the process of making one of my favorite easy quilts — a rail fence quilt made entirely with batiks. I’ve made this quilt many times, for friends, to donate to charities, and to sell. Over the years I’ve stockpiled a lot of rail fence batik blocks, and today I’m planning to use up everything I have. These blocks are the ones I thought were too wild to work in previous quilts, but today they’re all going to play together! I guess it will be a wild quilt. Someone will like it.
The quilt alternates 2-strip rail fence blocks with three-strip blocks. That small difference makes the quilt so much more visually interesting to me than the standard rail fence design, where all the blocks have the same number of strips. This layout has vertical two-strip blocks and horizontal three-strip blocks.
I’ve sewed together four rows of eight blocks, and the next row is laid out and ready to piece together.
This quilt grew out of an advanced case of clutter frustration. I was tired, tired, tired of having bags of scraps sitting all around my quilting room. I swore to myself that I would get rid of all the scraps from at least one of these bags. The red bag was my starting point because I like red and Valentine’s day is coming up.
I took all the scraps that were a couple of inches square or larger and made them into improvised Log Cabin blocks, using a stitch-and-flip method. I really loved the results. But how to use them in a quilt? Here’s my solution:
Improvised Log Cabin Quilt. 48″ x 70″, backed with Polartec fleece fabric. Machine pieced, machine quilted, and machine bound.
I made a tall column of the improvised blocks and flanked the blocks on both sides with a subdued white print, which I stippled to give it an interesting texture.
The red and white palette make me think of this quilt as a Valentine’s quilt, although it doesn’t have any hearts anywhere.
Here’s the whole quilt seen from above:
Here’s some more detail of the red blocks:
And a view of the folded quilt:
So how did my clutter reduction go? I do have a lot fewer red scraps (although my scrap bag is by no means empty.) And I made a quilt I really love. This is the first really modern quilt I’ve ever made. Of course, I had to buy the white fabric because I didn’t have a large enough quantity of white print. But I’m going to make a second quilt from this same basic design that uses only fabrics I already have on hand. I’ll post that one when it’s through.
Today’s project (and yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s) is machine quilting a quilt using some of the improvised Log Cabin blocks I made from my red scrap bag. The blocks themselves make a vertical line of red in a field of white. The blocks are simply stitched in the ditch, and now I’m working on stippling acres and acres of white, using my Brother 1500S mid-arm machine. I’ve gotten better at stippling over the years, and it’s fun. Here’s a view of a couple of the blocks:
And here’s another view that shows more of the stippling:
One of the joys of using up scraps is getting to rediscover fabrics I especially loved from earlier quilts, but didn’t have enough of to use in a larger format. My scrap bag was full of forgotten old friends I enjoyed pulling out and fitting into my blocks.
Linking up to Freshly Pieced today.