Welcome to week 2 of the June quilt along! (If you are new to the QAL today, please check out my intro post here
This week we are making strip set blocks for our June quilts. I took a lot of photos to share and I hope that you find some tips or tricks to help you along the way. They are simple blocks to make...I hope you have fun with them!
This is my initial fabric pull for my low volume blocks. Anytime I make a quilt, I start with a fabric pull, but I edit constantly, up until the last seam is sewn.
These are a few of the strips that I took out, because when it came down to it, they were too bold for my liking.
Here are a few fabrics that I added because I needed more variety of subtle colors and prints. Successful scrap quilts take a lot of editing! It's a good thing there is no shortage of scrap around here. Ha!
No special tools are required for this quilt along, but I found these two very helpful. The ruler is 4 1/2" x 8 1/2"...the same exact size as the unfinished strip sets. The thread snips
(by Farmore Cutlery
) are wonderful for chain piecing. They are easier to pick up than a pair of scissors and are sharp, with a slightly curved tip...perfect for cutting the threads between quilt blocks.
One thing I hate about working with strings is just that....they are stringy! I recommend cutting a fresh edge right before you start using the strips. It makes it easier to sew the pieces together and the finished quilt blocks will be tidier. It takes a bit more time, but it eliminates a lot of frustration.
Isn't that much better?
Once the strings that you selected are tidied up, cut a few segments that are slightly longer than 4 1/2".
Sew two strips together and press the seam to one side.
Sew on a third strip, press seam to the side. (I like to press all the seams in one direction, but it really doesn't matter, in this case. If you are going to use a variety of lights and darks, I would press the seams toward the dark fabric as much as possible to prevent shadowing.)
I like to work on two or three strip sets at a time. Then, I can chain piece and that makes me feel efficient. Haha!
Audition strings and add pieces to either the top or the bottom. Or, some of each!
At this point, I measure my block. I have about 1 3/4" of space left to fill, so I start weighing my options and auditioning fabrics to finish the block.
I could either add in one wide strip....
Or add two narrower strips. Remember to account for seam allowances when measuring, especially when adding multiple strips. The goal is to avoid ending up with a very skinny strip (3/4" or less) on either end of the strip set.
I decided to add the one wider strip to the block. At this point, press the strip set well. A little bit of spray starch or steam is helpful for getting the blocks to lay flat.
Measure the block again and make sure that the strip set is larger than 4 1/2" x 8 1/2". There is a bit extra on nearly all sides, but very little waste. Hurray!
Trim the strip set to 4 1/2" x 8 1/2".
If you look closely at the block, you will notice that one of my strips was just a touch short (less than 1/16"), but that will be hidden in the seam allowance, so I am not too worried about it. If that strip would have been much shorter, I would have removed it and added a new one. :)
This block was better, with overhang on all sides....
and no gaps!
As you are making the strip sets, you may come across a time when one of your strips is no longer straight, but curved, as shown above. If this happens, take a second and trim it straight. (Or straighter, it doesn't have to be perfect.)
Then continue to add strips to the piece until it's the desired size. Sometimes trimming off a small sliver of fabric makes a big difference! You could also add a wedge shaped piece to the end to compensate for the curved piece. What you want to avoid is a banana shaped strip set. Those are pretty hard to square up.
Here's one other tip I wanted to share. It's pretty simple, but it's something that I think bears mentioning. I try to USE as many scraps as I can, without making a mountain of 'by-product' scraps. When I came across this scrap, just under 2 1/2" wide, I had to think it through. I could trim it down to 1 1/2" and leave a 1" strip, which would be hard to use, but also hard for me to throw away....
OR, I cut it in half, and have two usable strips. That's a much better solution! No waste, and no awkward scraps leftover. Win, win!
I managed to finish about a dozen low volume blocks for my quilt this week. I think they are so pretty all lined up together! I am very happy with my fabric selection and editing so far, too.
Here's your homework:
For the baby size, make 36 string set blocks.
For the lap size, make 48 string set blocks.
For the quilt in the book (85" square), make 100 strip set blocks.
Each block should measure 4 1/2" x 8 1/2".
After I made several low volume strip set blocks, I arranged them on my polka dot background fabric to see how it would look. It looked awfully bold and a little "out there". I wasn't completely sold on it.
I decided to audition my blocks on a chambray fabric instead. It's ok, but it's too safe and a little bit boring. After several days of consideration, I'm definitely going with the red and white polka dot background. Both would work, but I like the first option better! Often times seeing an alternate option helps make the decision. Taking a few days to think it though helps, too. There are hundreds of other fabric options out there, but I wanted to use my stash, so that's a big determining factor.
That's it for me today! I hope you have fun sewing up your quilt blocks! I will try to answer any questions in the comments. Thank you for quilting along with me!