Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June quilt QAL-week 2

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!


Susan Holman said...

The red may be bold but you will love it. (Maybe try a solid red corner post?) Since I have your book No Scrap Left Behind I started the big size and have my 100 string sets sewn. My scrap bin has been begging me for attention! For fun I added some selvage strips also since I've got a bin of those to be used too. These are so fun I may need to keep going! Thanks for the fun quilt ideas.

Elaine M said...

Thanks for the great instructions. Love your low volume blocks. I'm also trying a red polka dot print since it was in my stash but using browns, prints on blacks, yellow, greens and blues. Maybe turquoise corner stones, need to shop my stash. Thank you for hosting a quilt along. Have a great week.

Moneik said...

I've been working on my string blocks this week, but too much camping is waylaying my progress. Hopefully, I'll get a bit more sewn yet this week.

Jeanmarie said...

I thought I was doing well but realized I only have about 20 blocks...better get back to sewing!! How many cornerstones will we need? The same number as string blocks?

Deb Robertson Writes said...

This is awesome! I am definitely going to do this when I get a chance. If I may be so bold, can I suggest you audition a darker corner stone for your red polka dot (which I love) I'm thinking navy polka dot maybe with bigger dot! Hope that's not too cheeky, you are the expert here!!!!!

Donna said...

Can't wait to get started! Thanks for the quilt along!!!

Judy said...

Guys, I'm liking your ideas for a changing up the cornerstones or the background. There is no place for the eyes to rest, but the chambray is too much quietness.

I went back and studied the lay-out again and I'm thinking it is the cornerstones that aren't just right.

Amanda it will be interesting to see what you end up with. Because you are right, that until the last seam is sewn, you can change anything about it you want.

Amanda Jean said...


Re: cornerstones

For the baby size, you will need 12 full cornerstones and some partial ones. You will need 1/3 yard of fabric (12")for this size.

For the lap size, you will need 17 full cornerstones and some partial ones. You will need a half yard of fabric for this size.

We will go through cutting the cornerstones next week.

I hope that helps!


Rivah Rats Quilting said...

Excellent tutorial! Am having a great time!

pingraham said...

Such an excellent tutorial! Thanks so much for this QAL, Amanda Jean. I had to order fabric for my background, and it arrived today, so now I can double check my fabric pull for the strips sets. I'll begin sewing them together tomorrow! Hurray! I like your reds together. Bold, but the low volume strip sets and the matching reds without other colors make it work without being too noisy. I like your suggestion to audition other fabrics as we go. I will do this for my cornerstones as I get some strip sets sewn, as you showed (such a helpful tutorial!). I may decide to switch to another, but the exercise might also help me be certain about my original choice. I cannot wait to start this tomorrow! I hope I can sleep tonight. I feel like it's Christmas Eve (possibly because my quilt is going to be a Christmas quilt.) I'm so excited! Ha! Thanks again for your book, your designs, and your helpful tutorials.

Di~ said...

Have you ever used a lint roller at your cutting table? I love it! It picks up those threads and small trimmings so slick! Love what you are doing here! Thank you, you are such a good example to me of being unselfish and helpful! :)

The Joyful Quilter said...

I've got my sashing and cornerstones chosen. I think I've narrowed down my string choices. The BEST news? I should be able to start sewing tomorrow!!

Abby said...

Wow. I wasn't going to join you on this particular quilt but watching yours come together I think I've changed my mind. I love it.
But I agree with others. I think your corner stones might need a change. They arn't singing the same song.
I'd love to see a few of your other corner stone options.

pennylanequilts said...

I'm so glad you decided on the polka dot background! For a minute there, you had me worried...😉 (p.s. Every day when I use my sweet squircle pin cushion, I remember you with a smile.) Thanks for sharing your scrappy projects with us!

Stehlice said...

Red and white polka dot fabric absolutely fits! My strips in this project are all from various polka dot fabrics, only my dots are smaller than yours. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas.

Mary Marcotte said...

I'm having a blast also. The tutorial has answered all of my questions so far. I wanted to ask how long the string blocks need to be but I was patient and waited. Oh, I still sewed, of course, making small chunks of 2-3" that can now become blocks. Fun using up all those scraps!

mangozz said...

I wasn't going to join in but I really love this quilt design! To keep the strips straight, wouldn't it be easier to use a stabilizer like phone book paper? Then you would also be sure that all the strips were a good width. Also, I really need to use fabric from my stash, but I'm not sure if I have a large enough piece of yardage for the background. Will check to see what is available and what color options I have. This should be fun.

✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ said...

Oh I love the strings on the chambray! It looks so vintage! But any way you decide to go I think it will looks great. I'm going to let my 6 year old make some of my strip sets. She's been begging to sew!

Unknown said...

Both your choices are so different, but equally beautiful! I am a bit late to this QAL, but better late than never! Now, time to choose my background....hmmm.

Showmethequilts said...

Easy to follow instructions and great photos. This is going to be a fun project. Can't wait to see it come together. Thank you!

Family Curator said...

I am using red and blue scraps with light scrappy background for a patriotic version, but I'm stuck on the cornerstones. Navy or more light scraps? If I use navy small dot I will have to swap out navy on some of the strips so they don't end navy to navy. Same problem with red cornerstones. Maybe more light scraps?
This is my first true scrappy quilt and I'd love some ideas or thoughts on where to go. I can't seem to post a photo here, but hope you get the idea.