Thursday, March 26, 2015

No Rules Scrappy Piecing

A long weekend of quilting was just what I needed to recharge my batteries.

I hadn't participated in any quilting retreats since last spring. I was overdue. I love quilting at home but sometimes it's great to be sociable; see what others are making; and of course, learn and try new things.

The night before the retreat, I was planning what to bring. I had energy since I was taking the next day, a Friday, off. I tried to make a new block for my garden exchange - it was a dud. I made a stand from fabric and cardboard for my IPod Touch - it turned out ok, but I managed to get the measurements wrong. No big deal, but a sure sign that I was tired. Very tired.

So Friday I went to the retreat with at least 5 projects to work on. When I got there, I knew that if I did anything that required concentration, that it would be a disaster - so I took out my box of scraps. Turns out I didn't even have the energy to trim them. Not a good sign.
Box of scraps

So what did I do? I started sewing the scraps together. Any old way - it didn't matter, as long as I was sewing. After an hour of this, I decided to do the social thing and go see what my friends were doing. Quite a few of the quilters were making this very cool quilt called Toes in the Sand. It's a quilt of wonderfully pieced triangles set between solid triangles. Very intricate and very, very lovely. I wanted to make one - but that wasn't going to happen that weekend, until it hit me that I could make my triangles out of scraps. No measuring, no fussing with seams, just sewing tons of scraps together and then cutting the pieces into triangles!

When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I had 18 triangles completed. I even made a couple more Sunday evening!

Cutting a triangle from a scrappy block
Scrappy triangle is 12.5 inches on all sides
Tonight I got back into my scrap box since I need 24 scrappy triangles for the quilt. I don't usually write about my process (mostly because I keep forgetting to take pictures!) so this time I made an effort.

Leftovers attached to new piece
 Once I have a block that is big enough for my triangle template, I cut out the triangle. To make another triangle, I can attach the leftover fabric to a new piece. I trim the sides to make it easier to add more fabric, and keep going until the piece is large enough.
Trim to be able to add more scraps

I keep going like this, either adding leftover pieces to new blocks or just starting new blocks.
Isn't it adorable?
Pieced block from another project
Old blocks that never quite made it into a project can also be used to build up the scrappy piece. In this instance, this block was for my Beginner's quilt-along. I was using monochromatic colours within each block. I thought that black and white might look good, but they were definitely not monochromatic! Since the points on the block are pretty rough, I really didn't mind cutting it up for this project.

Here is the resulting triangle.

What I learned:

  • Not following any rules, not measuring and just playing with fabric is very therapeutic.
  • Although there are no rules, there are some best practices! The first one is to iron - a lot!
  • I made some of my triangles around a focal point, but tried not to make too many of these.
  • I have often played with my scraps when I want to sew but don't know what to do. When I started making these triangles, I had all kinds of partially sewn pieces that I could put together.
  • When you think a piece is doing well, cut it up and place a thin strip of fabric between the two pieces. It's also fun to invert the pieces when you put them back together.
  • The resulting triangle is often a surprise. Since I used a paper template, I'm never sure what my triangle will look like until it's been cut.

I now have 22 triangles and have chosen my background fabric. The next part of this project will be more structured. It'll be back to following the rules - just like going back to work after a vacation!

I've linked up to Fabric Tuesday and Link-a-Finish Friday (the quilt isn't finished but most of the triangles are!). Check out our fellow quilters!

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