Friday, December 31, 2010

Stacking (Quilt) Blocks

Sophie's Stacks Block #3This 10 inch block (finished size) is my variation on the traditional Chinese coins quilt pattern.  Each block is unique as you decide how evenly (or not) you will stack the fabric coins.

I'm calling it "Stacks."

It's a great scrap-buster and is easily made from 2-1/2 inch wide noodles or jelly rolls.

For the January Block Lotto, we are making this block in scrappy bright fabrics–solids, tone-on-tones, hand-dyes, batiks, plaids, florals, novelties, geometric or any kind of prints with a white background.


All the pieces you need for this block ar 2-1/2 inches wide.

For one block you'll need:

10 white (background) rectangles cut 2-1/2 by 3 inches
5 different bright (focus fabrics) rectangles cut 2-1/2 by 8 inches

  1. Sew a white background rectangle to each end of each of the strips of focus fabric.  Press all seams toward the focus fabric.

    Sew Background rectangles to each side of each strip

  2. Arrange your stack--do NOT line up any of the seams ... and you won't have to worry about matching them when you sew the rows together.

    Arrange your "Stack"

  3. Sew your stack together as you have arranged it.

    Sew the strips together as arranged

  4. Trim your block to 10-1/2 inches square, making sure there is at least 1/2 inch of white background on each side of the bright strips.

    Trim block to 10-1/2 inches square
Example Blocks

Here's a bunch of stacks made by some of the Block Lotto sneak peekers--more than you would need to make even a California Kingsize bed quilt.

For a closer look at the individual blocks, check out my flickr set Bright Stacks.

Thanks to Benta, Caroline, Cathy, Debbie, Julie, Kate, Laurina, Maree, Mary Jane, Michelle, Rho and Sara for the photos of their blocks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adding Complexity to the Simple Tree Block

If you surfed past the Free-style Tree blocks because you thought they weren't interesting enough on their own . . . consider adding a few boughs, using the drawing with your rotary cutter technique to add some complexity and interest.  I also liked the idea of making a mix of trees with varying complexity and height.

Sophie's Trees

These are my tree block pairs for the December 2010 block lotto. They are 6.5 inches wide (to finish at 6) and 6.5, 9.5 or 12.5 inches tall (to finish at 6, 9, or 12)

The technique is a variation of my Free-style Tree blocks.  Here's how.  For each pair of trees, I started with two pieces of fabric, 8 inches wide and as tall as my target size plus 2-3 inches.  So, for the yellow/black tree pair (which will finish at 6 by 12), my rectangles were cut at 8 x 15 inches. For my 6 x 9 blocks, my beginning rectangles were 8 x 12 inches.  And for the  inches squares, I began with 8 inch squares.
  1. Begin by stacking your two fabrics evenly and making horizontal cuts.  Use a ruler so the seams will be straight (and easy), but they don't have to be perfectly horizontal.  I tended to make the top and bottom sections a little larger because I knew I would be trimming a little at the end when I cut my blocks to size. The number of cuts you make will determine how many side-ward pointing "boughs" your tree will have.
  2. "Draw" the appropriate part of the tree in each section:
    • 2 vertical cuts in the bottom section form the trunk
    • a triangle in the top section to form the top of your tree--be sure to leave a lot of "sky" at the top if you want to avoid losing the point
    • wedge shapes--shorter on the top edge than the bottom and slanted on the sides--in the middle section(s)
    Stack 2 Fabrics and Slice Draw your tree
  3. Swap the fabrics in the tree sections to create your trees.
  4. Sew the block together by first sewing the pieces in each "row."
  5. Swap top and bottom fabrics Sew rows
  6. After each row is sewn, trim the top and bottom edges even. You can leave trimming the top and bottom of the block until later.
  7. Trim edges
  8. Sew the sections of tree together.
  9. Sew rows together
  10. Square up and trim to your target block size. (For my block, 6.5 x 12.5 inches.
  11. Square up block
Click here for a look at many more examples of the "Jewel-tone Forest" quilters have made for the block lotto--if you're interested in joining us, there's still time.  The deadline is December 31.