Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Scrap Quilt Process

I made my son this blue quilt to take with him when he went to college. I hadn't made quilts in a long time, and didn't have a stash of fabric from which to select fabrics. So I went to the fabric store and bought half yard pieces of sixteen different fabrics, all blues. This is the finished result.
After I made this quilt, I made a couple more, and eventually developed a system to making the quilts that would allow me a lot of flexibility in my choices, yet use the fabric very efficiently. It had the added benefit of allowing me to easily figure out how big my quilt was getting. I didn't take in-process pictures until I started work on my black quilt.

By that time, I had made several of these quilts and started collecting fabrics for my stash. I noticed I had quite a few fabrics with black backgrounds, and wondered if they would make a successful quilt. So for the next few months, whenever I saw something I thought was pretty neat looking, I bought a half yard. After a while I felt I had enough, so I got started.

I always prewash all my fabrics. I bring them directly to the laundry room, bypassing my sewing area completely. This way, anything I want to use is ready.

I cut all the fabrics into 2-1/2" and 4-1/2" strips using a rotary cutter. Then I cut the strips in half crosswise, and matched a wide strip with a thin one. After sewing those and pressing them, I cut the strips into "chunks" of three sizes: 2-1/2", 4-1/2" and 6-1/2", as you can see across the top of my cutting table below:
One note: I have found it much easier to tilt my cutting table at an angle. I use a large drafting table, and I have a large cutting mat. I have a series of plexiglas strips 24" long by each measurement I want to use. I cut everything before I start sewing.

The nice thing about working this way is that everything is a multiple of 2". The three "chunks" fit well together in various configurations. I just match up things I like and think look good. I make large blocks 24" wide, but that depends on the size of the finished quilt. Since the block is based on a 2" square, it's easy to figure out when they get to the right size. I just make blocks of various lengths. When I have a few, I will sew them into long rows 24" wide. At some point I will lay them on the bed to see if I need more length.
I only have two rules to assembling the chunks into blocks:
1. The same fabric cannot "touch" except diagonally; and
2: Avoid "blobs", areas of too many dark fabrics, or too much of the same color or intensity.

When I have enough, I sew the long rows together to form the finished quilt top. Once the chunks are cut, it's easy to make a quilt top in a weekend.
I don't quilt my quilts, and I don't use filling. I find a nice fabric to use for the backing, and seam it the right size, tie the quilt every 4" with crochet cotton and then fold over the backing to make a nice wide binding. Then I machine sew it to the quilt top. These quilts are lightweight, wash like a dream, and are wonderful in summer. They make excellent "beach" or "picnic" quilts.
Here is the finished "Blacque Quilt". I wanted the colors to look like they were dancing across the surface. There are 31 different fabrics in this quilt. It's about 72" x 96".

6 comments:

Tybalt said...

Oh my paws and whiskers - more gorgeous creations! Millie's mom, you are indeed a wonder!

Threeundertwo said...

This is great! Thanks!

And I love your cat. They're so helpful, aren't they?

Quilter In Paradise said...

I need to do something like this - clean out the stash! and here in Texas, in the summer, it sometimes is too cool with just a sheet but not hot enough for a quilt with batting...
think I'll pull some fabrics!
Thanks for sharing!
Beth in Dallas

Sharon M said...

What a great method to making a wonderful quilt. Your idea of not using batting would enable me to sew it on my machine. All kinds of advantages here. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer said...

what a fantastic quilt! the scrappy, figure it out as you go are always the best kind of quilts.

larriclaire quilty said...

This information is just as valid and helpful as it was in 2008. Thank you from someone who has accumulated many expensive fabric scraps and didn't know how to work with them.