Jun 1, 2013

Pieced strip blocks

OK... After playing quilting and sewing some, you end up with a bunch of scraps.  DON'T THROW THEM AWAY!!!  With a roll of adding machine tape, you can go from this:

to this:

What a difference!  And just think that all those little pieces of awesomeness could be in the trash by now...  Such a sad thought after seeing this beautiful piece of modern quilting in action!

I came up with this idea after watching Peggy Martin's Craftsy class, Quick Strip Paper Piecing. You just need a roll of adding machine paper, which will be the foundation for the strip. The difference with the blocks I'm showing in this block is that the scraps I have are way smaller and the finished effect is more scrappy. Here is how you do it.

Cut a length of adding machine paper a tad longer than the length you want your finished piece to be.  Start by placing one scrap with the right side facing up, close to the end of the paper strip. Feel free to pin it or glue this first piece, just to keep it in place.  Right on top of it, on the edge, right side facing down, put a second scrap of fabric. 

Sew a 1/4 inch seam.  Remember to shorten your stitch length - this will be extremely useful when the time comes to separate the fabric from the paper.  Also, paper-piecing really gets your needle dull, so either use an old needle or be prepared to dull the one you are using at the moment.

Open the fabric on top.  If you use larger pieces of fabric, feel free to press them open.  In this case, I was working with very little pieces, so I did not press until after I finished the strip.

Take another piece of fabric and sew it on top of the others, just like you did with the previous scrap.

Keep adding scraps of fabric.  Every once in a while you'll end up with a funky line that is not straight, like the one in the next picture.

Just work your way with it and try to get back into a straight line by adding more scraps. 

Once you finished covering the strip of paper, you'll end with something that looks like this:

At this point, you can press the strip so that you set the seams. Remember to press in the same direction you sewed the scraps. You can spray the strips with some starch, but be careful so that the paper doesn't get wet; if it does, it will warp and your strip will no longer be straight, and you won't be able to use the paper as a cutting guide.

Now you can go ahead and trim the excess fabric; use the paper as a guide.  Like this, you will always end up with a straight, accurate strip of pieced fabric scraps.

The next step is comparable to that time when you were a kid, poured white glue on your hand, waited for it to dry and then peeled it off!!!  Soooo satisfying  :)

What you need to do is just peel the paper off.  Now, be careful not to pull too tight or you can distort the stitches and the strip won't be straight.  This is also why you should reduce your stitch length; this makes pulling the paper off way easier and don't distort the fabric.  You will end with something that looks like this:

So, from a bag of scraps to pieced strips, ready to go into a fabulous quilt block!

In order to make the pods, I cut the long strips and sewed them together to form 5" by 5" squares.  I then framed the squares to bring a little structure to the  blocks.  I decided to use a solid fabric in a neutral color so that the eyes have a chance to "rest" and create a sense of structure in the composition.

You can even end up with a border for a quilt!  And just think that these little pieces of wonderfulness may have had a very different ending...  Enjoy!

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