Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hive #2--January Block Tutorial

Hello, everyone!  I'm so excited to start another round of Stash Bee.  I came in part-way through the last round and had such a great time.  I'm excited to be Mama for Hive #2 and Queen Bee for January!  Make yourselves at home and let's get to know one another.

What is your name?  Heather Karr
Where do you live?  Springfield, OR (but I also consider Moses Lake, WA and College Park, MD home)
Tell us about your family. My husband, Rhett, and I have been married 21-1/2 years.  We have 3 kids--Samantha, 16; Nicholas, 13; and Sarah, 10 (who has just joined her first online bee!)  We also have 2 cats.  We have no extended family nearby, so we're quite a close bunch (usually.)
Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.  I've been intrigued by quilts since I was a teenager.  I learned to do basic sewing from my mom and an after-school program, but I didn't realize that you could use a machine to quilt.  I didn't know any quilters growing up, and the only books around involved templates and hand stitching.  Not until two years ago did I find out about quilting blogs.  The discovery of tutorials with lots of pictures, YouTube videos and a new sewing machine were the beginning of the end :)
How do you organize your fabric stash?  My quilting fabric stash is pretty small--actually half of my yarn stash (but that's another story.)  Because I'm on a limited budget, I shop project specific, but try to get a little extra each time.  I use stacking/nesting plastic bins.  I have one large, one medium, one small, plus a basket of trimmed selvage ends.  The large one is for project specific groupings, solids and larger cuts (1+ yards.)  The medium is for larger scraps--between a fat quarter and a yard.  The small one is well, for the smaller pieces--less than about a fat quarter.
Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?  I enjoy a variety of fabrics, but when I'm doing something for myself, I tend toward Bonnie and Camille, BasicGrey, Lori Holt and Kate Spain.
What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?  I wish I'd've known how darned sharp those rotary cutters are.  I've had two trips to urgent care and have a couple of fabulous scars.  Still doesn't keep me from using them regularly, though :)  Be careful!
What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?  I love clover clips--I use them for binding, grouping pieces, and replacing pinning on thicker (non-quilting) fabrics.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  I had a really hard time with this one.  I was an English teacher in my previous life and I love reading all kinds of books and watching movies.  Right now I volunteer for the elementary school A LOT and I love characters like Junie B. Jones and Clementine.  Reading these makes me laugh out loud till I have tears in my eyes and feel like a kid again.  And that's really not a bad thing.

Now on to the really fun stuff ...

My inspiration for this block came from this picture from Amanda Jean's blog, Crazy Mom Quilts.  When I saw her Bright Birch Trees, I knew it was the perfect block for Stash Bee.  She does have the pattern for this quilt on sale here, but I saw it and had to do my own version.  I have not seen her pattern or directions, but present to you a tutorial that I developed based on her idea.

Random Bamboo AKA Scrappy Strips Block Tutorial:

I am going for a 15" square finished block (15-1/2" unfinished.)  I will do all the trimming once I get all the blocks.  Each block should have 3 strips no thinner than 1/2" wide finished (1" unfinished) and no wider than 2-1/2" wide finished (3" unfinished.)  They can all be the same width or all different.  Please try to make them NOT parallel.

at least a 16" (long) x 14" (wide) base block--any solid of your choice
Miscellaneous scraps of varying sizes and colors

The Base Block:
The thinner you want to make your strips, the larger your base block will need to be.  If you were to do all 1/2-inch strips, you'd want to start with at least 16" square or even larger to allow for seam allowances and trimming.  Also, if you use the smaller 16" measurement for the length, you'll have to be more careful about aligning the pieces after you add the scrappy strips.  If you've never done wonky or improv, go bigger to allow for the learning curve.

Make the Scrappy Strips (3 of 'em):
Once I cut my base block, I went through my scrap pile to find colors I thought would look good.  I decided to coordinate a little--feel free to go totally scrappy if you choose.  No need for straight lines here--vary sizes and colors.  Press the seams open as you go.  This helps the small pieces to lie flatter.

When your strip is about 18" long, trim up the sides.  The strips don't have to be an exact width but, again, no thinner than 1" and no wider than 3".  The extra length is needed when adding the strips onto the solid block at wonky angles.


This time I chose to go with three separate piles to use as many different fabrics as possible.  Alternatively, you could make one wider, single strip, then cut all 3 strips from the same base (shown below.)  Once I chose the scraps, I trimmed them to about 7".  This gave me enough room for trimming the ends even plus 3 strips--1.5", 2" & 2.5" wide.  You can adjust the width or the sizes of the strips you cut as desired.

Attach the Strips to the solid Base:
The procedure is the same for sewing on each of the three strips.  I worked one at a time to keep it simple.

I found that starting in the center of the solid base block helped me to see the spacing a little bit better.  Lay down one of your strips to see where you would like it to lie.  You want to lay your base block so the shorter side is the top/bottom measurement; you're adding width with the strips.


Then I laid my ruler down the center of that strip and carefully slid the strip out  from under the ruler.  Be careful not to shift the base block.  Now make a single cut.

Sew the strip to both sides of the base block.  a) I pinned down the seam allowances because I like the clean look it makes.  b) Sew pieces right sides together with 1/4" seam. c) Press seams toward the solid pieces. d) First side done! e) Next side on right sides together. f) Pin down the strip seams. g) Sew together with 1/4" seam. h) Once pressed, this is the front ... i) and this is a view of the back.  One strip all done!

Repeat these steps two more times, once on each side of the original strip.

All done--time to send it off :)  Thanks for making this block for me--I'll trim them up.  Here are 3 more examples I made to get the creative juices flowing.

 (Here is a totally scrappy example.  The strip on the right got too close to the edge ... oops.)
 (Here is one where I chose red, black & gray for all 3 strips.  I made the center strip from one set of fabrics, but the two outside strips are cut from the same block and flipped.)
(I thought I'd try another one that was coordinating.  All three strips use different fabrics, but the same color progression.)

I also posted a slideshow video of each step using the red block above on my blog here.


Carla said...

LOVE this!

HeatherK @ A Reformed Heath'n said...

Glad you like it, too :)

I saw through another blog that I follow that the Bejeebers bee did a similar block last January. You can browse their photostream without joining the group. The blocks they posted might give you some ideas, too.

Just scroll down :)