If a quilt is scrappy and easy to cut with our tools, I love it! So when Angie asked me to be part of the Jen Kingwell Long Time Gone Block of the Week sew along, I was all in! The sew along officially starts on March 15 and I'll be posting tutorials on making a block or section of the quilt every week, along with Angie at Gnome Angel and Nicole at Snips Snippets, who will offer tutorials every other week. If you'll be sewing along with us, be sure to order a copy of Jen's book now, as there is only one US distributor and we want you to be all set to start -- the weeks will go by quickly! And if you're using our templates to cut your pieces, be sure to read my recent post on the From Marti Michell tools we'll be using.
One of the first books I wrote was Scrap Patchwork & Quilting for a division of Meredith Publishing, in 1992. (It's still one of my favorite books, although it pre-dates my love affair with acrylic templates! It's often available on eBay.)
In it, I talked about how scrap quilts are great because they almost require you to go through all your fabrics, fondle them, remember where you bought them and select the ones that speak to you for that quilt! The only drawback is when you're done, you have to put all the fabrics away! So one of the things you will see on my blog in upcoming weeks is encouragement to look ahead and cut some pieces for future weeks while you have your fabrics out.
We will talk a lot about cutting strips from every fabric you are using, to create a stockpile of strips needed for future scrappy blocks. We also will talk about cutting multiple blocks from the same fabric sets. Here is an example using two of the quilts in Scrap Patchwork & Quilting.
The Blue Mosaic quilt had 35 blocks with 3 different fabrics in each block: a light background, a medium accent and a dark multicolor print. That meant selecting and preparing to cut 105 fabrics.
The World Without End quilt had 48 blocks that required a light background, a medium accent and a dark multicolor print.
Can you believe both quilts were made with the same fabric sets? Are you beginning to see the possibilities for efficient cutting? Right!
1. Select the sets! In this case, three fabrics: light, medium and dark.
2. Identify the shapes needed from each light fabric for each block.
3. Layer the light fabrics for 4 blocks (or the number of layers you are comfortable cutting). Cut the pieces and separate back to individual blocks.
Repeat with the medium and dark fabrics, always sorting cut pieces back to the proper set for each quilt.
If you liked the fabrics together for one quilt, you should like them for another quilt, right? So in Long Time Gone, if you like the fabrics for the Jacob's Ladder, why not look ahead and cut at least some of the combinations of Churn Dash blocks.
Even if you don't want to cut pieces for both blocks at the same time, fold neatly and stack the fabric combinations to save the selecting time and pressing time when you get a few weeks down the road.
If you are selecting from big piece of fabric in your collection, start by cutting yourself a fat quarter the first time you use it. It's much easier to keep those pieces neat and tidy.
Cutting TipsI made this video for the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along but the ideas apply to any quilt, including Long Time Gone.
Finally, if you love scrap quilts as much as I do, this Top 10 list will help you justify and rationalize why you need more fabric and you will always be ready to start the next quilt, just like I am!!