I try to keep several containers of already cut pieces in various sizes on hand that I use a lot. Cutting as I have time keeps the scrap bins somewhat under control. And recently I have been so very thankful for already cut strips.
Why I am thankful for already cut strips today
My shoulder caused problems during the first part of the year and was finally starting to heal and feel much better. On July 17 I was out at a local park. I was watching where I was going, not where I put my feet. Yep, you guessed it, the ground was uneven and I fell. No one has ever accused me of being graceful!
I am now in a brace to give my muscles and tendons a rest and time to heal. Severe sprains are no fun. It has really cut down on my quilting since I can’t hand quilt, use the rotary cutter, or lift much. Frustrating… but I am thankful for the already cut strips that eliminate that step.
Spending time looking at quilt magazines and books is fun. I started out looking just to look and inspire, and ended up finding the “perfect” pattern for the two bins of cut 2.5″ strips.
This pattern is a classic example of use the piece size you have on hand or want to cut. The directions call for smaller than my 2.5″ strips, but I am using the above photo as the starting point and will go my own way with it. I made a similar one years ago with different size blocks, sashing, and posts.
Sewing the strips TOGETHER:
I found strips that are close to the same length and sewed them together in groups of three length-wise. There is no rhyme to the colors as this is total scrap.
Especially with the current injury making it almost impossible to use the rotary cutter, I am thankful for already cut strips. Most of the three strip blocks were already sewn together which is another blessing at this point.
Iron all the seams. I measured across the three pieces and cut each three strip group the same size so now I have a square. Make the amount of these squares you need for your quilt top.
This is where I need to stop and say that I do all this sewing assembly line style. I just line up the fabrics and sew. When the pile starts getting in my way, I stop and cut them apart. Then I will grab more strips and assembly line sew again until I have the right amount.
I have kept the bin of strips beside the sewing machine for the past several weeks and sewed when I had a few minutes or hours. There is time tied up in this quilt, but it goes together easily. Another advantage of this quilt is that it is a great way to use those scraps.
Just keep sewing
Assembly line sewing is an easy and quick way to get through a pile of pieces. It also allows me to do a lot of ironing at a time. I sometimes make phone calls while ironing since I can put the phone on speaker. This allows me to get several things marked off my “to-do” list.
The original inspiration photo (above) goes together like my quilt at the start, but here I veer off in my own way. I sewed 9 of the blocks together to make a “basket weave” pattern (see below).
Sashing and posts:
I wanted to break up all the scraps with a solid color sashing. This beautiful turquoise/teal fabric was in my stash. All the fabric in this top was on hand already.
I like sashing to have “posts” because it is easier to keep the rows straight with each other (at least for me). The sashing is cut 3″ wide for posts because I have a box of 3″ squares left over from other projects. Another way to use up some already cut pieces.
Measure your complete “basket weave blocks”. That will be the size of your sashing. Cut some or all at this point. I usually cut several to get started with, and then will count and cut more if needed.
This quilt top is 4 “basket weave” blocks by 4 “basket weave” blocks for a total of 16 blocks. I sew a sashing to one side of each block. This way there is sashing between the blocks. The last block in the row gets a sashing on the outside edge too. Complete the rows in this manner. Iron.
Cut more sashing strips the size needed. Sew a strip to a post. In my top this meant 4 sets of sashing and posts, plus one extra post sewn at the end. Iron.
Attach a row of sashing and posts to a row of blocks with sashing between matching the posts to the sashing between each “basket weave” block.
This video is short and easy to follow for those of you who prefer things a bit more organized.
Once all the blocks, sashing, and posts were sewn together, I need a border. In my mind borders serve two purposes: a frame for the quilt, and/or a way to make the top the size needed.
Above photo is the completed top as of today. It is 80″ square.
I went back to the stash. After looking through several options, I decided on a narrow solid black border to frame the quilt. Then I will add some more strips around it to make it about 90″ square.
The remaining blue from the sashing will be the binding fabric.
Hopefully, I will get the border on the top yet this week, but at this point tonight my wrist is throbbing. It is time for ice and to rest my wrist.
Borders are on. Finished size of top is 94″ square.
Narrow solid black border was cut 1.75″ wide.
The scrap strips used in the two rounds around the narrow black border are 2.5″ wide.
There is enough of the blue used for the sashing to make the binding after the top is machine quilted.
My tip to you:
When you can find or make the time, sort scraps or fabric from your stash. Cut these fabric pieces into common pieces and sizes you use frequently. Keep some on hand at all times.
They can make for a quick project, or are ready when the mood hits to just sit and enjoy the rhythm of sewing.
You will be thankful for already cut strips and squares.