Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Delicious Distractions: Slicing Through Scrap Bins, Sidetracked by Improv Piecing!

Hopefully, none of you have read my recent posts about my previous Weekly To-Do Lists or my June One Monthly Goal, because I haven't been working on any of those projects recently.  Instead, I went off on a wild scrap-slicing, improv piecing tangent and I'm blaming it all on Kelly Young for seducing me with her book Scrappy Improv Piecing: 22 Mini Quilts to Make With Easy Piecing!  (By the way, this post contains affiliate links.  This helps me to pay for Band-Aids, the importance of which you will appreciate in a moment).

5" Scrappy Improv Blocks For No Reason Or Purpose

What with the crazy news cycle last week, I was suffering from a bit of Fuzzy Brain syndrome and couldn't muster the concentration to follow any of the project instructions in Kelly's book, so instead I was just loosely following her method of sewing random bits and pieces together and then cutting them down into regular shapes.  This resulted in an assortment of 5" scrappy improv blocks for which I have only the vaguest of plans.  I had some of those red/pink sections left over from the Valentine's Day mini quilt I made for the blog hop to promote Kelly's book last year and I cut them down to 5" squares, like charm squares from a precut package.  And then I pulled out my blue and green scrap bin and started randomly slicing, sewing, pressing, slicing, sewing, pressing...  Making a glorious mess along the way, listening to the news and to podcasts and only barely paying attention to what I was doing...  

Making a Mess: The Scene of the Injury

The whole while I was off on this little tangent, I was singing "Slicing Through Scraps" in my head to the tune of "Dancing Through Life" from the musical Wicked.  Yes, it's all fun and games until you slice your rotary cutter right into your finger.  As this type of injury goes, mine was pretty minor -- no stitches, just an annoyance for several days while the Band-Aid wrapped fingertip got in my way and impeded my typing accuracy.  All better now, though.  

Here's what I accomplished with my reckless rotary cutting, on the wall next to the project I should have been finishing up with borders:


The Real Project and The Shiny New Distraction Blocks

First I thought I'd just mix my 5" improv blocks up with a charm pack of Cotton & Steel novelty prints, as you see on the wall.  But then I got this idea to set them around hexagons and equilateral triangles, like a Jack's Chain or Merry-Go-Round quilt:


Yes, that means lots and lots of Y-seams, but wouldn't my improv blocks look cool arranged like that against a solid background?  The image above is from Maggie Malone's 1989 book 1001 Patchwork Designs, by the way.  The plain version that Malone calls Merry-Go-Round is also in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, 3rd Ed., and according to Brackman this design first appeared in Ohio Farmer as an unnamed pattern in January, 1894.  

So anyway, my idea for the 5" improv squares was to set them around hexagons with equilateral triangles filling the gaps, an idea that I thought was very novel and exciting before I discovered that someone else already thought of it nearly 130 years ago.  Hah!  Since my 5" improv squares would finish at 4.5", that means I need hexagons with 4.5" sides (plus seam allowances) and equilateral triangles with 4.5" sides (plus seam allowances).  I went digging through my AccuQuilt die collection in hopes that I could speedily cut out these shapes with my die cutter, but alas -- not only do I not own the correct size hexagon and equilateral triangle dies, but AccuQuilt does not MAKE the hexagon and equilateral triangle dies in the sizes I need to create this pattern using my 5" improv squares.  

AccuQuilt does sell a hexagon, half hexagon, and an equilateral triangle that all have 4 1/4" finished sides, and you can get all three of these dies in the GO! Large Hexies Die Bundle (affiliate link).  I already own the hexagon and the equilateral triangle dies from that set, and I used that equilateral triangle die to make the Giverny Teleidoscope quilt for my younger son last year.  I suppose I could cut my improv squares down to make them work with these shapes, because die cutting the background hexies and triangles would go a lot faster than rotary cutting, would reduce the risk of slicing into my finger tips, etc...  

Is everyone understanding why I still haven't gotten borders on that Retro '80s sampler quilt or started my Kaffe Fassett maxi skirt project?  And yet, I pulled myself together yesterday, cleaned up the mess of scraps on my cutting table, and cut the Kona Tangerine border strips, so that's at least a smidgen of progress, isn't it?  

But y'all, guess what I'm gonna start tomorrow!  Does anyone remember my Jingle appliqué quilt? The one I started making blocks for in April of 2013 and completed the quilt top in February of 2019, and still have not quilted?  IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!  

My 77 x 77 Jingle Quilt Will Finally Get Quilted!

The pattern for this quilt, designed by Erin Russek, is now available in book form and you can get your copy here.  When I started working on this project, the patterns were available as a free Block Of the Month series on Erin's blog.  This is my first-ever appliqué project and Erin's instructions were so easy and clear.  It turned out much better than I expected when I started out, so I was afraid to quilt it (and potentially ruin it) when I was early in my learning curve of long arm quilting.  Then I got too busy with client quilts and kept bumping my own quits farther and farther back.  But now I'm 100% caught up and a few days ahead of schedule with clients' quilts and have blocked out a nice chunk of time for custom quilting Jingle at the beginning of July as a "Christmas In July" present to myself.  And I can't wait to get started!


Tomorrow I'll be loading this languishing UFO and starting on the boring but important "skeleton" work: basting and stitching in the ditch to ensure that everything stays nice and straight and square.  Stay tuned, because I still haven't decided exactly how I'll be quilting it.  This quilt will be my Tuesday To-Do focus as well as my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for July.  Wish me luck!  I'm linking up with my favorite linky parties as listed on the left hand side of my blog.  Thanks for checking in with me and happy stitching, everyone!


15 comments:

Sandy said...

Congratulations on finally getting going on quilting Jingle! I can hardly wait to see what you decide to do about the improv blocks. :)

Brenda @ Songbird Designs said...

Oh my, Rebecca! I'm glad you had fun and was able to distract yourself with cutting, slicing, and stitching, but so sorry about your injury. I am glad it didn't require stitches. I haven't played with improv much, though I do have Kelly's first book and keep saying "one day!" Your new quilting project is very pretty. I think you did an awesome job with the applique. Looking forward to seeing how you quilt it, as well as your borders on your Retro 80's sampler! Have a great week and be careful of those rotary cutter "bites!"

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the Jingle Bell quilt quilted (and you probably are too) I will love seeing the progress on it. Cuts from the rotary cutter are a pain for sure - I almost ended in the ER once with one that cut through the fingernail as well but when I finally got the bleeding to stop I decided it would be less painful to just let it heal then get stitches in that area. the Jacks chain is on my list! I have been looking at that quilt for ages and had not thought to use the accuquilt for that one - will need to look

Kathleen said...

Sorry about the rotary cutting injury! I hate when that happens. You did great on those scrap blocks, and sometimes, we just need to interrupt things with a little creativity. Glad you will get to quilt that applique beauty soon. It is gorgeous. I can’t wait to see how those scrap blocks turn out. It is funny how there is not much new under the sun…but just different ascetics and interpretations, and techniques!

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

Wow! What delicious distractions!!! I like your idea of using the improv blocks. . .what's a few Y seams. . .you're a master at stitching them. How wonderful your Jingle All The Way is on your longarm. . .it must be so excited to be almost finished!

LA Paylor said...

fun to see you sewing...

Sharon Kwilter said...

Wow, I love your Jingle applique quilt. I look forward to seeing your quilting.

Anne-Marie said...

Distractions are good. :)

Linda said...

Ugh on the rotary injury but glad it is better. LOL on the segue from affiliate links to Bandaids. :) Yay for Jingle! I look forward to seeing your quilting.
Thank you for sharing with To Do Tuesday!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Sorry to hear of your injury, Rebecca, but SEW glad to see that your Jingle UFO is headed for the rails of the longarm!!

MissPat said...

Yes, I do remember the Jingle quilt and I'm glad to see it's risen to the top of the "get it quilted" list. I don't think you can call yourself a "real" quilter until you've sliced a finger with the rotary cutter. And yes, I did, several years ago. No stitches, fortunately.
Pat

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Those scrappy improv crumb blocks look delightful! I love the pic of your design wall with the improv blocks next to the 'real project' - great contrast!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Must be fun to get back to your own quilts for a while. Can't wait to see what you do with Jingle. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

Susan said...

I'd say you have a good handle on those scrappy improv blocks!

Marsha Cooper said...

I've been slowly sorting my scraps by color into bins. Just today I thought I need to just throw them away. I had to come see your improv blocks after they were featured in Midweek Makers post. Once I get some other projects done, and more sorting done, I think I shall be a copy cat and make blocks like this....but probably larger than 5 inches.

Affiliate Links Disclosure

Rebecca Grace Quilting participates in Amazon, Etsy, and AccuQuilt affiliate advertising programs. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission in the event that you make a purchase after clicking one of the links in my post. Thanks for your support!