Monday, April 1, 2013

Tutorial: Quick & Easy Strip Piecing Quilt

Have you ever been faced with an absolute quilt deadline with little time to accomplish it? I tend to say "more like a guideline," but sometimes you can't argue with a deadline.

For me, I work with the Youth at church and need quick quilts for three wonderful girls (or should I say women?) who are graduating from High School in May.  I wanted something simple, quick, and darling.

Since this is working for me, I thought I would share it with you:

To create 16, 9.5" x 9.5" blocks you'll need the following fabric requirements:
- 1/3+ yard cuts of six different fabrics at least 40" wide
- Note: The more you cuts of fabric you add, the less yardage of each you'll need.  It will give you a "scrapier" look.

Take each 1/3 yard piece and cut into full-length (at least 40" wide) strips in various widths between 1.5" and 2.5".  For the example, I kept the strip widths to 1.5", 1.75" and 2".  I was able to get about 7-8 strips depending on how many of each width I cut.  Repeat process with remaining fabric.

Next take the strips and separate into four different groups. I like to spread out the different fabrics evenly between the quilt.  If you want to go for totally random, skip to the next step.

Lay out 8-9 strips in the order you would like.  I usually try to lay them out "randomly" which typically means whatever looks good to me.  Sorry no quilt definition of "random" comes to mind.  Thoughts anyone?

Then sew the strips together lengthwise (along the long edge) with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Repeat until you have all of the strips sewn together.  Carefully press your seams.

Once you've sewn all your strips together, make sure you have the width equal or greater than 9.5" (or whatever size block you desire if you're doing different sizes).  Check at a few different places along the piece to ensure you're not short in a place.  It's always better to be wider than too thin with this technique.  We'll trim it later :)

You should have a piece that is now roughly 40" x 9.5"+

Repeat the process until you have four (4) 40" x 9.5"+ pieces

But what if my block isn't quite as wide as I need it?  

Here's another wonderful feature of this quilt, you just sew on another strip or two until you have at least 9.5"

Once you have the at least 9.5" of width, take the roughly 40" x 9.5" piecing and cut into the 9.5" squares.  I recommend starting at one end and trimming straight.  You will use this as your straight edge.

Then measure 9.5" from the cut edge and repeat the entire length of the piecing.  If you have around 40" of length, you should end up with 4 (four), 9.5" x 9.5" blocks and a little extra.

 After you trim the ends, square up the block.  There a lot of different ways to square a block.  When I am in a rush I just use the ends I just cut and line them up on the "row" line and then use the "column" line to cut the straight edge.  Squaring up the blocks take a bit of time in the beginning, but will save you a headache later.

Once you've trimmed/squared each of your blocks lay them out perpendicular to each other in rows of 4 (four).  I like to start with one block going horizontal, then flip the next one vertical.

Next sew the blocks together, pinning carefully starting with the rows, then sewing complete rows together.

A special note about strip piecing, while it is a loved technique for saving time, one of the draw backs can be "not-so" straight lines in your blocks.  If this is something that bothers you, this may not be the project for you.

The result is a cute, darling quilt top that doesn't take too much time.  If you use a 1/4" seam you will end up with a quilt top measuring roughly 36" x 36" square.  You can leave it as, or add a border.  I think I'll be adding a 3" border to each of mine.  Or if you want something a little larger, add a coordinating sashing between each block.  This will let each block stand alone.

Here is one of the others I am putting together:

So what do you think?  Please feel free to email me with any questions or typos!


Disclaimer: This is a well-known technique and so I do not claim credit.  There may even be other tutorials out there.  Please use the one that works best for you.

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