Improvisation #5: The Blocks

The quilt was obviously on my mind during the night because when I got up this morning I knew I wanted to head to the fabric shop for some fabrics in a range of bright colours to use as the large “background” element for each block.

I have ended up with 1/3m of 25 different fabrics (6 fabrics from my stash).

Fabrics for “backgrounds”

Why so much fabric you wonder – well, I figured out the easiest (if most wasteful) way of building that large block is to start with a 12″ X 12″ square of the “background” fabric. Take the block I want to offset, trim a couple of corners off, then lay it on the 12″ X 12″ square.

Block on background

I found if I pulled the block in 1/4″ from the top and left edges of the “background” fabric I can cut out the triangles needed to construct the large square (leaving me with a large piece of background fabric lying beneath the block as leftover, oh well – it’s large enough to use for something else).

Background pieces ready to be sewn

Now I sew the background pieces to the block.

Complete block sewn

Once the triangles are sewn to the block it’s easy to trim it to 11″ and guess what – the pattern is aligned – had I figured that out yesterday I could have salvaged the fabric I ended up discarding.

Finished block

Here are four blocks finished and trimmed to 11″ X 11″. You can see what I mean by “offset” and “background. Each block will be different except for the white with blue dot fabric framing the center square in each block. I’m thinking I will frame each of these 11″ X 11” blocks with a solid white (maybe a slightly off white) narrow frame, and then sash between the blocks. Although a very dark blue framing might work. I’ll have a better idea about what to do when I get all 25 blocks done – 20 for the quilt top, 5 for the quilt back.


Four finished blocks – 11″

So now I know what I’m actually doing, I can proceed to make up my inner square assembly for the remaining 21 blocks, cut out a 12″ square from each of the background fabrics, and full steam ahead! Yeah.

Improvisation #5: A Quilt Begins

Improvisation is a messy business. This is the current chaotic state of my sewing room. Piles of fabric everywhere. I have an idea I want to execute but not sure yet which fabrics to use. I know the blocks will be similar. The final block size I’m aiming for is 10.5″, but I expect each block will be unique – that the internal construction will vary.

I started this improvisation by selecting fabrics from various boxes, largish pieces, small scraps (enough for a 3″ square). This afternoon I began by choosing 24 different pieces and cutting a 3″ square from each.

Here’s the idea – a small square embedded in a somewhat larger square (white with blue dots – the only fabric common in all blocks), which is asymmetrically embedded in a dark square, which is embedded, again asymetrically, in a brighter square, and last, the four layers are set into a final “square” but this time offset and truncated.

This was a first try – not entirely successful. I created the final size block I wanted (actually a bit larger for good measure). But directional fabrics aren’t going to work for the last square! I haven’t yet figured out how to piece that final large square in the most economical way possible – it would be relatively easy with solids. With this linear print I was able to orient three of the segments in the same direction but I wasn’t able to get the fourth piece to align without wasting a lot of fabric (I elected to go for economical to see if I could get away with it, can’t). So I will take this block apart and try again.

In the meantime I’ve decided to build the 24 blocks as far as the 4th square.

Then, I’ll look at them all and make a decision about fabric for that final square – I am likely going to have to go fabric shopping for a couple of different, yet complementary fabrics. Then there’s sashing and a border – not anywhere near that yet!

I love the challenge of problem solving my way through an idea to a completed quilt. Nothing could be more boring than following someone else’s directions. So I’ve learned to be comfortable with the mess involved with improvising.