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Sunday, 6 December 2015

Not So Low Volume Blocks - An Orphan Block Scrappy Quilt Technique


Do you think when you find a draft blog post that's almost 12 months old it's too late to post it?!!!  If I didn't own up to it you'd probably never have realised but some of my fellow NYC Metro MOD Quilt Guild members might so I thought I'd better 'fess.

What the heck, with all my travelling this year there's not been a whole lot of sewing going on and the post includes a technique I came up with to make a scrappy quilt from orphan blocks.  You might enjoy seeing it so here's the post anyway, lol.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Went to the December meeting of the NYC Metro Mod Quilt Guild yesterday and there so much to update you on:

Remember this block?


Here's what a table of them looks like - that's going to be one great charity quilt.


Then there was the holiday fabric swap, my bundle went home with Ellen


and this is the bundle I received from my friend Karen,


I also brought this bundle from Timeless Treasures home with me that I won in the raffle - thanks, Hayden :D


As if that wasn't enough, remember my low volume block for the block lotto?


Well I only went and won the block lotto too so these 16 blocks came home with me which brings me on nicely to my

Orphan Block Scrappy Quilt Technique:


Truth be told these blocks weren't exactly what I had in mind when I decided to take part in the Low Volume Block Lotto - I was thinking white, off-white, cream, beige, pale grey and there're quite a few colours in these that are screaming quite loudly and could do with turning their volume down but that's what I won so I sewed them together into a quilt top.


I tried the blocks every way around yet they really just don't work together.

The first problem as I see it is there's no commonality amongst the blocks, no one element pulling them all together - be it a fabric print, colour or design element. The second is the huge difference in everyone's understanding of the term 'low volume'.  Those things said I want to find a way to make these blocks work.

Two ideas:  the first to bleach them to bring the colours down to a common palette - this was actually suggested to me by my friend Ivete of Gotham Quilts and an idea that I really favoured until I inspected the blocks further.  I'm pretty positive not all the blocks are made from 100% cotton so bleaching them is risky as some sections may not be affected by the bleach and could retain their original colour.

Idea #2 to slice the blocks up in some haphazard fashion, sew them back together again then repeat the process over and over until I'm happy with how the quilt top's looking.  I feel bad to cut up everyone's work but I think it's the only way to disperse the colours throughout the quilt top and break down the way each of these blocks currently stands alone.

So I cut the quilt top into 16.5" blocks


played around with the layout


then I sewed them together again into a new quilt top and immediately cut that up too into 8" blocks - I had to add a small strip of cream to cut the last 8" block to size.  


Again I now played around with the layout.  By this time, with all my seams and slivers of scrap wastage, I'm short 2 blocks worth of fabric


so I removed my 3 least favourite blocks and sewed the remaining 25 blocks up into a lap quilt that's (5 x 5) 8" blocks - finished quilt size 38" x 38".



Nov 2015 update - The quilt now actually measures 36.5" x 37" and as I'm typing this a year on I have no recollection of why I've trimmed it down so far along the top and bottom edge but those are pretty obviously not squares any more in the pic above - I guess it was the only way to come close to squaring the quilt up at the time but I don't recall.  The quilting will have pulled the finished quilt size in some and additionally the quilt's been washed many times now and I leave it crinkly (see pic below) so that'll account for some shrinkage too.



The quilting's freehand straight line at varying intervals and this is a close up of one of my favourite parts of the quilt - handsewn hexies, when I was cutting down my blocks I did make sure I kept these in pretty good shape/large pieces for the finished quilt top


On the back, I used a bright button fabric that has lots of the same colours in it that are in the blocks on the front -


it adds a surprising pop of colour as does the intense coral solid binding that I've machine sewn on using a blanket stitch.


This style of improvised scrappy quilt isn't for the faint-hearted.  Pitty the perfectionist as with all those seams and biased cuts there's hardly a straight line and squared corner to be seen and it's certainly not an easy decision to cut up perfectly good blocks especially when they're made/donated by someone else and harder still when you know that person.  As you can see the finished quilt is angled too but this isn't something you'd ever notice in daily use.  

So which do you prefer?  Is a quilt that's used preferrable to a pile of 16 blocks?  Could you push yourself this far out of your comfort zone? 


If you've got a pile of blocks and you don't know how to make them work together why not try this technique - you've no idea how it'll turn out but it's really fun finding out!  Let me know how you go on :D



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40 comments:

  1. Well I'm glad you shared this, even a year later! I absolutely love the finished product although it must have been quite nerve-wracking to cut it up in the first place

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  2. This quilt is really awesome, Chrissy. The way you made them work together is genius!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

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  3. What a clever way of dealing with a challenging stack of blocks! The finished product is lovely with its collage effect. I'm going to keep this in mind for some future projects- thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. Excellent thinking, really like the end result. Glad you waited a year and shared anyway - it'a s great post.

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  5. You were very brave to cut up other people's work, it looks so much better though. think some people must have dozed off just before the words 'low volume' were mentioned!

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  6. And to think I was worried my low volume block wasn't low volume enough! (In the first pic it's the one to the right of the hexies!)

    It looks amazing chopped up and sewn back together, and I love the shots of yellow that run throughout!

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    1. Lol Tina, what were you worrying about?! Yours is practically invisible in this 'low volume' pile ;D

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  7. Wow! They ALL look GREAT!
    And don't sweat the posting "delay"... I've got over 500 DAILY "DRAFTS" *waiting* to be DONE!!
    ;-D

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  8. Love it and can see would be perfect for all those bits left over.

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  9. Magic. Thank you for sharing this.

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  10. How clever! Loved seeing all the steps from shall we say a less than perfect top to something beautiful and visually interesting. I think I might start looking at my orphan blocks a little differently!

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  11. Totally loved this post. The approach of bleaching and cutting is so clever and the re-slicing pulled it all together and made it so cohesive. I will keep these pointers in my memory box. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your "technique", I cannot believe that gorgeous quilt came out of those blocks!! Amazing! I am thinking of my pile of orphan blocks in a new light!

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  13. Well, I love that idea! I am going to look for orphan blocks! I would have been hesitant to do this before seeing your quilt, but I think it gives a whole new option to orphan blocks. I think even blocks that aren't low volume will work for this! You'd have a beautiful scrappy looking quilt without dealing with teeny pieces!! Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes!!

    Nini~

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  14. Great Chris - you made a lovely quilt out of something that was not quite right. Brilliant. xx

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  15. Fabulous idea! The result looks stupendous!

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  16. It was a brave step to slice and dice your friends' quilt blocks, but you were so right in doing so Chris! The completed quilt looks so great and everything looks like it belongs together. Great technique!

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  17. This is the perfect way to deal with random blocks! Love your finish!

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  18. I think that was brilliant!

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  19. Hi Chris! This was a fantastic idea! Coulnd't guess that those orphans, so un matched, could make so beautiful quilt! x Teje

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  20. You have really transformed those orphan blocks Chrissie, the final quilt is really lovely.

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  21. Your method is very interesting. A great idea to keep in mind for those quilts we aren't too happy with in the end. Your finished piece is beautiful.

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  22. That was very brave and clever ! In your place, I certainly woud have felt discouraged and let all these blocks in a box ... ;-) Congratulations for this finish !

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  23. Amazing, a wonderful creative solution! Great way to explore improv, lots of fun, yes?

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  24. I think this is brilliant, a truly creative solution. The quilting looks amazing and what a great plan!

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  25. Great call, Chrissie! Very balanced now and so fun to look at and explore. So glad you shared this with TGIFF!

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  26. wonderful job and the fabric swap sounds fun. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty

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  27. This is a great idea. It looks great.

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  28. Beautiful quilt Chrissie, of course everything you do is!!

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  29. Loved your finished project, and brave of you to find a solution to use the blocks. The hexi blocks sure add to the piece, the quilting brings it all together. Swaps are not for the faint of heart, I can't imagine swapping less than 100 percent cotton and when people interpret rules, which always seems to happen....

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    1. Absolutely Donna, swaps and bees - lessons in human miscommunication, misunderstanding, misinterpretation and lots of other misses ;D

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  30. I love all the different fabrics that you have used.

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  31. Yep, I agree. Some of those blocks were pretty loud. I wasn't sure what "low volume" meant before, but I think I do now!!! LOL. Great little quilt by the way.

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  32. I LOVE IT AND IT IS SO FAR OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. You rock thanks for the inspiration. I will definitely try this now to look through all my bins to find orphan blocks. Deb at dbstef@shaw.ca

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  33. I would never have guessed your orphan blocks would have had the potential to come together with such continuity. Thanks for sharing this technique.

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  34. Turning your thinking upside down was a great solution. I definitely will be looking to this for inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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Chris Dodsley