Saturday, October 3, 2015

Improvising a Traditional Block

I'm still thinking about the selvedge string sheet (Selvedge Race); however, there are more selvedges on the loose. So I started the Race again. After two repeats it was almost wide enough; I added one more selvedge to make a narrow sheet only five strips wide. The width ranges from four to six inches since the selvedges were not cut a consistent width.

Brock House is a traditional block documented in The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

Brock House and variations for selvedge strings.
In some ways it reminds me of Sherri's Floating Squares: two small squares sewn together then joined to a larger square. When I simplified further (bottom left in the photo above) that iteration reminded me of Flying Squares, a quilt I made years ago using the bottom right block.

Flying Squares Quilt
Flying Squares quilt
Brief directions for Flying Squares can be found here. These block designs all use partial seams. It's a very useful technique; not hard at all. Jinny Beyer wrote directions for partial seaming here and Laura Nownes (co-author of Quilts, Quilts, Quilts) created a YouTube video here.

I decided to try this with the skinny Selvedge Race. The selvedges are so busy that they seem to need solids. Here is what's on hand.

The solids in my stash.
Finding a 4.5" orange remnant in my scrap bag from the back of this quilt, I freehand cut all the solids into squares about that size although a larger center square might look better. (Using what I have.)

Selvedge string Brock House variation
In the photo above, I sewed a partial seam on the top left rectangle. Then sewed the bottom left rectangle all the way across, pinned the bottom right rectangle (ready to sew.) The top right rectangle is pinned on the solid only to ensure it's aligned with enough seam allowances everywhere.

I make a couple of stitches in place then tie the threads of the partial seams on the back of the block. Most people probably wouldn't bother but I hate the idea of threads coming loose.

Tying threads from partial seams on the back.
Is this improv? Depends who you ask. I think of these as units. They are similarly sized but not identical. Joining strips will probably be needed to fit them all together. In some ways they may look like Kaja's Wall units - after all, they are smaller, square-ish shapes. In other ways they may look like Flying Squares... or something else entirely.

I am reminded of Anna Williams, an exceptionally talented Louisianan who found more time for quilting later in life. In her eponymous book, Nancy Crow wrote, " (Anna) built her quilt tops from parts and pieces, sewing smaller shapes together, then adding more shapes to make larger units. Her crowded bedroom housed stacks of small units, stacks of medium units, stacks of large units..."(p. 17) So there is a legacy of sewing units first, then using/reusing them as single pieces to build a quilt. [And, no. This quilt will be nowhere near as artistic as Anna's. But the IDEA of simply making units resonates.]

 Two down. Now I'm cutting the rest of the narrow string sheet into rectangles.

The AHIQ Link-up is still open for a couple of days if you want to join in by linking up or just perusing the posts.

Enjoy the day,

18 comments:

  1. One of the best "little" gifts I ever got was just a small pad from the President of the Modern Guild. I had served as her VP/Program Chair for the first year of the guild. It was a palm sized book with graph paper pages. I could stick it in my pocket, carry it in my purse or even put it into my folder for a client meeting. I loved the ability to sketch down ideas from the world around me IMMEDIATELY!

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    1. I like sketch pads, too. They are much more useful than cameras because they make you stop and analyze a bit. Although I still use the camera.

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  2. Ann, I am so curious about how you get the center square perfectly sewn in, laying, nice and flat, since it is not measured or exactly square. I know you explained sewing the seams, but I'm still unsure about how you know where to sew them. I think I am very ruler dependent, LOL. The simplified Brock House is a great way to use your selvage strips. I liked seeing you graph paper play.
    The idea of sewing units first is very interesting.

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    1. The selvedge rectangles are topstitched on the center squares so the edges will show. I only sewed things together the "normal" way when sewing pairs of blocks.

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  3. you make me want to run to the studio. I have been doing improv sewing for about 15 years now, and it never gets old. My grandmother pieced tiny strips together

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    1. They were so talented. And I think they had some real scraps since they sewed clothes. These selvedges are interesting. A bit different.
      Knowing you, we'll see something fabulous when you emerge from your studio.

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  4. I like the idea of topstitching onto the centre squares! Your selection of solids is beautifully bright and sets of the softer selvedge colours. I dearly want to begin a quilt in the style of Anna Williams - Kathy Doughty has a beauty in her book Adding Layers.

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    1. I couldn't think of any other way to preserve the printing on the selvedge. I haven't seen Adding Layers. Thanks for the information. Anna certainly made wonderfullly complex quilts. So much to look at.

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  5. Oh Ann this is going to be such a gorgeous quilt! I'm a bit like you with the loose threads, I have to tie them! At school I was taught that you then had to weave the loose ends through three stitches; apparently it's how couture garments are made! (Or were, way back when!). I love your collection of solids, really strong colours. They're going to pull this quilt together visually so well. Can't wait to see how it comes along :)

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    1. When hand quilting I tied threads off by weaving through stitches. It's worked; the old hand quilted quilts have never had threads come loose.
      Thanks for your kind comments. I hope this works out.

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  6. The thrill of adventure, you're in it! thanks for sharing your process.

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    1. It is an adventure. I like reading other people's process, too.

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  7. This is an interesting way to progress your selvedge strips - I like how it is looking and love the combination of traditional and modern.

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    1. Thanks, Kaja. It is a mix of styles, isn't it.

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  8. You're ideas have inspired me. I have bags of selvages, many from my quilting friends. I made a star wall hanging but that didn't put a dent in my supply. My hesitation has been about just stitching them together without a foundation. But it seems to work for you so I'm going to give it a try...and make the blocks without a ruler...freeing my inner quilting child. Thanks

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    1. Oh, good! I want to see what you make. I tried to overlap them a generous quarter inch and plan to quilt across the top stitching. Like you, I worried about seeing without foundations but it's easier. The only issue is that long rows don't lie perfectly straight. They curve.

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  9. I don't know if you call it improv or units or whatever. (I thought all quilts were made of units of some kind or other). I call it creative and a nice use of selvedges. Mine are still in bags. That's NOT very creative.

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    1. Hopefully I can call it done soon. That word trumps everything else in my book. :-)
      Hope you start on yours soon.

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