Finishing an old quilt top: Spools Blocks

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Yesterday on my day off I was super tired and worn out, so I didn’t want to work on anything client related unless I screwed it up. This is almost a given, if I sew when tired.

I went to my sewing cave and decided to look at tops I have waiting to be pieced to see which ones I could do some mindless sewing on. There is one top where all the rows are done, I just have to sew them together, and I had recently dug out a bag of 23 finished blocks that needed sashing.

Sorting out fabric and blocks is a good thing to do when you don’t feel like much else. I also dug out my box of white scraps and found suitable bits to use for sashing.

I cut out the short bits first and dint stop to think how many I needed and cut out far too much. Then I had to dig out more quite scraps for the longer pieces. I would up having to piece the long sashings anyway, but the less seams on those the better.

I also had to decide how to lay them out and with 23 blocks it was either give up some or add some. On a whim, I decided to try and find the original pattern I’d used. Still had the book because it was one of my grandmother’s. None of it was strip piecing, no. Just cut out these triangles and this trapezoid. I almost want to make an easier version for the precuts of today.

It was also super interesting to see how far I’d come with my piecing. Some of the blocks were made with leftover bits from garments I’d made in the mid to late nineties, so there were pieced scraps and bits cut off grain mostly so I would have enough to fit in the blocks themselves.

I also got way better at piecing in general – even if my newer blocks would up a good half inch bigger.

I ran into trouble with one row where I’d added two new blocks and of course hadn’t really trimmed to match. With seam ripper in hand (again) I had to fix some wobbly sashing. That was the fourth and last time I used the seam ripper on this top.

I’d miscounted and wound up with an extra block, then found a very unsuitable block done with rayon type fabric that would never have help up to daily wear. I had to excise it from almost the middle of the quilt. Not to mention whipping up 3 blocks and adding sashing took me well over 4 hours – something I can do in two on a good day.


In the end I have a useable if not sellable quilt top – and one wonky block at the end with some spools cut almost in half to make things even.


I left it on purpose. Sometimes you not only need a reminder of how far you’ve come, but on how you can still make the same mistakes. As my husband says, “Can you still nap under it? Then it’s fine.”

No idea how I’ll quilt this yet – probably something all over, just to get it done. For the backing I think I’ll go with an allover print from stash, just to keep up with the overall bright colors from the front. Then a scrappy or bright solid binding.

Free Motion Floral Sampler Quilt

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A finish! Yay! This might be my first finished quilt of 2014, ugh.

For this quilt, I used the leftover blocks from my Summer Quilt. You can do this with any collection of 10″ squares. I had 25 blocks and some were duplicates.

This would look really awesome in solids or low volume prints or even alternate value prints.
I should just call this my @angelafmq sampler quilt ... ;) every block is a design from her first book.

Take your 25 blocks and lay them out on the floor or design wall until you get a pleasing arrangement. Sew two together for each row until you’ve sewn a whole row. Sew all the rows together.

(or grab two at random until you get most of the way through the stack and start sewing those pairs together. Make sure you leave enough single blocks behind to finish each row.)

Back view for texture. #quilt

For the backing, I had fabric that was 54″ wide and used that. Baste well with batting of your choice. Mine needed work.

For the quilting – this is the fun part.

I used my walking foot first and stitched in the ditch for each seam, leaving a nice square sewn for each block.

Scroll quilting.  I need practise there too. Hard to do in a square. :)

In each square, I quilted a different free motion design using the Bernina Stitch regulator on some and my free motion foot. I worked my way through Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters
and some of Leah Day’s free motion quilting designs as well. Have fun here! I used a white thread in the top and bottom on all fabrics.

For the binding, I trimmed the back so it was 2″ all around and folded it over to the front, then sewed it down. I screwed up trying to trim the corners so I won’t show that bit – just know there’s a gap. Sigh. I really need to work on mitring my binding, especially the “bringing the backing to the front” kind, which I don’t do often.

Nice and crinkly from the dryer.

This quilt I am leaving in my own stash for an example of the kind of quilting I can do. I hope eventually to maybe quilt for customers, so this should give them something to look at to pick quilting styles if wanted. At the very least, it showcases my skills now and I can compare it to another quilt a few years from now.

Scrapper’s Delight

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I’d like to say I started this quilt after I sorted my scraps, but no – I did this while sorting because the thrill of discovering long lost bits of favourite fabrics was a big draw.

I got Sunday Morning Quilts a few months ago and love every other one in the book, so given I found so many strips and squares, it was only natural I start a Scrapper’s Delight.

While sewing, I also watched the entirely of Rosemary and Thyme on Netflix, so there’s double duty tasks for you.

Snippets, the smallest I'll use.

And this is the part where I have to admit even more to being super obsessive about my scrap sorting. I set aside the smaller blocks (under 2.5″) that I would use for the middles, and and odd sized widths of strips (basically not 2.5″ and not less than 1″).

Scrappy sewing organization.

While sewing, I also resorted some of the smaller piles of strips and blocks by *length* as well. This way, when I sewed my smaller blocks together and need a strip to sew alongside, I could lay the block next to a variety of strips and find one closest to the size I needed. Sure, I could trim any piece, but the aim here was to not make even more scraps.

Scrapper's delight quilt blocks. I'd like to say this made a dent, but...

It also really helped me to choose truly random bits of fabrics for an even more scrappy look and not being drawn to ones that would match or co-ordinate too much. The only ones I would full out discount was ones that were the same prints in different colorways, or ones too similar in color.

I chain piece a lot, so I would do at least 4 blocks at a time, sewing a new strip to each one, pressing those, then choosing a new piece for the next side. All those blocks and I only had to use my seam ripper once.
And a few more blocks started. I want to keep going but I want to go see my grand babies too. They win :)

The only other issue I have is I tend to get wobbly when flipping and pressing, so some blocks wound up a bit wonky without straight lines. This works in a quilt like this – not so much when you’re going for accuracy. Then again, I know I also threw caution to the wind and tossed in some strip I know were not cut straight, especially when I saw my pressing issues.

Not the final layout, but here's my scrappy progress.  Loving this quilt. Will likely make two.

In a quilt like this it’s also fun to lay the blocks out and try different patterns. I’ll probably stick to the layout in the book though.

The other things that struck me was the segment of quilts (usually older ones, more traditional) that don’t save scraps, don’t make scrap quilts and even turn their nose up at scraps, disposing of them entirely.

So many scrappy quilt blocks.

I mean – there’s a LOT of fabric in this quilt. This stack of blocks is heavy.

I was planning on making maybe even two of this quilt if I had enough scraps (not quite) and selling one. In all my posting progress on Instagram, a friend called dibs on it and will buy it when completed, so it’s now spoken for. I just have to have it finished by Christmas with time to mail to Alabama. 😉

Likely it will be stippling all over, nothing fancy. It’s a big quilt, definitely bed sized. Those blocks finish at 12″.

Scrapper's delight quilt top. Bed sized by the time I finish.