Saturday, June 5, 2010

Checkerblock Star: Not A Scrap Quilt

When life gives you scraps, make a quilt. -Unknown

This is one of my oldest Ph.D's. I bought these pretty Modas more than 4 years ago with the intention of making a maple leaf quilt for LadyBug's bed. Yes. Blue maple leaves. It's art. And no. Even though it seems like I talk about her more, I don't favor LadyBug over Grasshopper. I made him a quilt for his bed and he doesn't like it. He wants a new one, but he'll have to wait his turn because I haven't made LadyBug a bed quilt yet. I've got all the fabric for a Star Wars 'cuddle quilt' like LadyBug's HSM quilt but he doesn't bug me about it as often as LadyBug did about hers, so it isn't getting worked on much. But I digress. I didn't get started on the blue maple leaves right away and so when I came across a really neat pattern on The Quilter's Cache I decided to use that instead. I pulled out my calculator to see how much fabric I would need for the new layout; I had at least a ½-yard cut of each of the blues but it wasn't enough for the new blocks. I asked my mom if she'd stop by the quilt shop near her house where I got these prints, which are incidentally called Toile Christmas, and pick up a bit more of each one. Unfortunately, it had been more than six months since I'd gotten them.

Still, I was determined to make this quilt. With these fabrics. Using the really cool Checkerblock Star pattern I'd found. Tiled. With a pieced border. I mean, if my test block was this cool:
then imagine how cool would a whole quilt be.

So my insane and desperate quest began. But I was determined. I searched every quilt shop from here to my mom's, an 80 mile stretch along the interstate, with no luck. I looked on-line. Still no luck. But I couldn't give up the dream so I started playing around with the layout. I tried it with just the center blocks tiled and alternating white blocks with the stars on the outer rows. But I didn't like that. Then I did alternating blocks throughout. That was no good either. The only way this quilt was going to work (at least in my head) was if the blocks were tiled. I found it necessary to begin a new quest.

I took swatches of my four colors and re-visited all the quilt shops between here and my mom's, trying to find fabrics on the same color scale. Lots of fabrics of the same color scale; I have a small stash because I try to only buy what I have a definite plan to use. That way I don't end up short on a fabric that I love for a project I just have to do. But since I was in that very boat, I decided to turn this quilt into a scrap quilt. Eventually, I got enough different fabrics in each of the four blues to begin work. I washed all my fabrics. I pressed all my fabrics. I cut squares. I cut the square into triangles. And I started to chain sew. There was no speed-piecing because half the pieces would
come out the wrong way. I finished all the star points with the darker fabric as the larger triangles. Then boredom from all that cutting and chain piecing and pressing set in. I had other projects. So, I put this one away for a really, really long time.

Then one day, a little over a month ago, I got inspired by a blog I follow. Susan had made the most gorgeous scrappy Irish Chain quilt using leaders and enders. Leaders and enders is a book by Bonnie Hunter, that gives you a productive way to use your scraps. The concept is that you piece your scraps instead of using a 'thread bunny' or 'anchor scrap' at the beginning and ending of each bit of chain piecing. Susan keeps a box of scraps by her machine and while she's working on her main project, she pieces the scraps together in between chains. I remembered I had about 947,282 triangles cut and
waiting to be pieced, so I pulled them out and over just the past month, I've finished about a fourth of the smaller triangles in the next set of star points using them as leaders and enders. These triangles are for the star blocks and for the border. It feels really nice to be passively working on this quilt again. My little pile of pieced triangles grows bigger and my stacks of triangles waiting to be pieced grows smaller and I'm not taking any time away from the projects that need to be finished right now, but I'm making progress on a project that has been sitting for a really long time. Thank you Susan! And Bonnie. She wrote the book, after all!


Michelle said...

Beautiful blues! It's going to be a lovely quilt. So glad you've found a way to work on the project that's not driving you nuts. :-) It's all about strategy.

coley said...

I can't wait to see it when it's done!! It's going to look awesome!

Jennifer Lovell said...

I just love the fabric designs. This is going to be one beautiful quilt.

Richard Healey said...

Yes that is a amazing block. And it is not made out of that hard of things to do. Again a great Idea. I seem to be pinning more and more of your stuff its amazing.