07 August 2017

Snowflake Monday

Welcome to Week 3 of Snowcatcher's Snowflake Quiltalong!

I opted not to sash my snowflake charm squares but promised to share how I sash blocks just in case you'd like to use sashing in your project. I will be making nine boy quilts by Christmas (I hope), and I'm putting together a quick boy quilt top today to share how I sash blocks all the same size with the same color sashing throughout.

I haven't looked to see if anyone else has done a tutorial on my method, but there's no such thing as too many tutorials, right? Also, some of my regular (crochet) readers have expressed they have little to no experience with quilting, and they are hoping this QAL will be beginner-friendly.

This method of sashing really speeds up the process, I think, and it's simple to boot. The quilt top I'm making for this QAL installment also is fast and easy, the perfect quilt for a last-minute gift.

For today's project I started with 12 desert-colored batik layer cake squares (10-inch by 10-inch). I've previously made this same pattern multiple times with 12-inch blocks I cut myself from scraps and leftovers. I can finish this type of quilt in three or four nights, from fabric choosing and block cutting to quilting and binding. I've made three so far with nothing but scraps and leftovers, so this is a fantastic way to use up existing stash.

EVERYTHING in today's project is from my stash leftovers, so it cost me zero dollars and cents. $0.00!!! That kind of price tag is always a boon, right?

12 Layer Cake Squares in Volcano Colors

As I was playing with the block layout, I decided these desert rock colors also reminded me of volcanoes and lava. My own kids were fascinated by volcanology while they were younger, and almost all the little boys I've met in the last decade or two are obsessed with dinosaurs. So I have a theme for this young boy's quilt, which I'm now calling Lava Beds.

I pulled out my existing batik stash to determine which colors would harmonize best with the blocks I'd chosen. I picked an amber tone because it reminded me of the amber in "Jurassic Park" that started the fictitious amusement park. I sliced up 12 2.5-inch strips from the 44-inch width of the fabric. I ended up using only 10 of them for the sashing, and the two remaining strips go into the jelly roll section of my scrap collection for the next time I'm assembling a scrap quilt with mixed sashing.

If you prefer, you may cut your strips into 12 10-inch and 12 12-inch pieces (for 10-inch layer cake blocks) or 12 12-inch and 12 14-inch pieces (for 12-inch blocks). I don't cut my jelly roll strips first. I just start sewing and cut as I go. I do one block at a time, and I do two sides only on each bock. Typically, I will try to make the sashing seam line the same on each block. I was rushing during this project and forgot to pay attention to that tiny detail, so some blocks were sashed on the side first, and some were sashed on the bottom first. My final quilt top looks fine with the inconsistencies. It probably helps knowing it's not going to be entered into competition, where a move like that would have resulted in scorched earth.

Because I cut as I went, I had to piece sashing as I went. My goal is to get up from the sewing machine many times during a project; it prevents my back from getting as stiff. I also like that I used up every inch of my home-cut sashing possible. If I had cut the pieces to length before sashing, it probably would have taken up all 12 strips instead of just 10, and I would have a bunch of small leftover pieces instead of two nearly full-length strips.

After finishing the first row of blocks to be sashed, I could envision what the final project would look like.

Once all the rows of blocks were sashed on two sides, I sewed the blocks together in rows.

After all the rows were put together, it was time to sew the rows together. I have to be really careful every single time I put rows together because I'm famous for sewing at least one row on upside down. Every. Single. Time. Unraveling has never gone out of style at my house. My seam ripper will never experience rejection issues.

Once the rows were sewn together, I prepared strips for the two unsashed sides. The quilt top at this point was roughly 33 inches by 44 inches, and one 2.5-inch strip was not quite long enough to sash the long side of the flimsy. I pieced together 2 2.5-inch strips, then finished sashing the flimsy quilt top.

What do you think? Does it bring to mind "Dante's Peak"? (My kids' absolute favorite movie when they were young.)

This quilt top didn't seem big enough to me for a growing boy, so I cut and added two border rows of lava-toned 2.5-inch strips from my existing batik stash. All of the home-cut jelly roll strips for this project, by the way, are leftovers from Leaf Me Alone. Lava Beds now measures 43x56 inches, which I think will be plenty big enough.

I plan to back it with a lava-hued Wilmington Prints Essentials Cosmos because the nebula-like design looks to me a bit like hot, bubbly lava. I'm planning some fun motifs for the quilting of each block, recycling and renewing a plan I had two years ago for a different quilt but didn't have the courage to attempt because I was still such a beginner free-motion quilter. That design, however, will not involve snowflakes. So I'll save it for another blog post on another day.

Meanwhile, I've been piecing together my rows for the Snowflake Quiltalong, and thankfully, these rows didn't matter too much when I sewed a few together upside-down. (I still had to take them apart and put them back together so the triangle edges would line up properly.)

We were treated to a visit by my mother-in-law while I still had this project taking up most of the dining room floor space, and she commented how perfect my seams were matched. (!!!!!) Thankfully, she didn't look at each individual intersection with a magnifying glass because they are not 100% perfect. But from a distance, they do look pretty good.

I do not nest my seams. When you get deep into quilting, you will hear, see and learn about "less bulk" by nesting seams, which means pressing all the seams to one side so that when the blocks match up, stacked fabric on one side lines up perfectly with stacked fabric on the opposite side. I've been sewing most of my own clothing since I was a teenager, and I've always pressed all my seams flat, except in tailored collars. If you really think about the math, which I try not to do because my brain is allergic to math, pressing the seams to one side or the other is no different than pressing them open because you have the same number of fabric layers either way. You didn't add or subtract layers.

Some people may obtain better-matched seams by nesting, and that's fine. I pin my seams, and if I sew over the pins, I do so VERY slowly, turning the wheel by hand, to make sure I don't break a pin or a needle. I'm still haunted by the nightmares my ninth grade home economics teacher drilled into our collective heads by telling us we'd puncture our eyes if we ever sewed over a pin. You really shouldn't ever sew over pins, even if you go slow. Period.

Pinning my pressed-flat seams takes a bit longer but results in better-looking intersections.

Did you catch that?!? I finished TWO quilt tops in one week! Doesn't happen often in my neck of the plains-meet-foothills!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.


  1. Dante's Peak is one movie I never watched at my sea. May have to get on that one day. Costing $0.00 is sure a win from the get go.

    1. You're missing out, Pat! Dante's Peak is one of the better volcano movies, in my opinion. They're all a little hokey, but this one actually has a good storyline. And yes, costing $0.00 is a welcome relief after some of the health care expenses this year... :)

    2. I have never seen sashing done that way before, but it sure makes sense. It gives me something to think about. I think the colors in the added borders really set it off. I agree that pressing seams open results in more precisely pieced quilts. And you gotta love the memories of our 9th grade home-ec teachers, right?

    3. Thanks, Sandy! Remember that adage, everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten? I think I learned almost everything I needed to know in Home Ec!

  2. Very clever plan! I may try that the next time I'm sashing. I make a lot of scrappy quilts, and this would certainly make it easier to be scrappy. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Susan! I'm glad I was able to share something helpful!

  3. Ah, yes, Dante's Peak! And if I remember correctly, that was Pierce Brosnan. Reason enough to watch it right there. =)

    1. You got my husband started, Susan. He wants to put that movie on tonight now! :)


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