Monday, June 24, 2013

Fractured Blocks

Recently I saw a picture of the new book by Susan Purney Mark called "Accent On Angles- Easy Strip Set Quilts"  I really liked this block and was struck by the thought that if I used these for the border around my star friends I could call the quilt I am making for Rebecca "Fractured Friends"

I have a really hard time naming quilts but this seems ideal since I am gifting this quilt to Rebecca in honor of her starting her new psychology counseling business.  I love the idea of helping our "Fractured Friends"   The fact that the people in the quilt are 'star' personalities is kind of centered on the notion that each us us are flawed but stars in our own right. So fractured friends appeals to me on many levels.

I need to make some progress on this quilt...most of my lack of progress is not quite feeling like I am achieving the feel I am looking for in this quilt.  Thus if I am onto something with this Fractured Friends thing I want to run with it.  I envision these blocks serving as a huge border all around my star friends.

The book has a preview of how she made these blocks so I gave it a shot in the dark.  I think she strip pieced the black and white stripes and then cut them at a 45 degree angle and added the color strips in the opposite direction as in this picture of my first attempt.

Problem is when I go to put this back together at this point it was hard for me to determine where to line it back up to get it to look correct.  Maybe if I cut the colored strip off evenly at the top each time I could do it easier but it still left the problem of working with the pieced bias edge on the black and white strip and I feel  it would be too easy to stretch the bias out of shape each time I went to sew the strip back together so I thought I would come up with a better method for me that I would feel more comfortable with.  For me that means translating the block into a paper pieced pattern.

One of the things I really like about paper piecing is since the fabric is attached to the paper backing, it really eliminates the hazards of bias stretching because the paper will not allow the fabric to stretch.

My star friends are going to finish as 8 inch blocks.  So I needed these blocks to be 8 1/2 inch unfinished.  Since I will be making 4 blocks and sewing them back together to achieve this I needed the individual blocks to end up at 4 1/2 inch square.  To cut 4 of these from one block I needed my block to measure at a minimum of 9 inches square. I wanted slightly larger so I could be sure to have some wiggle room when choosing where to cut my 4 blocks from the main block each time.

I started with a 9 x 9 inch piece of plain paper.  I like to use doodle pad paper for paper piecing since it is very easy to rip off the back when done and since it comes in 9 x 12 inch pages. Plus it is very economical and it runs through the copy machine with no problem.  For this block I just cut them down to the size I needed.  I drew in  a 45 degree angle that I offset from the corners so the fabric at the corners wouldn't have the seam line directly in the corners.

From there I just started adding fabric to the top.  Unlike normal paper piecing I did not sew on the line from the back of the page with the fabric down.  I put my first piece of fabric right side up and put the edge of the fabric on that line.  I put the next piece of fabric on top of that one right side down and sewed them together with a quarter inch seam allowance.  It helps to pin them in place the first time so they keep that 45 degree angle and don't slip.  After this you will just flip the piece over and iron each time and repeat.  No need to trim any edges because each time you sew the fabric pieces a quarter inch from the edge of the fabric.

You just keep repeating until the entire page is filled.  I made sure that each piece covered my paper by more than a quarter inch because I wanted to have an extra quarter inch around my paper in case it was needed.  I think it was a good choice.  When the piece is filled in and ironed nicely, I just took it to the cutting table, flipped it over and trimmed it to a quarter inch bigger than my paper template. Like this:

Then I flip it right side up and cut it one strip at a time in the opposite direction.  I line the 45 degree line on my block ruler at the bottom of this block and randomly decide where to add the color strip.  I am adding more color strips to my blocks than Susan did hers because I love how the new block looks.  You could add however many you want to the block to suit your needs.

From here you will sew a color strip onto one of these cut edges.

And then sew this edge together, also.

I get these to line up each time by lining up the sewn line from the back of the paper with the edges of the strip they are covering.  When these match up the alignment will be correct and I can feel comfortable with how they will look when I flip it back over.

I then cut out 4 blocks from this block that each measure 4 1/2 inches.  This is block one.

Then you cut out block two from the next corner.

This is what the four blocks will look like when they are all cut out but I will rearrange them before
 I sew them all back together into an arrangement like this next arrangement.

I really like how Susan's block are very fractured and I believe it probably does help to have less stripes so that they are farther apart and are more likely not to line up when I put the blocks back together. I think I will use these but start making some blocks with less stripes so the look will be much more improvised and less structured.  I want the fracture to be much more accentuated. 

Here is another set

And the same set rearranged into the fractured set.

But of course the randomness will get kicked up a few more notches when I make 96 of these and then randomly put them all back together again.  Something more along this line:

Only draw back is these are a little time consuming so I better get back to work on them :)

Keep Stitchin'

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