I hope everyone had a magical Valentine’s Day filled with happiness and love. Of course, it’s good to have days like that all the time. Love is too much of a priority to everyone, it seems, to be confined to one single day of the year. In the middle of winter. But you know what I love? Playing with fabric. On Valentine’s Day, the day after or any day at all.
I call it playing, but I get work done at the same time. I recently re-read Bev Getchshel’s article New Recipes for Leftovers in our October/November 2012 issue, in which she discusses orphan blocks and what to do with them. Whenever she makes a quilt, she makes an extra block on purpose, then makes a year-end quilt comprised of all the orphan blocks she accumulated throughout the year. A little extra work during her “real” quilt projects provides all the materials for a quilt that is just for fun, and she gets to play around with the blocks and have fun deciding how to combine them.
It reminded me of a project I had worked on last year. I was making a quilt top with a strip piecing technique but the design I wanted to do had some strange angles which made it a bit tricky. I had intended it to be a bed-size quilt, but after yet another faulty calculation I decided to make it a crib quilt and be done with it already. So I cut some of it off and ended up with some cool strip-pieced scraps.
Cute, right? Though I do not recommend this design for inexperienced quilters, or anyone who doesn’t want to figure it out on their own. I don’t even know where I would start if I had to pattern this thing. Uncommon angles can be very frustrating! You can see on the sides where I cut much of the blue areas off, producing those scraps I mentioned.
What to do with them? I decided to take advantage of the funky angle and cut parallel strips from it, then laid those out in different ways to find one I liked. With two sets of very similar strips, I came up with two different designs, each with its own look.
In one design the color gradient all goes the same way. In the other one, every other strip is reversed, and the strips are just a bit narrower. That’s all. But it really goes to show how taking the time to look at things just a little differently can inspire pieces totally unique unto themselves, even if they share the same basic components.
So on your current project (or the next), make an extra block or two, or strip piece more than you need to, or make your quilt top too large then cut it down. You never know what surprises are hiding right in front of you! You’re doing the work anyway, you might as well plan on some fabric fun for later while you’re at it.