We all have run across the fence rail block if we’ve been quilting for any length of time. Typically this block is done by cross-cutting strip sets, right? Right. That only makes sense.
Okay. Having said that, I’ve been doing this year’s Craftsy block of the month (bom). It’s not really a class I’d expected–this one is all about colour theories and principles. The ones we’re all familiar with: warm and cool, complimentary, an examination of value, and the less obvious like hexadic. Anyway, every single block is strip pieced. So the whole quilt will be string blocks, and four patches or another configuration of squares. It’s all pretty straight forward straight line piecing.
So after finishing the various exercises you’re inevitably left with something like this:
So this time around for the fence rails I decided to challenge myself beyond the requirements for this month’s colour study. I decided I’d cut a lot of yardage for previous blocks and didn’t want to cut anymore. As you can see by my pile of leftover strip sets, there’s a lot of fabric here that satisfies any colour study. So I went ahead and started being a strip surgeon. It’s not as tricky as it sounds. It was kind of fun and I got some nifty surprises when it came time to do the final block trimming.
Step One: figure out what strips you want to use. Remember, this is a method of lengthening your stubby strip sets. Find several of the same width and get to stitching them in to a strip. Or if you don’t have any already cut that match the width you need, piece some narrow strips together until you reach your width requirement. It will make for an intricate looking block!
leftover strips from earlier trimming
piecing the leftovers
press the seams open and then from the front
Step Two: Now you have a long Frankenstein strip ready to use in a traditional strip set, or you can carry on adding other pieced bits, as I will below.
prepping for a new seam
You need to cut away any selvages and jagged bits so that your new addition is straight and easy to add.
ready to sew
Discard the old selvages and grab your Franken-strip. It’s ready to be added.
adding to another strip set
Okay, you’re almost done! All you need to do is figure out what placement you’d like and pick out a few stitches for your horizontal seam allowance. Sew your seam and press open.
Step Three: Sew the vertical (lengthwise) seams and press them open as well.
Tada!! You have just added more fabric to your existing stub. You can do this as many times as necessary to make the required length and width for whatever your pattern calls for.
My class pattern called for 24 of these little 6.5″ square fence rails. It was fun to make, but man, 24! I think what made me want to use up the remnants of what I had was the fact that 1. I hate having leftovers that are difficult to deal with, like strip sets, as they were made specifically for another project and would require a lot of ripping to be useful in another context and 2. I was thinking of my old house today.
Yeah, I was a bit sentimental. Probably because I’m not feeling well. Whenever the weather changes from rainy to sunny warm like it is now, the barometer changes and I get a sinus infection. Every year. Without fail. And it’s painful. It is depressing. The only thing that stops me from paying someone to curb-stomp my head is the nice weather! And whenever I’m sick I think of places, people, and things, (all nouns, actually, haha) that are comforting.
Anyway, in our townhouse complex there was horrific Franken-fencing. The strata had no contingency fund and the fees were too low. So the fencing was all rotted away and would blow in the wind. No kidding–it would wobble and the neighbourhood cats would fall off if they were walking along it! Nobody wanted to try saving money to replace the fencing. It was always a hot button issue, not unlike what Republicans think of Democrats, I figure, when it comes to lowering taxes and only the wealthy can afford the luxury of getting sick. But I digress. My husband and I were more than happy to pay more so that when the fencing finally fell down, it could be replaced. Because the strata fees were so low, when the roofing went, every unit in the place had to pony up $5000 because there was no money to replace it!
So I decided that this piecing exercise had a certain symbiosis: use up the extras and make a whacked out fence as a tribute to the one we had at our previous home.
Have a great week everyone!