Hi again! Welcome to the Improv Block of the Month for January! Surprise! This post is a little early. It’s our first month, so we may have a few issues to iron out. Please let me know if something confuses you. I begin with an overview of what you’ll do, then give detailed information. If you understand in one read-through, great. If you need lots of details, don’t give up. Just keep reading. It gets clearer and easier as you go along. Plus, I’m here to help you. Write your question/issue in the comments or shoot an email to email@example.com. And finally, you can sign up for early access here. (It’s still free!)
Making and Using Scramble Blocks Scrambles are the blocks you create by sewing scraps together. If you sew enough scraps into one block, it will become quite large. You’re turning scraps into fabric! Scrambles are as versatile as regular fabric. They can be used in several ways: 1. scattered anywhere on the quilt, 2. kept together to create one large-scale block, 3. sized to fit in an open area, or 4. used in other blocks. I find I never have enough, yet end up with extra after every quilt! Make as many as you want or can. It’s your quilt, after all. You can find more information in this post: From Scraps to Scrambles: Three Ways.
A quick reminder that I’ll use this format to write the overall directions. If you need help understanding my directions, check out this post.
- Decisions to make: The main decisions you’ll need to consider as you work on this month’s assignment are color, shape, and size. What is your color scheme? Have you sorted your scraps by color and size? Which shapes are you hoping to get–squares or rectangles? Does it matter? Can you see the overall idea in your mind and translate it into creating bigger and bigger blocks?
- Rotary cutting
- Scraps and strips: You will eventually use some strips, so subcut them only if you need crumbs and swatches. (Using scraps will save you time and money.)
- Yardage/fat quarters: Cut cabbages and strips from the fat quarters if needed, but try to use scraps before you cut. Subcut cabbages into swatches but not much smaller. It burns up time!
- Cutting from pre-cuts: Depending on your pre-cuts, consider cutting large pieces down to cabbage size, 10″ layer cake in halves or fourths. Strips into swatches. You’re shooting for 5-8″ pieces.
- Chain piecing: Sewing units of fabric one after another in one continous length of thread without stopping to cut the units apart. (See photo 1 below)
- Pressing: After chain piecing a pile of crumbs, take them to the iron, snip apart, and press to the darker side.
- Recutting: Trimming or cleaning up your blocks. Some improv quilters use their scissors only, others use the rotary cutter without rulers. I use all the tools at my disposal, so I cut the four sides of my units straight using my rotary and rulers. Super fast and easy. Any cut-offs that are big enough, go into the scrap bin to be used later. (See photo 2 below)
- Piece, press, cut, repeat! Until you run out of scraps! lol
- Finishing: I tend to make many blocks usually around 12″. I end with straight edges on all sides. When I have made about all the scramble blocks I can handle in one sitting, I put everything aside and clean up. The floor gets messy because I trim at the machine, the pressing station, and the cutting area. I try to keep the little slivers of trash contained, but they do have a mind of their own. So I dust the surfaces and sweep up the trash. I also put the pieces on the design board to take quick peeks at the blocks. Those peeks help keep the quilt in my mind to percolate while I’m away.