Improv Block of the Month ~~ March’s Skinnies

Hello everyone! It’s such a pleasure to visit with you again. I’m hoping you had a great outcome with your strip buster blocks. I know it may seem to have been overly simplified, but remember not everyone is an advanced sewist, and so, we’re starting easy and working our way up.
These directions have you make the gray skinny first and work your way smaller and smaller until you get to the brown skinny.
We are moving on to “skinnies.” The photo shows two different pieces. See that little white stripe in the brown piece? There’s the skinny. Think about how thin it is if the brown pieces are about an inch and a half. Let me answer that for you: the white stripe is just a tad smaller than 1/4″. What is that? 3/16″, I think. I just call it a skinny.
Don’t get worried, though. We’ll do this the easy way. Are you ready?
Here’s an example of strip-piecing. The circles indicate where the thread will be cut eventually.
  • Decisions to make: Do you have strips you can use? If not, cut some from yardage. Do you have enough fabric? If it’s likely that you’ll need more, go back to the scrap bins and find colors that will coordinate. The challenge is to make a quilt using what you already have, so dig deeply before making a purchase.
  • Rotary cutting
    • Yardage/fat quarters: You’ll need skinny strips that are 1 1/2″ by 8″. Plus 15-20 side strips that are two inches wide or wider and also 8″ long. Practice each skinny size as many times as you want. For example, let’s say you struggle with a skinny that’s 3/4″. Don’t move on to the 1/2″ skinny until you conquer that 3/4″ stinker. You don’t have to go from one inch to 3/16″ in just a few attempts. My directions are meant for you to learn a size, then move to a smaller size. I’ve numbered each stage of the process so you’ll know when the skinny gets skinnier.
    • Cutting from pre-cuts: Subcut strips as necessary using the info above.
  • Chain piecing: You will sew a skinny (1 1/2″ X 8″ strip) to one of the wide strips (RST) on the long side. Continue this way until you have used up eight to ten of the skinny pieces. (Seams are 1/4″ unless otherwise noted.)
  • Pressing:  If you press TOWARD the skinny strip, the seam allowance will “push” the skinny strip out. Pressing AWAY from the skinny strip will force it to recede into the quilt. I almost always press toward the skinny, but it’s a personal preference, so test your work and decide for yourself which you prefer.
  • Chain piecing: You are ready to sew the final piece to the skinny. As you feel comfortable with the size of the skinny, move down to a smaller (and smaller) size. The detailed directions below expain my way of doing this in steps, trimming 1/4″ off each size. (Begin with step 2.)
  • Recutting: 
  • Finishing: 
Detailed directions below assume that you have already chain-pieced and pressed from above.
1. Let’s start! There’s no cutting in this first block. You should have one 2″ wide strip sewn to the 1 1/2″ skinny strip, right sides together (RST) along the long side. Place the long edge of your final strip along the long edge of your skinny (RST) and stitch. Press. Your skinny is 1″.
2. This time you’re going to cut the skinny down measuring from the seam while ignoring the seam allowance. Your skinny will always finish 1/4″ smaller than the size that you cut it. So if you cut the skinny down to one inch, the finished skinny will be 3/4″.
Use a skinny set that is stitched and pressed. To cut, place the one-inch line of the ruler on the seam and trim off the excess. Place the long edge of your final strip along the long edge of your skinny (RST) and stitch. Press. Your skinny is 3/4″.
3. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s make another! Begin by cutting the skinny down to 3/4″ from the seam. Do so by placing the 3/4 inch line of the ruler on the seam and trim. Last step: place the long edge of your final strip along the long edge of your skinny (RST) and stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press. The skinny is 1/2″. (If you press the seam allowances toward the skinny, the edges will touch.)
Are you seeing the pattern here? You’re just taking away a 1/4″ each time you cut. All the other parts of the directions are the same: sew two strips, press, trim the skinny, then add and sew the third strip.

4. This time you’ll cut the skinny down to 1/2″. That will give you a 1/4″ skinny, which means you can now use the edge of the first seam allowance as a guide. When you press the seams toward the skinny, the allowances will double one on the other, see below. Isn’t it amazing what this does on the front side? It forces the skinny to pop off the surface of the quilt–built-in trapunto!
This pic shows how the seams pressed toward the skinny, pushes the skinny out from the rest of the piece.
5. Are you ready for even skinnier? This is going to be just a tad different. As in the directions in #4, cut the skinny down to 1/2″. Here, you’re going to put your presser foot on top of the first seam using it as a guide. You can stitch inside the seam allowance, but you have to press the seam away from the skinny. It’s not so difficult, is it? Practice. Practice. Practice! And make lots of blocks!
How skinny did you get? Show us pictures in the Facebook group! If you post photos to Instagram, remember to label them #improvbom2024
Verified by MonsterInsights