Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Scrappy Strip Along" tutorial

Last night I finished piecing the top to a quilt I started over a year ago.  (We all have projects like that, right???)  I've had some people interested in a pattern/tutorial, here you go, hope you enjoy!  Please use the hash tag #scrappystripalong on Facebook or Instagram, if you post pictures, I would love to see what your quilt looks like.  You are welcome to share this tutorial, the more the merrier, right?!?!  However, please be respectful and share this post and not copy its contents for a post of your own.  Thank you and let the sewing begin!  Please read this entire tutorial before getting started.
These are a few of my first blocks!
This quilt all started after I did a 1.25" fabric strip exchange with 19 of my clients/friends.  As I started sewing my strips together, I knew I wanted to do something a little different.  So I just started grabbing and sewing them together, no rhyme or reason...just fabrics that contrast well.  This would be a great friend fabric exchange project!!

This quilt measures: 63.5"x71" (it is unquilted still, so it could shrink a little in size) 
It is 6x16 blocks, which is 96 block total. 
The blocks measure 5"x11", and are laid out horizontally. 
You will make 20 strip sets, 10 one direction and 10 the other direction.  (more on that later) 
So, you will need (300) 1.25" strips.  My strips were the full width of the fabric. (between 42"-44") 
You are welcome to use different widths for you strips, you just need to make sure your set measures 11.75" wide, so when you go to cut down your blocks they will be around 11" in length.
Seam allowances for this quilt are 1/4".   
Also I recommend to shorten your stitch length on your sewing machine, you are going to be cross cutting across your seams and don't want them to come undone.
 Now that my quilt is all sewn together, the parts that I love the most are the pops of color. 
Don't be afraid to throw any color or style of fabric in. 
I would just recommend you use all 100% cotton fabrics.  Nothing that is stretchy.
 I think this picture illustrates what I'm talking about with color.  You also need to have contrasting fabrics.  You can see the blocks on the right don't contrast as well as the others do.
Its up to you, but I recommend dividing up all your strips into groups.  That way when you get down to your last few sets you aren't stuck with fabrics that don't contrast well.  You are going to make 20 sets of strips.  I used (15) 1.25" strips in each set.  If you are going to use different widths of strips, adjust your amount of strips accordingly.  If you do add different widths of strips to your sets, remember to make sure your sets are 11.75" or wider.  (you don't need to go bigger than that, otherwise you're going to have more fabric waste). 
Time to start sewing!  These are instructions to the angled down set.  You will make 10 sets of these blocks.  To save on fabric waste I move each top strip, as I'm sewing them on, down an 1".  Like pictured above. 
 Like so.
 Open it up.
 Line up your next strip and start sewing.
 Then open it up again and continue doing the same thing for all 15 strips.
 Like so.
 While sewing your strips together be careful to sew straight lines and don't pull on your fabrics, as you sew.  If you're not careful you can cause your strip sets to start curving, which makes it difficult to correct or cut later on.
 Straight strips should look like this.  If it starts to curve on you correct it before you continue to sew, otherwise you'll create a bigger problem to fix.  If it continues to give you curving problems you can alternate sides when you are sewing, I've heard that helps.
Here are all 15 strips sewn and ready for pressing! 
 This is the top end.  You can see the angled down slant.  By sewing your strips on an angle like this, you will be able to get 5 blocks per set and you will have less fabric waste. 
 Another view of the top of the set.
This is a view of the full length of the set.  You need to make 10 sets of this downward angled set.
Next you are ready to press.  I will show you how to sew the next 10 set later, after I show you how to cut these ones.  I recommend pressing your sets upside down first and also sideways.  You may be tempted to lay the full length on the ironing board, however major stretching can occur while ironing if you do.  I found I have better control of the stretching if I start pressing upside down and with the set laying width wise. 
 I press the seams all in one direction and actually start pressing towards the middle first and work my way to the ends. 
 When I am done pressing the entire back I flip it over and press the top of the seams better.  This is also good so you can catch if you didn't press a seam open enough, and nice because you'll have less stretching and curving.  Press all 10 strip sets this way.
 Make sure your cutting matte has a 60 degree angle.  This is what you are going to use to help you cut your blocks on an angle. 
 Next you are going to lay your block on the matte lined up to the 60 degree angle, as close to the end of your strips as possible. 
 Like so.
 Like so.
 Then take your ruler and rotary cutter, using the angle line as a guide and cut off your end.
 To make things simple for myself, I used the width of my ruler (5") for the width of my strips.  So I line up the left side of the ruler to the angle I first cut, and make another cut.
 Like so.
 Your strips should look like this.  Cut the rest of your blocks, which should total 5.
 And this.
 Here is the fabric waste from the top end.  If by chance your strips weren't quite long enough to get a full 5 blocks, you can unpick some of your fabrics from this front left over strip to add to the part that was too short.  This happened to me a couple of times, and was an easy fix.  It was always one of the first three fabrics, so I would just unpick that strip and sew it onto the block it is needed on and then trim it up like the others.   
 This is the bottom end.  Not much waste!!  YAY!
 So, your 5 blocks should look like this.
 Next line them up, so you can square up the ends.  You are going to want to cut the ends off right at the point where it starts to angle down.  So, your block should be cut at 11" in length.  (If you used different widths of strips, other than the 1.25" size that I used, this is why you need it to be 11.75" in width.  Explained above) 
 You will cut the right side of each block like so.  I'm cutting on the 12" line in this photo because I have the block starting on the 1" line.
 Line up the ruler, cutting right on the point, and cut off all the left sides of the block.
 There you go!  Cut all of your blocks this way.  You should have 50 blocks total.  5"x11"  
 If you would like to line up your blocks and cut three or four at a time you can, just make sure all your points are lined up.  There is no extra to make up for a bad cut on the other end.
 Squared up!
 You will have several of these leftover....maybe we should create something else with these...keep them, you'll never know what we come up with next! 
Now for the next set of 10!  If you remember you sewed your other strips going down.  As you sew these you will up.  As you add a strip it should be an 1" or so higher than the strip underneath.  This is what your set of strips should look like.  Make 10 of these sets.  Press them the same as the other strips.  (instructions above) 
 Now you are ready to start cutting the strips.  Line up your set, using the same 60 degree line on your matte.  If you notice in the picture above, you will need to lay your set upside down...yes your seams should be up.  You won't be able to cut it if you don't lay it upside down, the angles wont work for the 60 degree angle on your matte.  This is also how you get your different angled blocks.
 Line up your ruler on the 60 degree line, like you did with the last block, and cut on the line.
 Like so.
 Line up your ruler and cut 5" or the width of your ruler.
 Your block should look like this.
 And, you should still have 5 blocks per set.
 Line them up and cut at the point, should be 11" in length.  Remember to make sure your points are lined up.
 Like so.
 After you cut off the left side, they should look like so. 
Fun huh!!!  Cut all your sets, and you should have 50 of these blocks total. 
 You can see the difference in the angles with all my blocks lined up ready to lay out.
Okay, so when I lay a quilt out if I ever have any blocks that are the same I make stacks of all the same ones to help ensure I don't over use one block. 
 Starting to lay it out.  The quilt is 6 blocks across by 16 blocks down.  You will lay out the quilt every other block to create the angled pattern.  You will have a few extra blocks leftover. 
I move the blocks out of the straight line when I've used them.  (that is why some blocks are pulled out)  Or sometimes I will take one of each block and make sure I use them before I use any more.
 All ready to sew together.
 First its good to check it out with my "Sew Red Glasses".  If you haven't heard of them click this post, you'll learn how awesome they are!!!
 Fun to show the back, that is a lot of seams!!!
 All sewn and ready for quilting!  When I sewed it together I just pinned the block seams.  I didn't worry about pinning all strip seams, because they didn't line up...unfortunately my strips weren't all cut straight and 1.25" exactly.   
 I'm thinking this will be my quilt back (tan fabric) and binding (red fabric).
 As the sun was getting ready to set.
 Close up.

 Don't they look lovely together! 

This was a fun quilt to do, but I am so glad to have it ready to quilt!
Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thank you, and Happy Sewing!!
This is also the same cutting technique I used for a herringbone quilt I made.
 I sewed 2.5" strips together in sets of 2.  Pressed and then made sure to cut half of them right side up, and cut the other half upside down.  I think I cut them at 7" long and of course you don't square them up on the ends, you just sew them to each other in a vertical line and you have the row sewn together before you know it.  I did pin these when I sewed the rows together, fun fast quilt!! 
~ leisha


  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial. This is on my New Years list of quilts to make. I will keep you posted. Thanks again

    1. Thank you, Esther!! Hope you've had a happy new year! Please let me know if you have any questions. I appreciate your interest in making the quilt and look forward to seeing pictures of your quilt.

  2. Thank you Leisha for this fun tutorial. You made it much easier! Gorgeous quilt!

  3. I am definitely going to make one like this! Love it! Thanks for sharing :-)

    1. Thank you!!! Excited to see yours. Please add the hashtag #scrappystripalong if you do.

  4. This is excellent pattern and tutorial. Great job, I will use this pattern soon!

  5. Great tutorial! I thought that was the 45 degree angle on the mat. Love the quilt! Thanks!