A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a pattern testing group for a quilting acquaintance of mine, Beth Helfter. We've actually never met, but I feel like I know her. She was a member of the Quiltmaker Magazine's Scrap Squad the year before I was a Scrap Addict for that same magazine. And I participated in her pattern testing group last year, as well, so we've had some interactions. I admire her slightly-off-the-wall humor, and I appreciate her relaxed attitude toward quilting. "Perfection is overrated" is a oft-repeated mantra in her blog, Quilting Hottie Haven.
This year, the project was a scrappy one - right up my alley! We were instructed to use scraps of "modern" print fabrics and "low-volume" backgrounds. Modern was defined as "if you've bought fabric at a quilt store in the last 4 years that isn't a 30's or Civil War reproduction, a novelty or tapestry-like border print, it's probably fine". LOL! check, got it.
But what the heck is "low-volume", I wondered? Beth said that she meant "modern-feeling
prints or tone on tones on white, off white, grey, or light pastel background." I admit that this was the hardest part of the project for me. What is modern-feeling? I didn't have a lot of grey, which has really been in vogue for the last year or so (and thus is modern, right?) A lot of the pastels that I have are reproductions, which she didn't want for the 'modern' prints, so I was guessing that they would also be off limit for the backgrounds!
Off to the quilt store I went, so I could discuss the topic with the owner and the staff. I came away with a better feeling of what I needed. And, of course, some low volume background scraps. ;->
One of the cool, little known features of the quilt store I frequent is the scrap bin. The bin contains cast-offs and small cuts, left overs from the owner's projects, etc. And it also contains a box of gallon sized plastic zipper bags. You can stuff the bag as full as you want (as long as you can still 'zip' it!) for a given price. I think the current going rate is about $10. If you are good at it (which I am, of course), you can get a couple of pounds of scraps in the bag, which is about 3 yards of fabric.
As usual, Beth's blocks challenged me to go outside my comfort zone. That's one of the cool things about doing pattern testing - you can really learn some things that you would have never tried. In this case, Beth had us using the stitch and flip method of making corners with one inch blocks. Yep, you read that right, ONE INCH! The good part about that is that I didn't need to mark the stitching line before sewing them. The stitching line was so short that it was easy to stay where I needed to be. The bad part is that I kept losing those tiny blocks! I was finding little one inch background blocks everywhere around the house for weeks afterwards. Which reminds me - don't wear flannel or fleece while you are sewing. You become a walking design wall with little pieces stuck everywhere....just saying.
Beth got a lot of mixed feedback about the sizes of the pieces - some people loved them, some hated them. So in her final pattern, she gives directions for both a 10 inch block (using the 1 inch squares) and a 20 inch block, which uses 2 inch squares. Either way, I think you will love the pattern!
Here are my tester blocks, one before it was sewn together, and the other is of four blocks set 2x2. I like the setting, but Beth came up with a really unique one that you'll love!
You can see pictures of it on her blog. And as a bonus, for today only (March 25th) it is available on Craftsy for only $5! Here is a link, check it out!