April 1, 2024

Improv strip blocks

 This hotel room carpet had me thinking of improv quilt blocks.

I thought this would be a good choice for our April quilt for the Bliss circle of Do Good Stitches.  Here's a tutorial for blocks inspired by this carpet.

Assembly of these blocks was quick and easy for me, but the key is to stay organized. I'll have a couple of suggestions for how to deal with this.

Start with two strips of fabric 7 inches by 20 inches (or longer); align one on top of the other, both with right sides up.

Make a series of random cuts, using the carpet photo as inspiration. Leave the first and last pieces a bit wider than the rest, to allow for joining blocks later. Try to keep your pieces more than a half inch wide to avoid losing bits in the seam allowance (although you might be ok with that).

It is critical to keep the pieces in order. One approach is to mark numbering on the pieces; I used a fine-point marker in the lower seam allowance.

Separate the two fabrics and number them correspondingly.

Now swap out alternate pieces.

Sew the pieces in order and you'll get two complementary blocks.

To join two blocks, overlap the ends and make another random cut as shown by the black line below. (Bliss members, you can skip this step.) This works best if there are an even number of cuts in the blocks.

Optionally, trim the blocks to 6.5" high to straighten the edges. (Bliss members, you can skip this step too.)

An alternate approach to staying organized is to make only one cut at a time (after the first two cuts) and sew together as you go, as illustrated in the following three photos.

When joining pieces, remember to line them up at the quarter inch point, not at the edge of the fabric.

This is my second pair of blocks:

These two photos show two options for joining a pair when they have an even number of cuts. Rotating the block on the right gives a slightly different look.

(My apologies for the poor color consistency of my photos. I know how to avoid this issue using my DSLR, but I don't know if it's possible on a cell phone camera.)

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