Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Staggered Strips and Squares Quilt, A Sort-of Tutorial

Last week I posted my Hinto Minto baby quilt made for parents-to-be who wanted a gray and white quilt with a hint of mint (you can read about it here).  This quilt was so fun and easy to make that I mentioned in this post that I planned to made another version of this quilt in black and white Cotton + Steel fabrics and when I do, I would write a tutorial.  Since this may not be for awhile, I decided with the fabric leftover from the Hinto Minto Quilt, I would do a sort-of tutorial meaning that it's not a step by step tutorial with photos of how to make this quilt but more of how I came up with this pattern and how easy it would be to make it your own.
The concept for making a modern baby quilt was to use various shades of gray and low volume lights from my stash and to showcase a large type print by Art Gallery's Pastel Thrift Shop accented with Cotton + Steel Basic mint print.  
The inspiration for the Staggered Strips and Squares pattern is a variation of a jelly roll quilt which I did with my Hometown Girl Jelly Roll Charm Chase Quilt (left) and my Blue Ernie Dash Quilt (right) and you can see that I really like making quilts with 2-1/2" strips.  What's nice about this pattern  is that you can cut 2-1/2" strips and squares from your stash.
Before I started making the Hinto Minto quilt, I first planned it out by drafting it first on graph paper  (each square represents 2") so I could determine the number of rectangles, squares and strip set blocks I would need.  For the Staggered Strips and Squares Quilt tutorial, the pattern is for a 40" square. (As a side note, I know the pattern name doesn't include rectangles but I only used rectangles for this quilt because I wanted to showcase the gray type print and if you don't want to use rectangles they can be replaced with squares or strip set blocks.)  Here is a suggested layout/pattern and I apologize for not being computer savvy to generate a separate document but I really like doodling on graph paper.  As you can see, each row consists of four blocks with dimensions adding up to 40" finished.  
Here are the fabric requirements and cutting details for making this top:
  • Five 4-1/2" x 12-1/2" Rectangles  (Focus Print)
  • Nine 4-1/2" Squares (Accent Color)
  • Thirty-five to forty strips (20"+, does not need to be exact, cut either strips from WOF or WOFQ) to make the following strip set blocks (instructions to follow)
    • Ten 4-1/2" x 8-1/2" Strip Set Blocks
    • Eight 4-1/2" x 12-1/2" Strip Set Blocks
    • Eight 4-1/2" x 16-1/2" Strip Set Blocks
Note:  you can cut more than the necessary Strip Set Blocks to allow for wiggle room if you have leftover after cutting.  
I love the look of staggered strips and my favorite way to achieve this improv look is by doing the first two laps of a jelly roll race quilt which is first sewing the strips together to make one super long strip and then finding the two ends and then sewing two strips together.  If you're unfamiliar with this technique, you can check out one of the many Jelly Roll Race Quilt videos on YouTube.  Before starting to sew the strips together, first:
  • remove all selvedges and straighten the strips, if necessary
  • for half of the 20"+ strips, cut them in half to 10" -11"
Once you are ready to sew the strips together, start with either a short or long strip and to ensure the staggered-ness, the last strip sewn should be either a short or long strip, whatever you didn't start with--be sure you don't use the same size strips for the beginning and the end. Also, I sewed the strips together with a shorter stitch length.
Once this very long strip  was sewn, I took it to my ironing board and pressed each seam open.  This is a cumbersome and a little time consuming step but I find it makes the sewing and cutting the strip sets easier.
After you finished ironing and taken a much needed break, find the beginning and the end and line it up for sewing.  I have to mention that this is my favorite part of the jelly roll race quilt, this stretch of mindless sewing. There will be times when seams actually match up between the two rows and that's okay. When you are near the end of sewing the strips together, around 8" to 10", check to see if the ends are twisted, and if they are, then cut at the fold, straighten the strips and resume sewing to the end.  I find that after sewing several race quilts that this sometimes happens.
Again, you will take this lovely pile to the ironing board to press the seam either up or down, your preference, because you want to cut your strip sets when the strips laying nice and flat and so you can see the seam lines when you are cutting the strip set blocks.
When cutting your strip sets blocks to the desired width, be sure you are at least 1" away from a vertical seam line; if you are too close, then adjust by either making a smaller or larger strip set block or move the ruler over enough to be away from the seam line and then cut the desired width.  
Once you have cut the required number and sizes of the strip set blocks you are ready to layout the quilt with the squares and rectangles using the pattern/layout provided above.  Note:  this photo is not the first Hinto Minto Quilt layout but is the layout of the second quilt.  When laying out your blocks, and two strip set blocks are next to each other, be sure the horizontal seams are opposite to each other so they will nest once they are sewn together; i.e., if one block's seam is up, then the block next to it should have the seam going down. (If you don't like the way it looks, then re-press the seam.) Once each row of blocks are sewn together, they should measure 40-1/2" wide. After each row of blocks are sewn, the seams of the blocks should be pressed in alternative directions so seams from the next row of blocks will nest, which we already do when making other quilts, right?

What I like about the Staggered Strips and Squares pattern is that unlike a jelly roll race quilt, where you don't know what the quilt is going to look like until the end,  you can control the look or random-ness by placing the blocks where you want them.  You can place the strip set blocks with other ones with the same fabrics to create what I call "globs" or you can make sure the same fabrics or colors are distributed evenly throughout the quilt. And it's so much easier to sew a quilt row by row rather than having to cut thirty-two rows apart and making the sides even when you do a jelly roll race quilt--for those of us who have made one, you know what I mean.

As mentioned before, the pattern/layout provided was to show how this quilt was made.  You can easily make the quilt larger by adding more squares and strip set blocks.  I highly recommend that you draw your quilt out on graph paper like I did after you determine first what size you want your quilt to be. After that, draw in the squares and strip set blocks to give you an idea of what is needed.  To calculate how many strips you need to sew to make the strip set blocks, this is how I came up with my number for the Hinto Minto:
  • separate the strip set blocks by size and count each size separately
  • # of blocks x the width x two
  • add these figures together and then divide by 20
Example: for this 40" square quilt, the calculations were as follows:
  • 10 strips 8.5" wide = 85" x 2 (because there are two strips) = 170"
  • 8 strips 12.5" wide = 100" x 2 = 200"
  • 8 strips 16.5" wide = 132" x 2 = 264"
  • Add these three totals together = 634" divided by 20" strips = 32.  I sewed 35 strips to allow for fudge room or miscuts. And truth be told, when I made the Hinto Minto Quilt, I used 50 strips and the leftovers are being used for the second quilt.

The flexibility of this pattern is you can change your mind as the blocks are laid out --what you drew is not what you have to do.  You can always make adjustments which is why I always cut more squares and sew more strips sets than needed.
I hope you find this "sort-of" tutorial helpful to see how easily this quilt can be made.  When I made the Hinto Minto quilt, I didn't have the foresight to envision this could be a tutorial until after it was done.  I wanted to share the fun, the easiness and the possibilities of this pattern.  Sometimes it's really hard for me to explain something easy. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have but if you're totally confused, which I hope you're not, then maybe I can explain it better if I use graph paper.

Enjoy and I would like to see photos of the quilts you may make.

22 comments :

  1. Thanks for putting out this tutorial. It works for me. The graph paper trick is right up my alley. Easy to read and easy to adapt. Thanks sister!

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  2. I hadn't realized you did this as a modified jelly roll idea. Cool. I love the colors, especially that gray with the big type! Thanks for writing up your "sort of" tutorial!

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  3. Thank you, Rose, for writing up this totally-a-tutorial! Your pattern is a great improvement on the jelly roll race. I love it!

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  4. This is great! Thank you. I plan on making this when things slow down. Hope that is soon!

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    1. Thanks Shannon. I'm already to do another one but have to finish some projects first. I hope you like making this pattern.

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  5. Very nice, Rose! Your instructions are clear to me. I like the versatility of this pattern very much :)

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    1. Thanks Louise. I'm glad to know you understand my instructions. This is a fun pattern to make from stash.

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  6. Good for you Rose, for sharing the process for making your Hinto Minto! I'm sure there will be many of these made and loved.

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    1. Thanks Suz! I'm thinking that the Minto matches your new bike. I love the color.

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  7. Great pattern, I will be trying this one, thank you Rose. Now I'm wondering how it would look scrappy in brights with navy or black squares. Clever.

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    1. Thanks Kate! I think the brights with navy or black squares would look great. I'm doing another version in black and white and have to wait until I finish some other projects before I can start.

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  8. Thanks for the "sort of" tutorial! I like making strip quilts from my stash. I never buy jelly rolls because I like to use my own choice of fabrics, not some designer's collection.

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    1. Thanks Annie! This is a great pattern to make from stash. I have a couple more lined up to make.

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  9. Thank you for the tutorial...it's a gem! And, there's just something about pencil and paper!

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    1. You're welcome Melody. Yes, I'm still old schooled and like pencil and paper and maybe the occasional marker.

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  10. I love how you include the squares in your strip quilts. The panels are a fun addition as well. I want to try this sometime. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. I appreciate your suggestions and love your Staggered Strips and Square quilts. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Rose, I love this tutorial. I am saving it and hope to get one made. It is a fun, easy pattern. I appreciate you taking the time to write this up!!

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  13. I love this quilt idea! I certainly have enough strips! Thanks for sharing. I've subscribed to your blog and anxious to see what else you are up to! :-)

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