Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Crooked Man's Christmas Quilt: Salvaging Imperfect Blocks

After squaring up my nine crooked 9-Patch blocks, I was amazed to find that three of the blocks actually measured 6.5 inches square!  But the other six don't.  So I'm using a technique called "framing" to make all nine blocks come out the same size.

Basically, framing is the process of sewing borders around blocks to make them all the same size.  Framing is often used when quilters want to incorporate different size blocks -- like 3-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch blocks -- into the same project.  It can also be used to make those oddly sized printed fabric "blocks" (common in children's prints and novelty prints) a uniform size.  And I've heard of block swap participants using this technique to make swapped blocks all uniform in size.  (Theoretically, a quarter inch is the same on every sewing machine, but different fabric weights and thread weights and cutting methods can make a difference in the final size of a block.  But block swaps can still be fun.  I've participated in several over the years.)

After looking over my stash of Christmas fabrics, I decided the prints were all too busy to work well to frame my 9-Patch blocks.  I choose a basic white-on-white instead for this job.  I want my uneven 6.5-inch blocks to come out as even 8.5-inch blocks, so I cut 2" strips of white fabric.  This is wider than what I actually need, but it gives me some wiggle room when trimming the blocks to size.

The white fabric doesn't show up well on the white page background, but I hope you can see that I sewed strips on the left and right sides of the 9-patch blocks.  After pressing these strips over, I sewed strips on the remaining two sides of the blocks.

My next step is to trim all nine blocks to the same size, then decide whether to sash or not to sash.

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