June 25, 2008

ScrapBusters, Flat Biscuit Blocks and Neckties That Wouldn't Die

I've made a tutorial in my KalamaQuilts Webshots album for this updated version of an 1800's stuffed quilt block technique. (click here to be taken there in a new page) When there scroll down below each picture to see additional instructions.

This is Ode To Gus and was made in the 1990's from ties donated by my customers. It is 40 X 36 inch with 3 inch finished blocks, bordered by bow-ties and framed on stretcher bars. It is one of my favorites because no matter where it is hung it looks like it is drawing in the light. Embellished with buttons of course. An additional bonus is if framed like this once it's pieced you are done, no need for backing or batting or binding...Finished!

Some tips for making quilts with neckties:
1. I had hundreds and hundreds, in all states of being, so I washed them by hand in color lots and hung them in the tub shower to dry. Wet silk doesn't smell very good...see if you can find a dry cleaner who will still do jobs by the pound, you'll be happier. Washed ties are difficult to press nicely too.

2. Don't bother with painstakingly ripping out the stitching in the back, that seam line will never in a million years press out so you lose no fabric and save a ton of time if you refold the tie with the seam to the side and just rotary cut it off. A few seconds you are finished, discard that weird inner stabilizer, and you are on to the next one.

3. You'll probably have a mix of polyester, silk, and some cotton. Silk is a rotary mat and blade killer. Cut the seam off your ties on the back side of your mat, and when finished scrub the fibers out, flip the mat over and you are good as new.

4. One of the reasons I decided to use this flat biscuit idea for the tie quilt is because once you cut neckties (and ladies vintage hankies by the way) you have the equivalent of trying to put socks on an octopus...there is no such thing as grain and your neat square block loses it shape as you look at it! So pinning to a support fabric takes care of that issue. Your support fabric is square so as long as you use that for your seam allowance guide, no problems.

5. I did a -1/8 inch basting edge around each tie biscuit block because I find working with a lot of pins is a nuisance, but you can do them either way.

6. Depending on era they are from, 16-20 ties will give you about a yard of fabric.

7. This is a great Scrap-Buster quilt in that you can use up lots of those 4"ish scraps you have left for the pretty side, and lots of ugly/cheap/worn fabric for the bases at 3-1/2 inch. And you thought there was no good use for cheap thin cottons! In this technique it is a plus as you have less bulk in the seams.

This is Watered Down Bisque January 1995, 38 X 38 inches, using the same technique, doing a watercolor fan using strictly stash. It's harder than it looks, without buying 'feelies and touchies' to make things blend. By the time I was finished with this I had made enough flat biscuits leftover to make an over-sized twin utility quilt; on the plus side that quilt has been washed a gazillion times and has worn like iron.

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