Simple perfection

I Pinterest.

And the other day, this love and the hours I spend trawling for inspiration were fully, fully justified when I discovered there a tutorial which has been a total game-changer for me.

My quilts are more known for being colourful or an interesting concept or design than for the perfection of my piecing. I freely admit that my favourite mantra is “Finished is better than perfect”. This lack of skill (or perhaps my stubborn refusal to unpick something just a bit wonky when I’m on a roll) has put out of reach my long-time ambition to create a postage-stamp scrappy double quilt. Can you imagine the escalation of non-matching corners across a full size quilt? It didn’t bear thinking about, and knowing myself thoroughly, I sadly put the idea on a very distant back burner.

But look at this baby!  Check out those corners!  See how crisp and perfect and lovely it is!

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.30.33 pm

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.30.50 pmOK, I’ll stop taking the credit now, and give it where it’s due. I used Elizabeth Hartman’s postage stamp block tutorial. It’s beautifully explained and photographed, all laid out with the kind of detail and clarity any moron or person in an extreme hurry can understand, and it uses no special tools, only things that any average sewist will have on hand. You need only the smallest amount of patience at the start, and after that, it goes astonishingly quickly

It’s so wonderfully simple: cut your squares a tiny, tiny bit smaller than a 2″ grid marked on a square of lightweight iron-on interfacing. Arrange all your squares with edges touching. Press. Crease the interfacing along the gridlines and stitch along the creases. Gently slit the interfacing to open the seam allowance and press open. Do the verticals, then the horizontals. Result: Perfect squares that line up exactly.

I did one thing differently from how she suggests you proceed; instead of making a fabric grid to place under the interfacing, I drew my grid directly on the back of the interfacing with a fine tip biro, and placed the whole shebang on a white cloth so the lines showed through. Oh, and I made mine much smaller, on the assumption that as I could easily stuff it up, there was no point spoiling lots of interfacing. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried! I may eventually make her white fabric grid, because it’ll save ruling lines on every block, but for now, it’s quick and easy to do it my way. I’ve already made this cutie’s big sister, and have another big pile of colourful scraps pressed and lined up on the cutting mat. Obsessive, moi?

The upshot of all this unseemly glee and self-congratulation is that I have now added the postage stamp quilt to my To Do list. Best of all, because I can make it one scrappy block at a time, I can do it almost by stealth, and as part of the monthly ScrapHappy block post that Gun and I do on the 15th of each month. Watch this space. One of these days, I’ll be doing a “Tah-daaaah!” post, and there will be a beautiful postage stamp scrappy quilt to show off.

And a whole lot less scraps to store, not that I’ll ever stop creating them….

41 thoughts on “Simple perfection

  1. tialys says:

    I’ve been over and had a look at her tutorial. To be honest, I can’t decide whether making a postage stamp quilt would be a lot of fun or a lot of faff. However, it certainly looks the business when it’s finished and is probably the only way I’d ever get so many points to match.

    • katechiconi says:

      I love the visual interest of a postage stamp quilt, and the opportunity to use up really small scraps of my favourite fabrics. I’ve made three blocks as I write this, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed the process. I shall just keep going till I have enough for a quilt, whether it be a lap quilt or a double. The dullest part of the process is cutting all the squares just a smidgen smaller than 2″, but that is also enjoyable as I see the scraps being gobbled up. I’m making blocks on a 10″rather than 20″ grid , so it goes quite fast. I have a whole roll of lightweight interfacing, I have more scraps than I know what to do with, what’s not to love?

  2. pattisj says:

    I saw the grid at a quilt show, they used it for the Impressionist-style quilt. I think that’s what it’s called. I loved the look of it. This is encouraging–I may tackle a couple smallish quilts for the grandkids–maybe I’ll finally use those cute fat quarters I stashed away.

    • katechiconi says:

      They may have used the fairly expensive pre-printed grid fusible you can buy in quilt shops, but with a bit of patience, a pen and ruler, you can make your own for less. Plus you can make it whatever size you like. What this process does is allow you to spend as long as you like with the actual layout, after which the assembly is relatively minor so you spend longer on design and less on sewing, always a plus for me!

  3. Oh Kate, rather you than me! The thought of cutting all those squares boggled my mind and tensed my back! You and the tutorial explained it beautifully, and the more I read the more frightened I became!

    • katechiconi says:

      Funny… I found the square cutting dull and the rest of it quite exciting. It’s not for everyone, of course, but I love the simplicity and intelligence of the solution, and the flexibility of being able to draw the size I want to work with. I wonder if it would work with diamonds….

      • It’s because cutting loads of small pieces sends my back into spasm, because of the standing over the cutting board. I’ve tried sitting, but can’t cut accurately like that.

      • katechiconi says:

        Ah… I had trouble cutting sitting down at first, but now I’m using a little ruler and a little rotary cutter, and it’s much easier that way. In fact, if you made yourself a window template and used a sharp, hard pencil, you could probably cut them with scissors.

  4. knettycraft says:

    A while ago a friend of mine moved and cleared her stash and I was asked if I would like to be gifted with a whole roll of quilters grid… I refused. I cannot imagine to work with it. I like more to force myself to accuracy, even if it meens to make the seemripper my best friend.

    • katechiconi says:

      I lack patience, I know, and will never be able to be *that* accurate, mostly because my hands are no longer capable of very fine control. I can still cut accurately, so this solution works very well for me. And I think I will only use it for the very small squares of the postage stamp quilt, where matching corners is so important.

      • knettycraft says:

        I like the look oft your block very much and I’m already excited to see your quilt grow. I’m sure I’m not patient enough for a project like that. I always need a kind of pattern. I love the scrappytriparoundtheworld block … You have not so many single scraps but work with 2.5 strips – my first trials were a bit wonky, but meanwhile it works fine. The tuturial is by Bonny Hinter:
        The big difference to a poststamp quilt are of course the repeating fabrics. When I was sick two weeks ago I cut lots oft 1.5″ squares for a scrappy project (I’ll tell about in my first ScrapHappy post in October) – It took me two days only for cutting appr. 3500 small squares. It was horrible!

      • katechiconi says:

        That does sound horrible, such hard work! I’m ‘hiding’ the boring stuff from myself; with a 10″ grid (which gives a 7.5″ finished block) I only have to cut 25 squares, which happens quite quickly with a small square ruler and a small rotary cutter. After that, I can do the fun bit. I’d find it very hard and boring if I had to cut enough squares for a whole quilt at once!

  5. claire93 says:

    briiliant !! always great to learn a new technique thanks for the link

  6. rutigt says:

    Good work done! I´m still in the wonkygroup, but I´m also learning how to get nice corners. Can´t wait till 15th to see some result 🙂 I have lots of blocks made of postage stamps,1.5″. Maybe it´s time to sew them together!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m enjoying making these little blocks so much, there might be quite a large piece by 15th October. I think you should definitely start stitching your blocks together!

  7. dayphoto says:

    One of my daughter’s loves to quilt so I sent her your post!!! Thank you!


  8. Emmely says:

    That is certainly an interesting method, I think I’ll give it a try, for a pillow probably… Don’t think I’ll want to cut enough squares for an entire quilt. 😉

  9. EllaDee says:

    The technical stuff is lost on me but visually it’s very attractive 🙂

  10. dezertsuz says:

    I’m thrilled you found this method! A number of years ago … maybe 8, come to think of it … I went to a retreat in Montana and the lady who owns The Crooked Nickle Pattern Company came and showed us how to do this. I did a baby quilt in about a day, and it was so cool! She used an on-point grid at that time. Crooked Nickle – I think it’s still what she uses now. Your postage stamp looks perfect!

    • katechiconi says:

      I knew the process has been around forever, but all the instructions I’d ever read have been a lot less user friendly and I’ve been disinclined to follow through. I was also reluctant to pay for pre-printed grid when I have a large roll of lightweight fusible. Elizabeth Hartman’s tutorial really flipped the switch for me, and now I can’t stop making my little blocks! I’m finding the process very enjoyable, because each little 2″ square of scrap reminds me of the quilt I made using that fabric – some of them are *really* old!

  11. I’m a pinterest lover too, there is so much to learn from and to look at !

  12. Debbierose says:

    I have done some pintrest time lately myself

  13. Lorij says:

    How do I send my scrappy quilts photos to the scrappy place on the 15th? Thanks

    • katechiconi says:

      If you want to email them to me on 13th, I’ll incorporate them into my scrappy post on 15th, with any information you want to give me about them. Gun and I both post our scrappy blocks on our own blogs, but link to each other, so everyone who sees her and my posts will see your scrappy contribution too.

  14. One has been in my to-do pile for a couple of years. Bits are cut up in a box and everything! I still love the idea and it will make its way up the queue. However, as a sucker for punishment, I will carry on without interfacing.

    • katechiconi says:

      I wouldn’t begin to contemplate it without, the process has totally revolutionised my attitude, and multiplied my output most impressively! I’d probably be more willing to do without if I was using larger pieces, but when they finish at 1.5″, it makes a big difference.

  15. katechiconi says:

    If I didn’t before, you’ve confirmed it for me now! I really only decided on 2″ cut because I had some nice scraps and I didn’t want to waste any more than I had to. A scant 2″ worked very well. My bin is now full of slivers and I have a large ziploc bag full of ‘crumbs’, too large to throw out, too small for my postage stamps… Maybe one day I’ll do a large collage quilt with fine black netting laid over it all and quilted down to hold all those tiny fragments of colour in place…

  16. […] above block is a postage stamp block and Kate has linked to a very good tutorial over on her blog.  I thought it looked a bit fiddly for my liking but now that I’ve seen how gorgeous it is I […]

  17. Thanks for this. So fascinating.

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