Friday, December 28, 2012

Red, white & blue plate special for February 2013

 A couple years ago, we had a red,white&blue swap block that was one of the more difficult we have ever had.  The result was not great for everyone, especially as the red,white&blue swap is one of the most popular with beginners.  So this time, in the interests of making things easy but still interesting, I have come up with Red, White & Blue Plate Special.  Although I am describing making one block, you should find this is very easy to scale up & chain piece.  Because there are no seams to match, I would call this easy-beyond easy HOWEVER you need to pay attention & make sure the borders are paired correctly so that you end up with a square & not a rectangle.
  1. Begin with a 6.5" square of red &/or white &/or blue, the busier the better.  In the interest of accommodating hybrids, shades of purple (blue & red overlapped) & pink (red & white overlapped) are also perfectly acceptable.  While an all black block would be gloomy (so please avoid), the reality is many many fabrics have some black & that is Okay (but please: no green, no yellow, you get it, right?)

  2. Using 2" strips of a red or blue or black border all four sides.  This looks sharpest (best) when it is a dark, reads-as-solid fabric but so long as there is NO WHITE (this means also no off-white or cream or beige) in this fabric, almost anything red &/or blue &/or black will work.

  3. From a white or reads-as-solid white-on-white cut four strips:
    • one 2" strip
    • one 2.5" strip
    • one 3" strip
    • one 3.5: strip

    Separate them into pairs that total 5.5".  That is, pair the 2" strip with the 3.5" strip & the 2.5" strip with the 3" strip.  I found it was very easy to get these strips mixed up, so after I had remeasured them a few time, I put one large sharpie dot at the selvage edge of the first pair & two dots at the end of the second pair & then I pinned each pair together.  If you ever do get them scrambled just take out your ruler.  Each strip pair will always add up to 5.5"...until it is stitched up of course.  In fact, if you are feeling adventurous, you are welcome to cut strips of any width (so long as none are less than one inch wide) that add up to 5.5" across the pair, & so long as NONE of the strips in any given block are the same width.  The idea is for the color block to bounce within the over all block.

  4. Taking the one set, border either side of the bordered square.  That is border one side with one strip & the opposite side with the other strip.  Trim, press & then using the second pair, border the other two sides, one of the strips one each side.  While all the strips are different widths, the block will still be square. 
 & you are done.  The bordered red/white/blue square you began with will be slightly off center, but the completed block will be roughly 14", unfinished.

I do not have a picture of this color version made up into a quilt, but I do have the first quilt I made using this block (& a narrow sashing with cornerstones made from the same fabric as many of the 6.5" squares) here.

As always, we swap in sets of five (5), you send five (5) blocks & get five (5) back.  Blocks are due the last Saturday of even numbered months, in this case it is Saturday, February 23, 2013.  If you would like, you can include a sixth block; every swap one person takes these to make a quilt for a non-profit or community group.  If you would like more details, just ask to join our group on FaceBook (search Quilt Block Swap).

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