Saturday, January 11, 2014

Books by the yard for June 2014

I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school.  I know a lot of people did; for many it was the first "good book" they liked.  I loathed it.  I did not know I could hate a book so much (these were the days before the g*d-damned fish book).  That book, Gatsby I mean, was overloaded with very heavy imagery- those eyes for instance.  Anyway, one of the images that actually stuck with me was the idea that people purchased books by the yard, choosing volumes with quality spines to match their décor without any thought to the contents of the books themselves.  Which brings us to the June 2014 Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group swap block:  a books for the bookcase block.

I poked my head up & looked around other quilt block sites & there are indeed many different versions out there & they are all pretty good.  But none of them take advantage of one quality our group has that many others making these blocks do not: we can make the same exact same block using the exact same fabrics in the same order (for the first two sets anyhow).  Which means we can make these in bulk.

I will give the formula first & then specific measurements for ONE book; you will need five (5) different books, & maybe more but certainly not fewer:

You want to end up with a block that is, in total 8.5" unfinished/8" finished by the same (if it is a 1/4" to 1/2" longer that is OKay), using unequal parts book versus background fabric (did I mention the background fabric?  I think I might have forgotten.  It should be either white like bleached white muslin or a white on white design.  Please use nothing with anything but white, this way the blocks from different people can all line up on a single shelf). 

The background piece should be less than or equal to 1/2 of the finished block + 1/2" by the width of the number of books you hope to make; the book pieces should be greater than or equal to 1/2 of the finished block +1/2" by that same width.  For my first example, the back ground piece was 2.5" wide & the book fabric was 6.5" wide.  You might want to start with a piece that is larger than 8.5" total & cut it down when you square up the whole block (I know I wish I had).  The next book has slightly less book fabric, slightly more background.  I continued like this, staggering the heights so that every book was distinct from every other book. 

Cut the individual books anywhere between 1" unfinished/.5" finished to 3" unfinished/2.5" finished.  To the help the blocks go together smoothly, please be sure to use a book that is AT LEAST 2" at either end of your row of books.  Also, & this unusual, it is OKay f your shelf is slightly longer than 8.5" (but please not as much as 9"); this should help in piecing the rows together once blocks have been swapped. 

To make one blocks, you will need at least five (5) different books, but how many depends on wide your book strips are.  You should use the same background for all of the books in any given block; you do not need to use unique fabrics for each book in any given block, but please don't use the same book fabric in books that are next to each other.  It is perfectly fine if all five of your blocks are identical, it is even OKay if two sets of fie are identical but please do not use the same books in more than two sets of five.

Now for a word about the book fabric.  You can use any quilting cotton you like, anything at all (so long as it is 100% quilt cotton, muslin etc.; please no canvas, no denim, no voile, no interlock, etc.).  I used mostly single color, blender type fabrics with the occasional pattern; using many busy fabrics pressed against each other makes it hard to see the pattern of distinct books. 

I also went the extra step of making at least one of my books more detailed.  In one case -not pictured here- I added text to the spine (if you do this, please do NOT use the selvage; while selvage block can be wonderful a single bit of selvage in an otherwise selvage free quilt does not work-it shrinks at a different rate, has a different feel; it is more like home dec fabric than quilting fabric).  In the pictures you can see I also added a several strips of fabric along the top of one set of uncut books, effectively chain piecing a more detailed book binding.  You do not have to do any of this, but it adds a bit of extra oomph & maybe raises the challenge level if you are finding this otherwise very simple block.  You can also GOOGLE or BING or whatever book shelf or book case quilt blocks & you will find a number of variations, among them books that are stacked instead of in a row or books that lean....  These are all great but they are not what we are swapping.  if you decide to go whole hog & make an entire bookcase though, you could certainly make some of these different blocks for your own use. 

Books by the yard is the third Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block of 2014.  Blocks are du in-house the last Saturday in June (June 28, 2014).  As always, we swap in sets of five, send five blocks & get five back or increments of five (You can include one or more 6th block if you choose).  If you choose to send more than two sets, please please please do not send two or more identical sets of blocks; be sure to use different book fabrics & different orders.  

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