Fellow quilters! We have cut fabric charms. We have swapped them with our new quilting friends. Everyone has been playing with these lovely little treasures, dreaming of what they will make. Postage Stamp Quilt (PSQ) fever has settled cheerfully upon us all. Many of us are even cutting more charms for the April Swap. We are ready for more fun with charms, and perhaps a prize or two along the way!
Hopefully, the Lots of Links page will have given you some ideas so you know just what you want to make. If not, do not worry, you can still have fun with us this month.
2012 Postage Stamp Quilt Mini-Challenge #1:
All that you need to take part is a nice stack of small fabric squares, between 1.5 to 2.5 inches each. You can participate in this mini-challenge even if you did not do the January Swap (but you may want to do the April one!) I recommend that you have at least 100 different fabric charms on hand, but more is better. If, like me, you realize the you have over 50,000, you better get going and get sewing!
If you are wondering how many charms you will eventually need to finish a quilt, check out the Let’s Talk Size section on the Postage Stamp Quilt – 2012 Charm Swap Kick Off post. Please do not wait to collect all those charms to consider taking the next steps!
Step One: Pick A Team
Become a Rainbow Maker!
Did you select number 3 or 4 above? You are definitely a Rainbow Maker.
If you selected number 1 or 6, I strongly suggest you join this team for now.
Rainbow Makers have some really fun planning to do.
Step Two: Get Busy
Check out Playing with Color. Are you sorting by color, by tint, or both? Are you striving for stripes, sunbursts, fading from light to dark, or some other design? This is the time to experiment! Clear off some space and spread them out.
Some ‘patterns’ may develop slowly. You may find that you need to wait until you have several hundred charms before you are able to pull off your plan. I find it easier to hold off on the next step (which is joining the Chain Gang) until I have enough charms to finish my color-blocked project, or to repeat a section of it.
Once you have a plan, sort as needed. You may need to only sort by color, or you may be sorting light to dark. When you are through sorting, keep playing with your squares until your plan comes together. Lay out a section, and take a picture of it, for reference. If you have room, I encourage you to lay out your entire quilt. If space doesn’t allow, try laying it out in sections. These little squares do not take well to a design wall without pinning!
Alright. You have your quilt design all tested, but you simply cannot have it all over the floor for weeks. Pick them up in order, row by row, left to right. Mark the top charm in this stack with masking tape, and label it as RIGHT EDGE or LEFT EDGE (depending on how you picked them up.) Put each row in a sandwich bag, and I label it ROW 1, ROW 2, etc. Keeping them in order means you will be able to reassemble them as you go. While reassembling, you can always refer to the picture you took, above.
Sorting is VERY subjective, as most quilters know. I squint at fabric a lot! Is it light or medium? Does this yellow read bright or pastel? Perfection is unlikely, so at some point, when pondering a charm, just pick and get on with it. Really busy, multicolored prints can be a huge challenge, and you may decide to just sort them as light or dark and work them in throughout your design.
When Rainbow Makers are ready to move on to the Chain Gang, they skip the paper bag system, and match their charms according to their chosen design. That is why it is important to pick up each row and keep them in order. After all your rows are bagged and labeled, move on to chain piecing them, as in the Chain Gang. At the end of each row, cut the chain, and store them back in the baggies. If you cut and press the chains, great, but keep them in the same order so your design stays intact.
If you have tons of charms with no (or very few) repeats or duplicates, just toss them all in a large bag, and mix well. Pull charms out in pairs, and stack right sides together, so they are ready to stitch together in chains. If you have many duplicates, for example four of each fabric, consider using four bags for your charms, so the duplicates are widely scattered.
NOVELTIES and STRIPES: If you do not want your quilt to have an UP and DOWN to it, turn novelties and stripes in different directions as you set up to chain. If one print faces the seam, and the next faces sideways, etc, they will scatter across your quilt without leaving a UP and DOWN to the final project.
Wind a bobbin, thread your machine, and start chaining these pairs together. If you have a few duplicates, it is acceptable to decide not to chain a matched set together, but otherwise, please let them pair up as they come out of the bag. The randomness adds to the overall effect of the quilt.
When you have long strings of chains, cut them apart and press their seams to one side. Do not worry about WHICH side, either side will be just fine. In fact, I am careful to not always go with the traditional thinking of “press to the dark” but instead I vary my pressing, to keep the randomness going. Stack these pressed pairs up and save for later.
Start to think about which assembly method you want to use. Will you be following my Postage Stamp Quilt Block Demo and using my “Square to Rectangle to Square” method? Or will you be stringing sets of charms into rows, and stitching those rows together? Which ever you decide, you need to start with the chained pairs you are creating during the mini-challenge.
Hmm, perhaps there will be an anthem by the Curious Quilter’s Glee Club for the Chain Gang in the future, but in the meantime, feel free to sing along with the Rainbow Makers.
Step Three: Enter the Mini-Challenge
Mini-Challenge note: To be eligible for a prize at the end of this mini-challenge, you do not have to finish sewing all your charms together, but you do have to get started on step two. After all, we want to SEW something with all these fun charms, right? Well, most of us do, at least.
Simply leave a comment here, sharing which team you are planning on joining. Then set a goal for one month, like “I will finalize my design plan” or “I will chain 500 charms together.” Comment deadline is Sunday, February 19, 2012. Winners will be selected randomly from all entries, and announced on February 21st. Two winning names will be drawn from each team’s comments.
Rainbow Maker Team Members: the winners will receive a set of 100 two inch charms, in a rainbow of colors.
Chain Gang Team Members: the winners will receive a set of 100 two inch charms, with over 40 novelties or fussy-cut specialties included.
(If the winners want 1 or 1.5 inch charms, they will have to cut the two-inchers down. Should a winner prefer 2.5 inch charms, we can arrange that.)
So, again, to join the February Mini-Challenge:
- Pick a team.
- Start on the steps.
- Comment here. State your team, and share your one month goal for progress on the steps.
- Comments accepted through the end of the day on Sunday, February 19, 2012.
- Winners will be announced 2/21/2012.