postage stamp quilts. Those are the only projects getting finished round these parts as I postpone a slew of other more challenging projects. They are not challenging. Some people might find them mind numbing, but I am not among those people. I love to pick a bunch of fabrics, spend a morning pressing them all with Flatter or Best Press until the inside of my nose smells permanently like figs or yuzu or what have you. Then nothing pleases me more than to follow it up with an afternoon of cutting 2.5″ strips from my chosen lovelies. I save a few strips for strippy fun, then keep cutting cutting cutting everything into a beautiful stack of 2.5″ squares. That’s a whole day gone, if you’re keeping track, and no fabrics have been sewed to any other fabrics. Nothing has been done, but that day ends up feeling so productive to me. I’m a loon.
Then comes the learning and creating and playing. Btw I use a pinking blade on my rotary cutter so all my squares are in it for the long haul. Ain’t no way I’m using a full day’s worth of squares in a single quilt, so I like to know my leftover squares can be stored for an indefinite length without any fraying. So anytime I have a few hours, I can pull out my squares and do some playing.
I use the method that Elizabeth Hartman shows in this tutorial (http://www.ohfransson.com/all-projects/stamp-collection-blocks) on her Oh Fransson website, laying out all the squares on a sheet of very lightweight fusible interfacing over a grid drawn on muslin. One, I like how this method makes all my squares line up because when I just sew squares together using the regular method or strip piecing, my fabrics are always going to have some stretching or shape shifting or wormhole travel where they will end up off by what seems like a half inch at least once per row.
Two, I like this method because I get to lay out all my fabric squares however I want and play with them and rearrange them freely and once they’re exactly how I want them, I don’t have to take them apart again to chain piece them all into oblivion and try to put them back together again. They stay put on the interfacing while I stitch column by column and then row by row. It is so meditative and quick.
I worried that the interfacing would make the quilt stiff, but after a washing and drying, I honestly cannot feel a difference between an interfaced quilt and a traditionally pieced stamp quilt. I found it so much easier that the other method feels like going commando; obviously a lot of people love it, but it’s a bit too loosey goosey for me. I prefer a little clothing under my squares.
Being able to play around with the placement helps me learn about the ways colors play with one another and also allows me to prevent adjacent prints. Were the placement of the prints truly random, you’d be likely to have some prints adjacent to themselves. I think they look more random though when they are placed intentionally so that there are no adjacents. Like how my nanny used to tell me that the secret to makeup was to make it look like you weren’t wearing makeup. The secret to making it look random is to very carefully and intentionally arrange placement. Or you could just pull them from a paper bag and sew them together. A more efficient and equally acceptable method. Suit yourself.
Anyway, I have a million 2.5″ squares and it is incredibly satisfying to produce a quilt top in about 2 days that can put a major dent in a scrap bin to boot. So my total so far for postage stamp quilts in 2016 is 3. But it’s only March, so let’s see if I can hit double digits.