Friday, January 14, 2011

The joy of strips

I like working with strips of fabric.
In the "olden days" quilters would cut fabric into strips when the couldn't use it as bigger pieces; when holes appeared that couldn't be darned. In our times, quilters buy fabric with the intention of cutting it into strips, as quilting is so much more of a hobby than a necessity for most of us. And lately, it seems, strip quilting has become more popular. There are books dedicated to patchwork patterns using nothing but strips. There are tools for cutting strips with ever-increasing speed and accuracy. There are even pre-selected batches of strips, called Jelly Rolls, sold at fabric shops.
I have been known to cut perfectly-good-fabric into strips, and I also love love love strips for using up small pieces from my stash o' fabrics. Strips are a great way to utilize lots of colors and textures in a single piece. They can be sewn back into blocks of many different shapes and sizes.  Looking at photos of my quilts I see there are oodles of strippy creations.
One such quilt is a baby quilt I made for the daughter of a friend and colleague of mine.  When Katy announced she's pregnant I decided to make the baby a quilt. I asked Katy about color preferences, just to be sure she and her husband are ok with non-pink baby girl stuff. When she gave the ok, I went to my fabric shelves and dug out different fabrics in blue, green, and yellow. I cut them into strips of 2.5 inches, and started sewing. Here is Isabelle's quilt:

And a detail:

The strips are sewn around 4" squares of the same fabrics as the strips, but mixed and matched. I am not sure what this pattern is called. I have seen it called "Squares", "Boxed Squares", and "Squares in Squares." I have also seen it called "Boxes".  I call it "Quilt for Isabelle" (Creative, I know). It is the same pattern I used for my cousin's "Equal Opportunity Quilt", which I posted about here:

I cut the squares and strips using my rotary cutter (yay for rotary cutters), which makes things not only more even, but more speedy. When I had all the squares I laid them on the floor (no layout wall for me), and shuffled them around till they looked right.
This quilt is easy as it's all straight lines, and quick to put together as it's all squares. But using the different fabrics, and using them for both squares and strips, makes the quilt colorful and gives it movement, something I find I like in my quilts.
Katy was happy with it when I gave it to her, and Isabelle used it when she was little. She's now almost a year old. I need to ask Katy if they're still using it...

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