Shrinking Squares Scrap Quilt Tutorial

Introducing the newest Blue Bird Sews quilt pattern: Shrinking Squares, here it is three different ways: 

I really like this quilt for a few different reasons...let me tell you about them ;)
First off lots of scraps get used up in this quilt and the more prints the better. Scrappy tends to look good all mashed together. Secondly cutting and piecing take hours to complete. Once I had my fabric picked out it was just a few naps times later that it was all sewn together -- because this entire quilt is chain pieced together!  And it also happens that you can use so many color combinations. Set the squares is white, black or any other color...I bet it looks great set in grey with red and aqua...or rainbow colors.....or all solids....or, or, or! So many options....I almost made one with red pieces and black sashing.

So here it goes...a quilt pattern! Have fun with this and let know if you've made one!

Start with going to the stacks and picking out some fabric. These requirements are just for the top. They don't include the back and binding. We'll talk about that next week when I give the tutorial for the quilting and binding. Forgive me but I only got as far as the top this week!

Fabric Requirements:
Background fabric: 2 yards of 44" wide
Squares: A bunch of scraps....about this many -- or the equivalent of 2 charm packs

Once you've got your scrap fabrics picked out it's time to cut them up into little pieces. The easy way to do this is to pile up your scraps together and cut them into 3" wide strips. From there cut them into 3.5", 2.5" & 1.5" squares and rectangles.
Next cut your background pieces out. The background pieces are a bit different in size so this time cut out 2.5" strips. Then cut the strips into pieces 3.5", 2.5" & 1.5". Check out the picture below it gives the measurements and how many of each piece you'll need.

Background Fabrics: 16 strips 2.5" x 44" long                                Print Fabrics: 54 pieces 1.5" x 3.0"
                                 60 pieces 1.5" x 2.5"                                                         45 pieces 2.5" x 3.0"
                                 50 pieces 2.5" x 2.5"                                                         36 pieces 3.5" x 3.0"
                                 40 pieces 3.5" x 2.5"
Next lay out all the pieces in nice piles so they are ready to chain piece together. Doing this step....and double counting ensures a quick and easy sew. Sew Mama Sew has a nice little tutorial about this if you need a refresh on the basics of chain piecing. While you're there a quick glance at 1/4" piecing would be good because this quilt is all about that...and if you get a good 1/4" seam the quilt squares will line up nicely.
Alright, we are ready to sew! Take your first pile of prints and one of the background squares and the rest of the stack of background squares and have a seat at the machine.
This is the 2.5" square, note however which way you turn the pieces they match up. Sewing becomes a  no brainer! 
For the first print piece sew two background pieces to it on either side. This becomes your starting square.
Continue sewing prints to background fabrics until your pile of 9 prints runs out. This will become a row once they are all sewn together. But before we sew rows let's keep up the momentum of chain piecing and sew all the stacks together into chains.
Here is the 3.5" rectangle. Sewing the background fabric is easy as there is only one way to match up the pieces; on the 3.5" long side. 
Again matching up pieces is easy as there is only one correct way to match them up -- this time on the 1.5" side. 
Here's the pieces all chained up together in their corresponding rows. The great thing is you don't have to keep track of fabrics or placement when sewing. The more random the better.
Chained up!
Next we'll start really putting our rows together. Start this by snipping all the threads connecting the chained up pieces and put them into piles --  keeping the rows together and the first-three-pieced set on the bottom. 
Now grab a stack and start sewing together two at a time in chain pieced fashion. Until two becomes four....
The four becomes eight...
...and so on until the whole row is complete and you add on the final piece - the first-three-pieced set.
Yeah! Now the rows are complete! Don't they look great! I love the bright colors against the black. And the more prints the better to blend it all together. I used all sorts of styles and tried to keep the color palette bright and cheery...with a little bit of black and white print thrown in to give the eye a  place to rest.
Up next is pressing....For this quilt I pressed all my pieces to one side because the prints were dark enough to hide the black background. If this was set in white I would have pressed everything toward the prints in order to hide the seam. 
Pressed and lined up ready to sew strips to rows
Once the rows are pressed let's sew'em to the strips. Strips = background fabric; Rows = pieced fabrics.
The way I did this is to line up the strip underneath the row so that I can see the seams AND that the seams are pointed down. That way I sew the seams down nice and neat. First make an inch long stitch to secure it and then go back and pin the row to the strip.
When pinning don't pull the row, this will distort it and make your squares out of line when all sewn together. So what I do is sew a little bit together at the top and then let them hang and pin with out pulling, just letting them drape and lay nicely. Sew all the rows to a strip just like that; you should have one strip left over.
Take that one left over strip and sew it to a strip-row combo.This becomes the very bottom strip...much like the first-three-piece when sewing the rows together. Sew the last strip onto one of the 3.5" pieced rows; this unit becomes the bottom section.
This time sew the strip onto the top of the row with the row seam pointing downward. This ensures a nice clean sewing down of your seams in the same direction. Pin in such a way that doesn't pull at the row.
Yeah, rows all have strips and the quilt top is so close to coming together!
Now's the time to arrange the rows... but before that take the time press. I like to press the seams toward the strips to take the bulk away from the already heavy seamed rows. Once you've pressed the rows lay them out a section at a time. Start with the bottom row and work your way up by arranging the rows until you like the combination. 
Then trim up the sides...
Trim at 2.25" 
All trimmed up....
Pin them together; this time lay them out on the table or whatever space you have.....
As you pin line up the squares with each other as close to perfect as you can get.... some might be off and that's okay!
Sew the rows together then press and repeat for all the rows and strips
Until you have a quilt top all finished up!

All the lovely squares lined up!
Some great fabrics! 
So many different prints but they all work together
Thanks for checking out my tutorial! I really enjoyed sharing this one with you and I hope you make one or two for your self with your favorite scraps! This quilt was made with scraps from the ladies of the Stashtacular fabric swap, which means I will always remember our swap and the great people who participated!

I've also created a tutorial for the back and window pane quilting method that looks so good on this quilt. View them here.



SewHappyGeek said...

I love it and I love the black sashing! It's beautiful. You've done a brilliant job!

The Sunflower Patch said...

OOOooH So pretty! Don't know if I will get this done anytime soon tho,as I have a ton of projects in line already! Not to mention the projects that mom has in mind for the next two weeks :)

Spontaneous Threads said...

It's really fun to see the pictures of the scraps and then have them show up in a quilt, soo nice!!! I need to make one for sure. Great project and once you get sewing sounds like it goes together in a snap (crackle and pop).
Thanks Kelly.

mom24boys said...

Beautiful. I may have to give this a try. I am currently sorting and trimming all the left over fabric. Thanks for the tut!

~The Bargain Babe said...

OH my gosh. The quilts are lovely and even though they are chain pieced, man that is a lot of work you did! I can just see myself totally screwing up the rows. lol

Good job!!

diane said...

love this quilt. It looks labor intensive but easy. Thanks for the tutorial!

shopannies said...

super cute and great way to tell a story about life

Crafty Newbie said...

Hi Kelly! I totally LOVE this quilt! Thank you for the tutorial, you surely make it look so EASY... One Question.. How big is the finished quilt? :)

Lisa said...

Beautiful and a great way to use scraps. Thanks for the tutorial.

Katie said...

I love it. I think this will be my next quilt. I especially love the black sashing. I may use grey.

XUE said...

Thank you Kelly for this amazing post of your work. Possibly one of the prettiest quilt I have seen & the clearest, clearest tutorial ever! It isn't easy to write detailed instructions (at least not for me!) so I am impressed with your details & the accompanying pics you took. Have a good day! Warm wishes from Dubai, UAE.

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