Linen postcard scrap quilt

Posted by on Saturday, December 30th, 2017

I came across Postcards from Sweden a few years ago, and loved it, and promptly forgot about it.  But then a friend made one, and I gave some thought to the ludicrous piles of linen scraps in my studio, and jumped in.  I will end up with a different palette, because my scraps tend to be darker or sadder than the colors in the original, but I can accept that. I also reached out to friends to see if they had scraps they wanted to part with, and a couple of people were very generous.  I have enough to piece the top without cutting into yardage. 

I opted to start with 6″ squares and cut those into half-square triangles, knowing I’d wind up with much smaller blocks once seam allowances and the difficulties of working with linen came into play. 

Using linen for quilts requires a lot of seam finishing, so I tend to piece with my serger to keep the whole thing from disintegrating.  I build in big seam allowances as well, and try to make up for an increased risk of biasing and stretching when I use garment fabrics.  You can see that the serged seam is larger than the standard scant 1/4 inch most quilters use when piecing.  That is all damage control, so I work with it.  As I piece and press, I  am careful not to stretch that biased edge I’m joining.  Linen quilts call for lots of pressing, of course, so I tend to save them for the winter when my studio is otherwise cold.  I do sometimes also starch or use some other sort of pressing spray to try to make up for the stretch and give of garment fabrics.

Once I had the fabrics all cut, I set up the stacks and did my best to select pairings randomly.  I had to coerce myself to put some colors together that I normally wouldn’t. 

And then, the trimming.  I kid you not about linen’s tricksie ways.  That is a relatively well pieced block, but the looser weave, the biased edges, and the serged seam all come together to cause some oddities.  

Aggressive trimming is necessary.  I opt to do most things as if I’m on a production line, so I turned to a good ruler with a 45 degree mark and a rotating mat.  I’m trimming batches of four at a time.  If I didn’t plan to start joining blocks soon, I would wait on this.  Trimming is taking off those chains of stitches that help make serged seams last, so the trimmed squares are fragile. 

Now, to play with layout options.  I still need to piece 100 or so squares, but I want time to mull over setting in the meantime.  I have a lot of deep blues and reds, so I can rely on them for structure if I want it, or I can fight that urge and lean on improvisation for movement.  I’m not liking diagonal striping. 

But this could work:

I will likely haul out the design wall. 

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