Crumbs, Crumbs Crumbs!!!
I have been asked and asked
to put up a tutorial on crumb blocks,but you know, it was one of those
things that got put off and put off because there were other patterns
in line ahead! Crumb piecing is one of those things that is as
individual as every quilter out there. We all have our own way of doing
things. There is no one set way to use crumbs! So I am
hoping that the ideas you find here will help you in your own path of
finding what works for you!
New Years (first week of Jan 2007!) I spent a
week with my friend Tonya in Florida! We had a "Crumby" week planned
to sew with each other's smallest pieces,blending our fabrics
and making crumb blocks!
You have to understand that Tonya is a
lover of brights and batiks and even novelties, and I am much more
traditional in my fabric choices!
This was the bag we were working from! Lots of LITTLE pieces!
THIS was the challenge....to
use each other's fabrics together with our own! We made OODLES of 3.5"
blocks, laid them out on the floor, and then she
and I took turns
picking ones that we wanted.
(blocks laid out, not sewn together as it appears!)
"One for you, one for me,
you, one for me!" It was like a game!
is the happy-scrappy result of that much-more-than-crumby week
with a special friend. The 3.5" (unfinished size)
blocks were sewn into 4 patches to make larger blocks.Two
blocks contain Tonya's initials, and
my own. She also has the same initial blocks in her own
I composed for the border reads:
"True friends are the
Brightest Scraps in the Patchwork of Life!!"
"The Best Things In Life Are Quilted!!"
This crumb quilt also used some
orphan blocks of the same size. Block
size: 4.5" I also used orphan parts in the borders. And all the
borders are different widths! There really are no "rules" for
this kind of quilt.
Basic Crumb Block Construction:
I have a drawer in my sewing
cabinet where I throw all small pieces that might normally be thrown
away. This drawer holds things like the triangles I snip off when
joining lengths of binding on the diagonal.....little pieces left from
rotory cutting that are too small to be a strip, square, or
rectangle...end pieces of seamed "strip sets" where I couldn't get
another "complete" unit out of them....Anything too short to be
considered a "string". The drawer is down low, and hard to dig
through because it is so full....so when crumb piecing I tend to grab a
basket, put a few handfuls in, like this:
This should give me enough to work with for a while!
Sometimes you need longer
pieces, and I'll usually have a handful of longer strings at hand
too...but the goal here is to use up as much of the "small stuff" as I
To keep things as continuous
as I can, and to avoid a lot of long thread ends and waste, I tend to
work on two blocks at once, using each as the "leader/ender"
for the other. The first thing I grabbed out of my basket was two
rectangles. I placed them right sides together, and with a 1/4" seam I
sewed them together.
The next two pieces I grabbed were a long triangle (left
kaliedoscope quilt!) and another short narrow piece. I seamed these
together....snipped off the two previous rectangles behind the machine,
and pressed that seam open.
I found a chunk of a star print that would fit the width of the two
seamed rectangles, and added that on ...then I snipped the triangle
piece off behind the presser foot and added another piece on to
it...every time leaving one of the units underneat the presser foot so
I was never pulling out long pieces of thread....it is very continuous
***NOTE*** although a 1/4" seam is
important in MOST quilt piecing, it
really isn't with crumb piecing. What you want is a STRAIGHT
seam. Seams have to be straight so that the block will lie flat,
if you have a curved seam, you are going to have hills and ripples in
your block. Shoot for a straight seam every time, even if the
edge of your "crumb" is crooked!
See the unit above? The piece on top "corrected" the wonky
of the piece. I used the straight edge of the top piece as my guide for
sewing a straight seam. These are crumbs, and I really didn't
want to have to rotory cut every edge straight before adding the next
piece. Call me Lazy....I admit it!
I have two sizes of blocks that I like to work with. 3.5"
(unfinished) is great for small crumbs. You can join small crumb
blocks together in 4 patches (as in the "true friends" quilt above) or
even 9 patches. These are great for using your smallest pieces. A
3.5" Omnigrid square ruler makes it easy to trim this size!
I also like blocks in a 5" size (unfinished) as in the "The Best
Things" quilt above. I've tried 6.5" blocks, but they tend to start
getting unweildy on me and it is harder to use my smaller pieces in
them. I start having to use more large strips and strings to fill in
the outside of the block. I'd rather make more small blocks than
fewer big ones, but that is just me! Remember, there are no rules
See those two bottom squares
on the right? the yellow and cream one? They were left from
making 4 patches...I got to the end of the strip unit while subcutting
the sewn strips..and there was this end that was not big enough to get
a 2.5" sub cut out of it. I put these "partially sewn" units into my
crumb drawer too, and they work quickly into blocks! I added the
green square (I love this ugly print! It was a shirt I bought at
good will and cut up for quilting fabric!) and then sewed the whole
pieced unit onto the block section.
The edges are getting to the
point where there isn't a long straight continuous "add on" edge
anywhere, so it's time to take a long strip and square it off! I
then took two more of the "too short for 4 patch" leftovers and seamed
them together into a long strip of peiced rectangles and added it to
the other side of the pink "spacer" strip.Here I am testing the size of
the block to see if it is big enough to cut. I use the Dear Jane ruler,
it is the perfect size of square for the blocks I like! You can
twist and turn the ruler on the pieced unit to find a pleasing block
alignment and trim!
Don't throw away any of those edges! They can be the
beginning of your next crumb block! :cD
What about those little left over triangle crumbs???
I have a lot of these in my
drawer. I like to sew a few together in a chain....maybe 4 as
above, and press them open. I trim the dog ears. They are not
going to be all the same size, in fact they are going to be quite
wonky! But these add a fun primitive element to your crumb blocks!
You can twist and turn these to form pinwheels, square in a
square, hourglass or broken dishes units!
Use them to piece star
points..and let them be wonky! Don't worry if the points get
chopped off in the end, it adds to the charm and whimsey of the piece.
or Comments? I would love to hear from you!!
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