Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Yard Wednesday - Easy Wonky House Block Tutorial

A lesson in patience and OCD Management today...

Made these for a SWAP on Mary Jane's Farm Girl Connection.  Sounded like so much fun.  Fabric piecing as folk-type art - how totally cool, right?  Wrong.

I read tutorial after tutorial online.  They all involve using odd-shaped pieces from your stash and some piecing that is just so tiny that these poor over-40 eyes would be crossed indefinitely.  And then, of course, the OCD kicked in.  How wonky is too wonky...

So using a suggestion from my farm girl sisters, and their prayers for patience and persistence, I made the cutie pie you see above.  Well, actually I made 6.  Because these are for a SWAP.

Since you, my dear reader, have practiced patience as well, waiting for this tutorial today, let's get started!

You will need graph paper, a ruler, a pencil and eraser.  For big erase jobs, which this had the potential to be, I always use my Pink Pearl instead of the eraser on my pencil.  Saves that little guy for when he's really needed.   You will also need fabric scraps that are big enough to make sky strips, a roof strip, and a house square.  Anything else can be made from mismatched teeny tiny bits from your stash.

For the six 12" blocks that I made, I used 1 yard of blue print for the sky strips, 1/2 yard of the orange to make the houses, 1 fat quarter of the roof color, and probably about a fat quarter to make the grass strips.  The rest was all little bits from my stash for the doors, windows, and chimneys.  And I mean little bits - like doors that are approximately 2" x 3", and windows that are 1" x 2".  The chimney pieces were 1/2" x 1" and 1/2" square.  Like I said, little bits.  You will also need a cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  Or at least a regular ruler and scissors.  And sewing things like a machine and thread.

The funnest part about the wonky house block is that everything can be random.  Throw everything we've talked about for color matching and coordination out the window.  If you like a certain bright purple next to something else, use it.  Pretend you are a kid, and you are drawing an imaginary house.  And you get to color in that picture with fabric.  If you are a totally free spririt and can just start stitching, go for it!

If you are OCD like I am, read on!

Mark out a square on your graph paper that will be a scale sketch of your finished block.  I have 1/4" graph paper, and used 1 square to equal 1/2".  I made a square on the graph paper that was 6 inches, then added a single row of squares all the way around to accommodate the 1/4" seam allowance.  This represented my 12 1/2" block.

This is when you start adding the features you want in your "drawing".  I started with the house - that's supposed to be the main feature.  For my first sketch (the one that drove me absolutely nutso), I had a house with an odd-shaped roof, and I even tried to do hills and trees.  Then I tried to mark it out to do the piecing, so at least I'd have a road map of how I was going to piece it all together.  It was a mess.  A nightmare!  Imagine cutting pieces 5/8" x 4 1/4".  And really goofy angles that I don't think I could cut.  Let's just say, that this was way more than I bargained for, and certainly not the fun, creative project I had anticipated.

So I got smart.  For my second house, which is the one we're using today, I put my house in the bottom right corner as an anchor.  Then I added two strips that would be the sky and the grass under the roof.  Both straight and simple rectangles, I might add.  The roof, and Sky #2, would be somewhat equal in size, with a simple 45-ish degree angle connecting them.  To top everything off, Sky # 3 would be a simple strip, height needed to make measurement and width of the block.  See?  Much easier!

Here's what I ended up cutting:
Orange (house base) - 7" square
Green stripe (grass) - 6 1/2" x 4 1/4"
Sky #1 (between grass and roof) - 6 1/2" x 3 1/4"
Sky #2 (attaches to roof) - 3" x 8"
Sky #3 (top) - 13" x 4"
Roof - 8 1/2" x 3"

Even after making the blocks, these are still rough measurements.  Feel free to use whatever measurements you want for your block.  The trick is to make certain sections the same height, then cut them to the correct width of the block when you are all done.  When you square up your block at the end, it may end up a different size than you anticipated.  And that's ok, too.

Section 1 is what I called my base.  It's the house, grass, and Sky #1.  Start by stitching together the sky and the grass, then pressing the seam toward the grass.  Line these up with the base of the orange square and stitch, press, and trim if needed.  By the way, use 1/4" seam allowances throughout.  It should look like this:

Next up is attaching the roof to the sky.  Start by cutting the ends of the roof piece to roughly 45 degrees.  I just lined up my ruler with the bottom corner and angled it up and to the right.  It was close enough for me.   (and that's ok), use the lines for these angles on your quilting ruler.If you really need a 45-degree or 60-degree angle, use the lines on your quilting ruler to help you get the angle that you need .

This is what we end up with.

Now, we overlap!  Lay the angled piece over the straight piece, lining the top point of the angled piece up with the top right corner of the straight piece.  Stitch along the angled edge.  Use pins if you need to - I didn't.  I also used a hot pink thread (just for fun) and a zig zag stitch.  You don't have to use hot pink, but I do recommend the zig zag stitch. This is called raw edge applique, and by using the zig zag stitch, you help stabilize the fabric.  Plus it looks cool.  It's a way to add a little fun detail, even if you don't have a big fancy machine.

Fold the roof section back across the sky section, and trim to leave a 1/4" edge behind your sewing.  This eliminates the extra bulk from the center of the block.  Bulk is not a good thing.

Stitch this strip onto the house section, matching the right roof edge with the top right house edge.  Press the seam toward the house.

Trim as necessary.  Then, sew on the last sky strip.  Press the seam toward the top sky strip, and trim if necessary.  Use scraps to make the windows, door, and chimney.  I used a decorative stitch to attach mine, but you could use a plain zig zag.  You will also notice that my front door seems to float.  Remember our 1/4" seam allowance?  When the recipients stitch their blocks together, I didn't want my doors to get caught in the seam.  Again, that bulkiness issue thing.

Here are all 6 of them together.
You can easily make a whole bunch of these over a weekend and do a table runner or small quilt.  How perfect would these be for a child?!  Feel free to add borders around the blocks.  Add outside borders.  Or not.  Make them smaller.  Make them bigger. Make them all different sizes with different borders.

Tap your inner wonkiness, and make some this weekend!  Have fun!

1 comment:

Melanie @ bear rabbit bear said...

Great post. Thanks for linking to Things I've Done Thursday!