Waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2004, I taught classes at a local quilting store. There was a lovely assisted living center nearby and the quilt store, local quilters and the center hosted a small quilt show. I was asked to provide a demonstration of what quilting was all about by constructing quilt blocks. Other people were demonstrating other aspects of quilting.
I thought about what kind of block would make a good sample. I needed it to be simple. It had to be *easy* to construct. After all, the purpose was to intrigue people and have them think, "Gosh, I can do that!". I also wanted to be able to use fabric that I already had on-hand. I found a layout that (what my notes tell me) is called "Scrap Assassin". It uses a fantastic amount of scraps to help get those proliferating scraps under control!
To me, it's a variation of the God's Eye block. (I subsequently made a God's Eye quilt in 2008). The God's Eye block uses the same fabric as a central diagonal and fills in the rest of the block with random strips.
I have vague memories of a Scrap Assassin layout from Bonnie Hunter, but a look through her website doesn't show anything like it. There is (currently) a book/pattern called Scrap Assassin Strikes Again and Scrap Assassin Returns, but this isn't any of them either.
I know *I* didn't come up with this layout on my own, but I have no idea where I originally found it.
The Scrap Assassin block (at left) uses a different color (but same width) strip for the center diagonal, also fills in the block with random color and width strips but adds a solid color triangle at each corner. When sewn together (below) these corner triangles form a diamond and gives the quilt a resting spot for your eyes.
And so I raided my scrap baskets(s) and started cutting strips. I wanted to be *just sewing* at the demo, not taking time to cut the strips.
Left to my own devices, I tend to lay my quilts out in some sort of color organization. Random doesn't come easily to me but for this block, random was what I wanted. To easily enable me to JUST SEW and not be concerned about the color, I put the strips into a bag. I would simply reach in the bag, pull out a strip and use that one. Whatever it was.
It was almost a liberating feeling. :-) Not quite because I did indulge in a small amount of micro-management ... if the strip I just pulled out of the bag was not enough contrast or was too similar to the previous strip, I'd pull another strip and use that one instead. :-)
I also used a lightweight fabric foundation to sew the strips to. Simply sewing the strips together makes for a very unstable block. It's easy to distort while sewing; it's easy to distort whilst pressing. A foundation prevents all of that potential distortion whilst providing a uniform size block. Unfortunately, a foundation also adds bulk and weight to the quilt. In the past, I've used VERY lightweight fabric for the foundation. That worked nicely.
At some later point, I had a Light Bulb Moment™! I discovered that I could use tissue paper (as in the white gift wrap stuff) as a foundation. Talk about being lightweight! It was stable enough to sew through and prevent distortion. It's also dead cheap to buy. (Stock up at Christmas time ... it always goes on sale then.)
At first, I thought about tearing the tissue off (exactly what you do with paper piecing) but I hate that. Really hate it. It's another step .. another project ... makes a mess ... and I hate it.
Then it occurred to me .. and I have no idea HOW I thought of it ... that when you get tissue paper wet, it absolutely disintegrates. I wondered what would happen if I just *left* the tissue paper foundation in the block through the quilting process and then laundered the finished quilt.
To my utter amazement, when I removed the test quilt from the dryer, there was NO tissue paper anywhere in the quilt. And believe me, I looked and felt and thoroughly examined it! The stuff was *gone*. I was concerned about all that dissolved paper in our sewer system but further thinking led me to what happens to toilet paper .. that disintegrates in water also .. and *that* doesn't clog our sewer pipes, so tissue paper might very well behave in the same manner. Additionally, the washer adds gallons and gallons of water to the dissolved tissue paper, so the chances of the tissue paper creating a blockage would be small.
However, we are on a city sewer system. People who use septic tanks might have a different experience.
In any case, for the demo, I used both lightweight fabric and tissue paper. After the quilt show was over and I brought my supplies back home, I packaged everything up and put them away. After all, this wasn't a quilt that I had decided to make .. it was a 'quilt of opportunity' and I wasn't too concerned about ever finishing it.
And then the Olympics started. :-)
From experience, I know that I can't simultaneously watch TV and quilt on Lizzie at the same time; the quilting suffers horribly. But I wanted to watch the Olympics! That meant that I needed to be working on something at my sewing machine instead of quilting .. just for the duration of the Olympics, mind you! I also wanted something simple and easy to work on .. nothing that required decisions or thinking.
I remembered the Scrap Assassin project! Actually, it was difficult to ignore .. it was sitting right in the front of a cubby, staring at me. :-) So I pulled it out and worked on it. And finished the top. :-)
The foundation sheets were cut at 8" square, resulting in a finished square of 7-1/2". I have no idea why I originally made it that size, but for this layout, it doesn't matter at all. Whatever size you like is fine. Each corner has a black triangle in it, which produces that black diamond when the blocks are sewn together.
This one finished around a twin size, about 60" x 90". I won't be putting any borders on it.
It'll go to a local crisis nursery that I like to support by donating quilts for the kids. Since the older kids (ages 7-11) also get a quilt when they leave, this one will be for them.
All that being said, I'm not entirely thrilled with it. I think it's just too many jangly colors in no discernible pattern that adversely affects my eyes. It's not just lots of colors because I simply love scrappy Double Wedding Ring quilts .. but rather there's just no organization to this one. But, that is totally irrelevant to the kids at the crisis nursery ... it will be very suitable to keeping them warm come winter time..
Allow me to digress for a small moment .... many years ago, I made myself a list (on the computer, for easy maintenance) of all the projects I had. Finished tops to be quilted. WIPs. Self-kitted projects. Fabrics bundled together but no specific project. Fantastic ideas but no specific fabrics. The category that I wanted to focus on was the tops that needed to be quilted. Over the years, I *have* worked on it and whittled it down, but I've also pieced many more tops, so there have been additions.
The current status of that category is seventeen, yes, count 'em, *17* tops to be quilted. Oy vey! What's even worse, I know I have two king sized tops in there, maybe three. That's a LOT of real estate to quilt. BUT ... I need to get those tops quilted!
I've pulled the Scrap Assassin top, purchased the batting and cut the top from 108" muslin (currently my favorite backing). I've loaded it onto Lizzie. I'm always SO PLEASED when I see the horizonal seamlines running nice and parallel to the rails! That means I've loaded the top straight and level! Such simple things make me happy. :-)
Because this top is just SO. VERY. BUSY ... I decided that I'd do a pantograph. I chose "Espalier" by Hermoine Age. I'm using Glide thread by Fil-Tec. The panto is looking good and I just LOVE the way Glide thread stitches!
The only annoyance (for me) is that I don't particularly care for doing pantos. I don't like not being able to see what I'm stitching. This is ESPECIALLY annoying when the bobbin thread runs out and I don't notice it until much later. This particular top has a LOT of intersections. Unfortunately, I made an unwise choice in the black fabric ... it's especially thick for some reason. Lizzie doesn't exactly "balk" at the intersections but she does protest a little by doing a little dance around the thick areas. I can feel it when I'm guiding the machine head and I'm not always certain if it's a thick intersection or if something is really going wrong with Lizzie. Thankfully, it's always been a thick intersection (so far!). Since I can't see where I'm stitching, I can't compensate the quilting design in those areas, so they look a little wierd.