It's time! It's time! Clue #1 for the Easy Street mystery starts on Sunday, BUT I have plans to be in Waco on Saturday and we have family plans on Sunday, so I am cheating and getting a wee bit of a head start.
It seems like I am doing 4 patches right now for almost every project I have going, so I thought I would do a shot tutorial in conjunction with this clue post. I have developed my own way of doing scrappy 4 patches and even though I know others take more short cuts -- this is what works for me to get the best mix of the fabrics I have available. Since these have one constant fabric it makes it easy to show my method. I start by matching up one of the scrappy fabric (in this case black on white prints) with one of the constant (for this quilt it is grey) fabric strips. I use up everything that is available so my strips are all different lengths. When sewing the strips together, if one strip is shorter, I don't cut it, I just add another strip to the short side and keep going, thus giving me one continuous length of strip sets until I have used up all 20 of my constant strips. (They were the one I determined amount with as I could do the math and get the required inches that way.)
Now it is off to the ironing board to press these open and cut them apart whenever a fabric change was made. Thus the different size strip sets you see in the picture.
Now, at this point you can pre-match you fabrics and put two strip sets right sides together, with seams nesting and make your subcuts, thus giving you the four-patches sets you need completely ready to run through the machine. Here is where I deviate a bit. Yes, I still put strip sets together and make the sub cuts. However, then I sort them by fabric. I have 20 different whites (yep, I spotted the duplicate stack after the picture was taken) and so make a nice little stack of each one. My tray and I then set up at the machine and I take the largest stack of one pattern and set it by the machine. As I work through that stack, I rotate through the other stacks on the tray, taking one from each and making my four-patch. If I have more of one print than a complete rotation through the others, I just start over and keep matching them up.
At some point, the smaller stacks start disappearing and I keep moving the larger stacks off the tray and working them.
Soon, I have a wonderful chain of all my little four-patches all ready to play with. Next step -- again I probably do this different than others -- I cut them apart NOW.
Since I am a freak about spinning seams, I then take my little stack of sewn four-patches and open them up, spin the seams, and finger press them open. THEN I take them to the ironing board for a good PRESS with a hot iron. I was first taught to spin the seams by Bonnie Hunter so that the bulk in the center is reduced. For some reason, my brain never picked up on the fact that it also makes it so that no matter which way you turn your four-patch, the seams will nest with each other until much later and THAT is the reason I always do this step now. Yes, it takes a wee bit longer --- seriously, the time is minimal and makes matching seams later go much faster so most likely results in an overall time savings -- but it works for me. Voila -- clue one is complete and I have a fun little tray of lovely grey and white four-patches.
Thank you Bonnie Hunter for what looks to be a fun time working on this. If you wish to make this quilt, the pattern can be found in her book "More Adventures With Leaders and Enders." As always, you can find all my posts on Easy Street by clicking the tab at the top of the blog.