Hi guys! We are in Week #2 of the Colourmaze QAL! Welcome back!
Just to recap – Week#1 was all about getting the ColourMaze pattern (still available from our Colourwerx shop by clicking here) and also choosing your fabrics: A 40-piece 2-1/2″ strip roll and 1-3/4 yards of background fabric – you can of course cut the (40) 2-1/2″ strips from your stash too! If you’re new this week, then just jump on in! You can review Week#1’s blog post here!
Also, our free Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group is really where all the action is and everyone is encouraged to ask questions, share progress and of course, post pictures of finished projects so everyone in the group can share in the fun! We’re also doing weekly giveaways here too! Click below to join the Colourwerx Quilt Along Facebook Group or feel free to share this invite and any QAL news with other quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!
Just like last week – Carl and I put together a little companion video to Week#2 QAL recapping this blog post along with tips and tricks. You can view it on our Colourwerx UTube channel so if you’d like to watch me ‘yak on’ instead of reading this post – you’ll find that video here…
So let’s get started! WEEK #2 – Sorting Your Strips & Cutting
To prepare you for piecing which is next week (and really, that’s the super fun part of this quilt, right?!?), you’ll need to cut your background fabric and strips this week!
- Sort and Pair up the Strips! Unroll your strip roll and begin to group together strips into pairs. Each pair of 2-1/2″ strips will make (1) ColourMaze block. So if you want to make a couple of placemats, place together (4) pairs of strips for (4) placemats! If you are making the 50″ x 70″ pattern cover quilt. group together (20) pairs of strips. You may choose to pair your strips tone on tone, contrast or just random – whatever suits your fancy 😀.
In Week #1’s post, there’s a slide show of different ColourMaze quilts showing the finished blocks so you can see that almost anything goes when pairing up the strips.
- Cut Your Background Fabric: First off, before cutting – I really, really, really like to starch my fabric. Mary Ellen’s Best Press is terrific stuff but it its too pricey to use on larger pieces and when I need to starch several yards or a larger piece such as this background fabric, I use the Faultless Gold Top Firm Finish Spray Starch. First you can’t beat the price at like $1.99 a can – available at Target, Walmart, the supermarket, etc…. Secondly, I just happen to love the way it makes my fabric feel. It gives the fabric a firm hand but not too stiff and makes my cutting and piecing more precise. Use a hot dry iron (no steam) and definitely starch the fabric before you make that first cut as the fabric may shrink ever so slightly after the starch is ironed dry.
You’ll find all of the cutting directions and dimensions in the Colourmaze pattern on pages 1 & 2.
You’ll see in the pattern that you’ll need to cut lots of 1″ strips from the background fabric – in fact you’ll actually be cutting a few dozen 1″ strips. The idea of cutting 1″ strips seems easy enough but these smaller width strips can be tricky, especially when you cut strip after strip after strip after strip after strip after…. – well you get the idea, right?
So first, I encourage you to change your rotary blade to a fresh new one for extra sharpness, and always use a good quality rotary ruler to measure the strip widths and to cut against.
Just a little sidenote before cutting your fabric.…I know some people like to use their rotary cutting mat to measure the width of strips but I can tell you from experience that cutting mats are notoriously “off” – why you ask? The measurements are ‘printed’ on the cutting mat and the super thick line on the mat can throw off your cut by 1/32nd or 1/64th of an inch. Additionally those printed measurements can expand and contract with heat and cold and also with general day to day use. This all leads to tiny inaccuracies in your cutting but compounds itself cut after cut after cut. It’s ok to use the cutting mat for general measurements such as to quickly check if a block is measuring 9-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ but for super accurate cutting and squaring down please use a good quality quilting ruler to measure and cut against not the cutting mat- just mho! 😉
First Tip on Cutting the Background Fabric – I like to reduce the distance I need to travel with my rotary cutter from the bottom of the fabric to the top. Once I find the straight of grain of the fabric (and here’s a great tutorial if you need one), I then match selvage edges at the top with my fold at the bottom. I then fold my fabric in half again – this reduces the distance my rotary cutter needs to travel from 22″ to 11″. Yes, I am cutting through four layers of fabric instead of two, but my rotary cutter is only traveling the length of 11″ to cut a strip….therefore reducing the likelihood of my ruler slipping or sliding from side to side resulting in an inaccurate cut. Additionally, less pressure is needed to hold the ruler in place therefore less pain or cramping in my wrist or hand if cutting for longer periods of time. A win-win!
Once you are ready to begin, be sure to always cut yourself a fresh clean edge before proceeding to cut your strips.
Next tip 🙂 – I have found that sometimes after cutting 8, 9 or 10 strips in a row, sometimes it becomes impossible to precisely line up the ruler on the edge of the fabric straight – it’s as if the fabric edge has been warped or skewed and the edge is generally not true to the line under the ruler (at least not like it was when you made your very first clean cut). This happens because as you cut strip after strip, you are placing a lot of pressure 1) against the ruler by holding it steady in place and 2) by sliding the rotary cutter along the side of the ruler as you cut consecutive strips (especially smaller width strips like 1″ strips).
So it’s not uncommon to see this and its a good practice that after cutting 10 or so strips, to simply cut a fresh, new clean edge to ensure you are cutting accurately and of course, to line the ruler up against.
- Cut Your Fabric Strips for the ColourMaze Blocks: Again, you’ll find all the dimensions to cut your block pieces, on pages 1 & 2 of the Colourmaze pattern. Every (2) 2-1/2″ strips will yield (1) ColourMaze block, and after cutting the block pieces, you may indeed have some generous offcuts – think about whether you might like to make more Colourmaze blocks or save those offcuts for a scrappy binding. Make sure you UNFOLD each strip and then cut your block pieces so you will be left with a longer offcut to use for other projects.
Additionally, in last week’s post I mentioned that if you are making the 50″x70″ Lap Quilt there are actually (21) blocks needed and you might be asking yourself “Where do I get the extra 2 strips for that 21st block if I am using a 40-piece strip roll ?” Well I have the answer…..
If your strip roll has at least 2 different fabrics that are duplicated within the strip roll then you can pair these 4 strips together, cut them for efficiency and yield 3 Colourmaze blocks out of these 4 total strips.
So first things first – look at your (40) strips and pull out the strips that are duplicated . You need to locate a minimum of 2 fabrics that are duplicated – pair up these fabric strips (so you should have 4 strips total, 2 from Fabric A and 2 from Fabric B).
Unfold the first Fabric A strip, cut the selvage edge off and then cut the (4) pieces specified in the pattern for (1) ColourMaze block starting with the largest unit to the smallest unit.
With the leftover from strip #1, begin to cut the 2nd block’s pieces, Cut the largest unit first, and then with what’s left cut the smallest unit. In other words, you may need to go out of order from the pattern. Use the whole strip up!
Unfold the the second Fabric A strip (aka the same fabric as the first) and continue to cut the remaining units required for the second block. If all works out, you should be left with approx. 29″ – just enough to cut the units for a 3rd ColourMaze block (i.e.: the 21st block for the lap size cover quilt).
Repeat the above on the matching Fabric B strips to pair up with Fabric A. Keep in mind that not all fabric strips are manufactured at exactly the same length – some are 44″ long, some 43″ and some even 42″….so before making your first cut on the fabric strips, mark out the segments on the strip with a washable marker to make sure you can get all the required pieces to make (3) blocks.
So this week is all about cutting – take your time, and remember that old phrase – measure twice, cut once! And if you have any questions or need any additional assistance, please email Carl and I at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on our Facebook Colourwerx or Colourwerx QuiltAlong pages.
Be sure to check back in next week – Week #3 for Piecing the Block where I’ll share my all time favorite tip and tricks to perfect your 1/4″ seam and precision piecing skills!
Thanks again for joining in on the quilt along fun and I can’t wait to see everyone’s blocks soon! Until your next colour fix~ L&C xxoo