The other day it occurred to me that when we label a project “easy – slash ‘n sew” that many of you might just say “Huh – ……what the heck does that really mean…”?? Hence this blog post….
“Slash ‘n Sew” is a term that I adopted in the 90’s when I learned about liberated quilting – a non exact, non precise way of piecing a block – no templates, no set patterns and best of all, no exact 1/4″ seams! Many of today’s modern quilters have also adapted this method but refer to it as “improv quilting”.
The inventor and queen of modern, liberated quilting is Gwen Marston, who I was fortunate enough to take a class from way back when (circa 1999). I credit her (and later – Australian artist, Jan Mullen) for opening my eyes to this type of unconventional piecing – both of their influences can be seen in many of my early Linderella quilts that have slash ‘n sew techniques such as “Happy Hauntings” pictured below – Check out the outer borders...(And if you like this pattern, you can purchase it and a few more oldies but goodies at our Linderella Craftsy site as a PDF download)…
Back to slash ‘n sew – Gwen Marston’s books, “Liberated Quiltmaking I and II” are both excellent reads and staples in my reference library. Almost any block that can be conventionally pieced, can be “slash ‘n sew” pieced. It’s a wonky, free wheeling, liberating, stress free, non exact, wildly innovative way of piecing. The key is to let go, relax and enjoy the creative process.
To get you started – perhaps the simpliest block to slash ‘n sew would be the liberated 4-patch. You’ll need:
• (2) 4-1/2″ squares of 2 different fabrics,
• a rotary cutter with a sharp blade, and a square ruler.
1. Stack the (2) squares RIGHT side up and even. With your rotary cutter and straight ruler, slash straight through the stack vertically. This slash should not be perfectly centered – skew the slash from top to bottom. Without moving or disturbing the stack, slash again through the stack but this time horizontally.
2. You should now have (4) piles of misshapen squares – the same fabric should be on top of each stack.
3. Before sewing you’ll need to “shuffle” each pile. Leave Stacks #1 & #4 alone. With Stacks #2 & #3, take the bottom fabric and place it on top. The two opposing stacks should now have a different fabric on top like the photo.
4. Begin assembly of the 4-patch square by stitching the top fabrics from Stacks #1 & #2 together – an exact 1/4″ seam is not necessary. Press the seams open. Repeat this step with the top fabrics from Stacks #3 & #4. Again press the seams open.
5. Finally, matching the center seams (or not matching – it’s your choice and that’s the great thing about liberated quiltmaking!) , stitch these two pieces together to create the slash ‘n sew 4-patch square. Press all seams apart and outward. With your square ruler, center and trim the square to 3-1/2” X 3-1/2”. Voila – a liberated , stress free, fun slash ‘n sew 4-Patch.
These squares can be made any size you want – just allow yourself enough room for squaring down after stitching. A good rule of thumb would be if you want the Slash ‘n Sew 4-Patches to finish at 3-1/2″, then add a full 1″ when cutting the squares out – hence cut them out at 4-1/2″ (or whatever size you want them to be).
So what can you do with this little gem? Check out these 2 pillows I made – both are 12″ x 12″ – so that would be a total of (16) 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ squares. Easy – peasy! (Full disclosure: I did do a little pre-planning and on how the colors would gradiate out on the multi colored pillow before stitching).
And how about using the liberated 4-patch for an outer border – check out our Pattern Colourstruck – I think the wonky border really makes the quilt dynamic! There are over (80) Slash ‘n Sew 4-Patches there.
For a more challenging slash ‘n sew project – try our Mod TV pattern – this design was very inspired by Jan Mullen and of course, our love for everything retro!
So go forth, be liberated and slash ‘n sew your way to stress free quiltinq! Give it a try – Until your next colour fix~ Linda & Carl