About Barbara

teacher and writer http://barbarachaineyquilts.wordpress.com www.barbarachainey.com

Scrappy Sunday – more squares

We thought we’d take a second look at squares and scraps – this time with examples from EQ to show just a few possibilities.  One simple block composed entirely of squares, nothing could be simpler and it’s a perfect way to put lots of different scraps together without too much angst as to what goes with what.  Start with lots of squares, say 2 1/2inch ones, and divide them into two piles, one dark and one light.  It’s the dark vs light distinction that makes this scrap control process work because it eliminates the constant question “does this fabric look good with that one?”.  Most of us find “random” and “scrappy” very challenging concepts and the dark vs light division makes a good place to start.  Here’s a 16square grid for us to play with dark and light scrap values –

The first, simplest and most traditional arrangement for this grid would probably be a checkerboard –

and it’s fairly easy to predict what a whole quilt made from these blocks would look like, so we won’t!  But if we tweak the arrangement of lights and darks (remember, we’re ignoring colour here) the same grid might look like one of the blocks below –




And, yes, we have used one more value – medium – in some of the examples above.  That’s because once you have divided your scrappy squares into lights and darks you are sure to find that some darks are just darker and some darks are almost medium when compared with the light pile.  Now take a look at some quilt plans using the above blocks in a straight edge to edge setting –

And here’s one of the blocks set with sashing and cornerstones rather than edge to edge.  Giving scrappy blocks just a little breathing room with simple sashing can actually bring everything together really well –

We’ve just looked at arrangements of scrap squares of the same size – what if (our favourite question!) you mix scrap squares of related sizes in the same block? Here are two of Barbara’s scrappy square blocks finished into cushions.  Notice that there are very few, if any, fabric duplications – these really were conjured from scraps!

More scrappiness next Sunday – happy stitching!







Scrappy Sunday – “kites”

It’s Scrappy Sunday time again (this summer seems to be whizzing by don’t you think?) and this week we want to spotlight a versatile “kite” shape which is perfect for converting scraps into something stunning.  Barbara was browsing the shelves of the library at the Rural Office

and picked up two of our favourite books from way back when…..

We’ve already shown these books in a previous Scrappy post but we’re not apologising – they are well worth repeating.  Several years ago Barbara was looking for a scrappy style project and this page from “Scraps Can Be Beautiful” (left, above) demanded attention.


The test block was duly made

and then put aside (as so often happens).  Shortly afterwards, paging through an old copy of Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts, a hexagonal block, built from this same kite shape and titled “Antique Rose Star” was found.  Scrappy inspiration struck!  Using mostly scraps selected from browns, reds and shirtings it was not long before there was a stack of Antique Rose Star blocks.


The same block was featured in “Material Obsession 2” by Kathy Doughty and Sara Fielke (Murdoch Books, 2009).

Over the years Barbara has taught many hand piecing classes featuring this block and students are always surprised at how easy it is to piece and how effective changes of value can be.  Three kites make one triangle, twenty four triangles make one full block –


A small selection of blocks made in classes –



If you are looking for resources to help you explore some of the delights of the kite shape may we recommend the excellent template pack from Marti Michell

If EPP is your piecing preference then we suggest you check out Paper Pieces or Lina Patchwork for supplies of die cut kite shapes in various sizes.

Barbara has a Pinterest board devoted to this block and you’re sure to find lots more “kite ” inspiration on Pinterest and Google, to name but two!

Happy stitiching!



Pop up success!

Whew! What a great day we had on Saturday with our first pop up class – a full house of new and familiar faces and the sweet hum of massed sewing machines plus lots of chatter and laughs.  We had decided to feature the project Chris designed for The Corner Patch Retreat (and a big thank you to Jane Alcock (formerly of The Corner Patch) for helping out and for providing everyone with a little goodie bag) and there were lots of oohs and aahs when it was revealed –

Everyone got straight to work after the demo.

and we were soon admiring the first blocks in all their variety –

Really looking forward to seeing some finished quilt tops in the next few weeks!  It was such a good day with so many requests for more popup classes that we may have to have a high level Board meeting at HQ next week and discuss the possibilities for 2020.

In other news we have updated the EQ Doodles page so do click over and take a look – or download a colouring sheet here – August doodle

This is the week of the BIG quilt show – Festival of Quilts – here in the UK and we’ll be joining thousands of other quilters and enjoying some retail therapy and quilt viewing. Don’t forget to check back here for Scrappy Sunday at the end of the week – see you soon!

Scrappy Sundays – 60degree diamonds

Diamonds are almost as popular a shape as hexagons when it comes to making every scrap of fabric count.  The 60degree diamond in particular is exceptionally versatile and is a shape Barbara has been working with a lot in her hand piecing classes – here’s a really quick run-through of some favourite arrangements.

Join 60degree diamonds into a strip for a striking pleated effect which is great for borders –

Join 60degree diamonds into 3s to make a hexagon, then take it one step further to  magically create a 3D effect by consistent value placement – this is the traditional pattern sometimes known as Tumbling Blocks or Baby Blocks.









Join 60degree diamonds first into pairs then into 4s to make a diamond, put 6 of these diamonds together to make a star or put 3 together to make a chequered hexagon  (not  shown)











Join 6 60degree diamonds together to make a star, 3 diamonds and 3 diamonds then a centre seam, fill in the outer spaces with diamonds to make a hexagon star.








One of Barbara’s class samples shows the pleated border and hexagon star options and uses jelly roll strip scraps left over from an earlier project.  There was not enough of any one fabric to make repeating choices which made the placement process quite a challenge – but very satisfying.






















Scrappy Sunday – hexagons

The humble hexagon is perfectly suited to scrap patchwork – it’s an easy shape to work with whether hand piecing or English Paper Piecing (EPP) and it offers countless possibilities for arrangement.  There are many resources for instruction and information on hexagon patchwork online and in print – put “hexagons” in a Pinterest, YouTube or Google search as a starter and in recent print we would recommend “All Points Patchwork” by Diane Gilleland and “English Paper Piecing” by Florence Knapp (aka Flossie Teacakes).

Here are some details from one or two of the vintage hexagon pieces that have found us over the years – first careful joining to create a specific effect, careful joining to make sufficient fabric to complete the hexagon shape and thirdly not quite so careful joining of two different hexagon pieces together to make something larger –


For our first Scrappy Sunday featuring hexagons we are going to take a quick look at just a few of the different arrangements in small, manageable units.  Start small and build up to using many small units to make something of size.  If you catch the hexie bug (and many people do) we recommend investing in a pad of isometric graph paper for planning larger scale all-over designs.


One of the most familiar hexagon arrangements is a rosette – six hexagons surrounding a seventh, central hexagon.  We think the easiest way to piece the rosette is to make a strip of 2 hexagons, a strip of 3 hexagons and a strip of 2 hexagons and then work 2 zigzag seams.



We rather like a “wave” arrangement –

Six hexagons make a triangular unit which has some possibilities –


4 hexagons can be joined together to form a lozenge shape which will tessellate as an all over pattern

or, add a hexagon to opposite sides of a rosette –

We wanted to include a piece that Chris made quite a few years ago – how good does this look?  Bright scraps, strongly contrasting fabric and stitching -great result.


So much to say and show on the topic of hexagons, but we’ll call a halt here and revisit the humble hexagon a little further along in our Scrappy Sundays series.  Happy stitching!



Pop up class filled up!

Just a brief bulletin to say that we’ve been totally amazed and overwhelmed by the response to our PopUp class on Saturday 27th July – there’s only one place left!!

We’re really looking forward to the day.  We’ll have all the traditional C&B things like lashings of tea and coffee, biscuits and cake and plenty of laughs to accompany the cutting and stitching. And we’ll have a tempting basket of fabrics from The Corner Patch…

Onwards to Scrappy Sunday!

Scrappy Sunday 2

Still talking about the management of scraps –  one noteworthy system that is quite widely practised (but not by us!) is to cut leftover fabric into useful sizes and shapes.  So for example you could cut leftovers and oddments into 2 1/2inch squares and store them in a box marked 2 1/2inch squares.  Similarly, cut smaller scraps into 1 1/2inch squares and store them in their own marked box.  Other boxes could contain 2 1/2inch width strips of varied length, 1 1/2inch strips of varied length, 5inch squares, 10inch squares (think Charm Packs and Layer Cakes here).  Once upon a time Barbara even devoted a book and scores of classes to a system for cutting up fat quarters into useful shapes with minimum waste (Fast Quilts from Fat Quarters, pub David & Charles 2006).  But we digress….

Barbara is not necessarily more organised than Chris when it comes to scraps but she does have a great fondness for ziplock bags and those lovely stacking storage boxes with lids. So there’s a bag of blue scraps, a bag of red, a bag of shirtings and neutrals, a bag of black and white – well, you get the picture. These bags contain odd sized bits and small pieces that are left over from previous projects and are fairly easy to switch between the Rural Office and the Overseas Office when necessary. There are two small handy stacking boxes at the Overseas Office and three four five much larger but equally handy stacking boxes (OK, crates – Barbara) at the Rural Office.  Handy stacking boxes in both locations contain fat quarters, fat eighths and other regular sized pieces of fabric and a couple of lavender sachets in each container for good measure. And it really is amazing how much fabric you can squash into one of those boxes if you fold it carefully.











One of Barbara’s wilder ideas for scrap and stash management back in 2017 was to cut a 2 1/2inch strip off  EVERY SINGLE piece of fabric in her stash.  The concept originally was that this would create a stash “reference” which could be kept and possibly eventually used.  It was a very satisfying project to undertake, every piece of fabric was handled, the strip cut and folded and the parent fabric pressed and refolded into the relevant crate. The reference strips are all carefully boxed up at present but may be released and cut into at some point in the near future – perhaps a megahexagon quilt, who knows?!

Several years ago Barbara “rescued” the scrappy quilt below and stored it in The Cupboard – every star block is different and the unknown maker certainly seems to have made great use of her scrapbag.

Scrap (or scrappy style) quilts are enjoying yet another revival at the moment – our long-time favourite print references are “Great Scrap Bag Quilts” and “Scraps can be Beautiful”, both self-published by Jan Halgrimson in the early 1980s.   Well worth searching for secondhand copies and also a great reminder of just how far quilting-related publishing has come over the past 30 years.

More scrappy stuff next Sunday ….