Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Scrap Block Challenge

It's funny where inspiration can be found.  The tiles on the bathroom floor, a zigzag coffee mug—you name it, some quilter is bound to be inspired by it.

The day I decided to bounce down off the no-sweets wagon and bake something dense and chocolatey*, I wasn't really looking for inspiration.  But there it was, staring me in the face on a chocolate bar wrapper, of all places! 

I was admittedly giving in to some serious cravings that day, as well as trying to use what remained of the giant bar of dark chocolate I'd bought over the holidays before my husband could eat it all.  He'd already polished off half of it before I'd found out and hidden it deeper on the pantry shelves.  So let's say I was managing a security risk by deciding to bake with it that day.  Yeah, that works.

After rough chopping the chocolate, I set the wrapper aside.  Then while waiting for the chocolate to melt in the microwave, I happened to study the wrapper a little more closely.  Probably checked the carb count to see just how much dietary damage this baking venture was going to do.

That's when I saw it.  Take a look.

A quilt block, no?  And I was supposed to be creating a quilt block for Sarah's Scrap Block Challenge.  Could this be just the ticket, the inspiration I needed to get started?  I thought so!

The challenge was to use the sizes in the scrap management system described in the book Cut the Scraps!  Fabric scraps are cut to measure 2 inches, 3.5 inches, and 5 inches square.

So I scribbled something on paper that more closely resembled a primitive cave drawing than a quilt block.  Did some mental gymnastics on the math, trying to wrap my head around how to orient the center square in the way it was depicted on the wrapper.  On failing to come up with a solution, I modified the plan somewhat.  Close enough for rock and roll!  Then I chucked the cave drawing aside and went to play with fabric.

And voila!
Here's how it went together, using 5-inch and 3.5-inch squares.

For the string-pieced centers, you are going to sub-cut a variety of your 5-inch blocks into 4, 1.25-inch strips, and then sew four different strips together.  Cut the other 3.5 and 5-inch squares on the diagonal.  

I am using two different background fabrics, ash gray and a gray/white print, and two different corner fabrics, a black polka dot print and a wine colored print.  (I was literally just grabbing what was lying around on the table, so it is what it is—scrappy!)

Sew the diagonally cut 5-inch background squares to the string-pieced centers. Try to center the diagonally cut pieces; they will be about an inch longer on each end than the centers.

Sew the diagonally cut 3.5 inch pieces to the opposite ends, as shown above.  Press open and trim blocks to 6 inches square (actually, 5-7/8 inches square might give you a slightly better match of the corner squares, especially if you sew with a scant 1/4 inch seam, but that's sort of a fiddly measurement and it came out close enough when trimmed to 6 inches square).
Arrange four units into one block and sew them together.  The block will measure around 11.5 inches square at that point.  You can orient the corner triangles so that there is all one color in the center, or do like I did and alternate.  Same thing with the background fabrics; you can use two different ones like I did here, or all the same. You have options, is what I'm saying.

So there you have it!  I'm sure it's nothing original, although the way in which it came about for me was.  I mean, how many blocks have been inspired by a chocolate bar wrapper?  (Quilters, don't answer that!)

I can't wait to see what others have created for the Scrap Block Challenge.  Visit Confessions of a Fabric Addict today for the linky!

*I used this recipe, but substituted 1/2 c. honey for the sugar and ghee for the butter, and left off the glaze.  It was fabulous and totally worth it!


  1. That is actually a relay cool block going to pin it to come look at it more later.

    Make sure you stop by and put your guess in my quilt givaway by guessing my babys B-day or Birth Weight.

  2. Isn't that funny how you can find a pattern everywhere! You designed an awesome block from that wrapper too.

    I have been trying different dark chocolate bars lately myself. Just tried the blueberry Hershey dark chocolate with 60% cocoa. Yum:)

  3. Wow! Very cool block and tut!

  4. That is an awesome block! I didn't have time to participate in this challenge, but it's fun to see what people did.

  5. Outstanding!! Your mental gymnastics worked out pretty well:) Great tutorial, too!

  6. Laughing at your idea of managing a security risk. You need to come to my house. You’d be employed fulltime!

    The block is pure genius. I’d be too busy scoffing the chocolate and tossing the wrapper to hide the evidence to be inspired.

  7. Now you are a true quilter - when you find quilt patterns and inspiration in your surroundings. Fantastic!

  8. ... yet another reason to love chocolate ...

  9. I so understand finding quilt inspiration in strange places. I have a quilt hanging in my house that is based on floor tiles in a Disney World bathroom. You did a great interpretation of the block on the wrapper.

  10. Oh that it's I need to eat more chocolate for inspiration! I LOVE your block :)

  11. Very nice block! Inspiration comes from everywhere :)

  12. Wow, P., way to go!! Totally awesome block!! I can't wait to give this one a try.....

  13. Very cool! I love how that block came together for you, so clever! Will you stop at just one block or will you make a table runner or perhaps a full sized quilt?!

  14. I love food inspired things! This is a lovely quilt block and I am totally in awe of someone who designs their own block, doing the math and everything! For me it is all visual and I end up with wrong dimensions. Good for you! Have you named this yet? May I suggest, Dark Inspiration?

  15. Wonder what kind of inspiration I could find on the INSIDE of a Resse's Cup wrapper - ha ha!! Love your block and the story of how it came about!

  16. P, you are all that and a bar of chocolate!

    That block is absolutely amazing and I love the no-holds barred scrappiness! You do such amazing things with fabric.

    If there is a prize to be had for the scrappy block challenge, I hope you win. If there is voting involved, let me know.

    xo -E

  17. That is just SO COOL! I love the design, and I love the ample use of black and white fabrics. Sets off the other fabrics perfectly.

    See that baking was actually part of the creative process!

  18. Now how cool is that! That is really neat the way you honed in on the block shape on the wrapper. Great tutorial too.

  19. I know I already left a comment about your awesome block - I wanted to let you know that I listed you on my blog for the "Versatile Blogger" award.

  20. lovely block. how about posting a pic of the finished block at the string along blog and linking it back to here? it's an interesting way of looking at a string block.

  21. It's me again. I put up a link to your double pinwheel quilt at the string along blog. fabulous!

  22. Great block & what a unique inspiration! I think we should all have chocolate to celebrate! Thanks for entering your block in the challenge!

  23. I'm going to try this out. It's adorable!

  24. I am just finished making my first block ever using your tut and I would just like to say a big Thank YOU!!!

    1. Thank you. That's great! I'd love to see your block or quilt, if you feel like sharing a picture at some point.


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