“Watercolor” Patchwork Scrap Buster

Or we could dub it “ombré “. It’s December and I’m in the mood for small, scrap busting, holiday-ish projects. I am besotted with patching together small colorful squares to give a painterly effect. This (unfinished) table runner which is used as a kitchen-counter runner (explanation at the end of the post) is such a project.

The 2” cotton squares are left over from a “Watercolor Quilt” wall hanging kit by Whims. These leftover bits lived in my scrap stash for a decade – at least. Now was their time and out they came.

Sewing together minuscule bits of fabric squares isn’t new to the quilting world, but the Whims company made it easy for us non quilters by including a fusible sheet marked with a grid. (The Whims website is a delight for the floral, painterly senses. They have videos.) Basically, you audition the project on the grid and then fuse the pieces on it. What blows me away is the arrangement of the squares where the colors meld into each other in a gradation to get the desired effect. I like to call it the ombré effect.

This is how I went about my ombré/watercolor scrap-saver kitchen-counter runner.

Audition: diving into the fun part was easy since the 2” squares of flowery quilting cotton were pre-cut — this is the best part of buying kits; work is already done. I laid out the gridded sheet, fusible side up. The lightest squares were placed in the center, medium-light and medium colors on both sides of that center, and finally medium dark and darkest on the ends, respectively. This audition went well, but I could have changed it to starting with the lightest from one side and ending with the darkest on the other. Or, some other formation. Important note: 1/4” seams are included in the 2” squares — which will leave the final piece 25% smaller.

Fusing: before applying heat, I cut away the fusible sheet where it was exposed. There are two things that were used while fusing, besides the iron (duh); a non-stick appliqué sheet to save the iron in case the fusible peeks out from somewhere, and my much-used organza press cloth. Let the fused piece cool completely. Like cookies.

Sewing: on the wrong side, fold along indicated grid lines and sew 1/4” away from the lengthwise folds. Same process for the shorter crosswise lines, press well to one side and we now have the center of the runner.

Of course, you can do the very same thing without the the fusing, etc. Just cut out the squares in desired fabrics, audition them and sew each one to the next. The seams have to be accurate and consistent.

Outer bands: The outer bands are self explanatory, they’re straight pieces in the desired width. Long bands are sewn to the patchwork first, seams pressed outward. Shorter bands are sewn to the top and bottom and seams pressed.

Layering: sandwich a thin batting between the top and backing. Pin together. I used two layers of very thin cotton batting because it was the only one in the stash. It will shrink. Definitely. (Shrugs)

Stitch-in-ditch: which means stitching through the seams that join the gridded piece to the side and top bands, through all three layers. This stitching is usually not visible on the top but hides in the seam. A stitching line all around the edges would be a good idea, too, to keep the layers together.

Binding: In the picture I have two options. A coral linen and a white cotton with black script print to match the bands. Which will you choose? Also, should I quilt the bands, or skip it?

Explanation of kitchen-counter runner: the clanging sound of dishes placed on a granite counter make me ill; very similar to nails on a chalkboard. Therefore, I use cloth runners on my kitchen counter which is open on three sides and becomes an eating counter pretty much for every meal.

Now for some patchworky inspiration. Check out my Pinterest board titled “Scrap Saver”.

This image from a Rebecca Page Pinterest board. I pinned it to my Scrap Saver board.

Have a happy and safe holiday season! — Samina

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