Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A bit about stack and slash

Buggy Barn quilts are well known for their use of the stack and slash technique.  Their designs are wonderful, often complex, need careful fabric planning and layout management, but are on the whole easy to piece and well worth the effort.  Their cat quilt is a great example.

This fabric had pineapples on it... but don't they look like ticks?
 These designs come with a paper cutting layout which you trace onto freezer paper.  Your fat quarter sized fabrics are stacked, faceup, in the order you want, with the freezer paper template ironed to the top fabric.  Then it's a matter of following the numbers, slicing through the layers of fabric to create smaller and smaller shapes (very similar effect to paper pieced blocks).  The next trick is to restack the piles so that the different design elements appear... in this case, the cat appeared - complete with stripes, nose, cat body/head and background.  In this example, each block uses four different fabrics.  The initial stack layers determines which fabrics appear in each block - and it's important to layer your fabrics so that you get good contrast between the elements.  Make sense?

Now onto the There's a Square in There Pattern.  This uses much the same technique only much much simpler.  There is no intense layering and no paper template.  Instead, there are four different diagrams for the irregular log cabin blocks, each of which require four fabrics - two pattern and two plain.  The squares of fabrics are layered in order, face up, alternating plain and patterned fabrics.  The diagram describes the order of the cuts in black, with the size of the cut in blue.

In case you're wondering, I don't think this was the diagram I was following for the block cutting illustrated... and I may or may not have made a mistake with the cutting... however, the instructions also say that it is quite OK to make your own decisions about cutting... there is no right or wrong.

Here's my pile after the first round of cuts (the first cut is shown along the bottom).

Then I made the second round of cuts and reshuffled the second round, moving the top fabric to the bottom of the pile to reveal the orange logs. 

Then the last round of cuts... the third round stays plain, but if I left the pile without shuffling it, then when I got to the patterned fabrics, I would end up with two rounds matching, so I shifted two layers of fabric to the bottom of the pile, and a reshuffle for the centre rectangle, bringing the bottom fabric up to the top.

It helps to keep it laid out in order.  No wind, kids, cats or husbands tidying please.

Now we're ready to start piecing.  It's a matter of attaching the rounds in the opposite order to how they were cut.

The first piece matches perfectly...

But when you go to attach this unit to the next log, there is a bit of a size difference - the seam allowances.  This is how the technique works... you will need to trim.

 I sew the logs on first,

See the overhang on the left?

 then trim the overhang off later.

And once that log has been opened out, we can see that the mismatch continues, the next log will be too long... and in fact, every piece will need to be trimmed down.  Once you get your head around that, it is smooth sailing.

Because I decided to add in an alternate fabric every now and then, I swapped the plain piece I had already cut, and added the text instead.

And my four blocks from this pile, all with their first rounds added.

Round two will continue tomorrow.

So, have you ever made a stack and slash quilt?  Did you enjoy it?


  1. I have made a couple of BB ones and enjoyed them once I got the hang of that overhang thing! Yours' looked like it was going together nicely the other day :-) It would be a good one to start on perhaps to get the hang of it all!

  2. I remember making stack and slash blocks once, but I am not sure what came of them?? I hope I am not awake all night wondering!

  3. No reason to fear a tidying up husband in this house... Hrmf ;) it looks like an interesting techniques though.

  4. Nope, that's one thing I've never done. But it's not because I don't like them, just too many quilts and not enough time.
    PS. Where did you find the Husband that tidies?