Karla Alexander is a well- known quilt teacher and book author, who developed the 'Stack the Deck' book series. Her method/game nicely combines planning with serendipity. The basic idea is to cut a stack of square blocks; subcut blocks into different pieces; shuffle each pile of pieces differently; and stitch the pieces back into blocks.
You do have to read through the directions a couple of times, but once you grok it, it’s a lot of fun – perfect for when you don’t want to design too much, and just want to get to the sewing. From her book 'New Cuts for New Quilts, More Ways to Stack the Deck,' I made this quilt, which she calls 'Razzle Dazzle.' Her model quilt was made from multicolored batiks, with sashing in black-and-white checked fabric. I used print fabrics, and a black-and-white square sashing.
A little loud, no? I don’t know why I like purple and yellow so much. I keep coming back to it. Or maybe I cured myself with this project....
In any case, once I was done, I liked the quilt, but I liked the pile of scraps generated from trimming up the blocks to size, even better. I mean, this was one heckuva great-looking scrap pile, consisting of slivers from ½” to about 2” wide, each sliver made up of several fabrics.
They were a little too narrow for a scrap quilt…So I decided to turn them into flowers. I cut out backing circles from felt, using my pinking shears.
The felt circle is a couple of inches shorter than the slivers. Flipped to the front, I piled a bunch of slivers on each backing, setting each strip at a different angle, like an asterisk. Added a couple of strips cut from the black-and- white sashing to fill things out.
Stitched them together in the center, added a coordinating button. Then I drenched each flower in “Stiffy”, and laid it to dry on waxed paper. Stiffy keeps the slivers more or less pointing outward. The final step is to hand-stitch on the extra-long pipe cleaners (aka chenille stems). I wound a couple of the stems together to make them stronger.
And voila! A raggedy bouquet that matches my quilt! (Just what my house needs: MORE crazy yellow and purple explosions everywhere!)
Karla’s latest book, 'Dynamic Quilts with Easy Curves,' uses her shuffle approach to cut curved shapes. One of the great things about her books is that you don’t have to buy the first one to understand the system – she re-explains it in every book.