Controlled Chaos – a free scrap quilt pattern

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

It’s finished!

The Controlled Chaos Quilt is finished! And I love it soooooo much!

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Before I get to the story – I want to give you all the link to the free scrap quilt pattern. It’s really much more than a pattern, because there are also lessons about working with color, and videos teaching all the skills I used – from cutting to sewing, quilting, and binding. It’s really a complete scrap quilting workshop. Get all the details here and make your own!

I started this quilt way back in May 2014. My scrap bins were overflowing and I particularly wanted to use up a lot of the smaller scraps. I thought about sewing them together randomly, creating a chaotic splash of colors – but I decided to control the chaos and create patterned blocks with those scraps. I’m so glad I did!

My plan was to make one block a week, so I would be done with the piecing in 20 weeks.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Fifteen months later I finally finished piecing all the blocks. 🙂

This was a project that I set aside repeatedly – every time work got busy. But I always came back to it and I loved seeing the pile of finished blocks stack up.

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block #16

Block #16

It took me another three months to sew the blocks together and add sashing. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but it was the middle of the pre-holiday prep season and I had to set it aside again.

Once I got the top finished and basted, I decided to hand quilt it using Big Stitch Quilting.

That was the best decision ever!

Quilting the Controlled Chaos Quilt

Jo took one look at the quilting and announced that I was completely bonkers. In her words, “That’s going to take FOREVER!”

It actually took seven months.

Seven months of absolute bliss.

Seriously.

If I knew I was going to get some couch time with my quilt in the evening, I looked forward to it All Day Long. I’ll continue to machine quilt the quilts I want to finish quickly, but for the personal projects that are all about taking my time and enjoying the process – it’s Big Stitch Quilting forever for me. I don’t think I’ll ever do traditional hand quilting again.

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Look at that texture!

The whole quilt took a little over two years from start to finish.

That’s a long time for a single project, but I enjoyed every minute of that time – especially the hand work. In fact, I think my next big project like this will be all hand work from start to finish.

If you look at my timeline, the place I really stalled was piecing the blocks. In a way that makes sense. I sew at the machine during the day – which makes it work time. I sew by hand at night – free time while I watch television. Since this was a personal project it got set aside during busy work times. If the next one is all hand work, I think my progress will be more steady.

I’m planning an EPP version of Controlled Chaos and I can’t wait to get started! Jo thinks I’m insane. I think there’s nothing more sane than having something beautiful to look at and touch and add to every day. 🙂

Get the free scrap quilt pattern to make your own Controlled Chaos Quilt here.

And if you want to watch my next scrap quilt grow, sign up here for the weekly Shiny Happy News. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Big Stitch Quilting – an Easy and Fun Hand Quilting Technique

Big Stitch Quilting - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

It’s finally here! The video showing you how I do big stitch quilting – a super easy and fun hand quilting technique!

Big stitch quilting is my new favorite way to hand quilt – I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to traditional hand quilting. It’s just so much fun! I love the chunkiness of the stitches – and the style really seems to demand the kind of slight irregularities and wonkiness I love so much.

I should note – I’m not trying to be irregular here. I find that if I try to stitch a perfectly straight line, going slowly and carefully, but not actually marking or measuring it in any way – I get just the amount of wonkiness and wobbliness that makes me happy. It looks like it was sewn by human hands. 🙂

Here’s the video. . .

And here are some additional links for you. . .

I’ve also got a fun video class that teaches several ways to use Big Stitch Quilting.

Big Stitches and Patchy Patchwork - an online video class from Shiny Happy World

Get more info and sign up here.

I think you all are going to have so much fun with this big stitch quilting! Enjoy making those big chunky stitches!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Everything You Need to Know about the Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt

 

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

I’m completely in love with the Controlled Chaos scrap quilt!

A lot of you are too, because I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking about it lately. 🙂 It’s about time to put all the links together into one handy place!

I’m still working on the quilting, so this is a work in progress. I’ll update it with new info as I get closer to finishing and post more details. 🙂 Read all about the finished quilt here!

The Blocks

Click on the image to jump to the instructions for that block.

The Quilting

I used Big Stitch Quilting for this quilt, all by hand.

Controlled Chaos - a free scrap quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

I find it helpful for a project like this, where every block will be quilted a little differently, to establish “rules” for the overall quilt. For this quilt, my stitching within each block runs parallel to the edges of the block. My quilting in the sashing is zigzag angles. I think it helps set that sashing off as different, so it frames the blocks better.

The Tutorials

These are all general tutorials you can use for any quilt project, but they’re especially helpful for the Controlled Chaos quilt.

Choosing Colors (part of the Block #3 instructions)

Cutting Small Squares from Scraps

How to Chain Piece

How to Join Pieced Strips

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt

How to Layer and Baste a Quilt

Big Stitch Quilting

How to Bind a Quilt

There it is! Everything you need to make your own Controlled Chaos Quilt! Of course yours will look totally different because your scrap bins are filled with your favorite colors – the ones you go to again and again. Sew them up into a beauty like this! 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Quilting the Controlled Chaos Quilt

Quilting the Controlled Chaos Quilt

I’ve been having so much fun quilting the Controlled Chaos scrap quilt. 🙂

I’m doing some big stitch quilting and I love the way it looks and the texture it adds!

Quilting the Controlled Chaos Quilt

I’ve got a series of hand quilting videos.

You can find all the old posts about this quilt – including a tutorial for each block and how to add the sashing – here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt

add sashing

I don’t usually add sashing or borders to my quilts, but Controlled Chaos isn’t a typical quilt for me. I went back and forth for a long time, debating the need for sashing. Sashing finally won for two reasons. . .

  1. I like that each little block is its own composition. In some ways I liked those compositions blending into each other and creating new shapes, but ultimately I decided I like the look of a little frame around each piece.
  2. The thought of matching all those seams (necessary if I went without sashing) made me weep.

So – sashing it is!

Adding sashing isn’t hard – just think of it as another skinny block between each of the bigger blocks. Skip the border (for now) and just think about the strips in the quilt’s interior.

We’ll start with adding the vertical strips.

I decided to make the sashing strips the same width as one finished square in the block. I think that’s a good general guideline for balance. That meant cutting them 2″ wide. If you used 1/4″ seam allowance for your sewing, the finished blocks should be 15.5″ square, so cut 15 strips each 2″ wide x 15.5″ long.

Start assembling the rows of your quilt by alternating blocks with sashing strips. Here’s one row.

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Repeat until you have all five rows.

One quick tip. The problem most people have when adding sashing is that the strip is the wrong length by the time they get to the end of the line of stitching. The longer the seam, the more likely (and worse) the problem is.

Using a walking foot when you sew will help prevent this, but the best way is good old-fashioned pinning.

  1. Start by folding your strip in half and marking the center with a pin.
  2. Match the center of the strip to the center of the block and pin.
  3. Match the ends of the strip with the edges of the block and pin.
  4. Fill in the rest of the length with pins until it’s all secure and evenly distributed.
  5. Sew the seam.

Your strip and your block should still be perfectly lined up when you get to the end of the seam.

End tip. 🙂

Now you need to sew all five rows together with strips in between them, plus strips at the top and bottom for those borders.

Cut those strips 2″ wide x 65″ wide. You’ll need six.

When you sew your rows together, it should look something like this.

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Use that same pinning tip to keep everything lined up.

All you need now are the final strips for the side borders. Cut them 2″ wide x 84.5″ long. You’ll need two.

Sew those strips to the sides and your quilt top is finished!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt

Now layer, baste, quilt and bind as usual.

Here’s mine, all basted and ready for quilting.

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I’m going to hand quilt this with big stitches and fat thread. I can’t wait to get started!

You can see all the posts about the Controlled Chaos scrap quilt here.

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt – The Last Block!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - the last block!

Here it is! The very last block in the Controlled Chaos scrap quilt!

What You’ll Need

  • 52  two-inch squares in color A (shown in purple)
  • 48 two-inch squares in color B (shown in green)

Instructions

Use 1/4″ seam allowances for all sewing.

Press all the seams as you go. I’m pressing mine open for this quilt. I think it will make things simpler in the end.

Arrange your squares according to the diagram below.

block 20 template

For this block I worked in big chunks. I sewed things up in the following order. . .

  • Sew all your individual squares into pairs of matching colors. You should have 26 purple pairs and 24 green pairs.
  • Sew the purple pairs into 2 x 2 squares.
  • Pull out four of those purple squares. Sew two green pairs to opposite sides of each purple square. Sew the remaining green pairs into eight 1 x 4 rectangles.
  • Sew these rectangles to the top and bottom of your purple squares, so that there’s a green ring around each of the four purple squares.
  • Sew the rest of your purple squares into one 2×10 rectangle and two 2 x 4 rectangles.
  • Sew a 2 x 4 purple rectangle between two purple/green squares. Repeat with the last 2 x 4 purple rectangle and the last two purple/green squares
  • Assemble your chunks in rows and sew the long 2 x 10 purple rectangle between your other two rows.

Finished!

Well – finished with the blocks. 🙂 I still need to join them all together with sashing strips between them and then quilt the whole thing. Here’s what it’s going to look like. . .

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt

I’ll have a tutorial showing how to do the sashing strips (there’s a little trick to that!) and then tutorials showing basic hand quilting, quilting without marking, and big stitch hand quilting. Yes – I’m going to spend the winter hand-quilting this beauty!

But all of that is going to have to wait just a little bit. I have a new and improved website that I’m really close to launching, so that’s taking a lot of my attention behind the scenes these days. It’ll be worth it! While you wait – finish all your blocks!

Remember – you don’t have to make your quilt the same size or number of blocks as my quilt. You can make fewer quilts for a crib size, or repeat some of the designs in different colors (or make up your own additions!) for a larger quilt. Mine is going to be just the right size for curling up on the couch. 🙂

Click here for all the Controlled Chaos posts.

Happy piecing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt – Block #19

Controlled Chaos scrap quilt - block 19

Here’s block #19 in the Controlled Chaos Quilt! Just one more block to go!

What You’ll Need

  • 68  two-inch squares in color A (shown in yellow)
  • 32 two-inch squares in color B (shown in pink)

Instructions

Use 1/4″ seam allowances for all sewing.

Press all the seams as you go. I’m pressing mine open for this quilt. I think it will make things simpler in the end.

Arrange your squares according to the diagram below.

Controlled Chaos scrap quilt - block 19

For this block I worked in big chunks. I sewed things up in the following order. . .

  • Sew all your individual squares into pairs of matching colors. You should have 34 yellow pairs and 16 pink pairs.
  • Sew the yellow pairs into two long 2 x 10 rectangles, two 2 x 6 rectangles, and one 2 x 2 square.
  • Sew the pink pairs into two 2 x 6 rectangles and two 2 x 2 squares.
  • Sew pink and yellow 2 x 2 squares into a pink/yellow/pink rectangle to form the middle of the pink “donut.”
  • Sew the pink 2 x 6 rectangles to the top and bottom of the pink/yellow/pink rectangle to finish the pink “donut.”
  • Sew the yellow 2 x 6 rectangles to the sides of the pink “donut.”
  • Assemble the final block by sewing long yellow 2 x 10 rectangles to the top and bottom of the pink “donut.”

That’s 19 blocks done. I can’t believe we’re down to the last one!

Controlled Chaos scrap quilt in progress

I’ll be on vacation next week, so look for the last Controlled Chaos block on Wednesday 8/5. I can’t wait!

Click here for all the Controlled Chaos posts.

Happy piecing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt – Block #18

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block 18

Here’s block #18 in the Controlled Chaos Quilt! There are only two left after this!

What You’ll Need

  • 64  two-inch squares in color A (shown in aqua)
  • 36 two-inch squares in color B (shown in red)

Instructions

Use 1/4″ seam allowances for all sewing.

Press all the seams as you go. I’m pressing mine open for this quilt. I think it will make things simpler in the end.

Arrange your squares according to the diagram below.

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block 18

For this block I worked in big chunks. I sewed things up in the following order. . .

  • Sew all your individual squares into pairs of matching colors. You should have 32 aqua pairs and 18 red pairs.
  • Sew the aqua pairs into large 4 x 4 squares. You’ll need four of them.
  • Sew the red pairs into 2 4×2 rectangles and 2 rows each 10 squares long.
  • Sew the long red rows together into one long rectangle 2 x 10 squares.
  • Sew one aqua block to one short red 2 x 4 rectangle and then to another aqua block. Repeat with the remaining aqua blocks and 2 x 4 red rectangles.
  • Assemble the final block by sewing an aqua/red row to the long red 2 x 10 rectangle and then to the last aqua/red row.

That’s 18 blocks done. I can’t believe we’re down to the last two!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block 18

Here’s what I calculated I’ll need to finish the quilt. I’m going to use a grey solid – I’m looking for a nice slate color. I’ll need. . .

  • 1 1/4 yards for the sashing
  • 5 yards for the backing
  • 3/4 yard for the binding

I usually use Cuddle Fleece to back my quilts, but I want to hand quilt this one and I think the Cuddle Fleece will be too thick for that, so I’m going to use the same grey fabric. I’m going to big stitch quilt in a lot of different colors – it should make pretty speckling on the back and they’ll show up nicely on the solid.

I’ll be back next week with the penultimate block!

Click here for all the Controlled Chaos posts.

Happy piecing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt – Block #17

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block 17

Here’s block #17 in the Controlled Chaos Quilt!

What You’ll Need

  • 48  two-inch squares in color A (shown in orange)
  • 52 two-inch squares in color B (shown in green)

Instructions

Use 1/4″ seam allowances for all sewing.

Press all the seams as you go. I’m pressing mine open for this quilt. I think it will make things simpler in the end.

Arrange your squares according to the diagram below.

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block 17

For this block I worked in columns. I sewed things up in the following order. . .

  • Sew all your individual squares into pairs of matching colors. You should have 24 orange pairs and 26 green pairs.
  • Sew the orange squares into columns – each 2 blocks x 8 blocks.
  • Add a green pair to the top and bottom of each orange column.
  • Sew the remaining green pairs into 4 strips, each 10 blocks long.
  • Assemble the final block by alternating green columns with the columns that have the orange in them.

That’s 17 blocks done – just 3 more to go. THREE!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - 17 block finished, 3 to go

Did I mention just three blocks left? I’d better do the math and figure out how much fabric to order for the sashing and the back. I’ll include that info with next week’s block. 🙂

Click here for all the Controlled Chaos posts.

Happy piecing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt – Block #16

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block #16

Here’s block #16 in the Controlled Chaos Quilt!

What You’ll Need

  • 36  two-inch squares in color A (shown in red)
  • 64 two-inch squares in color B (shown in light blue)

Instructions

Use 1/4″ seam allowances for all sewing.

Press all the seams. I’m pressing mine open for this quilt. I think it will make things simpler in the end.

Arrange your squares according to the diagram below.

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block #16

For this block I worked (mostly) in rows. I sewed things up in the following order. . .

  • Sew all your individual squares into pairs of matching colors. You should have 18 red pairs and 32 blue pairs.
  • Pair up the red pairs and sew them up into squares – each square is four red blocks.
  • Alternate those red squares with blue pairs to create the three rows in the block that have red squares in them.
  • Sew the remaining 20 blue pairs into 4 strips, each with ten blue squares.
  • Assemble the final block by alternating blue rows with the rows that have the red squares in them.

That’s 16 blocks done – just 4 more to go!

Controlled Chaos Scrap Quilt - block #16

I love how it’s coming together! And I feel like I’m so close to finishing!

Click here for all the Controlled Chaos posts.

Happy piecing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!