There are patterns that I like because they seem to multiply steadily while you’re not watching and then quite suddenly you have a bunch of them. That’s exactly what happened with these blocks which I’ve heard called mile-a-minute blocks, crumb blocks or scrap blocks.
Some people create their mile-a-minute blocks by sitting down and sewing pieces of fabric together, building the block as they go…all in one sitting…and that works fine. It’s not what I do though.
I begin by sewing two fabrics of similar length together along one side. I sit with my scrap bin and do this again and again with multiple sets of similarly sized fabrics, just chain piecing sets of two fabrics together again and again. When I’m finished with that sewing session I cut the chain stitched units apart and add them to my “crumbs to be pressed” bin. The next time I have a few minutes to spare I take out the “crumbs to be pressed” bin and press the units. When they are pressed I add the pressed units to my “crumbs to be trimmed” bin. When I have a few minutes I pull out the “crumbs to be trimmed” bin and trim off the uneven edges. The trimmed units go into my “crumbs to be sewn” bin. When I have time I sew the units in my “crumbs to be sewn” bin together, pairing up units that are of similar size. This is when the blocks really begin to grow as I’m now sewing two sets of two fabrics together. When these units are finished being sewn they follow the same path through the bins going into the “crumbs to be pressed” bin and then the “crumbs to be trimmed bin” and finally back into the “crumbs to be sewn” bin.
Eventually what happens is that the piece resulting from sewing together pieced and pressed units becomes big enough to cut my 6 1/2″ square. I use a 6 1/2″ square ruler and cut the piece to 6 1/2″ square. The trimmed off portion, if it is larger than 1 inch by 1 inch goes back into the units to be sewn bin. The 6 1/2″ squares go into a bin to be used to make star blocks like this one made by my niece, Amiracle.
53 mile-a-minute blocks is enough to make 4 kid sized quilts when sashings and borders are added.
I find I really enjoy the mile-a-minute aka crumb blocks. It’s like getting bonus quilts because most of the fabric is scraps from other projects. Even the star points and the white background fabrics are generally leftovers from other projects that are cut down into the appropriate sizes for these blocks. I generally save fabric scraps that are larger than one inch square, which appeals to my waste not – want not mental tapes left over from childhood.
The piecing together of the scraps is kind of mindless…and fun…and the pressing and trimming is a good activity to do while talking on the phone, watching TV, or listening to an audio book.
The star block is one of my favorites as it is an easy block to make but one could use most any block pattern that had a large section. I’ve seen beautiful quilts made by setting the mile-a-minute blocks with alternate plain blocks or by adding sashing between the mile a minute blocks. I have a couple of new ideas that I am playing with for some of my mile-a-minute blocks. Hopefully I will have something new to show you soon on that front.
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