Monday, 6 January 2014

Use up your scraps in 2014! (Robot Bear Tutorial)

January seems to be all about using up scraps!  There is a sew along going on over on instagram using a square in square, like the fussy cut ones we've been making on Amanda's swap @ What the Bobbin, only bigger.  
There's a turorial for a 5" block at Red Pepper Quilts and there are piecing instructions on Instagram for a 12" one!  Amanda has opened round 4 of her swap of 4" paper pieced blocks here on Flickr too for anyone who wants to get involved in the swap.

Following on this scrappy theme, the Bee's I've joined this year are all about scraps and using up your stash.  It will be my turn to be Queen Bee in May for the Stash Bee Hive #10 and I've had an idea in the back of my head for a block that I just had to tackle over the weekend.  I should have been working on finishing some items for the 2013 Finish-A-Long but I just had to play with some scraps instead!  It was one of those things that gets in your head and won't go away until you pay attention to it.  So this is what's on the design wall today.  Meet scrappy Robot Bear!

He measures 10" x 16" finished and following is the tutorial if you want to make one or a whole family like this:
This would make a nice baby quilt about 36" square.  If anyone is interested, I'll happily do up a pattern. 

To make one block, you will need 14 various 2.5 squares of fabric for the bear and 1 2.5" square of background fabric.  Next you will need 2 rectangles of each of the following sizes:   6" x 2.5", 3" x 2.5" and 3.5" x 2.5". To make the HST, you will need 3 squares of bear fabric and 3 background squares 3" in size.

The ears are made from paper piecing scraps to the below squares:
The download for both ears, left and right are here and here.  If you haven't paper pieced before don't panic, it's not too bad once you get used to it.  There is an excellent free tutorial on Craftsy by Amy Gibson in the Block of the Month 2012.  The main thing is to get the first piece on right and use scraps or cut pieces slightly larger than you think you'll need!  Download the templates and print at actual size with no scaling. It should measure 4.5" square when printed.

To start with, look at the template and see that there are 5 sections per ear.  To make the ear we need to place the material 1 (background material) under the section named A1 and make sure it covers this section completely and extends beyond by at least 1/4".  We will be trimming, so bigger is better!
The printed template will be facing us and the fabric will be placed on the back of this (side with no text).
When placing this first piece place it right side facing up and wrong side facing the paper.  We do this for the first piece only.  If you have fabric glue you can use that to secure the first piece in place or secure it with a pin.
Then add the piece for section A2, which is fabric 2, the fabric chosen for the robot bear's ear.  Chose a piece of fabric that covers the section completely with at least 1/4" seam allowance all around.  Holding up to the light can help see if your fabric scrap is big enough.
Place fabric for A2 right sides together.  The wrong side of the fabric is now facing up.  (We will be sewing along the line marked on the other side and flipping this piece open to cover the section).
For paper piecing, use a smaller stich length than usual to give the seam more strength and help it from pulling when removing the paper later.  I use 1.5 normally.  Some people like to pre-sew along the marked lines to weaken them but my machine doesn't like sewing with the needle unthreaded, so I skip this step and as long as I'm careful, I can get the paper to come away easily later.
Sew along the line between A1 and A2, making sure you sew all the way along this line.
Check the added piece of fabric has covered the full section when flipped back before trimming.  To trim, bend the paper back out of the way along the sewn line and trim the excess leaving 1/4 seam.
Continue with fabric sections A3 as before and sew along line between A2 and A3.  Keep going until all 5 sections are complete.
Don't worry about bits sticking out over the edges.   They will be trimmed at the last step.

Following the dotted outer line trim away excess.
From the right side you now have one perfect ear block.  Repeat for the remaining ear and set aside.
To make up the body, we need to make some Half Square Triangles (HST).  Take the 3" squares and lay one coloured bear square right sides togther with a background square.  Draw a diagonal line corner to corner and sew 1/4" either side of the line.

 Cut along the diagonal line and press open.  Trim to 2.5" square.
All the parts for the block are now available to sew in sections.
For the head section, sew 1 square of background fabric 2.5" to one bear coloured fabric and sew the two ears to either side.  Remove the paper backing.
The arms on the outside are made up of 1 rectangle 6" x 2.5" of background fabric, 1 2.5" square bear fabric and 1 rectangle 3" x 2.5".  Make 2.
The foot is made up of 1 piece of background fabric 3.5" x 2.5" sewn to 1 square of bear fabric 2.5".  Make 2 and sew together joining with the bear fabrics in the centre.
The body section is as shown above sewn together in rows.  To join all 5 sections, add the arms first.  The bears hand should be offset 1/2" above the tummy section as shown below.  I use a few pins to keep the section in place after measuring.

The head nests with the top of the body and the feet should be placed, so that the seam line matches with the middle of the centre square, (1" from the centre squares sides).  To trim the whole block, start at the bottom and place the ruler along the top of the last row and trim at 2.25" to the bottom of the block as shown.
Trim the top of the block so the total length is 16.5".  To trim the width, align the ruler with the centre of the block and trim at 5.25".  Do the same for the other side.
And there we have it a finished scrappy Robot Bear!
I hope you have fun with this block.  Please let me know if you try it - I'd love to hear about it!

Linking up to Design Wall Monday and
stitch by stitch


  1. This is such a cute block! Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial with us.

  2. Cute! I like to paper piece.

  3. Super cute!! I love how you've used both PP as well as traditional piecing for the block!

  4. Thanks for the mention :) Love the colors you chose for those blocks. The cool colors are so refreshing :)

  5. What a cute block! This is absolutely adorable!


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