I'm halfway there...
This isn't the setting I'll be using, there are alternating blocks that are pieced a little bit differently. But you'll get to see that next month. I'll start the remaining 24 blocks this weekend. The good news is that the remaining blocks should go a little more quickly as I have already cut all my strips - and saved some leftovers.
While this counts as the fifth Pineapple quilt I've made, it is the first one that is a scrap quilt. Are you surprised? When I first got the book and ruler - by Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith... brilliant quilters, shopowners and all-around nice ladies - the fabric choices were a bit "limited". If you've been quilting less than fifteen years, you have no idea how good we have it now. Seriously! But that's a subject for another day.
As with the Log Cabin quilt that most folks say is the origin of the block, they're perfect for scraps and the design possibilities and variations are limitless. If you doubt that, search the International Quilt Study Museum collection for Pineapple or Windmill Blade quilts. Then do the same on Google Images, Flickr, and Pinterest. The variety is pretty amazing.
I'm sure you've seen the glorious French General version - titled Rendezvous - by Cathy at Quilting on Main Street. It's spectacular. Cathy did three terrific posts on her quilt, the Possibilities Pineapple Rule and her fabrics. It was hard not to scrap my scraps and copy this quilt... it isn't like I don't have any French General fabrics around. Nicole of Sister's Choice was inspired to make a similar version and she's blogged about the ruler as well.
Both used this ruler - and so did I.
First - pineapple quilts use a lot of fabric. A lot. With my blocks, a bit more than 1/3rd of each strip goes into the seam allowance. Most pineapple block methods have "some" waste, and some have a lot of waste. If you add up the strips required in the instructions for the Possibilities ruler, you'll see that one block uses just a little less than 1 fat quarter of fabric. That's right - figure using about 1 fat quarter for each 12" block. And depending on the method you choose to use, you'll either use a little bit less, or a little bit more.
There are essentially five ways to make a pineapple block. The first is to essentially "wing it". I'm not kidding! A few years ago, I read an account from a woman who said that's how the blocks were pieced. You sewed tiny strips and sort of "eye-balled" the corners as you went along.
The blocks can be paper-pieced - or foundation-pieced. Of those two, paper-piecing is the easiest because you can photo-copy your block onto foundation paper. I think paper-piecing provides far and away the best results because... well, it's paper-piecing. It's perfect. The only real drawback is that you're limited on the size block you can make. You can draft the rows to any width and you can use as many rows as you like, so long as your pieced block doesn't measure more than 8 1/2" in size. Years ago, I used to see foundation paper that measured 11" x 17" but I don't know if it is still available.
The third method is to piece the blocks using connector corners - flip-and-sew. Joanna of Fig Tree Quilts wrote a terrific pattern - Pineapple and Figs - and made several spectacular quilts using this method. No special rulers or templates required - just rectangles and squares. Joanna is brilliant when it comes to that sort of thing and the method is such that achieving great results is easily done. I think the only drawbacks are that the size isn't easily changed - unless you're as clever as Joanna is - and there is a little bit of waste with the fabric. I think it's also a bit harder to use the contents of your scrap basket.
The fourth method is using a technique developed by Anita Grossman Solomon of Make it Simpler. Anita has workshops - The Scrappy Pineapple - and books - Rotary Cutting Revolution - that demonstrate her techniques for cutting trapezoids and triangles using just a few rotary cuts. You don't need a special ruler and there isn't any wasted fabric. It's a terrific technique.
And then there is the Pineapple Rule by Possibilities. There are other pineapple ruler but I like this one. Okay, until a few weeks ago, I didn't even know there was another one but from what I've heard since, this one is better.
Using it isn't difficult, but it does take a little bit of practice to get the hang of it - where to line it up and so on. In addition to Cathy's excellent ruler tutorial, there is a YouTube video and an instruction sheet available as a PDF. file/printout. Once you do a row or two, I found that I settled into a very nice rhythm piecing the blocks. For each "row" - lights or medium/darks - I attached the strip to one side and pressed. Then I attached the strips to a second side and pressed, and I continued until all four sides were done. Then I trimmed the blocks. Then I started on the next row.
The challenge is keeping the strips even and the blocks square. But it also isn't difficult so long as you stitch evenly and you trim the corners carefully. The only other thing to mention with Pineapple blocks is that there will be some bias edges to deal with. It isn't something to worry about, you just need to remember the bias is there and not stretch, pull or do something to distort the block. But don't let that scare you off - these blocks really aren't as hard as they might look. I promise.
I did make a few changes to the "pattern" included with the instructions available online. You're surprised? First, I wanted my finished rows to be a little narrower than the 1" finished width. Mine finish at 3/4". But I had this mountain of scrap strips measuring 1 1/2" - a 1/4" wider than I needed them to be. So... should I trim the strips before I stitch them to the blocks? Or after? Either way, I was going to be trimming a lot of strips. So I went with after. That meant two "trimming" steps, but it really didn't add that much time. And having uniformly sized blocks was the welcome by-product of that.
I also chose to add an extra strip to the corners to make the corner triangles a little bit smaller - and a little bit less prominent.
I purposely went really, really, REALLY scrappy, and no, I didn't worry about value or shading when I joined strips. If there was even a little bit of contrast with color, value or pattern, that's all I needed.
The funny thing with these blocks is that as much as I love the traditional colors and fabrics, I really want to make a lighter, brighter, funkier Pineapple quilt. Since I need a "summer project" to entertain me, this just might be it. I haven't even finished the first one and I'm already planning the next Pineapple quilt. (Quilters. We're a twisted bunch.)
But first I need to finish this - my current weekend-just-for-fun-and-me project.
With a little luck, I might start on this pile tomorrow. After I finish a few other things... but I might get sidetracked enough to make one block. I'll let you know how that goes.