Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let's Talk About Scraps

     I have been thinking a lot about scraps lately. I have always considered my self to be a scrap quilter. In the beginning, I used that term to indicate that my quilts had many different fabrics in them. Mostly, I wanted to put in as many as I could possibly fit. I have always felt that it gave the viewer a more interesting quilt to look at. It made the quilt more versatile in terms of where you could use it. I had the idea that it was also more economical since I could use some fabric from my stash instead of buying it all for each quilt-though sometimes I bought four times as much as it would take to make a quilt as I obsessively collected different prints for a perspective project.

     As time went on, I had more and more actual scraps to work with. And let me tell you, it is true what they say. If you proclaim yourself to be a scrap quilter, you will get lots of free fabric from people who do not want to deal with their scraps, and who will give you theirs because "I know you will use it".

     After much trial and error, I feel like I have finally found a system for sorting, storing, and using my scraps that is working pretty well for me. I used to try to sort by color, or at least types of prints, such as neutrals, batiks, traditional prints. I gave all that up because it was the more types of fabrics I was collecting, the more complex this system got. Now I only sort by size. I start with this large basket.

     There it is, living underneath my cutting table. As an aside, before I saw everyone buying risers to raise the height of their cutting table, I  nailed a piece of plywood to a couple of pieces of 2 by 4, and set that on top of this re-purposed desk. It is not very fancy carpentry, but I like the resulting nook underneath for setting rulers out of the way. That drawer is also handy for holding rulers, extra blades, cutters, etc.

     Back to the original subject. As you may have already guessed, as I cut my pieces, I throw the useable scraps in that basket under the desk. For me, it has to measure at least an inch to be considered a useable scrap. Everyone has their limits. If I am not going to end up with at least as much showing on the surface of the quilt, as is going to wind up on the back of the quilt in seam allowance, I'm not interested in keeping it.

     Next, I have one of those reusable grocery bags that lives in my car. It contains a Ziploc bag for each of the following categories:

*Small bits- 2 1/2" or less

*Medium bits- over 2 1/2" to 6"

*Large pieces- anything that is too big for medium bits, but smaller than a fat quarter

*Small triangles-roughly the same size as small bits

*Large triangles-the rest

*Small sewn together-small pieces that are already sewn together, either because they are small, leftover units, or because they are leftover from strip piecing

*Large sewn together-This is usually from a strip set that I didn't entirely cut up. These previously sewn together units are very useful for improvisational piecing. I find they do so much to help me make my potholders interesting. 

And then we have the strips. I have a separate bin for each of the following:

*Smaller than an 1 1/2"

*1 1/2"-I have a separate bin for these  because I have made several quilts just from 1 1/2" strips. I do separate these into color families.

*1 3/4"- 2"

*2 1/4"-2 1/2"

*Larger than 2/12"

     I load the grocery bag with scraps from the basket, these Ziploc bags, and a small measuring device, and leave all of this in the car at all times. There are certain places that I go, that I find it convenient to pull out this bag, and using the measuring tool, sort some of the scraps into the proper Ziploc. One such place is when I work my volunteer shifts at the town library. After I have swept, dusted, and put away books, I bring out my fabric bag. Another place is at free concerts in the park. When I go to a friends house to sew, if I get frustrated with the project I am working on, or maybe even go as far as I can on it, I pull out this bag.You get the idea. As the bag empties, I refill it from the basket, which is always getting filled as I cut out various projects. As the Ziploc bags fill, I dump them into bins of that respective category. 

     When  I am getting ready to start a project, I go to the bin that holds the size of pieces that I need, and pull out pieces that are the colors that I want. I finished putting this system together a couple of summers ago. Since then I have gotten fabrics from these bins for several projects that are in process, but here are 2 quilts near completion, that came all, or mostly from these scrap bins.

     This quilt top came ENTIRELY out of my strip bins. It is not completely finished, I am still in the process of sewing down the binding. This photo was taken before it was quilted. Wow-a free quilt top made just from what I had laying around the house!

       Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going to a quilting retreat. I got the center of this quilt put together there. I just have to figure out what to do with the corners. I think I know what the borders will be. I bought the focus fabric, and the stripe, but everything else came from the scrap bin. 

     It is such a feeling of getting something for nothing to make quilts from what I have on hand. And, for those who like going scrappy, it really broadens your fabric choices! 

     I have many lovely photos that I took while at the retreat, I want to share with you, but I will save that for the next post.

     Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 10, 2014


     I cannot believe that in the last post showing the work from the class that I taught in Arkansas, I forgot to show you a photo of the sample quilt! It is called Southern Winter.

     I finished another project this winter, but life has been so busy lately, I never got around to posting that either. I finally got Kimberly's graduation quilt quilted. I actually quilted this one myself.

     I hope your memory is doing a better job than mine has been lately! Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fun in Arkansas

     Spring has sprung in Georgia! (intermittently) We are still having some occasional cold weather. Last weekend was pretty nippy. It got don't in the 20s one night. Can you hear that? It is the sound of my more northern cousins and friends laughing hysterically at my whining about temperatures in the 20s, but I maintain that it is all a matter of what you are accustomed to, and equipped for-and, it was almost April after all. Today I played a tennis match. It was very overcast, and it wouldn't have been nearly so cold if it had not been so windy.The rest of my team looked more like they were watching a football game, wrapped in blankets as they were sitting on the bleachers. Anyway, we barely won the first set, then got rained out, so we will have to finish Tuesday evening.

      Despite all that, it is warming up around here for the most part, and this means that the community garden is getting started, and our little town volunteer library has also opened up. We close for the winter, since we have no heat. I am the one who schedules the volunteers. We only open on Saturdays, but it is nice for our towns residents to have a place to come and borrow books close by. As for the garden, it is just a bit early to plant summer veggies, but I signed up 3 new gardeners in the last week.  It will soon be time to plant those tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, etc. 

     The point of all that is to tell you what I have been doing, along with weaving a rug, and working on a quilt related project that I can't share yet, that has been keeping my from posting. So, this post is way later than I would have liked, but I still wanted to share the photos from the class I taught in Arkansas last month. I always love to see the color combinations, and interpretations of others!

     Such a fun group of women. I really had a great time with them. 

      So that is what I have been up to lately. Thanks for stopping by!