Tag Archives: fabric scraps

Orphans No More

If you’ve been making quilted objects for a while you’ve probably built up a pile of sewn together orphan bits. They may have been surplus to the final project, made as trials, cut off from tops because they just didn’t work, or built up from smaller bits. If you say you don’t have such a pile you are either in denial or ruthless in pitching anything left over from a project.

As I cleared out unwanted stuff from my creating space I reviewed my saved bits and bobs, tossed some stuff, and set out to use as much of the remainder as I could. I ended up with three quilt tops.

“I Like Red” was the first and most difficult to make because my remainders had strong personalities and different styles. If you’ve ever tried to make a coherent quilt from blocks donated by several makers you are familiar with my problem. When I didn’t like an effect I simply fused another piece of fabric down rather than rip seams.

Realized too late that the large quarter circle is actually a dark navy, not black. Oh well.

“Dreaming of Spring” is built around leftover simplified tree blocks I made some years ago. I made more trees and put together a soft palette that included lovely painted lavender fabric. I used dyed damask and hand painted and printed cloth as well. Now that I see it on the screen I may make more changes.

“High Summer” allowed me to use painted pole wrapped shibori fabric, plus a dyed damask napkin and a few pieces of Marcia Derse fabric. It’s still a work in progress so it may change.

After I began these tops I read a blog post by Maria Shell about her Kitchen Sink Quilting workshop, which she is offering online. It’s all about using leftovers. Well, I’ve often been self-taught.

Mine are certainly not serious art quilts, but they allowed me to make “someday I’ll use this” happen. And my orphans have found families. They’ve even fought with each other, just like most families.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Sometimes I Give Away Scraps

Recently I had the novelty of giving away scraps of fabric rather than accumulating them. A local theater costume designer wanted to make a cotton patchwork dress for a character named Scraps in a play called “Talking With.” He asked me and another quilter for donations as he doesn’t use colorful cottons.  With them he created a full skirted dress and headpiece.

The mob cap is attached to Raggedy Ann yarn hair and a plastic mask covered with fabric. As you can see, the costume shop is jam packed with stuff. I was happy to donate some of my fabric as this designer has given me many scraps, mostly of sparkly, shiny fabric.


Filed under Everything Else

My Scrap-a-thon

I store my fabric scraps in containers of big chunks, little chunks, and strips. I have been known to rummage in trash cans after a group sewing session. My parents were children of the great depression so I absorbed the lesson to save leftovers by their example. When I noticed that I couldn’t fit the lid on my container of less than 1.5 inch wide strips I decided it was time to create fabric out of those strips. (I also have containers of 1,5 inch, 2 inch, and 2.5 inch strips.)

Here’s what was left after I pulled out all the strips I thought I could use. These leftovers are mostly multi-colored prints that don’t play well with others and want to hog the show. Some of the strips even ended up in the trash.

First I sorted the strips into color families and values.

Then I sewed the strips together. I’ll treat these as whole pieces of cloth when I use them, even though some (such as that pink in the purple) contain zingers.

Of course, I found other candidates for cloth making in my “to be filed” pile, so I sewed them together, too.

My boxes of small chunky scraps are next up for fabric creation. I have an idea to make a crazy quilt bullseye piece for an Ohio SAQA challenge. Wow, I sure have a lot of blue and blue-green scraps.

In case you think I’m a bit obsessive about scrap hoarding collecting, check out this quilter’s organization system.


Filed under Commentary, In Process, Techniques

I’ve Created A Monster

You may remember I planned to do scrappy piecing this year. My thought was a little bit each week, kind of an ongoing project. Well…

I now have one piece finished, one ready for quilting, and one almost done. They have been my passion for the past two weeks. Oh, I did some quilting on the birdies and the girls’ seascape, but I kept getting up from my sewing machine to tweak my designs a little bit more. This was so not my plan.

I’m puzzled how I created such different designs from my black/gray and yellow scrap bins. Two are rectangular while one has diagonals. I adopted an arbitrary rule that I had to go with the basic shape of the scrap, though I could trim it.

mostly-black-and-blue“Mostly Black and Blue” is Mondrian-ish with the pops of red and yellow. The mottled gray fabric is from my “Moonrise” quilt. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the leftovers from earlier projects.


“Getting Brighter” is still in progress as I keep adding little squares like stepping stones across the surface. I cheated and used yardage for the black speckled linen and gray and cream print areas. The photo’s angle is off as the piece is high up on my design wall.


“Pointing Toward Lavender” has the very last of some treasured McKenna Ryan and Lonni Rossi fabrics, plus hand dyed damask. I had issues with the damask stretching during quilting so I ended up starching that fabric heavily, which I should have done in the first place. Restitching the quilting after starching solved the problem, though I abandoned my idea to change line direction a lot.

Since this isn’t a piece I’ll be entering in shows I decided to try another facing method. I found that mitered facing corners aren’t the best method for me.  Better to learn that now.

I think I may make my scrap sewing a monthly, rather than a weekly, project. My trips to the fabric candy store obviously need to be rationed.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

A Scrappy New Year

For 2017 I’ve been mulling over the advisability of a recurring project. Some quilters embroider a weekly leaf, while others do a daily sketch or photo. It’s a way to keep one’s hand in, creatively, and to have a project that can be completed quickly or is portable.

I’ve thought about a weekly collage, as I’ve been collecting pictures from magazines. I’ve also thought about a weekly shape created from my small scraps boxes. To clarify, I have boxes for large and small scraps. These are separate from my fabric strips boxes. Almost all my scraps are roughly sorted by color and size. Some of you may know Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s 15 minutes of play approach to making new fabric from scraps. No pressure, just sew.

To try out a scrappy regular project I spent the day after New Years sewing small scrap bits together. My session was supposed to last only about 30 minutes, but I didn’t come up for air until 4 hours had passed. And that took me only through my black and yellow scraps.


Here are my yellow scraps sorted by value and the scraps I finally was able to part with in the trash.

yellow-and-blackI started in separate black and yellow color groups, but then began to combine them. I have nothing in mind, but will replenish my parts department.

I can see where such a side project could take over all my time unless I exercise much self discipline. It’s all the fun and none of the headaches of patchwork. Have any of you tried such daily/weekly tasks?


Filed under Commentary, In Process, Inspiration

The Week of Mindless Sewing

Some of Christmas week has been dedicated to cookie making and sewing strips of scrap fabric together. My self imposed deadline for using up scraps is fast approaching (December 31!) so I’m going for quantity and power sewing. Thanks to Mary and Patch I decided to make a string quilt to use up much some of my hoard. Maryline’s quilt is a lovely color graded piece, while mine will smack more of I had it so I used it.

Luckily, many of my scraps were already sorted by color, though they had to be cut into strips. The rest of the scraps I’m using were already cut into strips but not sorted by color.  I listened to a radio show on Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday as I sorted my colors.


I tore out pages from an old phone book as my block foundations. Two cuts with a rotary cutter (using an old blade) gave me 8 inch squares. Phone book paper tears out easily, plus I can feel virtuous for reusing the books.

A run through my scraps revealed that I have the least amount of green scraps. This doesn’t surprise me as until recently I haven’t used much green. I do have lots of blue. I am short on lights and pastels as well. My guess is I’ll have 14 to 16 light/pastel blocks and 36-40 medium to dark blocks. There will also be some wild card blocks.

Originally I had hoped to get 80 7.5 inch blocks out of my scraps for a 60 by 75 inch quilt before any borders. My goal was to use up scraps that were already close to the strip sizes I need. I may have to rethink that plan unless I want to cut up my larger scraps. That would make even more scraps. By my latest calculation I’ll be lucky to eke out 60 blocks from what I’ve cut up.

BlockTwinsHere are the twins created by my sewing so far. I need to add pastels to the mix.


Filed under In Process

It’s Raining Fabric

The other day I came home to find a package from Vicki Welsh propped by my front door. I chortled with glee as I ripped open the package, which I knew contained a bunch of hand dyed Catena fabric scraps I had won on Vicki’s blog.  Somehow she had managed to stuff all this fabric in a USPS priority mail envelope!  I’m impressed at her stuffing abilities since three days ago I barely fit two small (tiny even) quilts in the same size mailing envelope.


What especially delighted me were all these moody payne’s gray scraps.  I hope to make a quilt depicting moonlight reflected on clouds so these bits of fabric will be a great starting point.  I’ve been contemplating a gradient in these colors that Vicki offers in her Etsy shop.


But wait, there’s more.  Here’s a large pile of fabric rectangles Vicki had sewn together but hadn’t used.  And another pile of rectangles that hadn’t been sewn.


Then there are narrow strips of all sorts of colors.  What a range!

And, if that weren’t enough for one day, I happened to stop by the Friends of the Library shop and lucked into these two books, which cost me a total of $1.60, including tax.  I don’t think the Deb Karasik book had ever been opened.


Yup, if fabric is involved it’s easy to make me happy.  Thanks for making my day, Vicki.

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Filed under dyeing