Scraps Happen, Part I

When I mentioned recently that I was making a basket to hold scraps as I work on a project, my blogging friend Elizabeth asked how I decide what to do with the scraps.  This first post will be about how I design scrap quilts; the second in the series will be about how I use inspiration from other quilters; the third will be about how I modify published patterns for scrap quilts.

My first improvised scrap quilt was made close to 20 years ago.  I absolutely just starting sewing scraps together and kept it up until I had a collection of blocks.  The scraps were all from an Amish-style quilt I had made, which kept the blocks cohesive.

improvisational blocks

I then added 2 shades of yellow for sashing.

improvisational quilt

Nothing Is Wasted, my first improvisational quilt, 2001-2002

Using scraps from a single project is one way to be sure the scraps all play well together, assuming the fabrics were well coordinated in the original project.  After making the quilt below for Modern Quilts Unlimited with some yummy Cotton Couture fabrics provided by Michael Miller…

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

I started sewing all my tiny scraps together and added a tiny paper-pieced star to make a donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

scrap quilt

Confetti Star, 20″ x 20″, 2014.  Some of these pieces finish less than 1/4″ square

I then started combining scraps of a single color to make blocks.  I called them “slabs”, since the idea of making single-color scrap blocks came from Cheryl Arkison (though hers are much more orderly than mine).  Here is one example of a quilt made from these single-color blocks:

On at least one occasion I decided a collection of yellow and orange scrap blocks were booooring, so I cut them up and inserted some bright blue before combining them in a quilt:Improvisational quilt, orange and blue quilt

Sometimes I am “forced” to design a new quilt because the scrap bins are overflowing.  When the strip bins got out of hand last spring, I designed this quilt.  The idea of putting a circle in the alternate blocks came from my friend Jerri.  The triangle blocks were because I have a 60 degree triangle ruler 🙂

Machine applique of these circles was done after the quilting, so there was no need for further stabilizer

On another occasion, some friends and I had way too many 2.5″ blocks, so we developed these blocks and set them on point.  That quilt hung around for a long time “needing something”.  Eventually I added a central motif, and here it is:

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them

Another design process I like to use is to simply fill a piece of batting with scraps.  For the table runners shown below, I selected a group of fabrics for the top and a piece of backing fabric about 6″ longer and wider than the finished runner.  I spray basted the batting to the backing, then started filling the space on the batting with pieces of fabric from my collection. I didn’t sew them down until I had a whole section done, since this type of designing involves cutting off bits here and there to keep edges even.

modern table runner

Here is one of the samples for my improvised table runner class

improvisational quilt

I have taught this method as a class, but it proved to be too unstructured for some people, who really just wanted to make my runner.  I continue to use the method for myself but have not attempted to teach it to others again!

So, in response to the question of my process for designing scrap quilts, it’s really just “by the seat of my pants”.  I do start with a collection of fabrics I like together, but otherwise it’s sew first, plan later.  What I’m not showing, of course, is all the “fizzles” that got thrown out along the way!

Please stay tuned for Part II, scrap quilts inspired by other quilters.  And go visit Elizabeth, who inspired this post!

Teaching Quilt As You Go

I recently had the privilege of teaching Quilt-As-You-Go (QAYG) techniques to a nice bunch of quilters at Studio Stitch in Greensboro.  Here’s the summary:

Georgia Bonesteel’s QAYG method is the first one I learned, many years ago.  I brought along a queen-sized quilt I made using the method to show.  I demonstrated QAYG this way, and we all agreed to go on to something easier!

I made this Jewel Box quilt many years ago using Georgia Bonesteel’s QAYG method

Marti Michell’s method for quilting 1/3 of a large quilt at a time seems much easier and I demonstrated it.  You can find out more about it from her book Machine Quilting in Sections or from her demos on YouTube.

The class sample used another common QAYG method, constructing the blocks and quilting them at the same time.

The class was structured so that students could make the class sample if they wanted, or could bring any pattern they chose.  Three people brought other patterns and we worked out how to use those with the QAYG method.  Everyone made a lot of progress on a quilt during class!

Two quilters brought fairly complex patterns and got a good start on their blocks:

One quilter wanted to learn QAYG so she could do something with a group of blocks she inherited:

A couple of quilters brought scraps from dresses they had made for their children back when they were little:

And one quilter brought a jelly roll and coordinating fabric, enabling her to make rapid progress toward her own version of the class sample quilt:

If you want more information about the class sample shown above, the post about it is here.

Another UFO Bights the Dust!

I’m making a concerted effort to get rid of more UFOs (UnFinished Objects) this year. Of course, the real challenge is to avoid creating new ones!

This is the third time I’ve made the Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane Designs.  This shows how much I love the design–usually I make any pattern only once.  Here are the previous quilts:

And here is the completed UFO, ready to be donated at the next retreat with my donation quilt group:

Quilt Stats

Pattern: Lombard Street by Sassafras Lane.  This is the smallest of 3 sizes.

Finished size:  39.5″ x 43.5″

Fabric is scraps for the triangles and solid from stash for the background and binding.

Pieced by me, though it took over a year.

Quilted by me.

If you want to make one, you can get your own copy of the Lombard Street pattern here.

Kraft-Tex Baskets

When I finish a quilt, I cut the scraps into usable sizes.  If there’s enough for strips, I cut them and store them in bins by width.  If there are chunks that make good squares for the next scrap quilt (I always have at least one in progress), I cut those and toss them in a pile for use the next time I have a scrap quilt day.scrap block, slabs, scrap quilt

About those piles…it’s easy for the studio to be a mess, so I thought I should have a basket to hold the scrap quilt pieces until I’m ready to make the blocks!  I found a free pattern by Noodlehead that makes baskets in two sizes; you can get it here.

I made the baskets out of some of the Kraft-Tex sent to me by P&B when I agreed to be a Kraft-Tex ambassador.  The patterns have only the corner seams, which are 1/4″, so they worked out very well for Kraft-Tex.  For the smaller one, I did not use any interfacing, but for the larger one I used fusible interfacing as instructed.  Yes, it fused to the Kraft-Tex just fine.  I ironed from the interfacing side, using a press cloth, and it adhered to the Kraft-Tex without difficulty.

I made another one of the larger baskets, adding a handle, and am thinking of hanging it in the laundry room to hold stray socks.  (Although, really, does a missing sock ever show up, or is this a futile plan?)  This picture better shows the lovely color of the Kraft-Tex, which is one of the newer pre-washed offerings.

One final benefit of these baskets–they were fully washable. I have washed Kraft-Tex  in the past, and it came out just fine.   Now to organize some scraps!

Serendipity Quilt

I love this quilt because it gets rid of both a UFO and some scraps!

I had this great backing fabric with all the color names you can imagine written on it, and I had just finished backing a quilt with it. Did NOT want to put the scraps in a scrap drawer if I could help it–those are overflowing!

Blocks finish 6″, so this is an 18″ square section to show fabrics

At the same time, I had these great little sew-and-flip stars from a block swap and needed to do something with them. Serendipity!

Here is a single block showing the quilting:Here is the finished quilt:

QUILT DETAILS

Name: Serendipity

Finished size: 42” x 42”

Alternate blocks are Windham Fabrics Modern Hand fabric

Sew and flip stars from a group swap

Designed, made, and quilted by me

Current Series: Blue Ridge

My first Blue Ridge quilt just returned from the Vermont Quilt Festival and will next go to the Asheville Quilt show.

art quilt

Meanwhile, Maria Shell published a tutorial on how she makes flying geese blocks for her quilts, so of course I had to try it.The result is Blue Ridge II.

The colors of the quilt blended with the colors of my chimney, where I stuck it up to be photographed

In case a viewer doesn’t get why there is a red triangle among the earth-sky-water tones, I backed the quilt with cardinal fabric 🙂 The fabric is from Cotton + Steel in 2018, before they left RJR.

The quilt is faced using the technique from Terry Aske’s tutorial, which worked very well.  Here are the quilt stats:

Blue Ridge II

  • 28.5 inches wide, 26.5 inches tall
  • The fabrics are batik scraps left from other projects
  • The backing is from RJR, a Cotton and Steel fabric from 2018
  • The piecing was inspired by Maria Shell’s tutorial on flying geese (link above)
  • The facing was done using Terry Aske’s tutorial (link above)
  • Quilt was pieced and quilted by me.  The batting is Quilter’s Dream Cotton, Request loft.

 

 

Little Green Man Quilt

This block has been floating around on Pinterest for some time, and I really like it so It’s been on my to-do list.

This is a copy from Pinterest, where the block has been widely shared without attribution

I don’t like to borrow things without attribution, so I went in search of just who designed this.  Luckily, my friend Elizabeth was in a bee that used this block, so I learned from her blog that the block was designed by Kylie Kelsheimer.  A friend of Elizabeth’s located the original post for her through the wayback machine.  You can find Elizabeth’s post about all this here (you’ll have to scroll down quite a bit) and the original pattern here.  I see from Elizabeth’s latest post that the pattern is now available through PayHip, but that was not the case when I first investigated it a year ago and started this project.

Which brings me to why I changed it all up.  The original block is small and paper pieced–not my style!  I wanted to make it big and make the stars wonky.  Therefore, the instructions here are NOT for Kylie’s block, though the idea is based on her original block as noted above.  In fact, the block as shown on Pinterest is really 4 blocks, each rotated so that they fit together as shown in the pin.

I drew the block with Electric Quilt so that it finishes 18″ square.  Here it is showing fabrics.

My wonky star block, drawn with Electric Quilt 8

And here is the base block in case you want to make it yourself:

Star base block, drawn with Electric Quilt 8

Here is my tutorial on making sew-and-flip stars, in case you’ve never done it before.

As you can see, I substituted my Little Green Man for 4 of the blocks–those would be the 4 in the lower right-hand corner looking at my layout above.  You will see that I rotated the blocks various ways, which is how Little Green Man ended up in the lower left corner after I substituted him in the lower right.

You can find my instructions for making the LIttle Green Man here.

And here is one of the finished wonky star blocks.

The finished quilt:

QUILT DETAILS

Little Green Man

Finished size: 54” x 72”

A variety of fabrics from different manufacturers

The pattern is outlined in the blog above, but is not available commercially

Quilted by Julia Madison, except for the Little Green Man block, which she left for me because I wanted to avoid any extra holes in the Kraft-Tex I used for applique.

Now, does anyone else recall the “Little Green Man” song from the 1950s?

Tutorial: DIY Gift Card Wrap With Kraft-Tex

We’ve been doing recyclable wraps for many of our gifts for years now, so I decided it was time for the gift cards to have their own recyclable presentation case as well. Here’s the first one.  I am a Kraft-Tex Ambassador, so I cut this from one of the free rolls of Kraft-Tex the folks at C&T sent to me for use in projects for my blog.

I took out a gift card and checked the size, then made a paper pattern 5″ x 7.5″.  I used a spool to round the corners and tested where I wanted the pocket to fold up and the flap to fold down.

I then cut a 5″ x 7.5″ rectangle from some yummy pre-washed Kraft-Tex. (The color is Madeira.) This is the first time I’ve used the Kraft-Tex that comes pre-washed, and it has a very pleasing visual and tactile texture.  I cut the Kraft-Tex with my rotary cutter as I would fabric, and it worked well.

I used the same spool and a pencil to mark rounded corners on the Kraft-Tex, then cut the corners with my good paper scissors.  Even though it sews like cloth, Kraft-Tex is a paper product, so it’s better to use good quality paper scissors to avoid dulling your fabric scissors.

To be sure the Kraft-Tex would fold evenly, I first scored it with my Hera marker then folded it along the score mark and pressed the fold by running the marker over the outside as well.  Note that the sharp point of the marker did make a mark in the material, so be careful.  The mark went into the fold, so it was no problem here.

I then sewed this gold metallic rick-rack (from a yard sale!) around the outside edge.  To do this, I lengthened the stitch on my machine to 3 (on Bernina) and sewed with a straight stitch along both edges, catching the points of the rick-rack.  It’s not a good idea to back-stitch on Kraft-Tex, so I just sewed a couple of stitches over at the finish so the start and finish overlapped.  I did treat the ends of the rick-rack, as well as the ends of the ribbon for the tie, with Fray Check, which dries clear and doesn’t show.  Here are pictures of both sides.

After the rick-rack was attached, I again folded along the lines I had scored previously and marked a spot on the middle of the lower flap that would form the pocket.  So, I made a tiny mark 2.5″ from each side of the piece and 1.5″ below the upper fold as a placement mark for the ribbon.

I cut an 18″ piece of 3/8″ wide ribbon and sewed it to the place where I’d put the dot.  To avoid making too many holes in the Kraft-Tex, I sewed it on with a little Z.  I then pulled the threads to the back where I tied them together to avoid having to back stitch.

Note that the ribbon has to be attached before the pocket is sewn to the back along the sides!  At that point, I checked to be sure the pouch would be the right size for the card when I eventually sewed the pocket up.  Yep, so far, so good.

After attaching the ribbon, I folded the carrier shut along both fold lines and pulled the ribbon out straight to the sides so I could see where to put the holes for the ribbon to come through.  (It may help to clip the flaps down with paper clips to hold it shut for this step.)  I made a little dot 2″ in from each outer edge so that I could punch holes 1″ apart for the ribbon to come through.  I made the holes with an ordinary hole punch.

Then it was time to sew up the sides of the pocket so it would hold the card.  I folded up the pocket and zig-zagged over the rick-rack to stitch the pocket down to the back of the carrier.

Done!  I threaded the ribbon through the holes and tied it in a bow!

And don’t forget to sign your work!

 

Three Bag Patterns That Were Worth Paying For

Just as there are lots of great free bag patterns, there are many excellent patterns for sale on the internet. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1. Divided Basket.  This is another pattern from Noodlehead, who also designed one of my favorite free patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the divided basket is cute.  It was just right for a diaper basket for the changing table for my grandson.  It is available here.

fabric basket

Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

2. Clothesline bag/basket.  This pattern is from Indygo Junction and was much easier to do than I had anticipated.  You can read my review of it here, or buy it here.

3. Sweetpea Pods, by Lazy Girl Designs..  This little bag was so.much.fun that I made more than a few!  Once you learn the zipper trick it is easy, quick, and so satisfying.  I’ve given away many of them and I keep a couple on hand for when I need a little gift for someone.  (Of course it should contain chocolate!).  I even gave one to a male friend, and rather than ask “what the heck” he said he’d use it to carry his guitar picks!  The pattern is available here.

And so you know I’m not just blowing sunshine, here’s one I thought was more trouble than it was worth, even though it is very, very cute (and was all over the internet for a while):

Which bag patterns do you recommend?

Linda Hahn: New York Beauty Expert (from Florida)

Linda Hahn is best know for her simplified method of making the New York Beauty block, one of quilting’s more elaborate and spectacular-looking designs.  She describes her New York Beauty method as, “one pin, no puckers, no cussing, and they come out perfect.”  Gotta love that!

Linda’s First New York Beauty Book

Linda also has a number of lovely individual patterns, including some that have nothing to do with New York Beauty. (Her patterns are available through QuiltWoman.com)  I have enjoyed making and teaching her Bermuda Sunrise pattern, so I looked her up while at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium, and she graciously agreed to an interview.

Bermuda Sunrise, one of Linda’s earlier designs that I enjoyed making and teaching

Linda’s workshops now focus mostly on her New York Beauty techniques, since this is a challenging block that many quilters would like to make.  Currently her most popular workshop is called “Feeling Crabby”.

Linda has written multiple books published by AQS. Her latest, New York Beauty Electrified, is due out this month.

When I interviewed her, Linda took the unusual step of leaving the room for a few minutes so I could ask students in her workshop to give their honest opinions!  They were enthusiastic about her teaching and seemed to be enjoying “Feeling Crabby”.  They described Linda as an even-tempered instructor who “lets you do it your way but comes right away if you need help.”

Image from Linda’s iquilt class

Linda teaches all over the country as well as on cruises, but if you want her workshop and can’t find a convenient location, I noticed her New York Beauty instruction is also available through iquilt, the AQS online class site.

Now that I’ve seen more of her beautiful work and met her, I want to take a New York Beauty class with Linda.  I went to her site, and she really, really, does have classes in a variety of locations!  You can find her schedule on her website.  I have enjoyed her patterns (yes, I’ve made more than just the Bermuda Sunrise!) and look forward to trying those elaborate spiky blocks.

Have you made New York Beauty blocks yet?