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.

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?

Kraft-Tex Appliqué ! Woo!

Appliqué and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the look of appliqué sometimes, and I’ve tried several methods, from needle turn to fusible and most things in between.  No method is perfect.

And just to show that I really have tried, here are some samples:

Machine appliqué of these circles was done after the quilting, so the backing and batting acted as stabilizer

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them after doing the rest of the quilting, again eliminating the need for stabilizer

The snowmen and noses were a combination of fusible appliqué and Eleanor Burns’s appliqué with fusible interfacing.  I have washed this and it held up fine.

Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue Visits Quilt in a Day was done with Eleanor Burns’s method using fusible interfacing to produce turned edges

So, when I wanted a space alien to go on a quilt recently, I gave the appliqué process some serious thought.  This fabric is part of the background for a wonky star quilt I’m making, and I wanted one block to be a space alien to go with the theme.

Unfortunately, I have not saved the selvage from this fabric, so I don’t know who made it

Then I had an idea (drum roll, please).  The folks at C&T recently asked me to be an ambassador for Kraft-Tex, and since I was already a Kraft-Tex user and had blogged about it 3 times, I agreed.  They sent me some free Kraft-Tex!

I chose Marsala, Denim (hand dyed and prewashed), and natural prewashed for my free Kraft-Tex

Actually, I had already bought this black Kraft-Tex for another project, but I just want you to know that, for the first time ever, I have accepted a donated product for use in my blog.

I’ll have a tutorial on this whole quilt when it’s finished, but here’s an overview of how I used Kraft-Tex to avoid traditional appliqué .  I cut out the alien’s head using one of my circle cutters and attached it to the block with washable glue stick. Then I cut the outline from black Kraft-Tex and put it over the raw edge, with the raw edge kind of centered underneath.

Here is the alien on my design wall

The eye stalks and eyes were cut from Kraft-Tex and all the Kraft-Tex was glued down with the same washable glue.  That all worked well.  I then machine-stitched near the edges of the Kraft-Tex using a size 70 needle and matching thread.  Voila!  I didn’t have to fool with fusibles, bias strips, or much of anything at all.

Kraft-Tex is washable, and I’ll be interested to see how it does in this quilt.  It is stiffer than fabric, but I think that will be OK given the small amount I used on this twin-size quilt.

I can especially see using Kraft-Tex this way in art quilts very soon!

I’ll let you know how this all turns out!

I Dislike Quilt-As-You-Go

Quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) has been around at least since the 1970s, and I have tried it in several forms.  Back when I wanted to use high loft batting, I made this quilt in sections and joined them using Georgia Bonesteel’s method.  The backing seams were sewn by hand.  It worked out fine, but that was a lot of hand stitching.

Queen size quilt made by qultl-as-you-go method

Jewel Box, queen size, made in 2003

More recently I read about using thin batting so pieces can be joined with batting in the seam.  Unfortunately, this method suggests quilting the front pieces WITHOUT backing, then tacking on a back after assembling the front.  That means most of the quilting is hidden from the back; the only thing that shows is the stitching used to attach the back over the actual quilting!

I’ve also seen QAYG done by using batting rather than batiste as a base for string piecing.  This means no quilting shows on the front!

The more I read about QAYG methods, the more I didn’t care for any of the options.  I decided to re-visit it anyway because students had asked for a QAYG class.  I chose the string piecing on batting option, but made the blocks with the backing included so the quilting would show on the back.

Back of quilt, showing quilting lines

The quilting is meant to show on the back, though white thread on white fabric doesn’t show much!

I kind of liked the triangles arranged like this on the design wall, but decided to save this option for when I can make the whole thing look 3-D by careful placement of color.

Here is the front of the finished quilt:

After joining the triangles with seams that included front, batting, and back, I covered the seams in back with fabric strips.

The result was awfully bulky.  Next time I may just settle for the “new” method that doesn’t show much quilting on the back.

Well, another lesson 😀  The next attempt will be closer to perfection!

My Quilt is in Quilty Magazine!

This quilt was designed with friends at a retreat and remained unfinished for a year while I contemplated what should go in the big.white.center.  

Eventually I decided on petals, finished the quilt, and submitted it to F&W, where it was accepted for the January 2019 issue of Quilty.  I love Quilty, so I was thrilled.  And now the January issue, including my quilt, is available at Barnes & Noble.

This is Quilty’s “glamour shot” of my quilt

Once I got going on what to put in the center, I made another version with a ring in the center and the addition of a floral border:

If you pick up the magazine but want to make the quilt with the center ring instead of the petals, e-mail me and I’ll tell you the measurements.  Alternatively, just trace a dessert plate from your collection, which is what I did 😀

More from Quiltfest

One of the good things about Quiltfest (held in Jonesborough, TN every July) is the quilt show.  This year there was a contest in addition to the show of quilts made by the teachers.  Here are some of the quilts made by people who taught at Quiltfest this year:

Debbie Maddy

Zen by Debbie Maddy

bunny quilt

Usagi by Debbie Maddy

modern quilt indigo dye

Pathways by Debbie Maddy

Lucille Amose

Twinkle Star made by Lucille Amos (likely from a Judy Niemeyer pattern)

Linda Crouch-McCreadie

Diamonds in Bloom, made by Linda Crouch-McCreadie from a Judy Niemeyer pattern

Karen K. Stone quilt

O. G. by Karen K. Stone

Karen K. Stone

Neutrality by Karen K. Stone.

This was a beautiful quilt and included lots of texture and metallic embellishment.  Here is a detail view:

metallic embellishment in quilt

Detail of Neutrality by Karen K. Stone

Sue Nickels quilt

New York State of Mind by Pat Holly and Sue Nickels

And here are some of the quilts entered in the contest rather than made by the teachers:

Quiltfest

Red Bud Winter by Melinda Tweed

Quiltfest

Leaves by Kristi Ottinger, quilted by Linda Crouch-McCreadie

It’s Complicated, by Kristi Ottinger, quilted by Linda Crouch-McCreadie

NC Quilt Symposium–Teachers’ Show

Here are some of my favorite quilts displayed by teachers at the recent North Carolina Quilt Symposium.  I wish I could have taken classes with all of them!

NC Quilt Symposium

Bending Star by Gyleen Fitzgerald

NCQS

Blooming Happy by Gyleen Fitzgerald

Quilt

Pursuit of Happiness by Gyleen Fitzgerald

Gyleen Fitzgerald

Jack and the Beanstalk by Gyleen Fitzgerald

NC Quilt Symposium

Even With Brown by Gyleen Fitzgerald

N C Quilt Symposium

Facets by Marge Tucker

Marge Tucker quilt

Hay Bales by Marge Tucker

Weeks Ringle, Bill Kerr

On the Dot by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle

Susan Cleveland

Flowered and Feathered Frenzy by Susan Cleveland

colorful quilt

Bouncin’ Trio by Susan Cleveland

There were many other beautiful teacher quilts–these are just some of my favorites.

Next week I’ll show some of the award-winning quilts made by attendees at the NCQS.

Fun with Rickrack

Or ricrac, or rick rack, whatever. I found a lot of spellings when I was trying to decide!

This fun way to piece curves was part of a class I taught this past weekend, and it was so cute in the blocks the students made that I just had to do a tutorial.

We were piecing quarter circles as part of my quilt YOW, which you’ve already seen:

So here is a partially assembled block with one curved seam left to go:curved piecing tutorial

Select rickrack and lay it along the edge of the convex piece.  Probably would work with the concave piece, too, but I haven’t tried that:rickrack curved piecingSew the rickrack down with the usual 1/4 inch seam

Now turn the raw edge and attached rickrack to the back along the 1/4 inch seam and press.  Here’s the front:tutorial use rickrack in quilts

And here’s the back:curved piecing tutorial

Lay the convex piece on top of the concave piece and line up the edges.

Flip over and try to line up the raw edges all along the seam on the back.applique curved blocks

Applique the convex piece to the concave piece by stitching in the ditch.  I used silver metallic thread just for fun, but matching thread works well, of course.  And here’s the finished block.applicurve

Sort of modern-retro.  Go try it!

So Many Plans!

I’ve been working on a project to be published in Modern Quilts Unlimited in late summer, so there have been no pictures of current sewing lately. However, that is now finished and I’m focusing on several other projects coming right up.

First, I’m going to be teaching a very un-modern quilt at Studio Stitch in Greensboro in May.

Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue Visits Quilt in a Day

This is an old, old Eleanor Burns version of Sunbonnet Sue but the pattern is still available.  It’s the easiest way I know to do perfect applique!  And it’s fun to add trinkets, like this fish bead hanging from Overall Sam’s fishing rod:

Also, I’ve signed up for Quiltfest.  Luckily, it’s in July when I’ll have some vacation time available again.  I’m going to be making a boxy tote with Carrie Licatovich and a star quilt with Renny Jaeger.  Then I’m signed up for “shibori resist with indigo dying”, taught by Debbir Maddy.  Which reminds me, I haven’t used the fabrics I made in my last dying class…  I always enjoy Quiltfest because it’s just the right size: There are well-known teachers, but not a crush of thousands of participants.  And of course there are sales at Tennessee Quilts, too!  Oops!

Finally, I’ve finished a donation quilt.  I’ve gotten far, far behind on my donation quilts, so those will be floating to the top of the to-do list soon.  Here’s the first one, finally quilted and bound:

donation quilt

The concentric squares are pieced; the other pieces are a print from Michael Miller

Do you have any fun quilt events coming up?