Scrap Breeding

Do you ever feel as if your scraps are breeding in the dark corners of your studio??   Well, that is exactly how I felt when I realized that my one scrap basket was completely full…pressed down and running over, and that there was another box on a shelf with even more scraps that needed to be dealt with…..


So, I dedicated my 20 minute morning sessions to getting the boxes cleaned out and all of the scraps cut and ready for use.

I subscribe to the Bonnie Hunter Scrap User System.   She suggests cutting strips of 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 and 3.5 inches in width and squares in those same sizes.   I go a bit further and add squares in 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 and 6.0 inches as well.    I try to only cut strips if they are longer than 12 inches, but dont worry if the 1.5 inch strips are a bit shorter.   I also cut rectangles in 2 x 3.5 and 2.5 x 4.5.

It took quite a while to get thru everything and I was amazed to realize that I couldn’t remember what project some of the pieces came from.  And there were some that I would swear that I had NEVER even owned the fabric…..

See….  I told you that they breed….these unknowns were apparently hybrids!!!

It was a good feeling to see this fine stack at the end of the process…..



And, it felt even better to fill up my 1.5 inch strip drawer again…..


It had taken quite a hit over the last two years as I made my rainbow pineapple quilt and another friend used the same strips to make her pineapple quilt.

The same went for the 2.5 squares……they have been used for numerous quilts made by myself and others…..


As I added to the 2.5 x 4.5 bin, I realized that I need to come up with a pattern to use some of these up……


When I was finished I had two stacks of leftovers.   This first one will be handed over to the Guild Charity group to stuff Dog Beds that are made for one of the local shelters…..img_7863.jpg

The second pile are scraps that are too small to use but too big to throw away….


Most non-quilters would find that statement a bit crazy but I KNOW that all of you quilters completely understand!!!

We are excitedly heading into wedding week and are truly looking forward to the events of the upcoming weekend.    My daughter has been amazing at organizing the event and I am expecting everythng to go well.

Then, it is only 2 weeks until tax season is over.,…..and, the pièce de résistance will be our Guild retreat for 4 days at the end of April!!!










Way back on September 13, 2009, I posted about the start of a project…..

I then posted again on March 31, 2010 about the next step in the process……

On April 11, 2010 I posted about making the back and getting it basted…..

Finally, on July 24, 2011, I wrote about the quilting designs that I had picked…..


Notice that the dates have ranged over a period of 2 years.  NOW, over TWO years later (4 years since I started), I have finished the quilt!!!


I am pleased with how the Mandala patterns look quilted in the alternating blocks…..


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the outside border, but thought that I wanted to do more flowers.  I eventually decided to work with a vine of flowers and leaves…..


The first ones that I did were pretty simple and straight forward, but as I worked around the border, I became more adventurous and my flowers became stranger and stranger, but lots of fun!!!

I started the border by using the walking foot to quilt an undulating line around the entire border.  When I got back to the beginning, I switched to a darning foot and re-stitched the vine, adding flowers here and there.   At first I put X’s where the flowers were going to be, but after doing one side, I decided to just go with the flow.

The back was made from leftover fabrics as well…..


This quilt will now go into a closet next to my favorite chair and will become my “go-to” quilt when I want to snuggle under something!!!!

It is SO good to have finally finished this old friend!!!

Climbing out from under your quilting stuff….


Last week I received the following email from a friend……

“I tried to get into my sewing room today to straighten it up because I can barely find my Bernina for all the mess.   Who wants to sew when their creative space is in such disarray she can’t even find the full spool of white thread she knows she used two weeks ago!!!???

I am finally admitting, I need serious help.  I’m holding on to those tiny scraps that I think I might need for an applique hat on some project in the future. I’m clinging to 1″x3″ remnants of fabrics I loved and used at one time.

I’m looking at projects I know for sure I’ll never complete and trying to find a place for them on the shelves – valuable real estate that could be used for far more important (not to mention possibly completed) projects.

I need to purge in the worst way and I don’t know how to begin.  One scrap at a time isn’t going to get the job done.  I know I would be so much more productive if my  sewing room was clean and clear of this fabric baggage I tend to wrap around me and not let go like Aunt Frannie’s mangy fur coat.

If anyone has any suggestions/helpful hints of how to make that first bold move to just get rid of stuff, I’d appreciate it. It’s ridiculous when your fabric scrap (I mean scraps) collection so voluminous you can’t even get to your sewing machine to sew!!!”


Haven’t we all felt that way at some time!!!


I wrote back that I thought the hardest part was to actually throw stuff away, so my suggestion was that she give it to someone else.  I was able to make a few suggestions including giving her tiny scraps to a group of ladies who use them to stuff dog beds for the local animal shelter.

I also told her that several years ago I went thru several BIG boxes of scraps and cut them into usable sizes of strips, squares or rectangles.  I did this based on Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User System .     I did add some other size squares to her list. 

I have these stored in two plastic drawer sets and have used these bits to make several quilts.  I also use the squares a lot when I am needing small pieces for an applique.  Instead of going thru my big pieces of fabrics, I first grab the
squares and see if I can find one that works.   They are easier to go thru and doesn’t cause NEARLY as much mess!!


Later in the day, I had about two hours to work in my studio and wasn’t sure what to work on….until my eyes landed on the basket of scraps that needed to be cut down…..


My first step was to pull out all of the larger pieces, iron them and cut them into strips.

The next day, I finished up by cutting squares and rectangles.   The final result of my labors looked like this…..


The basket at the back contains the little string bits that will be put into dog beds and the small stack on the back right went into my “string piecing” drawer.

I am so glad that my friend ask the question because it made me think about what I needed to do too!!!

Catching up


Well, things have been happening around here, but I simply haven’t had time to post about them!!!

The main reason is that we are getting ready to head out on a three week adventure to Turkey.  Once again my husband will be working while I get to play….such a HARD life!!!!

One of the tasks for today was making sure that all of our electronics were charged up and ready to go so our bedroom floor looked like this…..


but at the end of the day we had charged up two telephones, two Kindle readers and a total of FIVE camera batteries.  Hopefully we are ready to pack tomorrow.

Packing day is always fun.  We each get out all of our clothes and lay them on the bed.  Then we go thru all of the stuff that has been stacking up on Michael’s futon and decide what gets packed and what goes into our carry on bags.  Then comes the trick of getting everything into the suitcases AND keeping them under 50 pounds each. 

This will be a harder task for this trip because we are traveling in an area that will be cool and rainy as well as one that will be hot and dry!!!  But, so far we have never had to carry an extra suitcase and I am hoping that this will be the same!!

On the sewing front, I have been working on a few things, mostly trying to get my studio cleaned up a bit.

I have been working on the scrap quilt that I started in the Pat Speth workshop and realized that I was going to have to lay it out completely before I could start piecing.  The problem was that I didn’t have a design wall that was big enough.

So, I packed up and headed for our local art center that has a wonderful fiber room and I camped out for the afternoon while I auditioned settings and then worked to sew them together.

My first layout kept all of the darker blocks along the outside edges…..


but it didn’t seem to sparkle the way this one did…… DSC02931

This was my set-up for the afternoon as I pieced along.DSC02933I plugged my new mini speaker in my I-phone and enjoyed piecing and singing all afternoon.

Here is the finished center section…..

DSC02980  My initial thought had been to add a fancy pieced border but will have to think on it a bit first.  I did lay it out on my bed and realized that it is probably one row too long so I may be un-sewing some before I continue.

My other fun project was making a tote bag to carry on our trip.  I always try to take a simple bag that I can put my computer in when we are walking somewhere and I don’t want to take the full backpack. 

I had one already…..

DSC02963 but, since I had owned (and used) it since 1977, I decided that it was time for another….notice the frayed handles!!

This was one of those projects that I thought “dont need a pattern….this is easy”!!!  Always the first mistake!!!!

My plan was to make the outside of the bag from one fabric and then line it with a second one.  Imagine my surprise when, after turning, I found that the bag had one fabric on one side and the lining fabric on the other!!!!DSC02960

….so much for my great planning!!!!   At least the fabrics went together well so I now have a double sided bag!!!!


Enough for now…..  the next posts should be coming from Kars, Turkey!!!

Little bits of time for sewing


My sewing time has been confined to an hour or so at a time and I have been having fun working on blocks for the quilt started with Pat Speth. 

It has been good to have something that I really don’t have to think about but can just grab some fabrics and sew, sew, sew!!!!


Here are my finished products….so far…….


This is the design that I am thinking of so far…..

quilt …although I may change the borders before it is all over.

I need 80 blocks to complete this configuration and have finished 50 so far……


One of the fun things is to see the little slivers of color mount up as I square up the blocks…..


I would normally throw these away, but think that I will keep them for awhile and see what develops!!!

Good tips from Pat Speth

Pat Speth was the speaker at our guild meeting last week and we spent about an hour enthralled with the 30+ quilts that she showed and the tips that she gave.


Her newest book is about making pieced borders and she had a wonderful demonstration where she showed over 30 different border ideas for one quilt.  Here are a few of my favorites….



DSC02385  DSC02393  DSC02396 DSC02399

The absolute best tip that she gave was to not worry if the inner borders were different sizes.  She suggested that it was more important to make the border pieces easy to work with… 7/8ths of an inch measurements!!!

I had always stayed away from different sized borders because I was afraid that it would make the quilt look weird. 


But, does THIS quilt really look strange??  I found that I never noticed the quilts where the borders were different sizes until Pat pointed them out to us!!!

Here are a few other quilts that are made with 5 inch units….

DSC02329 DSC02403  DSC02410 DSC02419 DSC02335

I left the meeting quietly planning borders in my head!!!!

A few stitches on a Saturday…

Yesterday I was able to find a few minutes to do some sewing, so I pulled out the “Tillie’s Treasures” quilt top that I started with Pat Speth this past week.

Here is where we are so far…..


I am not too sure about the pink blocks…they may end up on the back instead of  the front.


Last night I was restless and wanted to do something else in the creative vein so grabbed my sketchbook and had a little fun….