Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scrappy scrappy scraps

In an effort to get organised, I'm attacking my scrap basket.

I want to be frugal and I want to embrace the make-do attitude of generations of quilters that have come and gone. But, like most of you I am tempted by shiny new fabric. A few years back I made a crumb quilt that was mostly made of scraps, some quite tiny. I enjoyed the process, but prefer a more controlled style.

I've been thinking about postage stamp blocks for a while now and had been dutifully cutting 1-1/2" squares when a scrap was the right size. I haven't done this for a while, so I attacked the scraps again adding 2-1/2" squares and sorting out the bigger pieces and strings.

This weekend, for a Monday Modern challenge, I put together a zippered bag using a tutorial at Noodlehead. I thought I'd use some of my little squares for the top half and a linen (leftover from some window treatments I had made years ago) for the bottom half. I drew a grid on some lightweight fusible interfacing and this made the squares easy to manage (not my idea, but lots of instructions out in blogland if you're interested).

I'm not totally happy with the zipper top-stitching and tab (I might redo these if I have some time) but I am totally in love with the little squares. I tried to fussy cut when possible and all the little faces make me smile. Apparently the bag's cuteness has not gone unnoticed and DD has claimed it already.

Meanwhile, my pile of scraps does not appear smaller even though I've cut hundreds of little squares. I suspect the scraps were pretty compressed in there, so now they have more air to breath. I too will breath easier when this job is done.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plaid quilt #1 finished

Last April I won 48 blocks from Block Lotto. The blocks were plaid and white with thin strips of color inserted between. Many of the plaids were recycled from old shirts.

I sashed 24 blocks with some striped shirting fabric that I found in my mom's stash that she's had for as long as I can remember (30 years?). I'm not convinced it was 100% cotton, but in the spirit of recycling I thought it would work well. I added some plaid squares in the corners of the sashing. These fabrics were leftovers from shirts made for me and my grandfather (also 30+ years ago).

When I returned home I pondered the border. I thought I needed one to make the quilt big enough for a single. The two thinner borders were fabrics from my stash and the plaid outer border was purchased from my local fabric store. I admit it was a bit hideous, but I think it works. And besides, my theme of 'making do' and recycling includes fabric that nobody else would buy.

The pieced back is a big plaid made from a few fabrics. Mostly leftovers from other projects. Even the batting is pieced from leftover pieces (big ones).

I had it all put together months ago and even started the quilting before Christmas, but it has taken me a little while to finish it up - silly, because it was probably only a few more hours to quilt and then a few more for the binding.

The end result is better than I thought. I was sure the big plaid border would never work. Or, maybe it's grown on me and my quilt survival instincts have kicked in and convinced me that it's turned out fun and quirky, not tacky.

Either way, it is destined for our ski house where plaid is appropriate and warmth is required.

The remaining 24 blocks will be laid out very differently. I thought it would be fun to avoid the obvious layouts and try something new. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday Modern Hexi-in-a-hexi bee blocks

This past month was my turn to organise a bee block for our Monday Modern group. I've been thinking about hexagons lately but the whole English paper piecing thing is not for me - one hand-sewing project on the go is enough for me. I have had some luck with using 60-degree triangles, so I thought I'd work through using them to make hexagons.

After some playing and some surfing, I decided on a block that results in one hexi inside another. I made this by cutting 2 fabric strips the full fabric width and swing them together. From this I cut the triangles and ended up with two hexagons.

My fabric choices were based on a fab green print that I found. Each hexagon includes a green print and a black & white one. The hexagons have either a green centre or a b&w centre, and I left it up to the maker to select the relative proportions of each fabric.

The hardest part was figuring out how big the triangles should be so that I made the most of the full fabric width. I ended up using 4-1/2" tall triangles which leaves enough fabric for a few extra triangles (just in case). I probably could have gone with a slightly bigger one, but wanted to make sure that if a cut went wonky, there was enough to make another one.

Here are the instructions that I shared with the group.

Most of my blocks are back and I have 3 more sets to receive next month. I think I should have a total of 30 when they are all in. I knew that this block was going to be a challenge for some of the girls, and there were some slightly funny mishaps along the way (too small, too large, 8 sides?). Still, it was fun and I'm looking forward to putting them together.

My plan is to add triangles in between so that can piece in strips. (Imagine the wood in another color.)

I went online and impulsively bought a yard of 'light citron' solid. I was swimming in a sea of celery, honeydew, zucchini, parsley, olive, artichoke, green tea, tarragon (is this a quilt or a salad?) It's tricky matching colors online, but I think is should work. Then again, maybe I don't want to dilute them with a 'background' but will have to contend with the dreaded Y-seam.

This one will have to wait because I am determined to get some other projects finished.