As I have noted before, I have a thriving scrap fabric collection. Some are even already sewn together. I like to pet these pre-made quilt beginnings in hopes of inspiration. Some time in October I decided to sew a group of hectically colored scraps together.
I sliced lengths of multi fabric strips in half and inserted narrow strings. I added to and lopped off bits to even up my rounds. Eventually I came up with the following.
I liked the effect but wanted to give more weight to the left side and bottom. So, I added wider lengths of Marcia Derse fabric and more angled strips.
I finally quilted the top at the beginning of November. I used 30 weight variegated cotton thread, and extended some of the strips into the Marcia Derse fabric with quilting lines.
I find the colors cheerful as I catch drifting snowflakes out of the corner of my eye. If I can’t go to the heat, I’ll try to bring the heat to me.
While the weather here bounced around from 12 to 50 degrees I was revisiting the Smoky Mountains in fabric. I settled on an arrangement of my faux paper strips, sewed them down, and cobbled a way to finish the edges. I used no batting, but fused Decor Bond to my foundation fabric, and it’s a good thing I did. The finished product is heavy and might buckle without that extra firmness.
Because the fabric strips were three layers thick (top fabric, fusing, interfacing) I elected to trim up the side edges and sew some twill tape to them. I pressed the edges to the back and hand sewed them down. The top edge got the same treatment, while the bottom edge, which is only one layer thick, got turned under.
This project came with a bonus. I bypassed my scraps bins for the trimmings and created another small piece with them for this month’s scrap quilt. The base layer is fabric I had silk screened with thickened dye.
The finished product, The Smokies, measures 20 by 25 inches.
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” 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.
My paper pieced birds project has moved right along. I’ve completed the quilting, and only binding it remains. I got tired of paper piecing the birds, so I stopped at 23. I placed 22 of them on stylized branches and reserved one for a label.
My original inspiration was this quilt which introduced me to the McCall’s Quilting bird pattern.
My quilt doesn’t have quite the same modern feel, but I was going with scraps and some Fossil Fern fabric in blue. I tried a layout with just straight branches but felt my birds needed to be a bit more grounded (or treed.)
You can see I’m trying to branch out from the birds’ perches.
Ultimately I ended up with this. The quilting is a chevron pattern done with a walking foot.
Right after I quilted my birds I saw the wall below on a trip to my local grocery store. Maybe the image wormed its way into my subconscious, but I could swear I never noticed the pattern before.
And came up with an idea for a quilt – the streaks of color you see when you rub your eyes hard. The internet tells me they are called phosphenes. If you meditate a lot, you might know them as nimitta. I had thought of calling this one Scintillations, but maybe I should go with Phosphene Forest.
I pulled out small leftover strips (more scraps,) sewed them together, and set them into a navy ombre fabric. I just love ombres as they give luminosity to a quilt, and color gradations without the bother of sewing a bunch of pieces together.
After trying and rejecting various yarns and ribbons to stitch on top of the blocks, I decided to do scattered hand stab stitching in undulating columns. I’ve ironed fusible fleece to the back in columns to give stability to my stitches and a bit of dimension.
The hand stitching is done. I used variegated Valdani perle cotton We’ll see how well the fleece works out once I add batting to the whole piece. I’m now puzzling over how to quilt this.
My husband, the scientist, says the design is too geometric to represent phosphenes. He really doesn’t grasp the concept of artistic license.
Besides work on two longer term projects that I tweak a bit each day, I’ve tossed off a few palate cleansers made with scraps on hand.
Spring @ 60 MPH is now done. I even washed it to get rid of the Elmer’s school glue I used in the binding process. I combined walking foot and free motion quilting and now wish I had done all walking foot quilting. My FMQ is a lot better on a 16 square than on a larger piece.
This qualifies as my most frugal quilt of the year as I used mostly 2.5 inch strips I had, and a piece of fabric I was given for the back.
My FMQ was better on a small improv piece I call Dappled. I used scraps I had sewn together previously, plus binding leftover from another project.
Then, I did more work on two improv pieces I started about a year ago. The one shown first, My Brain On Xmas, is weird enough to have left my husband speechless.
The “brain” fabric is a paintstick rubbing of a kitchen trivet. The dog fabric is a bit of Indonesian print I’ve had since the 1970s. Yes, there’s Christmas fabric in there. All the blue/green/yellow fabric was hand dyed.
I began the other improv piece at the same time, as you can see by the shared fabrics. I hope to use an empty frame with a mat to display a small quilt, and this piece was the only one with a chance of fitting the frame. I’ve added strips to make it fit the mat opening. So much for carefully considered design.
When I grow up I want to work in quilt series. Until then, I’m happy to work in quilt leftovers. Maybe I should call my leftovers series so I can feel like a serious art quilter.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Quite often I cut off the corners of blocks to create snowball or other blocks with triangles in the corners. I follow Bonnie Hunter’s advice and sew a second seam on the part of the corner I’ll be cutting off. That way I get a little half square triangle when I make the cut. While I’m listening to an audio book I’ll trim up those extras to a set size, usually a one and a half inch square, though sometimes a two inch one. Eventually they add up and I plunder that plastic container for a project like Akron Amish.
Most of those little points came from Orange You Glad. You’d get the name if you could see the back.
And the 16 patch blocks in Orange… came from leaders and enders, stored in yet another container.
I try to go through any small fabric bits left over from a quilt to see what I can cut into squares. I don’t go smaller than one and a half inches or larger than three inches. I’ve made at least one baby quilt from those squares. Other small leftovers get put into containers sorted roughly by color group.
Those scraps often become part of small improvisational quilts. I love what happens when colors get thrown together and sometimes magic happens. Of course, it sometimes goes the other way. The fabric bits in Nothing Gold Can Stay were left on my cutting mat from a project I still haven’t finished.
I also use leftovers in dyeing projects. If a piece comes out looking ugly, I just dye it with another color or colors. As I’ve noted before, I dye old damask tablecloths and commercially printed cloth.
This piece of damask is a series all by itself. It went through two dye baths and then was stamped with leaves dipped in paint. It awaits adoption into a quilt.