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.
It’s amazing what my subconscious gets up to while I’m working on quilting projects. As I sewed two small quilts that feature circles and half circles, my brain was mashing up my interest in luminosity, what I learned from Joen Wolfrom’s Color Play, and my strips of scrap fabric. The result? A color wash paper pieced string quilt that said “make me” on Monday. It was pieced by Thursday night.
Here’s the effect I was going for in this quilt, minus the cute factor.
This was not a carefully thought out project. Under the guidance of radio waves from Alpha Centauri (as good an explanation as any) I pulled out my scrap strip bins from the closet, sorted the strips into color piles, arranged each pile in a rough color intensity order, and retrieved an old phone book stashed beneath my sewing table. The phone book? Oh, I tear out pages and use them as the paper for my paper piecing. They’re great for 8 inch square blocks.
My goal was to use only scraps that were already cut in strips, and with 3 or 4 exceptions I succeeded. I did use a lot of the reverse sides of my fabric, especially for the light sides of my squares. Some of the blocks I made didn’t play well with the others, so they’ve been set aside in the bin of orphan blocks. And some of the color transitions aren’t as smooth as I’d like, but I stuck with my rule that I could use only scraps or fabric already in my possession.
Here’s the result of all that strip work done on autopilot. I still have to remove about half the paper, but the phone book paper tears very easily, especially since I used a size 14 needle to make the holes bigger. I’m thinking of binding it in dark purple, but have no ideas about how to quilt it. And I have no idea what to call it. For now I’m content to have worked out in fabric some of that color theory I’ve been pondering.