More on Go Bags

Reader Colleen was kind enough to leave a comment about her experience with quiltmaking Go bags. She wrote, which reminded of more detail I should have included: “I do have a go bag. It’s one of those big, flat bags they sold about 10 years ago that holds an 18×24 cutting mat and a 6×24 ruler, plus lots of pockets and sections for smaller tools and a project.

I don’t actually like it for carrying projects. I got plastic lidded totes that are about twice the size of a shoebox, that seem to work well.

While I do have some duplicate tools, I have created a list of what I need to take, so I can grab the items quickly when packing up. I just joined my quilting group last year, so I also wrote down everyone’s name and a brief description, so I could refresh my memory before going the first couple times.”

Best Bag Ever
Best Bag Ever

A go bag like the black one I showed doesn’t include everything I need to sew at Sew Day, on retreat or in a class. This bag includes basic supplies. I also have a flat bag like Reader Colleen describes. I probably wouldn’t have made myself a bag like this, but I got it in a swap. I find that it is very useful. It keeps a large rotary mat flat, a few rulers and a flattish, portable ironing board ready to go on a moment’s notice. I don’t always take this bag, but I have it available if I need it.

The point, however, is that I can’t just grab the black bag and go. I need to pack. The black bag does not include projects or fabric, specialty supplies or a sewing machine.

ArtBin Project Box

As Reader Colleen says I also put some of my active projects into ArtBin project boxes. I just started this practice in the last year. I also use larger bins (larger projects, quilting) from the Container Store. As I said in that post from last year, I like the fact that they are stackable and I can keep all the stuff for one project (or a group of projects like the Crafty Gemini Organizer Club bag supplies) together. This helps A LOT with Grab & Go.

Whatever is leftover and loose, I toss into a Chubby Charmer. Sometimes, these items end up in the project box/bin later; sometimes not. On a good day, I have 4-5 bags and boxes with me plus a sewing machine sometimes. This is a lot of stuff, but it is much more organized than having to cannibalize the supplies from my workroom, hunt through fabric for a project and find notions. I like to be organized in this way, because it gets me sewing or working on my project faster.

Flying Around Arrangement

The other day I showed you most of a photo of Flying Around. After posting that, I started in on the last two Friendship Circles.

Flying Around detail
Flying Around detail

The placement of these will be tricky for a number of reasons. First, they will be on the floor (see the bottom most red Friendship star? It is right at the bottom of my design wall) as I place them unless I sew together the top and move everything up. I have been wanting to do that, but am waiting because I am not sure I am happy with the top middle of the piece. That big piece of grey at the top is of concern to me. I wonder if it pushes the Flying Geese down too much.

I want the Geese around the edge to act as a border without being a separate entity, but I am not sure that particular section achieves that goal.

Next, I don’t want the ratio of width to length to be too strange. If the piece gets to be too long, it might look too long and skinny. Of course, I am often hampered by the width of my design wall and this is the case with this piece. Sigh. I don’t want to take apart the whole piece and make it wider, so I have to measure and try and estimate how long it will be.

I also need the Flying Geese to wrap around each of the Friendship Circles and there isn’t quite enough space for them to do that with the placement of the red HSTs. You can see that dark Goose near the second Friendship Star; notice how crowded that area appears. Of course, I could move the red Friendship Circle over to the left, but I also don’t want it to be directly below the red-violet circle. I want them to appear randomly placed. The width is really a problem for me.

As you can see, there is still work to do on this piece. I started it sometime in April, I think, so it has been on the wall for a long time. I would like it to be finished, but I also want it to be right.

Inspiration Blue & Orange

Blue & Orange Bowls, Houston
Blue & Orange Bowls, Houston

In 2014 Friend Julie, my mom and I went to Houston for Quilt Festival. I remembered a photo I took and went looking for it. Blue and Orange has been on my mind lately, so something in my subconscious must have nudged me. I assume that it has been on my mind because of my recent donation top finish.

Finished: Wonky 9 Patch
Finished: Wonky 9 Patch

I didn’t just want to show you a picture of bowls, but I wanted to show you how something like this photo can influence your quiltmaking. I don’t know if finishing the Wonky 9 Patch made me see these colors or not, but clearly, the bowls are similar as is the arrangement of colors.

The recent Orange Strip Donation top finish is in the same colors and I do feel strongly that I am not done with this combination.

The Problem with Grey

Bolts of Grey
Bolts of Grey

I went to The Granary the other day and Friend Julie pointed out a row of greys. She called it the “problem with greys.” I thought the photo explained the ‘problem’ beautifully.

The colors in the photo look different from when I saw them with my eyes, but it doesn’t matter, because you, dear Reader, can still see the difference.

None of the colors would be called anything but grey. The bolt on the far right looks black but was a charcoal (you’ll have to trust me). The shelf sports a wide variety.

Background detail - Flying Around
Background detail – Flying Around

I like using a variety of greys as background on my quilts and it is a happy chore to find the right ones. You can see the variety in Flying Around. Mostly I like to use greys that are very close in tone to each other so there is no grey that obviously stands out. Also, I don’t like the taupe based greys. I am sure I have said that before.

In the photo of the Flying Around background, I have more variety. It might be because I want the eye to move around the background as well as the foreground or it might be laziness. Not sure or not admitting to anything. 😉

This is an example of why my rule of ‘make visual decisions visually’ is so important. It is impossible to match any color, perhaps particularly greys, without putting the bolts or pieces next to each other.

Flying Around – More Progress

I dragged myself away from pillowcases and worked on Flying Around as well. I was kind of facing a hump and working on the project this weekend got me over the hump. I actually used the pillowcases as leaders and enders. The small finishes kept me going.

It’s not that I don’t like Flying Around. I like it a lot and think it will be a really good design once I finish. It is a hard quilt to make. There is a lot of thinking required with a dose of extra seam ripping as well.

Flying Around - early August 2019
Flying Around – early August 2019

Still, I am over the hump and am seeing the end of the adventure. The hump was the bottom left corner, currently comprising the red-violet Friendship Circle and the pink Friendship Circle as well.

That corner will end up with a red circle eventually, but I haven’t done the cutting yet.

The upper left corner has been sewn to the center, so there is a big chunk finished. I haven’t quite figured out how to sew the yellow circle to the part above it. Partial seams will be involved, for sure.

The end is in sight, which is nice. Stay tuned!


Nine Pillowcases - August 2019
Nine Pillowcases – August 2019

I went on a binge of pillowcase making over the weekend. I had several pieces of fabric I had purchased for pillowcases. Somehow they had never risen high enough on the list, but this past weekend was the time.

I needed some quick finishes. I have been working hard on Flying Around, but it slow going and I just needed to finish something. I know I finished the Jelly Roll Rug recently, but that didn’t really feel like a finish somehow.

The YM gets a new pair (tacos). His new roommates each get one (taco, Mexican food cuff). A niece and nephew each get a pair and I will keep the turquoise dotted one for myself. I love that chocolate fabric.

Various & Sundry 2019 #8

Other Artists

Friend Julie put up some links that I wanted to include here. However, there turned out to be too many, so I am linking to her Cornucopia post. Check out her links. I especially like the no bulk elastic join, which I think could be really useful!

I like the red blocks in Julie’s Luminous quilt. They give me a new idea for my strip donation quilts after I finish the ones I am working on. I wrote more about this a few days a go. What do you think?

You may have heard that Rosalie Dace was deported when she tried to enter the country to teach recently. The Quilt Show posted the story of what happened to her.

My guild is contributing stitches to Jennifer Kim Sohn’s 25 million stitches project. This is described as a public engagement art installation. If you or your guild want to participate, there are instructions on the site. The final deadline is Apr 30, 2020.

I like the quilting on this dogwood quilt. I also like the pattern and the color choices.

Laura Kemshall has an update on the Ruby Star Project.

QuiltDiva Julie has a page dedicated to her workroom. She has a lot of great ideas for storage and workspaces. Her DH seems very handy with a  hammer and saw!

Projects, Patterns & Tutorials

Love of Patchwork & Quilting is starting a new block of the month program.

I delved into one of (I think??) the Modern Quilt Guild’s sites after getting a link in an email. I don’t know if they have changed the site or there are multiple sites, but I didn’t recognize it from where I had been before. I looked around and came across a section on virtual bees. There are some interesting and, at least one, moving stories included. What was not included was things that are problematic about any kind of round robin. I have experienced poor workmanship, bad fabric (ugly and poor quality) and projects disappearing. I am sure my experience is in the minority and I did have a couple of good in person experiences, but I stay away from these types of projects as I see them as possibly turning into problems or ending up as projects I don’t like or don’t want to do.

Sara of Sew Sweetness has a book club as part of her site. With each book she releases a free pattern. This time it is the Suffolk Coin Purse. This would make great gifts for guild mates.

MellySews has a whole bunch of tutorials. I was impressed with the accessories section, but there are clothing and kids sections as well.

I found a Purse Organizer pattern in my quest for zipper pouches. I think it is more like a super sized zipper pouch, or makers wouldn’t need to use it as a purse organizer, but could use it as sub-organizer in other bags. With the fabric, men could use it as well.

 A week or so ago, I was reading Barbara Brackman’s Material Culture blog post. She posted the current results of applique’ BOM she is running on her Civil War blog. She has just posted block #7 and you can scroll back through the blog (January – July 2019) to to get the other blocks if you want them for free. Alternatively, you can buy them all at once in PDF form to print yourself from her Etsy site (instant gratification). She’ll mail you black and white pattern sheets, the purchase of which is also available in her Etsy shop.

Barbara is starting up a Daredevils QAL. I talked about this before, but now it has started. She introduced the first block a week or so ago. This block is not for the faint of heart, but speaks to me and my desire for more complicated and interesting blocks. I haven’t decided if I will do the QAL or not, but am thinking about it. She has some great examples of quilts made with the first block. One thing I like about the first block is that Barbara is showing old blocks, talking about them and exposing people with new and modern fabrics to them, so we can make something new out of them.

Fabric, Supplies & Tools

Remember my Octagon 9 Patch quilt? It has been on my mind lately. If you want to make one, check out these Octagon templates from EE Schenk.

I get the Paintbrush Studios newsletter. In a recent issue, sent July 29, 2019, they introduced their Hallowe’en fabrics, Halloween Night by Katie Larson. They also said “Halloween Night will not be available online this season, so the only way to get it is through your local fabric store!” I discussed it a little with Friend Julie and we have lots of questions. What if a fabric shop has an online presence? Do they just mean Amazon and other large fabric selling sites?

Spoonflower’s newest issue is out. Yes, it is all about trying to sell you their fabric, but it is a beautiful magazine with great imagery. I like the way they combine different fabrics and show various ways they can be used. There are no internal links, apparently, so you can’t click from something in the magazine to their website. I am sure that functionality is coming. Find a pattern for zipper pouches referenced.

Scruffy Quilts was  probably the closest shop to me. I went there for a few hours periodically to take advantage of their open sew and also to take classes. The brick and mortar store closed this year. The other day I got an email, so I think their online store is still open (or open again?).

Articles, Exhibitions & Books

The Quilters’ Guild of the UK is celebrating 40 years of collecting quilts. A book about their 40 years of collecting is available through their shop for 12 English pounds. It does not appear to be available on Amazon.

The Patchwork Association of Spain (Asociación Española de Patchwork) hosts

The Craft Industry Alliance has an article about Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness and how she uses video.

With all of the celebrations around the Apollo 11 spacecraft, I was not surprised to see an article about the seamstresses who helped ‘clothe’ the astronauts. Women, the article reports, had the agility and accuracy to make the suits to detailed specifications and with no mistakes.

Lately I have been reading magazines via RBDigital by checking them out of my library. I’d rather read them in print, but I am being a cheapskate. I also want the library to buy more quilting books and magazines. In a recent issue of Quilts and More, I saw an Acrylic Ruler Connector. This seems like a great idea! It is described as: “Extend your cutting ability with our smart design Acrylic Ruler Connector. This device bridges and holds together two acrylic rulers of any size for accurate, longer cuts. A retractable alignment guide helps square up rulers for a smooth, clean cutting edge, and folds up, out of the way, to allow for cutting on all sides. The tension handle can be pressed to not only ensure a tight grip between rulers, but serves as a comfortable place to rest your hand while cutting.” The description appears to say that users can use any ruler. Unlike the Guidelines4Quilting connector which needs their special rulers. Check out product features on the Fiskars product page. If you buy one, tell me what you think.

I also recently saw an ad for the Clover Ultimate Quilt ‘n Stitch Presser foot. It is described as “Clover’s Ultimate Quilt n Stitch presser foot is your go to for creating parallel line straight stitching and straight line machine quilting. Featuring a built in stitch ruler for guiding rows of parallel stitching. Distance can be set between needle and alignment guide from 3/8 inch to 3 inch. Easily stitch multiple rows of stitching without marking each line.” I liked the variety of measurements. Some machines have these types of attachments, so you don’t this Clover version. Check your machine specs before you buy to make sure your machine is compatible.

Duke has a celebration of 20 years of the Durham African American Quilt Circle.

Nebraska quilters have a site that preserves their stories. This particular page points to Grace Snyder who was discussed recently in the Quiltfiction FB group.

My DH sent me a link to Aimee Hodge’s Crazy Quilt style parlor throw. It is thought that Aimee worked on this throw throughout her life.


Want a dream sewing room/quilt studio? Sign up to win one with AllPeopleQuilt.

Quilts & More: 1 Block 3 Ways feature
Quilts & More: 1 Block 3 Ways feature

While reading the Summer issue of Quilts and More, I saw their “One Block Three Ways” feature. This is a great example of the power of blocks. It also shows how to achieve a completely different look from one block. I have since read another issue and they seem to have it in every issue. Check it out from the library or on the AllPeopleQuilt site.

Kind reader Colleen passed along a link to a publication discussing running a crafty business. How shopowners got started, pricing and other relevant business topics are discussed. It is a PDF and the PDF is well done and pretty.

I just heard about the Awesome Box, which looks like it could be a great way to get a variety of art from different people.

At Home with Artquiltmaker

After buying a few yards of fabric, I have again achieved the net usage of 50 yards of fabric. I have actually used over 100 yards, but the purchases have offset the total used. 41% of my total usage is for charity. I am pleased with that, though it could be better!

More Orange Improv

Orange Improv Donation top in process
Orange Improv Donation top in process

Over the weekend, I worked on Flying Around and on the Orange Improv donation top. I am pleased with how the Orange Improv top is looking.

I am trying not to insert big strips in as I didnt’ like the effect with the Purple Improv Donation top. I am inserting bits of strips in. I don’t think the ones I have added take the focus away from any other part.

Book Review: 1000 Quilt Inspirations

1000 Quilt Inspirations: Colorful and Creative Designs for Traditional, Modern, and Art Quilts1000 Quilt Inspirations: Colorful and Creative Designs for Traditional, Modern, and Art Quilts by Sandra Sider

I wanted to like this book more than I did. The promise of it is high, but the actual execution didn’t live up to its promise. There is very little text in this book. It is mostly images, which do provide inspiration, but there was a vague dissatisfaction running through my experience reading this book. Part of it had to do with the selection process. Part of it had to do with whether I was looking at the full works vs. details.

The book starts with a table of contents. The table of contents shows how the book is arranged: “traditional designs”, “modern designs”, “pictorial designs”, and “abstract and conceptual art quilt designs”. The images start right away with a whole page of quilts opposite the table of contents.

The text is primarily located in the Introduction (pg.8-9), which gives an overview of quiltmaking history, groups and fads from the mid-19th century to the present. The Introduction is short. I found it to include some gross generalizations. There were also some sections that I did not understand. Either sentences were too vague or the words were put together in a way that did not make sense. For example, Sider writes “Modern quilters, such as members of the Modern Quilt Guild, design mainly with solid colors and often adapt traditional patterns in innovative ways, finding their inspiration in every aspect of today’s quilts” (pg.8). Some of that sentence is true, but it leaves me with a lot of questions. Are members of the Modern Quilt Guild the only modern quilters? I know people making quilts right now. Are all quiltmakers making quilts right modern quilters? Also, I have no idea what “…finding their inspiration in every aspect of today’s quilts” (pg.8) means. Aren’t modern quilters making today’s quilts? Do they get inspiration from themselves? Does this sentence refer to Instagram? These examples might be semantics, but demonstrates the possible lack of editing. I think this introduction, being the only significant text in the book could have been fleshed out a little more. The book would have benefited from a less generalized view of the quiltmaking to introduce the quilts.

200+ quilts in the traditional designs section follow. The format for the rest of the book varies slightly, but is mostly 4 quilts per page. In a lot of respects it is difficult to determine whether the reader is looking at a detail or a full quilt. There is very little information about the quilts next to the image beyond what is listed in the introduction. Each image lists a maker, but no quilt name, size or any other information.

The images are stellar. The quilting is clearly visible as are the fabrics and construction.

Modern Designs begin on page 69 with no additional fanfare or introduction. Most artists have more than one design included (or perhaps details of one quilt?). I recognized very few names from those listed and was surprised to see postcards (pg.73) included in the Modern Designs section. I would have classified a lot of the quilts included in the Modern Designs section as art quilts, especially given the description of what modern quilters are making.

The book ends with an image directory (pg.300-311). Names of quilts, techniques and sizes are included as well as some information on who took the photo. There is also an artist directory (pg.312-319), which provides a list of all the images attributed to an artist as well as their website, if available. The best part of this book was randomly selecting artist websites and looking at their work.

If you are looking for an overview of 100+ years of quiltmaking with inspiration and explanation, this book falls short. However, there is no doubt that the imagery in this book is beautiful. The author and publisher worked hard to make the images high quality. For the variety of images alone, this book is worth buying.

View all my reviews

Quiltmaking Go Bag

At Sew Day the other day people were asking to borrow various items from each other. I dont’ mind loaning thing, but am a huge proponent of  quiltmaking Go bags. Even if you have a Go bag, there is always something not included. One of the advantages of Sew Day and group sewing is being able to continue with your project because you can borrow something. This whole scenario led me to think about quiltmaking Go bags.

A ‘Go’ bag is just like what they talk about in spy films except with quiltmaking supplies you take to class, retreat or Sew Day rather than clothes and new identity credentials. I have one that I have developed over the years. It is a great help to just pick up the bag and know I have a rotary cutter, mat, rulers, snips, and other basic supplies that I need for my projects. I like not having to hunt for them around my workroom to take to class. I like not having to cannibalize my workroom supplies to go on retreat. The downside is that I have duplicates of a lot of tools and they have to live somewhere.

Small Go bag supplies
Small Go bag supplies

The way my system works is that my Go bag has static supplies. As mentioned, I consider static supplies to be things I won’t use up like fabric or thread. Rulers, mats, rotary cutters, scissors, etc are all static supplies. I can just grab this bag when I am packing for a class or Sew Day and know that it is ready. For supplies like fabric and thread, patterns, etc, I toss all relevant items for a project into one of my Chubby Charmers. When I return, the Go bag is slotted back into its home and the Chubby Charmer gets unpacked.

I don’t like to have to hunt around for static supplies, which is why I have worked on gathering duplicates. Having duplicates is also helpful when someone comes over to sew.

Quilting Go Bag
Quilting Go Bag

My current, actual Go Bag bag, made of some kind of washable slick-ish fake leather/plastic, was a premium from some makeup I bought about 1,000 years ago. It has one main section and six pockets around the outside. The main pocket zips closed although I have no idea when it was last zipped closed. It can be set down on a damp surface with no harm to the contents. It looks ok, but it is showing its age. The handles are getting especially worn.

Small travel sewing supplies
Small travel sewing supplies

In the bag I have a Tupperware box that has a removable tray. This box holds all the small static supplies I might need such as rotary cutters, snips, writing implements, latex gloves, WonderClips, etc. All the small things that need to be corralled are contained here. This box is starting to be too small and I am considering replacing it. I made the Tool Tote last year with the intention of replacing the box, but never made the exchange. I am not sure why. The making drama I experienced sewing the Tool Tote, perhaps?

Runs with Scissors Tote
Runs with Scissors Tote

After the Sew Day discussion, I started to think again about replacing my Go bag and the Tupperware box. I think I really need to upgrade my bags and totes. The problem is that they are working fine, except for the Tupperware box tight squeeze, but are showing their age.

During this thought process, I remembered the Runs with Scissors tote I mentioned in a January Various & Sundry post last year. Mrs. K was kind enough to gift me the pattern. It might be the right tote to replace the Tupperware box. The problem is that I need a bag that will hold the tote. I need this imaginary tote to be large enough to fit everything currently in my Go bag and made of a material that will not allow damp to seep through. A special Chubby Charmer might work, but I am thinking that I might need to buy something.

Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag
Quiltessa Ultimate Carryall Bag

The other bag I am thinking of is the Ultimate Carry All by Quiltessa Natalie. Natalie was kind enough to allow me to post one of her photos. I bought the pattern and have started to assemble the supplies, but haven’t dedicated much time to this project yet. In terms of going to class, I am thinking that the Runs with Scissors tote could hold more flat items like scissors and this Ultimate Carry All could hold more dimensional items, such as the small iron, extension cord, light, pincushions, etc. If I used both, I would still need a larger bag in which to place them.

This is still a work in progress, as you can see. Questions:

  • Do you have a quiltmaking (or other craft) Go bag?
  • Do you have duplicates of your static supplies or do you have a system for swapping them in and out.

Finished: Jelly Roll Rug

Finished: Jelly Roll Rug
Finished: Jelly Roll Rug

The Jelly Roll Rug is finally finished. I finished the sewing a few weeks ago, but Gretchen said I needed to steam it.

I finally did the last step on the Jelly Roll Rug over the weekend, which was to steam the living daylights out of it.

It is now pretty flat so all I have to do is send it off. I was going to have my YM take it to Portland to its new home, but he has a super cheap flight that doesn’t allow baggage.

This was a good experience. I think I will make another one, but square or rectangular.

A Couple of Donation Blocks

Zipper Pouch Day Donation Block
Zipper Pouch Day Donation Block

I took some packs of leaders and enders at Sew Day. I wanted to make a couple of blocks in between sewing the zipper pouches. I used the packs that Peggy always has available.

This is the first time I have made the postage stamp blocks in awhile and it was kind of fun, though my fabric placement was a bit off.

Donation block from Sew Day
Donation block from Sew Day

Community Giving Sew Day

I spent the day yesterday sewing for good. It was the guild’s Sew Day and we made zipper pouches for the Grateful Garment Project. The project provides a variety of items to assault victims. You can read more about the project on their website.

31 BAM zipper pouches
31 BAM zipper pouches

We ended up with 31.5 zipper pouches. I have one that I need to finish, which is the other half. 3 of us made over half of them, but everyone contributed. Mary talked to me about a production line where we could more done in the same time frame. I like that idea and hope we can do it again soon.

I also like the variety we came up with. Peggy, the awesome, put out a bin of fabrics and we were allowed to choose the ones we wanted. This meant there were fabrics with which I had never worked and that expanded my horizons a bit. I think some of them will be suitable for men, too.

Green & Yellow Zipper Pouch
Green & Yellow Zipper Pouch

I chose fabrics I liked, but I concentrated on producing as many well done zipper pouches as I could in the allotted time.

The first zipper pouch I made was the hardest. It came out fine, but was a challenge to get oriented to the pattern. After making the first one, I consulted with Mary on the zipper. We traded tips and after that our zippers came out as well as can be expected. I made two using the green and yellow fabric combination.

Purple Zipper Pouch for BAM
Purple Zipper Pouch for BAM

The second one I made was from purple fabrics. I liked the various motifs and like to use fabrics I enjoy.

I wasn’t a big fan of the white zipper, but there wasn’t a lot of choice in zippers. Peggy bought a bulk packet and there were no purple. Needs must and all. I think it looks fine.

Dots and Stripes Zipper Pouch
Dots and Stripes Zipper Pouch

Midway through I made two bags from the dots and stripes. I couldn’t, of course, resist the dots and the stripes were just great.

I like light interiors for pouches bags and handbags. Black interiors: blech! The light insides/linings allow one to see what is inside the bag. Light can also reflect on the light fabric to aid seeing what is in the bottom corner of your bag. I am sure I have said this before.

Dots with white zipper pouch
Dots with white zipper pouch

I had a lot of the dots, so I made a third pouch with a different interior. I liked the stripes better, but the light white on white (or maybe a very light pink) is fine. It does show the red dot fabric through a little bit, which is a shame.

By the time I made all of these pouches, I didn’t need a pattern. I was just making them over and over and refining as I went along. One thing I should have done was sew the lining with a larger seam allowance so that it fit inside the pouch better. It didn’t occur to me until I was almost done. I’ll do that on the last one.

The pouches I made
The pouches I made




Book Review: String Frenzy

String Frenzy: 12 More Strip Quilt Projects; Strips, Strings & Scrappy Things!String Frenzy: 12 More Strip Quilt Projects; Strips, Strings & Scrappy Things! by Bonnie K. Hunter

I wasn’t really interested in another project book until I saw the Straits of Mackinac project somewhere. I love the block and the way the overall quilt looks like it has curves even when there is no curved piecing. I looked at buying the book, but decided to see if my library had it first. I have many library cards and use them to excess! The system with the second closest branch didn’t have it so I ordered it using interlibrary loan (ILL). Then it occurred to me that it might be available from another branch in the system and I could have it delivered to the closest branch to my house. I thought ILL would take forever so I requested it again. Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing until both books came in on the same day!

This is basically a project book. It is about 95 pages, most of which are filled with patterns for the 12 quilt projects. The projects start on page 16 and end on page 89.

The book starts off with a dedication and acknowledgements (pg.3). A brief table of contents follows on page 4. One of my favorite things for project books is an overview of the projects page (pg.5), which is included in this book. The layout of the page shows a detail image of each project, gives the name and the page number.  I like this because it is useful for going straight to the project in which you are interested. I, of course, went straight to the Straits of Mackinac project (pg.26)!

“…to think of stitching all of these small bits back together simply to cut a shape to sew to another shape and then another. But something happened when I did. I was no longer simply following a pattern or a design, but creating something unique that danced and dazzled before my eyes” (pg.6). This quote explains the true wonderfulness of quiltmaking. I am not completely sold on string piecing, but my strip donation quilts have brought me back to this concept. I may not want to make blocks from tiny pieces all the time, but I do see the allure of creating something unique that nobody else can create. I also see the value in using a lot of different fabrics to make a quilt shimmer.

I have found that “there is magic in the piecing. Every scrap is full of memories of the project from which it came – every color, texture, and bit of contrast. They might not look like much on their own,these humble little pieces, but together they are a symphony of beauty, each scrap a spot on the timeline of your life as a quilter” (pg.6). This sentiment is so true for me. Every morning I wake up and look at Scrapitude Carnivale and it makes me happy. I pull scraps out of my scrap drawers and think about the project in which I originally used it. That is one of the beautiful things about scrap quilts.

Of course, there are basic sewing guidelines, as every book seems to have. Bonnie has put her own stamp on it by assuming readers know what tools and supplies they need. She does mention a sewing machine in “good working order (to avoid frustration)” (pg.7), which is straightforward and useful. Since the projects use scraps, she tells readers how she calculated yardage and more about the project instructions (pg.7). You’ll have to wing it a little if you are using scraps, since they are usually not full yards or even FQs. Bonnie Hunter is famous for using scraps, so the “About Project Instructions” section briefly talks about the ins and outs of using scraps. She also mentions cutting binding strips (pg.7), which I don’t remember seeing in books like this.

Bonnie Hunter designed a specialty ruler called Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler. This ruler helps make HSTs, QSTs and Flying Geese units. Hunter provides a picture and a brief description of the ruler in this section (pg.8). The ruler is a good addition to my Triangle Technique when you want to make one or two HSTs units rather than eight at a time. Not only does she show the ruler, but she shows how to use it for HSTs (pg.8), QSTs (pg.9-10) and Flying Geese (pg.10-11) units as well. Bonnie provides as chart near the Flying Geese instructions, so the reader can make different geese sizes. The ruler instructions have accompanying images, which make them easier to interpret.

‘Strings’ haven’t come up thus far in the book, but the author starts explaining what they are, how to make them and why to use them following the discussion of the Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler (pg.11). The discussion includes the definition of a string and how wide strings should be (pg.12), using foundations with strings, easy paper removal and pressing (pg.13). One tip, which I didn’t know is not to use tracing paper or vellum since they will curl or shrink when touched with an iron (pg.13). Interesting!

After reading this book, I also now know the difference between a crumb and a string (pg.14). It turns out that the way I make my Improv donation quilts is crumb piecing and I use string piecing for the strip version. A project book can teach me something new, too, which is why I like to take a look at as many new books as I can. The book teaches the reader to build crumb blocks (pg.15) with briefl but mighty instructions.

Patterns start with Geese on a String (pg.16-21). No lifestyle shots in this book, just a nice flat photo of the whole quilt (pg.17), with sizes for blocks and the entire quilt given (pg.16). I like it that there are no surprises.

My favorites in the book are Serpentine Web (pg.22-25), which reminds me of my Spiderweb quilt re-imagined in a new and fun way. The yellow is a bit much, but also may make the quilt. Straits of Mackinac (pg.26-33) is my absolute favorite in this book. It has the feel of En Provence, with a new,  different twist. I wouldn’t make it with the strips in the Peaky & Spike blocks like Bonnie does (too lazy?), but I would use a variety of fabrics. I also like Indigo-a-Go-Go (pg.84-89), thought not in those colors. The chain effect is a good use of 9 patches.

The patterns have a photo of the quilt flat so you can see the whole quilt along with some text that explains Bonnie’s inspiration or the fabric, which I like. There are also extensive materials lists, which do not include notions, machines, etc. These lists are for fabric, batting, etc. Hunter references tools, such as her Fast2Cut Essential Triangle Ruler in various places. Each pattern has some tips and tricks boxes, extensive construction notes from blocks to quilt assembly. As per usual, the finishing instructions are brief. The ‘At a Glance’ section in each pattern gives visual instructions for putting the quilt together.

The book ends with some foundation piecing patterns readers will need for various patterns. I recommend this book for a few projects you can sew as leaders and enders.

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