Recently, I was thinking about scraps. Part of my thought process stemmed from a discussion I had with a New Zealand quilt friend, another part had to do with the completion of the Cheerful Baskets quilt and, finally, looking and thinking about some of TFQ’s quilts and process.
For me, a scrap quilt is a quilt made from many, many different fabrics. The fabrics do not have to all come from my scrap basket. Cheerful Baskets is a scrap quilt, because many fabrics were used. Most of the triangles are different. The triangles, for the most part, did come out of my scrap basket. The baskets did not, but are mostly different. We purchased a small piece of many of the yellows based on the exact shade of the yellow. There are many different prints used as the background.
Cheerful Baskets is a thoughtfully made quilt, not just in the piecing, but also in the color selection and placement. I do not think that any old scrap should be placed next to any other scrap. Scrap quilts, for me, are not a jumbled mess.
I don’t have a large scrap pile, because I either toss the scraps or use them up. I don’t like to waste, though, so periodically my scrap basket overflows.
One thing that I do is plan a bit ahead for my projects. I have list of pieces I need to cut for scrap quilts. One shape I am cutting now is 2×2″ squares in turquoise and purple. I am making some four patches from these pieces. I put these through the machine in between other chain piecing, so they act as leaders and enders a la Bonnie Hunt (she mentions this technique in a recent post, but I think she goes into more detail in an older post). This type of in between piecing/leaders and enders also is great to warm up your sewing muscles when you start a sewing session.
Along these lines, I also cut squares of various sizes and keep them in a bag for when I need some squares. This is not a well thought out plan and I should probably cut squares all the same size and put them in bags according to their size. I haven’t gotten that far yet.
The idea is to cut regular sized pieces so that you have a selection to choose from when you need some shapes for a project. You can also cut different shapes such as triangles with an eye towards half square triangles, rectangles, etc. This is also a good task when you don’t know what else to do.
The Fabric of the Year (FOTY) quilts are, technically, scrap quilts. They are also charm quilts, but scrap quilts do not have to be charm quilts if you are working TJW. As you know, for the FOTY quilts, I cut a piece from each fabric I purchase or use throughout the year and then make a quilt top from those pieces in January. This concept can be used in general as I am with an upcoming pink quilt and an upcoming blue quilt. I am cutting 2.5×4.5″ rectangles of all of the pinks I come across, either newly purchased or from my stash. When I have enough I will arrange them on the wall and sew them together. I am doing the same for blues.
I don’t do this, but I think it would be useful to sort my scraps by color. I don’t think I have enough scraps to sort by color. I don’t want to devote fabric space to scraps, so I try and keep the scrap pile manageable.
I found a new source for scraps when I started the FOTY 2010 project. I use a ruler when I cut the diamonds and end up with two triangles. After seeing the Corner Store project in Pretty Little Mini Quilts, I decided I could do that with the triangles. The block is shown in the middle. The triangles are added to a square of Kona Snow and then trimmed to size. The triangles are all slightly different sizes and I am trying to take advantage of the wonkiness. The nice thing about this project is that the triangles never even go into my scrap basket. They go into a separate pile and are sewn on to the squares.
The Red Journal is also a scrap project. As longtime readers know, I have been sewing together little slivers of red fabric for awhile to make a new piece of fabric. The technique is called Mosaic quilting, a concept developed by Shannon Williams. It has all the qualities that work for me for scrap quilting. The maker sews random pieces of like colors together to make new fabric. I do this with red and want to do it with all of the colors, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
I think there are a lot of ways to think about scraps. Above are a few of the ways I think about and use scraps. Hope it is useful.