Scrap User System

One of the things that was in the first Frolic! clue was a mention of Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User System. I had forgotten about her system, but was reminded when I clicked on the link and started reading the article.

2019 Cutting Chart
2019 Cutting Chart

I don’t do exactly what Bonnie does, but I do a version of it. As I have mentioned, I cut certain pieces out of every piece of fabric I use or buy for future projects. As I mentioned the other day, this sometimes comes in handy when I work on a project that needs certain unit sizes that I have cut. This is the point of Bonnie’s system.

My cutting varies from year to year depending on what projects I have going, as I have said. I like the idea of cutting up all of my scraps into usable pieces, but it just isn’t practical for me. I like the compromise I have made. It breaks up my cutting, as I have also said. I have the pieces I need for my next projects ready to go when I am ready to sew. I have something (cutting up pieces of fabric) I can do when I have a few minutes free.

I also like having random shapes and sizes of fabric in my scrap drawers. I would be able to make interesting journal covers or the improv donation quilts without them.

I think the key is to think about different systems and make them work for you.

Successful Scrappy

Valerie made a comment about the White Strip Donation top the other day and it got me thinking about successful scrap quilts.

White Strip Donation Top: finished
White Strip Donation Top: finished

I think the strip and improv donation tops have been successful because of the consistency of color used. Primarily, these quilts are monochromatic. I say primarily, because fabrics often have different colors on top of a primary color, so other colors are included in monochromatic quilts. Also, for many of them, I have used a different color (complimentary, usually, though neutral as well) for the sashing and border.

I have used a different color as sashing or border to provide contrast in the strip quilts. The White Strip Donation Top I recently finished has a different look. I used fabrics with a  white background for all the pieces. Readers can see some of the other colors as they dominate the image (click on it to see it larger and get a better view), but the overall look is still white.

I often worry about the successful color selection of “paper bag” scrap quilts. Many find it fun to grab a piece out of a paper bag and use it without thought or consideration. I find this method of selecting fabrics to be incredibly stressful. I like to carefully select my fabrics. In that way, I feel like I have a better chance of a successful final project.  I don’t want to spend time on a quilt that ends up ugly.

Scrapitude Carnivale Finished
Scrapitude Carnivale Finished

Making the Scrapitude quilt was an exercise in faith. It was a mystery quilt so I had no idea how it would come out. Often, I wait until the end to see the finished product, but this time I stuck to the schedule. I still carefully selected my fabrics and was careful to use the same type of prints for the background-dots on white.

I love the way this quilt came out and I do enjoy looking at it. I wonder, though, when I look at it if I should have included the blacks, dark greens and some chocolate pieces? I like all the fabrics I chose.** I often think of making another version of this quilt and making the changes I wonder about.

I think carefully selecting fabrics even if you are grabbing from your scrap bin is really key to a good looking finished quilt. The quilt will look like your style. You will like it and you will enjoy working on it.

 

 

 

** I think it is absolutely key to only work with fabrics you like. Whether it is the brand, the designer or the colors, life is too short to work with fabrics that make you cringe.

White Strip Donation Top: Finished

White Strip Donation Top: finished
White Strip Donation Top: finished

All the blocks for this quilt were made from my scrap drawer. I know I can make at least two more quilts from this one drawer. Yes, I used some yardage for the back, the border, the sashing and the cornerstones, but that is a small amount compared to the blocks, I think.

Orange Strip Donation Top Finished

Orange Strip Donation Top: finished
Orange Strip Donation Top: finished

I finished the Orange Strip Donation top & back yesterday. It came down to finishing the back, which took longer than expected in a busy week.

My quilt holders were around so I was able to get some photos in a timely manner.

The blue is an unexpected choice, but I talked about it before, so I won’t go into it again. I kind of wish I had more orange strips so I could do a version with a white background. I don’t, though, so I’ll have to do that next time I get a plethora of orange scraps.

Orange Strip Donation Back
Orange Strip Donation Back

I used some odd oranges for the back. These are nice fabrics that I don’t think I will use for something else. I had a hard time curating the fabrics for the back as I really like 90% of the oranges I have left. I guess I had better use them for something if not for donation quilts.

Using up fabrics makes me wish I hadn’t stashed so much fabric when I did. On the other hand having so much fabric on hand means that I can put my hands on almost any color I need for any project. It also means I can make almost any quilt I want without going to the store.

Evolution of Strip Tops?

If you have read for any length of time, you have seen the various color strip donation tops I have been working on.

I am really liking the way they are coming out, the slight variations I have explored and the way the shift in colors makes the top look different. Also, Tim’s quilting adds a whole additional dimension.

Julie Sefton's Inspi(Red) quilt
Julie Sefton’s Inspi(Red) quilt

My mind was slightly blown the other day when I looked a a post from Quilt Diva Julie. she covers a lot in her posts and I was just about to click away when I saw her quilt, Inspi(red). I love the little sparks of color that show up against the red. This quilt gives me another idea for these color scrap quilts on which I have been working.

Julie was kind enough to give me permission to post her quilt here. She writes “INSPI(RED) is the red quilt on the blog today with inserts that are the trimmings from the center strips of Luminous.   Inspi(red) is my own interpretation of a pattern named Bright Birch Trees by Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts)”.

N.B. Crazy Mom Quilts is no longer being updated and some of the links no longer work, including the link to the Bright Birch Trees pattern. 🙁 If you are patient you can see the Bright Birch Trees image, which uses a variety of different colored backgrounds.

Thin Orange Strips
Thin Orange Strips

I never really know how images out on the web will hit me. I am so grateful that people are still posting on blogs and talking about their work. This quilt made me think of the thin strips of piecing that come out of the strips quilts after I trim. I can add them to larger pieces to make them useful, but they are little gems on their own and get lost, to a certain extent in the improv piecing of the larger donation tops where I mostly use them. Julie’s quilt makes me think of add them to larger blocks as a featured element in the block.

I don’t have enough in scraps to make the blocks as she has done, but I do have yardage that would be well used by people in need.

I don’t think I have enough orange to make a whole quilt in this design after I finish the Improv version. I’ll have to see. I have a lot of blue and pink scraps so those colors might be my test bed.

Apparently, I now have about a million more ideas for donation quilts. It is so great to have that outlet as I can try as many quilts as I want without my house being floor to ceiling with unused quilts!

Stay tuned!

Red Scrap Journal Cover

Red made fabric pieces
Red made fabric pieces

As mentioned, I have been working with red scraps. As I dived into the drawer, I found several pieces of fabric that had already been made from scraps.

Since I have a few Miquelrius journals that need covers, I decided to use some of the scraps to make a journal cover. It was fun to look at all of the made fabric and decide which pieces to use. I felt like I was picking out commercial fabric. It was nice to have a choice.

Red journal cover closed - May 2019
Red journal cover closed – May 2019

Because I had already done the hard work of making the fabric, I just had to make the piece large enough to fit the journal. (Sizing info can be fond in the journal covers tutorial). It went really quick, which was great, because I was in need of a quick finish. I am pleased with the chair print on the front as well as the disbursement of dot fabrics.

Red journal cover front open - May 2019
Red journal cover front open – May 2019

I use flannel instead of batting for the center of the journal covers. It gives the cover a little bit of body, but doesn’t make it bulky. I’d like to just use ShapeFlex, but it doesn’t stick very well to made fabric because of all the seams. If I am using a favorite commercial fabric and there aren’t a lot of seams, then I will use ShapeFlex.

Red journal cover back open - May 2019
Red journal cover back open – May 2019

I always cover the batting the another cotton fabric, but I forgot to do that this time, so the flannel serves as batting and backing. It is on the inside and doesn’t show much, so I think it will be ok. I haven’t been carting my journals around as much as I have in the past, so I think the flannel will stay clean. I am glad, however, this is just for me. I think I will need to read the tutorial again before I make the next one.

 

Red Chunk Donation Top

Red Chunk donation top
Red Chunk donation top

I finished the Red Chunk Donation Top and back on Monday morning. Hooray!

I am pleased with how it came out. I thought the border was rather perfect. I would have preferred to have enough fabric, so I didn’t have to have different corners, but it looks nice, so it is all good.

Another top for the BAM Community Quilt Project and another 3 yards used up this year.

Mrs. K’s Scrap Quilt

Mrs. K's Scrappy Quilt
Mrs. K’s Scrappy Quilt

I love it when I get to see other people’s projects. Recently Mrs. K sent me a picture of her recent scrap quilt.

It looks like she sewed a lot of strips together to make larger chunks or blocks. The many colors makes this very cheerful.

I asked her what was her inspiration and she wrote “YOU were my inspiration with your blue and white 16 block squares and charity quilts. I started doing leaders and enders. One time I was sewing somewhere and didn’t have my little box of squares, so I collected other peoples small scraps and just started sewing them together as my leaders and enders.

I follow a blog called Me and my quilts by Quilt Diva Julie—perhaps you mentioned her—She does bright, colorful quilts. Many are scrappy quilts. One of hers gave me the idea for the solid strips.” Julie has a great design in her May 20 blog post that would be a great leaders and enders project. Bonnie Hunter has a couple of books about leaders and enders, Adventures with Leaders & Enders and More Adventures with Leaders & Enders.

I can hardly believe that she could be inspired to make something as great as this quilt from looking at my 16 patch blocks. It warms my heart and is one reason I write.

Thanks for sharing, Mrs. K!

Scrap Survey Results

Scrap Survey Results
Scrap Survey Results

Some time ago, I asked you to take a survey about the size of your scraps. This came back to mind as I work through the various scraps in my drawers. Thus, I finally took some time to look at the results.

Over 180 of you responded. WOW! Thanks. Sadly, 97 of you also skipped the one question I asked, thus I had 83 usable results.

I was really surprised to find that almost 60% (49.8) of you keep scraps larger than 3″. Now, I have some scraps that are large from awhile ago, but these days I make a big effort to only save scraps that are smaller than 3 inches. As you know, I cut up anything larger into usable patches. When in doubt I cut pieces up for donation quilts. I am curious about what you think are scraps and how you plan to use them. Please leave a comment to let me know.

There are no wrong answers and we each have our systems. I think we can learn from each other by understanding how we work.

Red Strip Donation Blocks

The Purple Improv donation top wasn’t even off the design wall before I started in on red scrap strip blocks, the next color in this unexpected series.

I have 15 more blocks to make, but they go fast and I have 3 in process at the moment.

There is something very satisfying about sitting at my sewing machine, grabbing strips and shards from a drawer right next to the machine and ending up with a quilt top. When I started the Green Thing, it was kind of a lark, an experiment to try the blocks that were inspired by Alison. Now this seems to be a whole project. It’s unexpected, but oddly satisfying.

Journal Cover Gift

Gerre's Journal Cover
Gerre’s Journal Cover

My friend had a birthday yesterday. I have been telling her – well strongly suggesting that writing in a journal would help her work out some issues. Thus, this is my “put your money where your mouth is” gift to her.

I rummaged through my white scrap bin to make this journal cover. I was going for cheerful and light to counteract the grey weather we have been having. I really tried hard to get that castle fabric (upper left) on the front, but didn’t quite make it.

Gerre's Journal Cover with front cover open
Gerre’s Journal Cover with front cover open

Since I have been making Gerre a few things recently with the ice cream fabric, I wanted to include some in this journal cover as well. I put it on the inside as it didn’t go very well with my light and cheerful look.

Gerre's Journal Cover with back cover open
Gerre’s Journal Cover with back cover open

I haven’t made a journal cover in a while. The last one was dark blue and made in 2017. I have been sing a different kind of journal that doesn’t work with these covers, thus I haven’t needed a new one. I still like these Miquelrius journals. They have great paper and ink dries on it quickly. I am just more enamored with the Leuchtturm journals at the moment. I like hte rounded edges and the colors. The Leuchtturm journals also fit in my handbag, which is an added bonus.

Gerre's Journal Cover back cover
Gerre’s Journal Cover back cover

I had fun putting this cover together. I used a number of scraps from the EPP half hexie project and even some scraps from the City Sampler.

I had a hard time sewing it as there were so many seams along the edge, so I ripped the last seams out a couple of times. It isn’t perfect, but I hope she won’t notice. That edge is tricky.

I did get a nice compliment from Angela who has used the journal cover tutorial to make covers for other types of journals.  She said it was her favorite journal cover tutorial. 🙂

Gerre's Journal Cover -whole cover, open and face down
Gerre’s Journal Cover -whole cover, open and face down

Green Strips Donation Top

Green Strips donation top
Green Strips donation top

The Green Strips donation top and back is finally finished and ready to take to BAM.

I made it from green scraps and a yard of Kona Cream that Amanda gave me. The scrap bin is right next to my sewing machine, so I can reach in an rummage without even getting up! It would be a bad thing except I have to get up to iron and cut, so I still get steps in.

The block was inspired by Alison, as I think I have mentioned, though she does hers on a foundation. That is probably a good idea, though I didn’t have a lot of problems with bias.

Green Strips donation back
Green Strips donation back

I dragged down the green bin and pulled out some yardage I didn’t think I would use for the back.

What Are Scraps?

Blue scrap drawer
Blue scrap drawer

As I work on the strip blocks, I have been pondering scraps. My scraps are small. Often times they are smaller than 2.5″. Not always, because periodically I get sick of sorting scraps and larger pieces end up in the scrap drawers. I am forcing myself to add more pieces to the bag for filling pet beds, because I have a lot of fabric and I probably won’t get through the yardage much less shreds of fabric. Pet Beds are a good cause. A lot of my fabric does not go to the landfill because of Pet Beds.

When my bins get too full, I get out my Accuquilt and cut up scraps into smaller pieces. One problem with Accuquilt cutting is that I only have certain dies and certain projects that need certain pieces. I need 2″ squares of blue,green and purple but not of white. I need 2.5″ squares of all colors, but not all scraps are large enough to cut a 2.5″ square. The whole scrap management thing is really a headache, which is one reason I have been defaulting to pet bed filling lately.

Alison's Blocks
Alison’s Blocks

A lot of what I keep are strips. I keep them, because they can be useful, but not large enough for 2″ or 2.5″ squares. I am using up some strips making the blocks Alison showed me (right).

Larger scraps, like half a FQ, stay with my yardage. I do that partially because my scrap bins are already overflowing and there isn’t space. I also do it because if I can cut more than a 2.5″ square out of the piece, I don’t really consider it a scrap. I occasionally find something I can use for a large-ish scrap requirement in a scrap bin. If I do, as mentioned, I was probably sick of sorting scraps.

I have used a lot of scraps for journal covers, which is a fun exercise in improv piecing and color combinations.

What do you consider to be scraps? How large are scraps in your scrap bins? Fill out the 1 question scrap survey and I will report back on the results in another post later.

Indulgent and Pragmatic

Accuquilt Go!
Accuquilt Go!

The other day I wrote about using the Accuquilt to cut up some scraps. SherriD asked me some questions about the Accuquilt and it made me realize I had never really articulated how I use my Accuquilt. Perhaps I have and I just can’t find it in the blog?

I bought the Accuquilt on sale in order to cut about 10,000 strips for the Renewed Jelly Roll Race quilt. I felt like it was an indulgent purchase, but also somewhat pragmatic. It worked really well for that type of cutting (as long as I was able to straighten the fabric accurately). I don’t have a large cutting table so cutting long strips can be a nightmare of folding. The Accuquilt works really well for this purpose.

I determined, early on in my Accuquilt ownership, that I was not going buy every die. I also did not plan to buy the applique’ dies. I don’t do much applique’ and I saw no reason to clutter up my shrinking fabric closet with dies I would never use. Having a complete collection is not important to me.

I also decided I would buy basic dies – squares and strips. I want dies that give me as many options as possible, so I buy sizes of squares, mostly, that I can use in various quilts. 2.5 inch squares is the die I use the most for ‘on spec’ cutting. I also use the 2 inch die as I am still collecting blue, green and purple squares for the Blueberry Lemonade quilt I plan to make at some point.

Accuquilt-HRT die
Accuquilt-HRT die

I have branched out a little. I have an HRT die. Never used, but I have it. It is a great example of why I try to be careful about the dies I buy. I bought it thinking I could pair it with 2.5 inch square a la the Spiky Stars quilt. It isn’t the right size. That is an obvious drawback for dies. With rulers, you can cut whatever size you need. The dies are usually limited to one size. I have seen dies with multiple shapes or sizes, but that isn’t always the case.

I often use SIL’s Peaky & Spike die, so much so that I have thought of buying my own. Up until now using hers is fine. She and I coordinate die buying now that we live near each other. That expands both of our collections.

Triangles are a pain to cut, so I either use the Triangle Technique or some other quick cutting method. Triangles are great to cut with the Accuquilt, but I haven’t invested in the dies. I have a few, I think, but I find they often aren’t the right size for my project.

I probably would have bought the electric version if it had been available when I was shopping. If you are thinking of a die cutter, see if a local shop has one they rent. Some shops do and that can be a good way to try them out.

The bottomline is that there is no one way for me to cut. I use rulers, dies, templates and whatever else works for my project. Do what works for you.