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.


Cutting Scraps

I am in a little bit of a quiltmaking funk at the moment. Not sure why except work is taking a lot of brainpower. One of the results of these feelings is that I tidy. You saw the column quilt I posted the other day. That was the result of leftover pieces and blocks.

Accuquilt work on scraps
Accuquilt work on scraps

At Craft Night on Monday, I brought down a drawer full of scraps and cut them up with my Accuquilt. I made it through the whole, mostly white, drawer and came up with, perhaps, 80-100 2.5 inch squares. I’ll have a good supply for donation block backgrounds.

Dark Blue Journal Cover

I have to admit to using Leuchtturm journals lately instead of my favorite Miquelrius journals. The Leuchtturm journals are slim and fit in my handbag with all my other stuff. They don’t need covers. I couldn’t figure out why I was leaning away from the Miquelrius journals.

Finally, I realized, on Sunday when I needed a new journal because I had finished the old one what the problem was. I didn’t have any Miquelrius journals with the journal covers already made. As you may have guessed, I like to put journal covers on the Miquelrius journals, because the corners of the covers tend to poke me. I looked back and found that the last journal cover I made was the Orange Soda Journal Cover back in November (November seemed to be a good month for me). That was at least two journals ago.

I actually had a journal cover partially made. I hadn’t really worked on it in a few weeks. It occurred to me that it be an entry in the BAMQG scrap challenge. The donation blocks were giving me a bit of trouble (decision making not sewing), so it was an easy choice to switch projects. I used the journal cover pieces and parts as leaders and enders while I worked out my donation block issues.

Journal covers are not difficult (tutorial is posted -sizes are for the  Miquelrius journals). The time consuming part is the mosaic piecing. Of course you can make the cover out of one piece of fabric for an even quicker and easier version. I rarely, if ever, do that, however.

Dark Blue Journal Cover
Dark Blue Journal Cover

Frequently, I start pulling out fabrics and stick to certain values in that one scrap drawer. I am not sure which fabric pieces I started with, but the first fabrics often set the tone for the entire piece. This one is a little darker than I usually like. I do like the monochromatic look, however, so I stuck with the darker blues.

Dark Blue Journal Cover - other side
Dark Blue Journal Cover – other side

I haven’t decided which side to use as the front. Since I don’t need it immediately, I don’t have to decide for at least three months.

I had some issues with the filling. I have been using flannel, but am just about out. I had some leftover bits of fusible fleece, so I stuck those to the back of the pieced front and filled the rest in with flannel scraps. Some parts are fluffier than I like, but  it works and the project is done.

I started another journal cover with turquoise. Stay tuned.

En Provence Update

En Provence with Peaky & Spike
En Provence with Peaky & Spike

I have a very tiny update for the En Provence Mystery quilt. I have enough of the Peaky & Spike blocks finished to make 9 patches.

In fact, I may be completely finished with the Peaky & Spike blocks. I don’t know what goes in the corners and haven’t taken the time to look it up.

This block, the only one I have laid out, is not sewn. Laying it out, however, gets it closer to being sewn. I hope you don’t think this is a poor showing!

I have to say that it occurred to me that I might want to use the blues from the Blue Lemonade Hunting & Gathering box for the colored 4 patches. If the clue asks for 2 inch squares, I’ll be golden or In like Flynn. I have to find the clue and look it up.

En Provence Announced

Bonnie Hunter announced her 2016 mystery quilt*, En Provence, today. I haven’t ever done one of her mystery quilts, but I always collect the instructions, thinking that I will do one some day, after the fact. I am pleased to watch Pam and Daisy and Valerie and others do the steps. They have made some gorgeous quilts.

I have a great deal of respect for Bonnie for creating a new mystery quilt every year. I just haven’t made the plunge. I did Scrapitude, which I love. That was a mystery quilt and I am not sure I could top it.

Normally, I am quite confident choosing colors for a quilt. One problem I have with mystery quilts is choosing the colors. Scrapitude was great because it was a scrap quilt and the background was clearly defined. In this one, I don’t know if the neutrals will be the background. I don’t know where the green and yellow will end up, though Bonnie says the two colors should have good contrast with each other. I appreciate her mentioning such tips and tricks. However, I don’t want to spend time on a quilt only to have it end up as a mushy mess at the end.

My color preferences are much brighter than hers. I always wonder if they would work. I did some Palette Builder work on her inspiration photos and was glad to see that she had made good choices.

So, I don’t know if I will make the mystery quilt. I will collect the directions and I did order the new and fancy ruler (I love rulers!), so I am ready to go. Stay tuned.





*As you may know, the link above will not work after ~June 2017. You will need to work along with her to get all the pieces.

Rethinking Scraps

I was reading Pam’s recent Sunday Stash post after listening to her podcast and thinking that perhaps I should rethink my scrap storage. I bought a little drawer system some time ago, which works pretty well.

Scrap Organization
Scrap Organization

Still, random sizes of scraps doesn’t work that well except for mosaic piecing. Piles of scraps shoved in a drawer are not fun.

Pam and Bonnie Hunter cut their scraps into certain sizes. Pam has talked about the sizes she uses, which differ from Bonnie’s slightly. Bonnie calls her system the Scrap User’s System, which is a good moniker. I have just never embraced that method, because I never seem to have the right project for some of the sizes. And I don’t want to make projects just because I have certain sizes of patches.

Bonnie Hunter Scrap Saver Systems:

  • strips in sizes of 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″ and 3.5″. These are strips 12″ or longer.
  • Patches 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3.5″ squares
  • bricks in 2″X3.5″ and 2.5″ X 4.5″

Bonnie Hunter writes “*Note* Just for your information, did you know that you could get three 1.5″ strips, three 2″ strips and three 2.5″ strips all from a 1/2 yard of fabric and it would be out of your nagging stash, into your strip bins and ready to be used? If you really want to slice up larger pieces, this is the way to go. Cut a few slices of different sizes and feed them into their bins! You’ll be using those strips in no time.”

Pam’s Scrap System:

  • 2″, 3 1/2″, 5″ and 10″ squares
  • 2 1/2″x WOF strips
  • random 2 1/4″ strips (since I got rid of strings I will keep 2 1/4″ wide strings to use for scrappy bindings)

As I was cleaning out my magazine pile, I came across the magazine I bought last year and was reminded of Joan Ford’s system. It is a little different and much simpler than Bonnie Hunter’s. I did a pretty thorough review after I bought the magazine. With this system we have the following sizes:

Joan Ford ScrapTherapy / Scrap+1 System:

  • Squares: 2″, 3.5″ and 5″

Of course, I do cut certain sizes from new yardage and have let that practice bleed over to some scraps as I make them. I don’t usually go to the scrap bin later and do a bunch of cutting, though I do think that would be a good idea. Generally, I cut the following out of new fabric:

  • 1.5″ squares – all colors
  • 2″ blue, purple and green squares
  • 2.5″ squares – all colors
  • 3″x3″ squares – used fabrics (for FOTY)
  • 5.5″x3″ rectangles – new fabric (for FOTY)

I do use the scraps from the actual scrap bin for various things. I sew my scraps using the mosaic piecing method to make journal covers and other small items. I also fill in weird places on the backs of quilts using scraps.

If I make a scrap quilt, I want it come out like Scrapitude in its cheerfulness and fun style. I do NOT use Bonnie Hunter’s method of just grabbing any color and using it. I want my quilts to look good and that means choosing pieces carefully. That is designing.

I do believe in using up my fabric. I have a working collection and not just a collection so the above would make sense for fabrics that I like, but aren’t going to be used for a project.

The other sad part is that my scraps are bugging me and I need to do something about them. Pulling all of these systems together

Sleeping with Scrapitude

It was cold here*. I wore extra clothes and two jackets when I went on my walk. Nights were hell, because even though I sleep in flannel pajamas, I was cold at night.

I have a lot quilts laying around, so I threw Scrapitude on the bed on top of Thoughts on Dots, the Sampler and Water Kaleidoscope and down duvet. I don’t know if it helped, but it certainly gave the new room (sadly in need of new decor) a temporary new look. Having Scrapitude on the bed also made me look at it more frequently.

Scrapitude Carnivale on the bed
Scrapitude Carnivale on the bed

As you might recall, I did kind of a controlled scrappy palette for that quilt. I didn’t want to throw everything in and hope for the best. I wanted to secure a good outcome, as much as I could, in advance, thus the dotty background on white. Still, as I walk around and look at the quilt, I think about the fabrics I used and consider which I would use again and which I would toss out.

In the recent episode by Jinny Beyer for the 2015 Craftsy BOM, Jinny said that you need dark-darks as well as light lights. I think that is true for certain projects. I have to admit that I would toss most of the darks, especially the blacks and dark greens, I included if I were making the exact same quilt again. They look like holes in the quilt.

Scrapitude at Night on the bed
Scrapitude at Night on the bed

There are also some lights that I would get rid of because they make parts invisible and areas of the quilt look completely different from other areas. There is one block that looks like a Friendship Star with some four patches around it rather than the complex star, with the interesting triangle legs, that it is supposed to be.

I have to say, though that I enjoy looking at the pieces I used. It makes me think that scrap quilts are much more interesting and you can look at them longer than other quilts. I certainly have not yet gotten tired of look at this quilt.

Do you see your quilts differently once you put it on the bed?










Nota bene: I live in California – on the coast and it doesn’t snow here. I have thin California blood not robust snow blood. ‘Cold’ is relative.

Scrapitude Back

Scrapitude Back
Scrapitude Back

I was determined to make the Scrapitude back this past weekend. In order to do that I had to finish the label. I had some time on Friday night and used it to make the label and order some rotary blades.

Rotary blades, you ask? What do they have to do with making a back? There are some tasks that are not hard, but they can interrupt the flow of sewing if you have to stop and do them. I have been trying to identify these tasks and put them into slots of time that are not suitable to sewing.

Making labels, making bindings and ordering rotary cutter blades are three of those tasks, which I have identified so far. I figure that if I put them into these odd slots of time, I’ll get more sewing done. It’s a theory anyway.

I wasn’t up to sewing a lot of small pieces together, so I tried to find some larger pieces of yardage. I found the large piece of Philip Jacobs. I knew I had a large dot piece that I liked with it, so I found that as well and went from there. I always have to piece a bit around the label, but I found that bird and tree print, which was perfect, because I didn’t have to cut it up too much. The trees show up pretty well and I was pleased to see the butterfly. There is something nice about that print and this turned out to be the perfect use for it.

I made the binding last weekend, so this baby is ready to go to the quilter. Yippee!

Scrapitude Issues

Last week, I posted about finishing the Scrapitude top. I also talked about the Adventures in Arting podcast in a recent Various & Sundry post. I was listening to it while I was piecing and the discussion they had made me think that I needed to document a problem I came across.

I had problems with this quilt, as I do with many of my quilts.

It wasn’t the pattern.

It wasn’t the difficulty level.

It wasn’t the fabric or other supplies.

The problem was simply the process of being human. Often I will sew to get away from issues in the rest of my life with which I am struggling. I pieced the rest of Scrapitude as we finalized the sale of Super G’s house. It was a tough weekend. Piecing Scrapitude kept my mind on a task on which I needed to focus, but one where my mind could wander.

Scrapitude Error
Scrapitude Error

In the course of piecing, I found mistakes I had made earlier when putting the blocks together. One of them I had already pieced into the quilt and that one will be there for eternity, but I removed several others and fixed them before I pieced them into the quilt.

In the picture to the left, the bottom left hand four patch was set in incorrectly. The foreground white on blue dot square should be in the upper right hand corner of that section in the block, not in the upper left. It isn’t a major error and with all that is going on in the quilt, nobody would notice.

Scrapitude Error detail
Scrapitude Error detail

I noticed and cared enough to rip it out. The question I always ask myself is whether I can live with the mistake or if I need to fix it. In this case, I could have lived with the mistake, but decided to fix it anyway.

There are issues with the finished top, but the quilt is very cheerful and I like it. I don’t think I will take up mystery quilts in general, but I am glad I did this one.

Scrapitude Top Finished

Scrapitude Top Finished
Scrapitude Top Finished

I spent almost three solid days piecing the rest of this Scrapitude top. I say “almost solid” because I went and got a pedicure and ate breakfast, went to Pilates and picked up the Young Man on Friday. On Saturday I worked on the taxes, did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen. Yesterday, I got up late, spent a lot of time eating breakfast and reading the newspaper with the family, went to the gym, and worked on some of Super G’s stuff. It felt like three solid days since I had big plans to work on other quilt and fiber projects.

Finishing this top was more work than I thought it would be. The fact that the top was bigger than my design wall should not hamper me as I deal with that issue all the time. It did, though. As I got to the edges, I couldn’t see when to put a 2.5″ square on the almost-vertical sashing and when to put it on the almost-horizontal sashing. That meant that I unpicked and resewed a lot.

The only thing I really had to do yesterday was put borders on it and that small task seemed to take forever. I put borders on to stabilize all of those bias edges and sewed very carefully while I did it. the borders, of course, are scrappy. I mitered them for once and I am pleased with how they came out.

I still have the back, the binding and the label to make. I will use a bunch of Philip Jacobs fabrics to make the back, which makes me very happy. I don’t know what I will use for binding- perhaps another Philip Jacaobs or a white dot to continue the border and focus the eye on the center.  I am pleased with my progress.

I have to say that I am sorely tempted to make this quilt again. I want to play with the look of the 2.5″ squares running across the quilt. I have tons of quilts I want to make and will think about making something with those same squares, but in a different pattern.

Updated: Scrapitude Posts are now compiled on Sandy’s blog.

Scrapitude Confetti

Scrapitude Februry 2014
Scrapitude Februry 2014

After finally settling down over the weekend, I decided to start piecing Scrapitude into a top. The top is not yet completely pieced, but I did get a rhythm going and I did make progress. I might be able to finish it this weekend, which would go a long way towards alleviating some of the chaos.

The piece looks really cheerful, which is nice. Sandi said it reminded her of confetti. It does, so I might use that as a name.

As I was piecing the seam allowances were shrinking, I noticed how the lines of squares ran through the whole piece. I think it would have been good to make those all one color and not use that color anywhere else in the quilt — or only in selected locations that didn’t touch the squares.

Previous Scrapitude Posts

Scrapitude Triangles

I expect the next clue to be iminent, so I checked, after piecing the blocks together, that I had all the piecing done for all the Scrapitude parts.


Scrapitude Triangles
Scrapitude Triangles

I forgot to finish some of the triangles. There were two kinds of triangles detailed in Scrapitude Clue #4 Part 2. I had finished all of the smaller version units. I think they must be blocks for the corners. I suspect that the blocks will be placed on point.

I had not, however, sewn all the larger triangle units. I got busy on that and sewed them wrong, so I ripped and resewed. It turns out that I had not changed the ink in my printer, so there was no blue or yellow and I couldn’t see the proper colors. Now they are all finished, nice and pretty.

Scrapitude Setting Triangles?
Scrapitude Setting Triangles?

After I finished those larger triangles, I played around with settings. If the quilt is put together like I suspect it is, there will be a lot of bias edges. I am really hoping that I am wrong.

Scrapitude Setting?
Scrapitude Setting?

I have to be because there are some background squares leftover. I am sure Charlotte has some clever setting in mind for us.

Previous Scrapitude Posts

Nearing the End of Scrapitude

Scrapitude Blocks Pieced
Scrapitude Blocks Pieced

I didn’t expect to spend the better part of last Saturday finishing up Scrapitude blocks, but it seemed like the right thing to do when I realized the next clue would be coming out soon. I don’t want to get too far behind and have more travel coming up. It was also pretty easy to work on.

I started by testing out the 9000 by putting one block  together on Friday. I had an idea that I would need to take the machine to a new dealer and Friday was my day to do it.

I ended up spending quite a while sewing and the 9K machine acted fine. I went to the quilt store anyway (also the machine dealer I plan to go to for service and repairs next time) and talked to them about the machine. I just didn’t bring the machine in. They are skeptical that they can fix it, if it continues with the same problem. The dealer I went back and forth with 100 times (or what seemed like 100 times) has more experience. While talking to them, I told them that they might have a different perspective since they are quiltmakers. For the moment the machine is at home and working fine.

Saturday I started in again on Scrapitude blocks and just worked on them until they were finished. I have gotten a lot of nice compliments on them, which are much appreciated.

Previous Scrapitude Posts

Scrapitude Continues Again

I went to Memphis for work last week and really missed sewing. I arrived home on Saturday around 8. No sewing that night, but Sunday, I got to it. Sandy posted the next clue on Scrapitude sometime last week and people were already finishing up their blocks – yes, that clue included the blocks layout – and I was chomping at the bit to sew. As soon as I got some Sunday chores out of the ay, I started laying the blocks out.

Scrapitude: Don't Do This
Scrapitude: Don’t Do This

I realized pretty quickly that I would have to rip out the units I had sewn with the large plain triangles and the complex corner units, because that combination was completely wrong. Duh. I didn’t rip them out before, because I was hoping I was ahead and not wrong. Sadly, Charlotte has another plan in mind and I was wrong. I ripped a little and sewed a little and finally got enough of the Jester Hat blocks (I’ll have to look up the real name sometime) to make up 25 blocks. I slowed down on the ripping and started to sew in earnest.

Scrapitude: Missing Jester Hat blocks
Scrapitude: Missing Jester Hat blocks

As you can see, I laid out the various parts into blocks. Most of my Jester Hat units are not 4.5″ and that really bugs me. I think it is because of switching machines, what feels like, several dozen times.

As I arranged the layout, I did a the pieces around to maximize the colors and spread like colors across the piece. Mostly I just laid them out. There is enough variety so, for the most part, no two fabrics are next to each other. Still I thought the piece looked like a bit of a jumbled mess.

I went and got my machine on Monday and used it to make some of the blocks, but after about two hours of sewing, it is acting up, so I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. 🙁

I can’t be too upset, because I did get quite a bit done. I also had fun on my birthday, got back in the workout saddle AND I was thrilled to be back and playing with fabric.

Scrapitude: Too dark?
Scrapitude: Too dark?

I am still thinking about the piece as a whole. With Mystery Quilts, it is hard to figure out a cohesive look for the whole when you don’t know what the whole will be. I guess that is the nature of Mystery Quilts. Rather than exciting, it is causing me some anxiety. I think, because of the amount of the turquoise and pink that there is an element of cohesion. Or I might be wishing strongly.

In terms of the scrappiness of the piece, I have been concerned all along. It is easy not to be too concerned while grabbing fabrics and cutting them up. What could go wrong, right? There are a lot of different fabrics and, though most are really clear, there are some dull ones (see that yellow with sailors towards the bottom of the above photo?). I think they are ok in the grand scheme, but I would be happy if they were gone.

I think the dots-as-background pull the piece together, even though the background is made up of a lot of different dot fabrics. Still I have some concerns about some of the darker fabrics. I have arrows pointing to the fabrics that are really B List fabrics, in terms of this piece. There are some others. I am going to leave them, because Maureen said they would be ok. I also don’t want to rip anymore. I am trying to spread them out so that they do not clump together to create a dark spot or hole in the quilt.

Scrapitude detail
Scrapitude detail

And so, I ended up with these blocks. To the right are the completed blocks. they are bright and cheerful and I am glad I used my dots for the background. I think it needs to be the Year of the Dots, a year where I will use my dots.

I have also made some of the triangle units designated in Clue #4 part 1 and Clue #4 part 2. I think this piece will be set on point, but I am not sure how as there are still sashing strips. I do like the look of the two triangle (corner??) units.

Scrapitude: Large Triangle Unit
Scrapitude: Large Triangle Unit

I had to finish ripping the rest of the wrongly sewn blocks in order to make the piece above. It looks fairly complex, but is pretty easy to put together.

One good thing about a Mystery Quilt is making all the units upfront. I didn’t like all that cutting, but it really makes this step go fast.

Scrapitude: Small Triangle Unit
Scrapitude: Small Triangle Unit

These also look fairly complex, but the same applies. I am getting a lot of bang for my buck!

Previous Scrapitude Posts