Tuesday, October 06, 2020


I seem to end up with collections of scraps that I don't know what to do with. There was quite a large box full of strips of large florals, toiles, bits leftover from backings that featured large patterns, strips from jellyrolls that varied so much acrosss the width of fabric that they were unusable in any normal way.

One of the first ways of taming these weird pieces is to group them together so you know what you are dealing with and I'd been putting stuff in this container for years. I kept puzzling over what to do and trying to think of some pattern that would bring cohesiveness to such a random assortment of fabric. 
At the start of this year Keryn and I were discussing what we'd like to achieve in our sewing this year, and one resolve was to try different things, in particular something we weren't comfortable with. For me that was string piecing, a style of patchwork I adore but haven't had much luck sticking with.

I loathe the mess it makes! It seems to overwhelm my sewing space and every single seam is a choice and the more you sew, the more mess it makes. I must admit I lose patience with this way of working, but I love the results. I've often joked to Keryn that if I had a separate table and machine and enough space to devote to a "messy corner" I could probably stand it. I like my sewing to be more ordered and in control, I'm afraid.

I saved this picture many years ago and while going through my 'strings' folder in search of inspiration I thought this might be what I was looking for. Varied sizes of strips, so I could use up all of the length of fabric and enough of a pattern to give some structure to the design. Those big florals and strange large patterns and toiles could be used in between more solid strips to calm everything down.

Now I had a plan and drafted a large diamond and cut papers that I could use as a foundation. This much I could handle, and I thought I'd be able to cope with the mess in the heat of inspiration! Wrong! One block was made and then hours of scrabbling and searching and trying out this bit and that resulted in four more diamonds but I'd regressed to hating the whole process. I was left wondering whether to abandon the whole thing.

After more thought (and packing the offending project away out of sight) I may have come up with a plan on how to proceed with this and not drive myself mad. I'll give it another try.....and let you know how it works out!


Saturday, September 26, 2020

 I have completely lost track of what I've shared on the blog over the last few years. I thought I'd posted the finish of Jo's Stair Steps Rail Fence but apparently not. (I can't seem to find her original post about this quilt )

I loved making the 1" finished red and cream HST and they were a great leader ender for a long while. Then the sewing of the rails took their place until I lost patience and wanted to work on this full time, which quite often happens with the leader ender project. 

I didn't make it as large as Jo's but I'm happy with this size. It used up a heap of drab and medium toned fabric that I had fallen out of love with and turned them into a quilt that is a favourite  now.

I've sold a lot of quilts over the years but I decided I was going to keep this one and I had the perfect fabric for the backing. I bought these two dress lengths in the eighties, intending to make shirts or sundresses, but they really were a bit lairy for that. Such good quality cotton though, so I was sure I could find a place for them in a quilt somewhere. They were only  printed to look like batiks which meant that they were a lot softer than real batik fabric would have been.
I think I'll use this as a Christmas quilt this year, December is rapidly approaching!


Sunday, September 13, 2020

 The blue chains top is in one piece and I'm pleased with the way the border turned out. It seems to turn the blue chains into a continuous pattern instead of just running off at the edge. Despite it using up nearly 10 metres of scraps, it didn't use them ALL. 

Sometimes I wonder if it's even possible (or desirable)to use up the scraps completely. I regard them as a sort of 'starter', like sourdough that will contribute to the next project.  I have an idea for the rest of the bits so they'll be tucked away in a container, ready for the time when I can face "Blue" again.


Monday, August 31, 2020

 I've said before that Keryn gives me a lot of scraps and her binge of blue tops from a few years ago left me with piles of blue oddments and leftover cut pieces. It was getting too much, even for me!

I sewed up the cut pieces into hourglass blocks or squares, and then decided I was going to make another Blue Chain quilt using ALL the rest of the scraps. Just to make things interesting I changed the block size from 12" to 8" which meant I could use a heap more of the smaller bits. 

I can't remember when I started this but it's been ongoing for at least a year. I've done my best to cut everything into 1 1/2" squares or 2 1/2" triangles and I have decimated the drawers full of blue scraps. However I'd accumulated so many blocks that I had to call a halt to production- at last count it was nearly 300 4" blocks. Are you getting an idea of how much Keryn passes on to me?

I've set them into three panels and now comes the big job of putting it all together and deciding on borders. A finish is in sight....


Thursday, August 20, 2020

 When Bonnie made her Jewel Box Star I liked it, but wasn't tempted to start one of my own. Then I saw Jo's version and decided I could start using some of the white based neutrals I'd been collecting. And use brighter, more modern fabrics.

The 2" squares were my leader-enders for a long time, and the four patches built up in a satisfying manner. Then I binge sewed a heap of the 3 1/2 hst and put together the small blocks in another session. For some reason I moved on to other things, and they've been sitting in a drawer ever since.

Determined to move the project along I got an old magazine and laid out the blocks in groups of four to get the star effect, one lot to each page. (you have to start at the back and move forward) This container with the magazine inside has 14 blocks laid out ready to sew. The bits on top were spares that had too many repeating fabrics to go together, and don't think I didn't try shuffling things around! There's only so much faffing around I can tolerate with a project I'm not really wedded to in the first place. I have to make more of everything anyway, and these leftovers will be absorbed into the new blocks.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sometimes I think I'm just not meant to blog anymore. I had been taking photos of my sewing, intending to do a series of posts to get up to date. Then the SD card in my camera malfunctioned and dumped the lot. Not just my quilting photos but videos of the girls and all sorts of priceless memories. Sigh. I had backed everything up a few months ago but kept forgetting to do it again. Kicking myself now...

Then my laptop charger died and it's so old that I can't replace it. My DIL is trying to find a way round that and has set up google photos so that I don't lose any more photos, but REALLY?  I never ask myself "What else can go wrong because I don't want to invite trouble, but it all makes trying to blog rather difficult. Not to mention new blogger that everyone is complaining about!

So I've tried to document my projects as best I can (all the progress shots are lost) and hopefully do a series of posts to get up to date. Fingers crossed...

A while ago I found some leftovers at the op-shop, wedges that were sewn across the tip and ready to be set into a dresden sunflower sort of circle. I unpicked and pressed them  and was left with some skinny tumbler shapes. They were sewn into rows and a skinny border added. Now I'll add a pretty floral border and have a little cot quilt or wall hanging for my 50 cents. And I got to play with some pretty fabrics that I don't have in my stash.



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Years ago I made these Arrowhead blocks from some of my oldest stash fabric from the seventies and eighties. Yikes, that sounds Vintage, yet my real vintage stash is from the fifties, even further back in the mists of time. This fabric is just Old, but I still liked a lot of it.

I hand-pieced twenty of them, over the span of a few years and then they sat and waited for another few years. A couple of months ago I decided their time had come and they were going to be set together, no matter what.
I made a heap of little square in square blocks and chose a sashing fabric with almost no agonising

 and in two nights the blocks were together.

Now I have to decide whether to add a border of pieced diamonds, I'm thinking it might be nice, and I still have some of that fabric in my stash.


Friday, May 22, 2020

I really enjoyed completing these tops, and that was evident because I didn't let them sit in the cupboard for ages. I have so many projects awaiting decisions on borders that I think I must have some sort of problem, but I never lost interest in these two. The only real decision I made was which one would have the piano key border and which the checkerboard. 

The eagle eyed among you may notice this top is longer than the last photo of it. I had already decided to finish it at that size and added the final border of two inch squares but it really was too short. So I pieced another row of stars and sixteen patches and added the row of two inch squares to get it to this size. I like the way the top row of stars seems to float in the squares, if I make another top like this I'll bear it in mind.

Another thing that made finishing these easy was the way I constructed the little black borders.

They were only 1 1/4" cut and I added them to blocks of the pieced sections, piano key or four patches, in increments of 2"( the finished size of the pieces).  There are actually two black fabrics and I alternated them in random lengths, 12 1/2", 8 1/2" 6 1/2" as needed to get things to fit. It was very simple to make the borders the exact size they needed to be and there were handy seams on the body of the top to align everything exactly. A very painless way of putting two borders on indeed.

I have a collection of pale blue and purple fabrics, and now I'm wondering if I could do another version of stars in those colours. Hmm, or maybe I should put a few borders on those other projects
that are waiting...


Monday, May 11, 2020

I thought I might have enough pink and black scraps for one top but they've proved very persistent and I made a second set of blocks  with the pieces leftover from the first. I've put borders on both of them now but haven't managed to photograph them yet.

 Strangely I'm not sick of the sawtooth stars or the pink and black scraps even now, but I have other projects demanding my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with these colours, so different to my usual choices. I'm still not sure how I managed to accumulate so much of these light pink fabrics, I certainly didn't buy it all and hopefully I won't say yes to any more that comes my way!


Thursday, April 02, 2020

I don't know how many times I've heard people say "The world has gone mad! and indeed it seems so. There are security guards standing next to the toilet paper to stop fights and checkout staff are being assaulted in the supermarket of our nearby town. I've witnessed several incidents of sheer rudeness that makes me wonder at the nature of some people. Oh well, I'm trying to be cheerful and still chat nicely to others no matter what.

My DIL and I are sewing masks for a home cleaning company that can't get proper masks and for anyone else that wants them. It can't hurt, and leaves the proper ones for the people who need it most. We have extra "help" from two enthusiastic staff, who love to be in the thick of things.

Our wonderful coffee shop has been reduced to takeaway only, so no more long chats over a Vienna or long black. We'll keep supporting them for as long as possible; I hope they don't have to shut completely.

It looks like we're in for a very long haul here but it's worth it if we can spread the infection rate out. The news from Europe and America is appalling and my heart goes out to those who have lost someone.It's hard not to be apprehensive about the future but at least as quilters we can put our sewing skills to use and help with things like masks. We're lucky to have an interest that will sustain us in the months ahead and keep our minds and hands busy. While others moan about being bored we can get on with all the projects we haven't had time for!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

 I have a bolt of white fabric that wasn't the quality I thought it was going to be when I ordered it. That's the risk you take when buying large amounts, the actual bolt may not be exactly the same as the sample you were shown, especially with staples like homespun.  I wanted to make sure that the colours wouldn't shadow through when pieced and it seemed to be fine.. The final test was the quilting, but the fabric behaved nicely so I will be happy using it for my projects now. I'm still on the lookout for the perfect white, but I'll buy it in person next time.

I'm also trying out some of Keryns   pantograph patterns to see if I can choose some to replace the Baptist fans that I want to put on everything. It seems silly not to take advantage of all the lovely designs I have at my fingertips. I think this one is Sand Spirals and it quilted up very quickly.

These are seven inch blocks and were fun to do. I have a kit of them cut out in blue and white  as a more traditional quilt, but they're on the back burner for now. So many new things to distract me, I'm having trouble stating on track these days.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

One of the groups of fabric that I want to use up are the scraps of big florals that I've used for borders or setting blocks over the years. Some of them are gorgeous indeed, but the patterns are hard to use in smaller pieces.

Included in this collection of perplexing scraps are the 5" squares from charm packs, which usually have a feature fabric of a large floral or paisley. These are just tiny snippets of an allover large design, and sometimes you can only imagine what the whole thing looks like. Small squares with random huge flowers, or parts thereof don't exactly inspire a lot of ideas.

I was looking through my saved pictures, and suddenly realised that this pattern might be  a really good way to use those awkward prints. I can't remember where I saw this- it has NY study group on it but they seem more modern now. Anyway, I started cutting the charm prints into 4 1/2" squares,  made a few connecting blocks, and I was on my way.
After making a few of the Puss in the Corner blocks I realised I could also find a place for some other hard to use reproduction scraps, strange stripes and large dark florals that were big enough to be cut into the 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 " pieces I needed.  You really need yardage for some stripes to work well in borders or fussy cutting and I had scraps and odd bits that were too small for either. Even a fat quarter of something like this Jinny Beyer print isn't really useful unless you want to do some fancy cutting and tweaking.

However these stripes were exactly the right size to cut a 2 1/2" stripe, which was then cross cut into 1 1/2" slices. Likewise these stripes were chopped up and became the darks for the chain blocks.

I was so pleased to find a way to use these scraps,

and I felt even more virtuous about the fabric disappearing into this project.
In the box of border scraps were the bits from mitred corners, and wherever possible I sewed these together so that I could cut a square from them.

Most of the patterns are so busy you can't notice that seam anyway. More bits gone!

I decided I preferred it set straight instead of on point like the original, and I've sewed together about 1/4 of the blocks I'd previously cut . I was enjoying the half empty container of scraps, but then  Keryn gave me all the squares from her charm packs that she didn't want, so  I've got a lot more cutting to do!


Sunday, February 16, 2020

 I've never been one to say no to scraps when they're offered to me, nor can I pass by a bag of fabric in the op shop.  I regularly get tubs of stuff like this from Keryn who loses patience with her leftovers and is glad to see the back of them. I deal with them by steadily sorting and cutting until it's all filed away in containers, or put with groups of fabric I'm saving for certain projects.

 I boasted to Keryn late last year that I'd got all my scraps under control and that probably made the universe prick up it's ears and laugh. Within the last  two weeks I've accumulated a washing basket full of bits and pieces, from op shops and two huge bags of offcuts from the local fabric shop. Even Keryn couldn't resist two bags that contained lots of  Kaffe scraps to add to her collection.

I've spent hours happily going through all this muddle of colour and pattern, sorting it into piles and pieces to add to projects already started.

Keryn often says that I'm never going to be able to cut up my yardage because I seem to use my scraps exclusively, at least for the start of a project. I usually think I can get a few blocks from scraps, but  more often than not all them are made from the bits and pieces. It's wildly satisfying to find a place to use all these leftovers but I have a huge amount of fabric in large pieces that I need to address too. Keryn and I made a resolution this year that we would try to make inroads  into the precious yardage and use the larger cuts we've hoarded for so long.

I still fully intend to do that, after I've used this lot....


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