Overwhelmed and almost defeated!

Yes, I am declaring myself officially scrap overwhelmed! I keep my scraps in baskets, roughly sorted into warm, cool and neutrals. Then there was the huge plastic tub of kinda sorted scraps that I told myself I was done with…and then kept throwing in project leftovers without any sorting. I kept tripping over that one so I figured I could get it sorted and cut into some strips and sewn up and truly done with! Hahahahaha!

This is sort of what it looked like when I started, but it’s actually another whole pile of fabric to be sorted that I used to use when I gave a talk.

After pressing a few things, I remembered that the box contained mainly bright fabrics that I had used in one way or another for baby quilts and I was tired of them. Here’s the stack of quite small pieces–enough for a baby quilt here by itself!

And the pile of larger pieces, all nicely pressed! Probably 2-3 baby quilts here.

A pile of all orange……….

And bright and black that I thought I might start each block with….

except now I have no idea what kind of block to make! My original idea was a log cabin kind with logs added only on two sides. Large and fast, probably but not good for using up those smaller pieces….which have lots of matching parts with the larger pieces. Sigh…………….obviously I need to do a little research and planning before I simply start cutting. I’m not likely to want everything all one size, even if my scrap sizes agreed with that idea. Ideally it would all go into one large quilt, since it all goes together.

And I thought using up my stash was hard with fat quarter and larger pieces….HA again! These smaller pieces are trouble and I can’t seem to bring myself to pitch it all or chop it up into dog bed stuffing or inflict it on someone else to figure out a solution.

Yep, overwhelmed and walked away for today. Cogitation needed! And maybe a glass of wine…………………………………………….sigh!


Working out the method

Teaching anything involves a lot of planning…at least it does for me. And it’s waaaay different planning for unskilled middle school kids than for adult quilters! I know what I want to teach them and now I’m working on how to get it across to them.

I know from experience that some of them have never even held a needle and some are already garment sewing, so I have to deliver the basics while keeping the others from total boredom. I think the idea of ‘teaching assistants’ may work just fine.

This is how I think we’ll assemble the little pieces–after a bit of design time and the lesson about threading and using that needle!

Actually, the first picture is probably NOT how we’ll do it, but I’ll give them the option.

These pieces are glue basted down. It avoids getting stuck with pins but for kids, the glue can get globby and maybe not so secure. They will have the option but not the recommendation. However, this will also be an example that pieces in a series can be different sizes.

So here’s what I will recommend. A piece of batting (or other support fabric), larger than the finished piece will be. Then trace out the area of the finished piece so they know how much area to cover.

And remember that the marking goes on the back, so they can see it until the end! I thought about just marking the corners on the front, but then remembered that these are inexperienced kids!

After the design is laid out, with those pesky sharp pins, they will be basting. It’s really going to be the best way for them to proceed.

And rather than random stitch meditation type ideas, I am going to have them work in a series mind-set. I think I’m set with my plan!

I know I’m set with quite a few pieces ready to embroider and embellish, but I needed at least this many to work out my planning.

I need a few more in the light blue series and I want to get all of these completely finished off before I do any others. Then anything additional between now and camp will be a bonus.

Feeling good about this!!!!

Issues of ‘too much stuff’

Quilt retreat this weekend–hooray! I decided to take my sewing machine and quilt my daughter’s quilt, rather than ONLY take hand work to do. That’s a simple bunch of stuff to pack…the machine, the thread, the quilt, even the binding…Bam! It’s ready.

Then it took me two days to figure out what I wanted to work on for the hand sewing. At first I thought I would use the pile of necktie fabric that I have collected.

You would be surprised at how much fabric there is in a simple silk tie.

And I have plain scraps and glitzy scraps galore, from which to choose.

I know that I want to make samples for our Blue Lake project this summer. Ooooookaaaay! The design of that project will be wide open for student imagination, so my imagination had an awful time trying to figure out what the best examples will be.

Poor empty box here, waiting for me to make a decision…

It’s not as if I’ll be leaving on Monday for that assignment and have to have everything ready. It’s not until July! I’ve got time! But you know how sneaky that time thing is…next thing I know, July will be here and I can’t stand the thought of being unprepared.

What? You think everything I do is totally improvised? HA! When I’m teaching, I like to show everything I can think of…and have samples of everything I can think of…so that the students can envision how to do improv. I was taught by nuns—I DO my homework, or else!

I was getting overwhelmed with too much stuff again, too many choices! I ended up going to the box of vintage linens, which also has a bunch of silk and sample fabrics, all in light colors. I have a charm pack of grunge fabric, a little wool and ALL my favorite embroidery thread. Surprise–no beads! That kind of embellishment can wait until after I get home.

I will make whatever I can with what I have! And, you know, it’s a retreat with a bunch of artists who use textiles. Everyone will have scraps and all of these women are sharers. It will work.

See the little carry-on bag on the right? That’s clothes. I can pack for a week in that little bag! All the rest is sewing stuff…so that means I’m headed for a good time.

I can’t wait to see what I come home with, and I’ll share it with you as soon as I get it figured out!

Spring and batiks–right?

My new stashbuster project was inspired by a photo that I backtracked to a free pattern. Now I know you all will want to know which pattern, so here’s the link  Kite Flight  by Robert Kaufman and it’s a beginner friendly, strip pieced pattern.

Easy to make the strip sets, of course, and I was eager to see how the actual measurements and instructions work on my machine, in real life! The assumption with jelly rolls is that the strips are all at least 42″ long and of course that’s not always true. It also assumes that your seam allowance is sewn exactly like theirs. The pattern cautions that there is not waste, which means ‘be careful or you’ll run out of fabric.’

I used my fast stitch machine and I know that the 1/4″ I sew on that machine is a scant 1/4″.  And I used the very edge of the pinked cut as my edge. And the instructions said to press all the seams open…………..fat chance! I am not going to spend forever picking open those pinked edges on a 5 strip set! I just pressed them out each way from the center strip. If it’s an issue later in the construction, I’ll figure it out and deal with it then.

It came out as a skinny 10 1/2″ strip set. If you are a beginner, and yours comes out a touch small, don’t panic! The next step is to cross cut into squares, so you make your squares the same size as your strip set. The objective is to make the square! If it’s 10 1/4″ instead of 10 1/2″, there may be some other adjustment needed later on, but for this pattern it’s more important that it be square.

I certainly did not mean this post to be all about the pattern instructions, because they are fine. This is to reassure you that perfection is not always necessary to achieve great results. And for me, the goal is to use up the stash, not produce an heirloom masterpiece! I quilt for fun, aim for precision and don’t stress over any part of it. My favorite quilt teacher said that fabric is forgiving and it’s a statement that I’ve lived by as I work with textiles.

Now, about that 42″ WOF measurement…so far, so good, by measuring carefully. But how to avoid panic and having to make more strip sets if these are short? I decided while I was sewing them together that it’s a scrap quilt. If it was short I was simply going to add a piece of fabric on the end and cut out the square. In a different situation, I would make more strip sets or seam the ends of the ‘short ones’ together to make large enough blocks.  (And that may yet happen!) I’ve only cut one set so far, but this is what I had left!

I hope all the other strips work as well! I’m eager to keep going on this one. It should be quick and I’m liking those strip sets, so I’m positive I’ll like the finished quilt.

I have to tell you once again, I am having so much fun working on these stashbuster projects! And getting an actual, useable end product is a big bonus!

Quilt on………………..



The Stylized Tree—Finished

Finished, except for label and hanging sleeve, but sometimes those wait until I actually need to hang a piece!

I tried very hard to get it nice and straight, square and even, with no wavy edges. It came pretty close for as wonky as it was when I started! I’m certainly not going to stress over it.

And I didn’t try to get a professional looking photo. It’s just stuck up on the design wall so I could look at it and breath a sigh of relief!

But even as I was working to finish this up, I was thinking about the next project. A FB photo caught my eye and I tracked it down to a free pattern. The actual picture of the sample quilt was quite uninspiring, but the FB photo was very colorful, and mine will be also. I’m using strips of batiks, and it looks like a jelly roll that I have no recollection of buying. Some of them were already sewn together in pairs and that’s actually part of how the pattern is created, so bonus there!

Now all I have to do is find something compatible that I have 2 yards of to finish it. And I don’t have many fabrics in large chunks. A yard is a big piece for the way I work! I absolutely will not buy anything to finish this with, but I’m sure there is something in the pile that I have been hoarding that will work!!!

I’m really excited to get this one started. Using up my stash is turning out to be lots of fun, and I may actually get to a point where I feel it’s truly getting close to “used up”—don’t laugh. It can happen!

Stashbuster 1 done

It really doesn’t take very long to make a quilt top, when you keep the design simple and limit the fabric choices! Hooray!

I forgot to measure it for final dimensions, but it’s a decent cuddle up size! In an effort to totally keep it simple, I used all the smaller blocks in a header section and all the larger ones in the bottom section.

Sewed together super quickly and now we are ready to move on.

As I looked at the shelves, I had a moment of being totally overwhelmed with the task ahead of me. Making one top at a time will not make a dent in the stash until about 5 years from now, but each top made will be progress. Something will change before then…………

I realized that my hand dyes are here to stay, so I started stacking those on two of the shelves. I think I may have three shelves of hand dyes when I’m done.

And there are some things that are definitely heading out the door–like fabric that I bought when my daughter was a toddler and never made clothes with. She’s an adult now, with a 9 year old son, so I think it’s safe to rid myself of those pastel pink and blue knits.

When some of those items are off the shelves, it may be time to sort through for things I just plain don’t like any more. Those, at least, will be useful cottons that I can pass on to someone learning to sew. (My preferred method of disposal!)

I’m no longer overwhelmed, but it is a formidable task.

Next step is deciding on the next quilt top. Simple and pretty, so it will get done!

Stashbusting Start

Yesterday was a total sewing day, all day long! And my shoulders are sore from hours at the machine, but it was very much worth it.

Wonky nine patches are very easy to make and when you get into that repetitive groove of cut-sew-press-cut-sew-press, the stacks get higher quickly.

And since I wanted to use up every bit of these fabrics, I made smaller four patch blocks to go along with them.

I put all of the larger blocks on the design wall (with no thought of design) because it’s always so satisfying to see so much work done!

Then I needed to figure out how I was going to incorporate the other size blocks. That original strip pieced portion yielded 8 small blocks, so I made a medallion of that.

And laid out the other smaller blocks around it.

That’s how I left things at the end of the day. Actually cooked a lovely chicken dinner and relaxed with the Olympics. Felt very productive…it was a very good day!

Not sure if this is how I will proceed. The whole idea is to keep it simple and get it done. When I head back to the studio, I will probaby arrange this grouping as a header, lay out the rest of the blocks in straight rows and GET IT DONE.

Because I’m already thinking of the next one…………………………orange!