Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Speaking of Scrap Quilts....

September is underway....
 
 
I've started catching up on the wool ornaments....

Two down, four to go!
 
....and there's activity on the design wall......

Sorry for the hazy picture.

These are four patches made as "leader/enders" and braid units I have been collecting to make a quilt called "Confetti".  I'm hoping to enter it in the 5th Annual Scrap Quilt Challenge that the online store Fabrics 'N Quilts is hosting.  Entry deadline is October 15.  I wanted to work on this one because it is the most developed of my WIP scrap projects. 

I try to find scrap quilts I want to make before I have the scraps so that when I process my scraps they go right toward specific projects.  First I saw a "Confetti" quilt in American Patchwork & Quilting (June 2002) and thought it would be a cinch to save up the 2" squares needed for the four patches.  Later I became enamoured of braid quilts and found a design for one in a back issue of Quilters Newsletter (March 1991).  I collected bits and bobs for both for awhile and then one day I found a quilt that used both together!


The pattern on the right, also in a QNM back issue (September 1997) is also called "Confetti" and used both the four patches in the center like the APQ quilt and then braid units for the borders.  Don't you just love quilting!  The queen-size quilt called for 256 four patches and 304 braid units. By the time I saw the Quilt Challenge announcement this year I had 206 four patches but had not kept count of how many braid units I had cut.  However, since it's no longer a requirement that I make a queen-size quilt, I figured I should put the patches up on the wall and see what size quilt might be possible with what I already have on hand.

The only problem?  When I had originally started collecting for the QNM braid quilt pattern, it was designed so that the light braids and dark braids would be pieced on opposing sides of the braid columns so were cut in the reverse of each other.  However, even after I decided on doing the later QNM combined quilt, I continued to cut the braid units that way.  I'm only now noticing that if I'm going to use a white background as per the pattern, the braids as I have them cut will not work.  So the debate now is whether to change the border design to accommodate what I have or use a different (darker)background to provide a better contrast to work with what I have.  I'm still chewing on that choice in my mind and the decision will guide or may be made by my choice of background fabric.

Scraps or Scrappy?

I find that people often mean two different things when they use the term "Scrap Quilt".  For me, there is a distinct difference between "a quilt made from scraps" and "a Scrap(py) Quilt".  In an "Editor's Note" that was sent in an email back in March entitled "Scrap Happy", Quiltmaker Magazine Editor Rachel Peterson said this about the spring cleaning she was giving her studio:

"I simply had to ask myself, "Can I see this in a quilt?" If I hesitated, if I couldn't picture even a hint of a quilt, that scrap was tossed. A saying kept flashing through my mind that I learned while studying to be a journalist, "Slay your darlings." Obviously they were talking about words on a page, but it applied to my scrap stash. As soon as I cleared all the clutter and itty pieces I would never use, my stash seemed to fit together better. Suddenly I was seeing more potential for fabric combinations and quilt designs."

Now for me this is an instance where the plan is to "make a quilt from scraps".  That is, the goal is to take leftover fabrics and coordinate them together to make a quilt the same way you would shop for fabric yardage in a store.  There is nothing wrong with that approach  if you are setting out to make a quilt using a specific palette of colors and want to use up or put some of your leftover fabrics toward it.  This is exactly how I started the Valentines Day quilt I made earlier this year.  I am a firm proponent of the idea that your scraps cost you the same amount as your yardage so you might as well use them up!

However, I was surprised by her comment that any scraps she couldn't "see" going into a quilt needed to be tossed.  Yikes!!  My idea of a true "Scrap Quilt" and the ones I enjoy seeing are the ones made from every kind of fabric without regard to what it looks like or if it matches.  In quilts like these, the more different fabrics you add, the better they look!  My inspiration/mentor/heroine in that is Bonnie Hunter who, ironically, contributes a regular feature to the same magazine!  Her column in QM is called "Addicted To Scraps" and if you look at her quilts (and you can do so over at her website Quiltville.com), you'll see they are full of scrappy goodness and include everything under the sun!  Bonnie always points out and jokes about the "Millenium fabrics" that still show up in her quilts from time to time even all these years after the year 2000.  In fact, people still send her their scraps of that kind of fabric and she has no problem adding them to her latest work.  She detailed her own views on the subject of making scrap quilts in this blog post from 2005

In  those kind of scrap quilts,  you may only worry about value (light or dark) and maybe tone (if you want the quilt to be primarily full of bright/pure colors or muted/shaded/toned colors) but sometimes even those considerations are set aside.  Many of the antique quilt gems we love were made from the scrap basket and suggest that the maker wasn't concerned about liking the way things went together but only with having enough bits to make the finished size quilt they needed.

Ms. Peterson's comment about "clear(ing) all the clutter and itty pieces (she) would never use" means she's probably never considered making a "Crumb" quilt (also known as Mile-A-Minute or Made Fabric).  For these type of blocks/quilts, there is almost no such thing as a piece too small to make a block.  If you google "Crumb Quilt" you'll see what I mean.  I've actually also got one of those that was in the process of being quilted when I stopped work on it and might try to also finish it up for the Quilt Challenge too.

Admittedly, your tolerance for what is "pretty" factors in here.  Some people find these types of scrap quilt ugly.  However, with quilts as with people, beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in the case of quilts, the snuggler!!  That's not to say that some of your scraps can't be reserved to stuff pillow forms or dog beds. But if I can put my scraps in a quilt I'm so much happier!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Get It Done! August Recap, September Goals

Good News, good news!  One of the (big) projects that has been on this list since the start of the year is finally finished.  With Fall coming in, I'm looking forward to a few more in the coming months.  I really want to make a dent in my project tally lists on the side bar.

So as previously reported, my August Goals were:
 
1.  New Category - To Be Quilted:  Now that I've done a bit of quilting, I'm ready and raring to go on the Civil War lap quilts which will be the priority in this category this month.  Although these are also UFOs, I want to identity the things ready for quilting separately from a UFO still in the production stage.

The Sampler quilts are FINALLY DONE! (Details on this post)

Re-Piecing the Past
 

Civil War Legacy
 

2.  UFOs:  In this corner I have a big Fall project I want to bring to at least the flimsie stage before the summer ends:  my Autumn Double Wedding Ring.  This will be the month to get that done and maybe even layer it.

 
NOT DONE, but one of the top priorities for September.
 
3.  Wool BOMs:  I really need to move on this to stay on track for the holidays so the big push this month is to bring these ornaments up to date. 

  
NOT DONE, so I'll have a lot of catch up to do this month.
 
4.  Hand Work:  As noted above, hoping to once again get back to the QAYG project.  It will be good for fall hand work and I'd love to try to get this completely done by the end of the year.  Looking specifically to try to get eight blocks done each month (two per week) until the end of the year.
 
NOT DONE but hope to get this one going through the Fall.
 
5.  Gift Quilts:  The Baby Quilt.  Leaving this one on the list even though I have a feeling that I will not work on it this month either.


NOT DONE but I went to dinner with the baby's grandmother and finally got some feedback about the mother's desired colors and motifs so maybe I can get this one in gear for September?
 
6.  WIP:  For this category this month I actually want to finish up a display piece -- adding the Lincoln/Obama embroidery piece to my old Spontaneity quilt.

 
NOT DONE, but another priority item for September.
 
7.  QOV:  As noted above, I had a chance to go through and reorganize my QOV stash.  There's still some time -- maybe I can get at least one made up before the summer ends?!?
 

 NOT DONE.
 
I'm torn on this:  I'll keep these on the back burner but am also afraid they might just have to wait until the summer season next year. 


8. New Category - HSY:  My Hussy ("Haven't Started Yet") project for this month is my Halloween Quilt project.  While it will ultimately be one quilt, it is actually comprised of two separate patterns that I will be layering back to back when they are done.  I talked about them back in this post and one of the patterns seems to be a hard to find item.  I've had a number of queries over the years (the latest one came just this past week) from people looking to get it.  So I'd like to finish this one up once and for all so that I can pass it along to another quilter. 

 
 NOT DONE, but hoping to move it from HSY to WIP this month. 
 
So, the September Goals are:
 
1.  To Be Quilted:  I have a few options here: I still have my Chronicles BOM, the last of the initial Civil War projects left to complete and something I already have ideas in mind for custom quilting.  However, I also have two partially quilted projects that I'd love to get finished that have much simpler quilting plans so may be easier and quicker to complete. 
 
2.  UFOs:  Like last month, the big priority Fall project that I want to bring to at least the flimsie stage before the summer ends is my Autumn Double Wedding Ring. I know I said this last month but this will be the month to get that done!  Even better, I love to hopefully layer it and maybe even quilt it.
 
3.  Wool BOMs:  Xmas ornaments.   I really need to move on this to stay on track for the holidays so the big push this month is to bring these ornaments up to date.  I really want to stay on track and have these are ready for the tree in December.
 
4.  Hand Work:  As noted above, hoping to once again to get back to the QAYG project.  It will be good for Fall hand work and I'd love to try to get this completely done by the end of the year.  As noted above, I'm want to try to get eight blocks done each month (two per week) until the end of the year.
 
5.  Gift Quilts:  The Baby Quilt.  As noted above, I saw the Grandmother and now that I have some design guidelines, I can now start making definite (but flexible) plans for the project.
 
6.  WIP:  As noted above,  this month I actually want to finish up a display piece -- adding the Lincoln/Obama embroidery piece to my old Spontaneity quilt. 
 
7.  QOV:  I'm thinking about joining a guild this Fall and one of their requirements is that members make one charity project a year so maybe I can accomplish something in this category through that process.

8. New Category - HSY:  My Hussy ("Haven't Started Yet") project for this month is my Halloween Quilt project.   Just last week I got another query from someone interested in getting one of the patterns so I'd like to finish this one up once and for all so that I can pass it along to another quilter. 

As the leaves begin to fall off the trees, so may the unfinished projects fall off the "To Do" list!  What's are your quilt plans for Fall?