Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Creative Use of Stash

As I have been trying to get my stash in order for several years, making loads of Scrap Quilts, cutting up smaller pieces into squares and strips I wholly empathised with Bonnie Hunter's blog post that she wrote a couple of days ago.

As you might imagine the amount of fabric I own and am dealing with is a mere 'drop in the ocean' compared to Bonnie's!  I gazed in awe and wonder at her filing shelves of see-through plastic shoe boxes containing FQs, sorted into colours, one or more box for each colour collection. She even had enough FQs to differentiate between the shades of pinks etc.

But of course Bonnie is a designer, teacher and prolific maker of HUGE quilts whereas I quilt as a hobby, making quilts for family and friends, the local hospital and good causes. I don't have a huge basement as a studio either, just a small bedroom that belonged to my son.

But, I do have a chest of drawers full of fabrics, a bookcase holding books and plastic boxes of threads, ribbons, embroidery floss, tins and jars of buttons, plastic bags and boxes of strips and squares of various sizes, a big box of batting off-cuts and bags of larger pieces of batting, three bags of strips, and tins of small scraps of fabric to use for making Crumb Blocks.  A lot for me to keep on top of and to keep moving from stash to finished quilt.

Very conscious that I need to use up some of this stash, I have been concentrating on using some of the pieces of fabric I re-discovered in my recent Big Sort Out.

I found a lovely Noah's Ark panel - bought so long ago I had completely forgotten I owned it and can't even remember where I bought it.  So, before it got buried again I decided to USE IT UP!  As I sorted I gathered together fabrics, squares and strips that I thought would blend with the panel colours.  Quite an unusual combination of muted colours but I found plenty to make a Boy Baby Quilt.  This morning I managed to use more from that fabric collection to make a pieced backing and it is now sandwiched ready for hand  quilting with a variegated yellow and olive green Perle cotton.

Every single part of this quilt was what I had squirreled away in my Sewing Room and I am pleased with the result.  Even more pleased that this quilt completely uses up stash that has been lying around for far too long.  Of course by the time I trim the quilt for binding I will create yet more scraps and strings which will go back into my stash.  You can't win, can you?

Here's the quilt:
 


And here's the pieced backing:
 


Of course there is another ulterior reason for my Big Sort Out. From 6th - 9th August it is the large Festival of Quilts Show at Birmingham's NEC.  I will be going on three of the days as there is far too much to fit into one visit. On the Friday I will be taking my sister with me so that's a nice opportunity for us to spend quality time together.  There are vendors galore and now I know what stash I have I know where the gaps are: batting, neutral fabrics ( 1/2 metres and FQs ), large pieces of green, yellow and blue fabrics, especially for backings and some solids.  Good job I am making more than one visit so I can carry everything home with me!

Happy sewing!
 
 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The importance of labelling stash

I have always liked to label things so I know exactly what is in bags and boxes. Saves so much time and effort fruitlessly looking for things.

About three years ago I sorted out my Sewing Room, labelling drawers and boxes so I knew where everything was.  But then I did loads more projects and everything got mixed up again. 

During my recent "Spring clean" I came upon lots of labelled packs, fabrics I had gathered together for future projects etc.  Amongst those I found this pack of strips ready to be made into a backing, I had even slipped a little note inside the pack with the dimensions it would end up as and a little sketch of the order in which to join the strips!

 
The strips all needed a good press because they had been folded away in the plastic bag for years!
 
 
But I pressed them, sewed them up and made just the right sized backing for another Boy Cot quilt I put together last week.  More stash used up.
 
The quilt is sandwiched and ready for me to start hand quilting tomorrow when I am at my Patchwork Group meeting.  The quilt has used up scraps from my stash too.
 
So, my tip is "Label your stash"!
 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Elephants on Parade - a Finish!

I finished my baby boy quilt, Elephants on Parade.

Here it is:


 
And a close up of some of the blocks:
 
 
I am so pleased with this quilt.  Such lovely 'cool' colours, all found in my stash to compliment the elephant Fat Quarter I found.
 
Then I used this pale green with lemon spots fabric for a backing - I literally had just enough for the quilt backing!
 
 
It's not the same shade of green as the fabrics in the front of the quilt but is somewhere between the green and turquoises in those fabrics so, in my eyes anyway, it works. The lemon dots tie in with the lemon stars in 4 of the charm square patches.
 
The batting was a piece I had in my stash of remnants.
 
The hand quilting is a mixture of deep turquoise Quilting thread in the ditch between the blocks and in the sashing joins and a variegated turquoise Perle cotton larger stitch around the appliqued hearts and in the sashing.
 
So, another finish for 2015 and a baby Boy quilt to add to my stash of completed quilts.
All of the fabrics and the batting and threads were from my stash so nothing bought especially for this project.
 
 
 

Friday, 10 July 2015

A better photo

Yesterday I posted a photo of my radishes and chillies. For some reason the photo had turned on to its side.

So, here it is again, standing up properly!



Basil, Chillies, Parsley in pots, a few picked radishes in a dish in front.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

First radishes!

Picked a few radishes today from my garden. Just sown a few short rows and a few lettuces (not growing so well).  Also tomatoes, basil and chillies in pots.

Here's the radishes we had with cheese buns for lunch and the green chillies coming along nicely.

 
Sorry, photo has turned sideways!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A finish and a WIP

One of my good friends will be celebrating her 80th birthday in a few days time.  I have made her a bag using Kiwi fabric charms I brought back with me from New Zealand. I decided to frame the charms with black rather than cream to show them off and I am pleased with the result.

Each fabric depicts a well-known NZ item: sheep, penguins, kiwis (fruit and the bird!), pukeko, tui, a New Zealand bach (little holiday cottage) etc.  I hope she likes it. I am also adding a tin of NZ Earl grey teabags which we bought when we were visiting Kerikeri (North Island, NZ).

 
Three views of the bag, showing both sides and the base.

 
I have also been working on another baby quilt, this one for a boy.  I know of three babies being born in the next few months and two of them are going to be boys so I need to augment my Baby Boy Quilts stash.
 
I am hand quilting it, in the ditch around the main blocks and sashing and then I am going to add some decorative Perle larger stitching.
 


All the fabrics for the quilt came from my stash and the yellow buttons on the bag were also from stash ........ I have several boxes and jars of buttons!

Since my Big Tidy Up I know what stash I have, including pieces of batting.
When I came to sandwich the baby quilt I knew I had a piece that would probably be just the right size.  It was  - but even better, I was able to use the trimmings to fold into the bag handles to give them a bit more strength and body.  Great!

I am off to cut out some strips of fabric to start another Baby Boy quilt. This should be fairly quick to put together as I collected together suitable fabrics for the idea I had when I was sorting out my Sewing Room.

So, off to get cutting out!  I love the excitement of starting a new project and love having hand sewing ready to pick up when I watch TV and go to my Patchwork Group.
 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

For want of a cutter the flow was lost!

Oh, I was going great guns yesterday, sewing up a storm with my Wonky Stars - Bonnie Hunter style.  A pile of 2.5" scrap squares and pre-cut neutral triangles by my side, feeding them through the machine at a rate of knots. Then off to the ironing board, press, trim and assemble into Wonky Star parts for the 4 required for each completed block.

I really had a great time, lots of sewing, but I had a good system going and managed to sew up 22 Wonky Star parts before I took a break to make a meal for my husband and me. 

I used Bonnie's 'webbing system" again which works brilliantly. 
First of all I laid out as many stars as I could on the floor of my sewing room, then transferred them two at a time onto a tray which I had beside me on my sewing desk. 

Then I got into a great routine:
* Sew up the first 2 squares in each row in a chain
* Do the same with the first 2 squares in the 2nd block laid out on the tray
* Cut off the 3 partly finished bits of the 1st Block (in one string, joined by the threads) & add
   the 3rd square to each row
* Repeat with 2nd block
* Start to sew up the rows of each block.
   Due to the webbing of threads being in place there is NO need to pin (and I ALWAYS pin),  
   the rows nest beautifully and come out well every time!
   Such a quick process.

Then I just continued this pattern, topping up my tray with the next 2 sets of parts from the floor.
It was so enjoyable! 

After dinner I decided I needed a greater variety of scraps, so I hunted out some difference scrap pieces and cut quite a lot of 2.5" squares and then..........................  my rotary cutter literally fell to bits in my hand........................  completely broken.  It obviously couldn't stand the strain of all this cutting and trimming.  It was so frustrating as I had plenty of time last night to cut loads of extra squares and then today I could have rattled through the last 14 Wonky Star parts I need for the Girl Baby Quilt I have planned in my head.

As I didn't want to waste any time tracking down a new Rotary Cutter I grabbed my iPad and ordered a new one from Amazon which should arrive tomorrow, with a bit of luck. This morning I did sew up  the star points for all

 the remaining stars I need, they are pressed but now sitting forlornly on my cutting mat waiting for the new rotary cutter to join the party.

So, just to keep me motivated by looking at the Wonky Stars I have made so far, here they are:

 
The pattern I followed is from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville blog.  At the top there are lots of tabs. Click on the one for Free patterns and scroll down to Wonky Stars.  All her free patterns are listed alphabetically so it's easy to find.


I've just checked my emails and found one from Amazon - my order has been despatched and it is on its way. Hurrah!

PS.  The instructions in Blue Type are for my benefit so that when I get back to finishing the blocks I can remember the system I had going yesterday!