Saturday Scrap Strategy #7

19 05 2018

My friend Heather is downsizing her stash due to an upcoming move, and I am the happy recipient of part of her collection. Here are two prints that caught my eye as I pawed through the gift box.

Isn’t that white, gray, yellow, and teal stripe unusual and interesting? Heather told me that she used it in the first quilt she ever made years ago. The yellow print was a yard cut purchased during a sale day at our local quilt shop.

By adding gray and white from my stash, I’m on my way to a lovely quilt!

Today’s strategy, then, is to use your sizeable scraps immediately rather than cutting them up into squares and strips you might use one day. Let the colors and designs of your scraps inspire you! By adding just a bit of background or coordinating fabrics from your stash, you’ll stretch the leftovers of one project into a second quilt, be it a baby quilt, wall quilt, table runner, or placemats.


Saturday Scrap Strategy #6

12 05 2018

During the second quarter of 2018 I challenged myself and blog readers to tame the tangle of scraps by cutting them into usable sizes of squares and strips. I personally am more motivated to deal with my scraps if I have specific projects to prep for. One ongoing scrap project is my “Roman Stripe” bed size quilt. You can read about the beginning of this project by clicking here.

It looks only about three-quarters finished, doesn’t it? You see, I estimated that I’d need 250 blocks for the quilt. After making 250, I began sewing them together and realized with chagrin that I way under-estimated. So now I am cutting more 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles for block centers and more 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ strips for the sides. This is an easy block to make – just two seams and you’re done. I’ll be doing the happy dance when it is finished, but until then, it is my leader/ender project that’s motivating me to delve into my burgeoning scrap bag of strips and strings.

Do very scrappy quilts such as this appeal to you, or would you make “Roman Stripe” with limited colors?


Saturday Scrap Strategy #5

5 05 2018

I’ve been working this week on two “Postage Stamp” wall quilts. They will be graduation gifts for Carol and Peggy, two of my husband’s students at Carolina College of Biblical Studies. I am so proud of these ladies who returned to college in their middle-age years and have earned their bachelor’s degrees in Biblical Studies!

The different squares represent all the bits of knowledge they have studied and all of the friends they have made in the process. It is my prayer that they use their wisdom and talents in ministries unique to them.

Would you like to make a “Postage Stamp” quilt, too? Here are the specifics: Use any size squares, the smaller and the scrappier, the better. My box of 1 3/4″ squares was overflowing, so I chose that size. I arranged 80 squares in an 8 x 10 grid on a portable, flannel-covered cardboard square. Chain piecing the squares in horizontal rows sped the construction process. I pressed the seams of all the odd rows to the left, and I pressed the seams of all the even rows to the right. Since the squares were small, I did not pin the rows together, rather I simply nested the seams as I sewed from one to the next. After assembling the patchwork, I pressed the horizontal row seams in one direction. The first border of ecru fabric was cut 2″ wide, and the second border of blue fabric (school color) was cut 2 1/2″ wide.

Tip:  I prefer to quilt small projects on my home machine rather than the longarm, and I generally use long, straight quilting pins to hold my quilt sandwich together. I remove the pins as I quilt. However, for this quilt I used a quilt basting spray to prevent shifting of the three layers as I quilted. Following the directions, I first sprayed the “wrong side” of the batting and used my hands to press it in place on the wrong side of the backing. Then I sprayed the right side of the batting and placed the quilt top over it, smoothing and pressing with my hands. Using the spray eliminated the many stops and starts I make when removing quilting pins. I am very pleased with the non-shifting and pucker-free results and will definitely use basting spray again for small projects.

After securing the quilt sandwich with basting spray, I used my walking foot to quilt a cross-hatch design through the patchwork. I plan to machine stitch a Bible verse in the ecru border in cursive script. Colossians 3:16 would be perfect, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Inviting comments on two questions today . . . Do you have a graduating friend or relative who would love to receive a “Postage Stamp” quilt? Or, have you used a basting spray to secure layers of a quilt?

Saturday Scrap Strategy #3

21 04 2018

One of my favorite of all time scrappy Leader/Ender patchwork blocks is a variation of “Sheepfold” (c.f. Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Patchwork Blocks, #2020). According to the Encyclopedia, “Sheepfold” is an Uneven Nine Patch with a large square in the center. I modified the block by placing a “Four Patch” in the center. Some quilters call the block “Ups and Downs” due to the diagonal placement of matching squares that criss-cross like stair steps in the central “Four Patch.”

As I evaluate my scraps, I purposely look for fabric from which I can cut 2″ wide strips or 2″ squares. This 6″ finished block requires three coordinating fabrics, one for four 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles, another for four 2″ squares, and a third for four additional 2″ squares. A 2″ x 14″ strip yields four 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles. I can cut the 2″ squares piecemeal, from a 4″ square, or from a 2″ x 8″ strip. Once I cut the four rectangles or four matching squares, I pin them together. Every once in awhile, I sort through the pile of rectangles and squares to see if I have some coordinating fabric sets on hand. Currently, I have more rectangles than squares, so I raided my stack of 4″ squares that I’ll cut into the four 2″ squares needed. Sorting and matching and pinning is a TV viewing or car trip pastime.

Looking at the photo above, on the left you see rectangles and squares of the correct size pinned together with 4″ squares. I will soon cut those 4″ squares into four 2″ squares. In the plastic container you see stacks of 2″ squares or 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles just waiting to be grouped with coordinating fabric pieces. At the bottom right of the photo, you can see rectangles pinned together with the two sets of squares required for the block. Each pinned set makes one block.

I place several pinned sets to the right of my sewing machine. These “Sheepfold” blocks will be my secondary patchwork project. Then, as I come to the end of a seam on my primary patchwork project, I sew squares together to make the “Four Patch” center and add rectangles as I progress on my primary project. I like this block as a Leader/Ender block because it is uncomplicated in construction. I don’t have to think about how to sew it together; I can concentrate instead on constructing my primary project.

I keep a shoebox of completed “Sheepfold” blocks on hand. They are useful in expanding a quilt backing.

And the blocks can also be used to construct an entire quilt. One summer, grandson Kaleb raided my bulging shoebox and sewed together the top for what he affectionately calls his “Fall Quilt.”

Do you have a favorite scrappy patchwork block?

Wall Quilt for VA Hospital

16 04 2018

The Chief of Voluntary Services of our local Veterans’ Administration Hospital requested a patriotic wall quilt to hang in or near her office. I volunteered to make one for her. A plaque honoring the Tarheel Quilters Guild will accompany the quilt because our guild has provided lap quilts for the veterans for more than 30 years. We make quilts throughout the year and present them either in December (formerly) or February (recently).

Those who view the quilt as it hangs in the hospital will not realize all the symbolism it embodies, but I will give you the inside scoop. To celebrate our guild’s thirty years of volunteer service, I fused old quilt styles with new ideas and fabrics. “Saw Tooth Star,” “Four Patches,” and “Postage Stamp” are all time-honored patchwork designs; however, I floated the star in negative space, and the quilt has no border which characterize some modern quilts. The tan background depicts Civil War soldiers with patriotic as well as Scriptural text – very appropriate for veterans. Some of the “Postage Stamp” squares are Civil War reproduction prints and some, like the yellow flower, are contemporary. For quilting designs, I chose cross-hatching (an old-fashioned motif) and meandering (a machine quilting favorite). I elected to hand quilt the points of the stars because thirty years ago all of us Tarheel Quilters were hand quilting! We were also using Mountain Mist polyester batting then, but I used today’s preferred Warm and Natural cotton batting.

As a U.S. Army chaplain’s wife and the mother of a veteran, I gladly volunteered to make this quilt which honors both our quilt guild and the service members they have comforted for thirty-plus years.

Tip:  I drew a chalk line 1/4″ away from the edges of the “Four Patches.” I pivoted my cross-hatching machine stitching when I reached the line. I cut binding strips 2 1/4″ wide, joined them, pressed them in half, and applied them with a 1/4″ seam allowance so as not to cover the pivot points of the cross-hatching.

Saturday Scrap Strategy #2

14 04 2018

Donna H. is the Block of the Month chairman for the Tarheel Quilters Guild this year. She designed this month’s “Flowers in the Pane” block and gave me permission to share it with you. This “Windowpane” block may serve to help focus your scrap cutting strategy today.

Donna asked guild members to cut 3″ squares of a floral fabric and surround them with a contrasting or coordinating tone-on-tone. Besides the floral squares, from tonal fabric you’ll need 2 strips 1 1/2″ x 3,” 1 strip 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2,” for the block interior. After sewing the strips between the floral squares, press and then frame the patchwork with 2 strips 2″ x 6 1/2″ and 2 strips 2″ x 9 1/2.” The block measures 9 1/2″ square with seam allowances and finishes at 9″ square.


I really like Donna’s “Flowers in the Pane,” but I wondered how the block would look made with 2 1/2″ squares (since most of us have an abundance of leftover charm squares and bits of Jelly Roll strips that can easily be trimmed to 2 1/2″ squares). I tested my idea by using just one 2″ x Width of Fabric strip (2″ x 40″). I found that all the sashing and framing pieces can be cut from one 2″ x WOF strip. This block finishes at 8 1/2″ square.

The ingredients for this “Windowpane” block are as follows:  From Fabric A – four 2 1/2″ squares, From Fabric B – two 2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles, three 2″ x 6″ rectangles, two 2″ x 9″ rectangles.

I can think of several other fabric styles that “Windowpane” would showcase beautifully. You could make an “I Spy” quilt with squares of novelty fabrics, or utilize earth tone scraps for a very neutral quilt. Black and white prints with one other color would be striking. Civil War prints framed with tans or shirtings would be simple, yet effective. With or without sashing, “Windowpane” would utilize many scraps, be quickly constructed, and would be visually interesting and appealing.

Would “Windowpane” work for your current scrap bag contents?

Saturday Scrap Strategy #1

7 04 2018

My friend, Heather, is moving, and she has decided she can’t take all of it with her. So she bequeathed me some of her scraps. Thanks, Heather! My scrap quilts are much more interesting with the infusion of another quilter’s favorite colors and prints.

Do you see the kitty cat print with pink background in the upper left corner of the picture? Yes, those frolicking felines grabbed my attention, too. I wondered if there were enough scraps to serve as a theme of a small quilt for a baby girl. The largest piece was not quite 10″ wide and some smaller pieces were not quite 5″ wide, so I couldn’t cut 5″ squares. No matter, 4 3/4″ squares will work just as nicely!

Heather’s goodie bag also included a yellow tonal, and I found small-ish pieces of green dot, blue plaid, and purple dots and twigs in my stash; these colors function well as frames for the kitty cat squares. I cut framing strips 2 1/2″ wide.

For each block, I needed one center 4 3/4″ square, 2 rectangles 2 1/2″ x 4 3/4,” and 2 rectangles 2 1/2″ x 8 3/4.”

Since the blocks are framed with different colored fabrics, I could have set them side by side, but I desired a larger quilt. Sashing and borders will stretch my patchwork to a desired size. For sashing and inner border, I first considered 2 white and black prints, but they drew my eye away from the focus fabric. Instead, I found a light gray swirl scrap in my stash (leftover backing for a wall quilt). Digging a little deeper in my black/white bin of fabrics, I found a meager strip of “meow” fabric. Perfect for cornerstones! I cut sashing, cornerstones, and inner border 2″ wide.

My stash bin of pink/purple fabrics contained bright pink yardage for border and binding. Determined to use every last bit of the kitty cat fabric, I incorporated pieces of it and the leftover tonals in the 3 1/2″ wide border. The final measurement of the quilt is 36,” the requested size of our hospital’s NICU.

What do you think, did those frisky cats hijack my well-intended scrap-cutting session? I will admit, my coffee table is just as littered with bags of scraps, but I do have a cute charity quilt to show for my efforts!