Louisa Enright's Blog

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Turkey Tracks: Play Quilting

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Turkey Tracks:  January 15, 2013

Play Quilting

I’ve been working really hard on sorting through my quilting stash–all the fabrics a quilter starts to accumulate–and cutting up all the smaller pieces into useable, accessible strips, blocks, or rectangles.  Those of you who follow this blog know that getting my stash under control has been going on for over two years now.  It’s just way too easy to keep buying new fabric for a new quilt without using up leftovers from previous quilts.

I am now using Bonnie Hunter’s coping strategy of keeping only large pieces for the stash and processing everything else.  Out of the greens, I’ve already made a gorgeous green scrappy top and backing–using up a ton of fabric that was just sitting around.  That top is ready to go on the long-arm, so I’ll return to it here when I’ve finished it.  I LOVE it.  It’s a green version of Bonnie Hunter’s “Blue Ridge Beauty” that I’m calling “Green Camden Hills Beauty.”  You’ve seen pieces of this top in earlier posts, and Bonnie’s version is on her web site, quiltville.com.

So, the green part of the stash is under control–dare I say?  And, I’m making good headway on the blue now.  I had already been working at the blue fabrics over the past two years, but I’m astonished how much of it I still have.  So many small pieces that are just lying around doing nothing but taking up space.

Yesterday, I could see that I was close to finishing cutting up the blues, so I let myself “play” at the machine for two hours–jointly working on two different types of projects.  I made myself quit about 8 p.m. last night because I could have gone on and on…

First, in Bonnie Hunter’s system–which you can explore in her four books and on her excellent web site, quiltville.com–NOTHING gets wasted.  The small bits of fabric she calls “crumbs.”  She throws them into a basket and uses them to “make fabric.”  Here’s an example:

Making fabric

These 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 strips will make really cute borders on a quilt when I have enough of them.  Bonnie Hunter uses old paper–phone book paper is the best as its thin and easy to tear away–as a backing.  It’s so much easier and lighter than the muslin I had been using for string-pieced blocks.  You could also use used printed paper from your printer, though that is heavier.

This “making” of fabric is growing in popularity these days.  In addition to Bonnie Hunter’s work, you can see the fun of making and using fabric in OUT OF THE BOX WITH EASY BLOCKS:  FUN WITH FREE-FORM PIECING, Mary Lou Weidman and Melanie Bautista McFarland and 15 MINUTES OF PLAY:  IMPROVISATIONAL QUILTS, Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  Weidman and Wolfe both have blogs as well.

I had some string-pieced blocks left from projects last year and have been throwing strips into a basket for when I wanted to make more of them.  I had only been throwing in strips that were at least 1 1/2 inches.  BUT, after making the border strips above, I can see that strips just under 1 1/2 inches are useable in both the string-pieced blocks and with the crumbs.  Really, the clear 1 1/2 strips should go into a separate box to be used for, say, nine-patches with one-inch blocks.  Or, piano keys borders.

Here’s my string basket, which is getting alarmingly full:

Basket of strips

Only there is a twist:  I’ve been tearing away also selvages with writing or colored dots with a little extra fabric in the strip.  I LOVE writing in a quilt and have become more and more intrigued with thinking how one might use selvage edges that are interesting.  So, here are examples of the kind of strips sith writing and/or dots I’ve been saving:

Basket of strips 2

Here are two blocks I made yesterday, hanging with one I already had.  I was playing with using the strips with writing on them:

Strip Piecing 1

Here’s a close-up:

Strip Piecing 2

And what the blocks might look like if I put them on point with sashing between…

Strip Piecing 3

Bonnie Hunter has lots of ideas of how to combine blocks when you have enough of them.

Meanwhile, it was really fun to let myself have a little “play” time–even though I have a quilt loaded on to the long arm and the BIG green quilt ready to be long-arm quilted.

2 Responses

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  1. Louisa – LOVE IT!!!!!!! I need to start sorting mine – most is sorted for color or theme – but I have TONS of small pieces – – – and like you – keep buying.

    sandy manzel albers

    June 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

  2. You are so clever…It’s like you are painting with fabric!

    Susan heath

    June 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

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