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Monday, June 27, 2005


Picture from farther back, and it still doesn't fit completely in the camera view! Posted by Hello

I just realised these are all showing up in reverse order on my blog page! So I hope you don't mind reading down....Here is a shot of the borders I put on the zig-zag 9 patch. I think they give it an old fashioned feel and really frame it off nicely. Posted by Hello

another view...kind of dark, because I have to turn the flash off to get the quilting detail to show. I love feathers!! This quilt is large, 106"X107" and will be great on my king sized bed as a coverlet. Scrappy scrappy and pretty much utilitarian, so I won't mind if the cats leave their fur all over it :c/ Posted by Hello

Quilting! Dave is out of town working in Chicago this week, so I decided to spend some time on one of my own projects. This is a detail shot of the feather and squash-blossom quilting I am doing on my zig-zag 9 patch quilt. This quilt was pieced completely as a leader-ender project. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005


This is the top I was working on today. The alternate blocks didn't
quite do what I had originally thought, but it does give an interesting
look. Kind of looks like braided brick bowties! However, I don't think
anyone can say that three times fast, and I am all out of ideas for names!

I'll try the other variation next by changing the altnernate block.
I think it would look cool with brights and a black background
and I have a couple other ideas floating around too...

Bonnie Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More thoughts on "complimentary and interesting"

I love vintage quilts, and one of the things about vintage quilts that I love is when quilters had to be ingenious about the back of their quilts because they didn't HAVE a quilt shop to march to to find a perfectly matching, complimentary back for their quilt. I love things like 'substitution'...when they thought they wanted a green border, but the green they had only went 3/4 the way around the quilt, so they had to finish up by substituting in a second shade of green. Much more interesting!

I think muslin is also completely appropriate for a vintage looking quilt back whether it's an 1800's repro, or a 1930's repro or anything in between or after. Muslin IS the stuff that many quilts were made of, and I love how it quilts up.

I love things that just appear "wrong" at first glance sometimes because it gives me a glimpse into the quilt maker's life and that is more interesting to me. Like the back of many amish quilts...they weren't ALL solids. Lots of them had prints on the BACK, or checks..they were allowed to use these as the BACK of the quilt (in some amish communities, not all) because it wouldn't be seen, and it was an appropriate back. I think it makes the quilts more interesting. A bit unexpected.

When it boils down to it...what is "appropriate" or "interesting" or "compatible" are ALL just OPINIONS that will differ with each quilt or each beholder. What "goes" and what doesn't is strictly a matter of opinion and always will be.

If I had a limited stash, and were new to quilting maybe I'd go back-buying after construction, but if I were dealing in minis of any variety, it doesn't take much for a backing and I'd likely have something that would work already in my stash. I was thinking of bigger quilts from lap size to bed size, and I still wouldn't march out there and hit the quilt shop for a back as an after thought.I love the vintage quilts in which flour/feed sacks were used for backing, many times with the label of the flour mill or feed manufacturer still visible on the back, in plain sight for all to see. This adds interest, and this is appropriate in my eyes. Using up leftover fabrics from the front of the quilt to construct an interesting back is completely complimentary to me.

If I didn't have as large of a stash as I do, if my mind hadn't been changed over the past few years to using what I have. (thinking more like our quilting ancestors and their resources)..If this were the way I shopped, Or maybe if my quilt were strictly for "show and tell" and not going to charity or for someone I loved to use until it fell apart, I can see buying a back after the top was done with these thoughts about being complimentary and interesting in mind. I guess then it wouldn't be about what *I* thought was appropriate for a backing, but I would be focusing on what "others" would think was appropriate for a backing. And again, we are back to dealing with nothing but opinions, that will likely change from person to person.

I'd sure wish I lived closer to Mary Jo's....and Id be heading for the sale fabrics first because "complimentary" or "interesting" does not mean full retail price to me either. :c) I am always on the lookout for sales for good candidates for backing fabrics so I *DO* have some on hand to choose from and I don't think because I buy them with no particular quilt in mind that they are uninteresting or uncomplimentary. I think it's just good quilt-cents.

Sometimes I will purposely put something "wrong" in one of my quilts, because even though I am making a vintage era looking quilt, I want it to be a representation of fabrics that are in my scrap-stash too. Scrap quilts of yesteryear were made with fabrics obtained through daily living, making clothes, making bedding, and they used fabrics from their own era that they lived in to make quilts that showed which fabrics they lived with daily.

My scraps and scrap quilts are from fabrics that I use daily, even tho I'm not clothes making anymore, I'm not using scraps from making aprons, skirts, blouses, dresses.....I do have scraps from all my sewing projects and the quilts I make with the scraps that I have are like a library of fabrics that have been through my hands and my life. I love the vintage "look" but I also like the feel of using what I have on hand, just as if it were as limited a scrap bag as I would be pulling from had I lived in 1870 or 1935.

It's okay with me if someone thinks my backing fabrics are just "wrong" or don't go with the quilt, or if the fabrics in my quilt are NOT all exact 1800's reproductions, as long as it has the right feel to me, and I have found a home for the scraps that I love, because it is my opionion that gives me the most satisfaction in the completed quilt, front and back.

Like always, just opinions :c)
Bonnie

Laughable Quote!

A few weeks ago I ordered a book off amazon. It's "Small quilts with vintage charm" by Jo Morton.

I love the look of the quilts in the book, very antiquey vintage style, right up my alley. I've looked at the pics, but never stopped to "READ" the text in the book.

This statement on backings just made me guffaw out loud!

"Purchase backing fabric AFTER your quilt top is complete so you can select a fabric that complements the front of the quilt. Using fabric that you don't want anymore does a DISSERVICE to the quilt top. Remember the two pieces will be stitched together forever; therefore, they need to be compatible and interesting."

HMMMMMMM!

Of course, that's easy for her to say since she designs lines of fabrics, she isn't paying $9.00 or more a yard for beautiful fabrics for the back of her quilts!

Who says that my scrappy backings are a disservice to the quilt top? I find them completely compatible and more interesting than if I had waited until the top was pieced, went to the quilt shop, bought 8 yards of something not on sale and had it all matchy matchy!

I love to look at antique quilts and see that they used what they had on the back to make it big enough for the quilt top. To me this is VERY interesting and is a good clue into how the people lived in their lives. They didn't have quilt shops to march into to buy 6 yards of backing fabric that matched the front of their quilts.

I love scrappy backs. I do them all the time. I love the feeling I get from using something up, and the giggles that come from just using something that just DOESN'T go....to me that's the kicker..that's where the fun is. And I'm going to keep doing it!

Bonnie

Sunday, June 12, 2005


close up detail of wonky stars in the corner of the border. Posted by Hello

Here are the blocks I've had sitting around for a long time with no
desire to make more. Have you ever felt that way?

It's a half-log cabin...and the thing I didn't like about them is when
you put the blocks together there are MORE seams to match than with
regular log cabins. I gave up on matching them...and then I didn't like
it. So enough is enough!

I put them together, wonky centers and all (oh they cry out to me like
sore thumbs that the 4 squares in the center of the pinwheels are SO
off!) I added a triangle border, and since it was partly wonky anyway, I
added 4 wonky stars to the 4 corners. Posted by Hello

New Morning, new ideas...

Okay, so the person who wrote that email last night probably didn't mean me to take her message as my patterns aren't worth the paper and ink it takes to print them. I don't want anyone frustrated. That wasn't my intent when it came to redoing the website, it was to make things easier! Obviously, some people think the old way is better..so what can I do?

I remembered that some recipe sites and others have a "click here for printer friendly version" option. So this morning I went in and made ANOTHER page for every pattern page I've got and linked that on the original page that had the menu on it. It wasn't hard...just tedious. I don't know if anyone will even really use it. There are other things that probably should be done to make things more printer friendly, like reduce the font size, reduce picture size, etc..but then we are really getting into alot of work This is it for now!

Besides, I'd rather be creating something with fabric than dicking around with this website thing endlessly and still have people finding fault with this or that!!

Bonnie

Why did I bother??

I've spent all weekend updating my website....I wanted a menu on the left hand side of the page because every time I ADD a page, I would have to go to each and every page in my website and link the new page to all the previous, and all the previous to the new page. With alot of pages on a site, this can take a long time and be quite daunting.

So....I slave and slave and get things finally the way I want it. Now I only need to update the menu when I upload a new page and all will show on all the pages without updating them individually. Sounds like a good idea right?

Not to mention that I put my patterns on the internet for people to use for free....we won't even get to that part and what people take for granted where that is concerned....

I posted to my email lists that I had upgraded my website, that their bookmarks would need to be changed, etc.

I just come up to check my email before going to bed and I get THIS email:

"Since you have made the update to your site the entire pattern page will not fit on a piece of paper unless it is printed in landscape mode (otherwise not all of the directions print). Probably 1/3 of the page is now the menu selection on the lefthand side. So what use to be 6 pages is now 11 pages if one wants to print out your directions.
Is there a way to print off your patterns without getting all of the other buttons, etc on the left hand side?
I don't want to sound like a whiner - just would love to access your patterns without wasting paper and ink."

Okay...she may not WANT to sound like a whiner but COME ON....did I mention the patterns are FREE? Is it worth a few extra pages of paper for a FREE pattern? Does she really think my pattern is a complete waste of paper and ink, or did she not mean it to come across that way?

Good Grief. I think I am completely losing my faith in the selfishness of people.

*sigh*
Bonnie

Friday, June 10, 2005

Unnecessary stuff we buy....

I've been on a junk-quilting kick lately. I don't know what it is, but even more than regular scrap quilts, I love to sew string quilts and crazy type blocks from left over trimmings I couldn't bear to part with. You know those triangles you clip off when you join lengths of strips for binding on the diagonal? Yep. I even save those. I heard someone talking about this "mile a minute' quilt...I found the pattern on ebay. Ebay is great for many things, but be sure you have seen the item first hand before buying it!

I got this pattern for $6.99 plus s/h. Being that I have been a pattern designer in a previous life (I used to design for the butterick pattern co...and had my own pattern company for dolls and stuffed animals under the name "needle in a haystack") maybe I am expecting too much when it comes to what you get for $6.99....but let me tell you...this pattern had a cover..folded in half. One sheet inside...poorly written directions, no diagrams or pictures, typed on one sheet front and back...and that was IT! I'm disgusted. I learned no more from buying this pattern than I would have if I had just looked at the picture on the front, and didn't even READ the instructions. :c/

Maybe it's just one of those quilts you don't need a pattern for, and I was kind of expecting this because of my sewing experience, but I thought that there was some new trick or technique that was just going to turn on the lightbulb for me as far as using small pieces goes. Not so. the only time you use your precious small pieces is when you start the center of the block, and that doesn't use them nearly well enough for me....the rest of the time you are sewing sections on top of long pre-cut strips. I think I would rather use my long pre-cut strips in other ways than to do this pattern this way....not using the little pieces that I wanted to use. Too many of the blocks turned up with the same fabrics in them...not enough variety, etc.

I guess I'm in a huffy mood. I'll just stick with Gwen Marsten's more selective, but not as fast ideas. I just can't believe I spent money on this pattern when I could have spent it on FABRIC!!

Bonnie

Maggie made me do it!

Maggie sent her blog to my email, and before I knew it, I signed up too!

So here I am on this beautiful June afternoon, dragging my tail avoiding the quilting machine, thinking of all sorts of things I should be doing, but not making headway on much of anything! I guess this is what comes from getting up at 4am :c/ (not because I wanted to!)

I've had a website for eons now....I don't want to say 8 or 9 years because it doesn't feel that long, but still.....I wanted to share more of ME and my thoughts, and I thought adding this blog might do it. If you want to check out the website it's http://quiltville.com

I am a longarm machine quilter (10 years! egad!) and I'm also in school studying to get my license in neuromuscular and massage therapy....and I LOVE IT! I love learning...I think that having something totally unrelated to quilting has added so much to my love of quilting and my creativity drive..you know, opposition in all things and all that.

I have too many projects to list...and not enough time to quilt them all. I love hand quilting as much as I love machine quilting, I think it's that opposites thing again. However, this morning I had a whoooops moment...I started quilting on my "the best things in life are quilted" quilt....(Will find out how to upload a pic here) and when I sprayed water to remove the marks from the inner red border....things turned PINK! egad. I've got synthropol.....I can get some retain....I know I know, I should have been a pre-washer in a previous life, but I really detest pre washing fabrics! So I'll muddle through and hope that I can remove the bleed later. No more marks will be removed until I can wash the thing. Do they still make dye magnets??

I guess I'll learn more how this thing works and play with it more later. Right now there is a customer's quilt waiting in the machine that needs feathers in the outside border and fans in the center of the quilt....and I need a dose of something to get me motivated!!

Bonnie

Just Me and My PT :c) Posted by Hello

This is my "The Best Things in Life are Quilted!!" Quilt....inspired by my friend Tonya who taught me to do freehand machine pieced letters, and Gwen Marsten and her liberated techniques....it's that little red outer border that is bleeding pink into the white! AUUGH! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Scrap User's System!


Scrap User's System!
(Click here for printer friendly version)


TOO FUNNY!! A friend in California sent this pic!
This is truly a "Sign of the Times" :c)


*Update, Dec 29, 2011*
This original post was written long before blogland existed, and I've moved it over here where things are easier to find on the blog.

Like all good things in life ---our methods evolve.  And what once worked for me quite well, needed some fine tuning the more I got into my own Scrap User's System.  I still follow the belief that if I have my scraps cut into usable sizes, I can find more ways to use them, and I love that I have a variety to choose from.  If you want to see how I'm storing my strips now, click HERE and read this post!


I'm sure we've all heard "Oh, it's just scraps." Have you ever stopped to realize that your scraps cost you just as much per yard as the original fabric purchased that they came from? Your scraps could be worth $9.00 or more a yard. Makes you think twice about tossing them out, doesn't it? Or relegating them to the lowly position of "just a scrap"? :c)

It used to be if I wanted to make a 'scrap quilt' I'd have to dig through all my scraps, big chunks, odd shapes, pieces of this or that all stuffed in a basket or box for 'some day'.....I'd have to iron them, sort them, cut them...even before I started sewing. I think I would lose interest before the quilt even got started! Are you the same way?

I thought first about calling this the "Scrap Saver's" system, but the point is...we want to USE our scraps, not hoard them! The purpose of this little explanation is to show you how I continually work my scraps so they are always at the ready for scrap piecing. I've been doing this for years now, and it WORKS for me. I have shared this with many quilters who ask how I get so much done. So this is my effort in explaining how I work with scraps, and make my scraps work for me.

Remember when you were little that wooden blocks came in different pre-cut sizes (or legos if you aren't that old!) and you could make things with them? Build a house, build a road....certain sizes just went together and FIT. I think of my scraps like building blocks...and that is what they do go for, building QUILT blocks!

First off: STORAGE! You need a way to have your scraps at hand in the sizes that you will use them most. I like those stackable sterlite/rubbermaid type plastic drawers that come in all sizes. I like the ones that have the clear drawers, it helps to be able to see what's in them. You can also buy those little plastic 3 drawer rolling carts. I have some of both! I am lucky to have a great place for these, because I use the space that is underneath my longarm machine table.




In these bins are rotary cutting tools and rulers, notions and marking tools. And then there are strips of various sizes, all in their own bins by width, and all my FQ's, sorted by color. I also have some LARGE bins (far right in pic) that hold my collection of 30's prints all together, some UFO's, and one big bin of denim jean pieces, and the last bin is for "strings". I think of "strings" as anything less than 1.5" wide, or something long and tapered from squaring off a cut of fabric. I like string quilts so I toss those into that bin. But only save strings if you are going to USE them. That goes with anything else I say here. Do what works for you, and use it! The rolling cart drawers hold pre-cut squares and bricks, and one drawer for left over odd sized triangles.



Bin of strings, and drawer of the smallest crumbs that I can't bear to toss away. I DO use these so it is okay for me to save them!



I sort my strips in sizes of 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3" and 3.5". I've pretty much STOPPED doing the 3" strips because they don't seem to work with other strips in any combination. (They don't play nicely with others! :cD) The 1.5" and 2" and 2.5" can combine with each other in different combinations and then go with the 3.5", but there are not a lot of combinations that work with the 3" strips! (not a lot adds up to 2.5" finished) So I'm going to have to challenge myself this year to come up with some quilts that just use 3"strips and squares or something to deplete that drawer. It might be just ALL SQUARES, but it will use them.

I consider a strip anything about 12" or longer. Anything shorter than that gets cut into squares and bricks.

I have 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3.5" squares and I have bricks in 2"X3.5" and 2.5" X 4.5". A brick is the height of one square, with the width of 2 squares, plus seam allowance. If you wanted larger bricks, another useful size would be 3.5"X6.5". (finished at 3"X6", twice as wide as tall plus seam allowance, get it?) :c) Bricks are used for flying geese type units as well as by themselves.

Some of my strips are separated by light/dark If there are enough strips to have 2 drawers of that size strip to contain them. My 2" strips are this way. One bin for light 2" strips, and one bin for darks. I haven't separated the others yet, I'd need more drawers!

I do have the 2.5" squares also separated into lights and darks. The 2" squares are all thrown in a bin together as are the 3.5" squares. I just don't have so many of them yet to need more than one bin for them.

Some people are really into collecting "nickel squares". (5"X5" charm squares) I find that I can work up the nickel type patterns easier and faster with more variety by using my pre-cut strips, squares and bricks, than if I had cut my scraps into nickels only to have to cut them down again into smaller units in order to make the nickel quilts. Look at the block mock ups, see what the units are constructed of, use the pattern as an idea, but see what you can do with your strips and squares easier and faster because they are already cut and waiting for you to dig into! A lot of your scraps aren't going to be big enough to cut nickel squares out of in the first place...but you can often make the same blocks by using your 2" or 2.5" strips...

*Note* Just for your information, did you know that you could get three 1.5" strips, three 2" strips and three 2.5" strips all from a 1/2 yard of fabric and it would be out of your nagging stash, into your strip bins and ready to be used? If you really want to slice up larger pieces, this is the way to go. Cut a few slices of different sizes and feed them into their bins! You'll be using those strips in no time.




So, how to start? Do you need all sizes of strips all at once? NO!

What started this whole process for me was the desire to make a scrappy broken star log cabin:




I needed a gazillion 1.5" strips in lights and darks! So...as I worked on taming my scraps, that was the size I concentrated on. Once this top was born, I still had a lot of left over strips! No problem, I knew I could do 4 patches and 9 patches and rail fences and other things with them. Bin #1 was born!

I thought about a quilt I wanted to do that could use 2" strips, so for the next while I started trimming things down to THAT size...I was off and cutting for bin #2!

What I suggest you do is find a pattern...any pattern...something that calls you, something that says MAKE ME! And start taming your scraps with that pattern in mind. And plan to have LEFT OVERS! If you are cutting across a piece of fabric for 2.5" cuts..and there isn't enough left at the end of the fabric to get a full 2.5" width...cut the next size lower...feed it into the 2" or the 1.5" bin or into the strings.

If your scraps overwhelm you, try this....set your timer for 15 minutes and just trim for that long! Then reward yourself and go sew something :c)

When trimming something you really HATE? Don't be afraid to throw it out if the fabric content or quality is questionable.. I have come across poly/cotton blends from when I was first sewing and said good riddance and poof they were gone. No guilt there!

Something you aren't sure you like, but don't want to toss out? My rule? If it's still ugly, you just didn't cut it small enough! Cut it as narrow as possible! 1.5" is good! By the time you take the seams you've only got 1" of fabric showing. And don't forget something I learned from trying watercolor quilts...(which I gave up on, but that is another story! *LOL*)...you can always use the BACKSIDE of a fabric if you don't like the way the front looks...look at the back side before you give up on it!
 You should have SEEN what uglies I used up in my Perkiomen Daydreams quilt!
(this pic is before quilting cuz it's the closest pic I've got)
  
   
It doesn't look too bad from
this far, does it? But take a look at ONE BLOCK!
      
 
There are some real OLDIES and EWWW's in here. But by the time the seams are all taken, the over-all effect is great! This quilt was made entirely from the 1.5"scrap strip bin.
 
It seems I am always trimming down some leftovers from something and putting them into this bin or that bin. Right now I've got the left over borders from a quilt, a long 5" wide piece of left over border, and a strip of 2" inner border...the inner border went into the 2" bin right away...this 5" border I think I'll just cut in half and put it in the 2.5" bin. Anything 6" or wider I fold and tuck in with the FQ's. I clean up after every quilt this way and keep channeling things into their proper spaces. It always gives me something new to work into my scraps!

I like to think of my scrap strips like sourdough starter. You know, to make a batch of sourdough bread, you take some starter, add it to the recipe.......but before you are finished, you have to add something BACK to the starter to keep it going. Even though I am continually using my scraps, I continue to add back to them with the trimmings from other projects, pieces of binding, borders, sashings, backings, and other pieces from block construction. Cleaning up after a quilt is finished, trimming down those pieces and adding them back into the scraps is part of the process for me!

Now that you are thinking about sorting your scraps and making them useable, you need to think about how to USE them! I am always on the lookout for patterns and ideas that will use what I have already cut, rather than the other way around. Most people see a pattern first, decide to make it, then go to their stash to pull fabrics. Well, my fabrics are ready, I just need to find the pattern that is out there waiting to use it.

Most blocks can be broken down into grid units. A 4-patch is a 2X2 grid. A 9-patch is a 3X3 grid...a pinwheel is a 4X4 grid, etc. You can make any block any size with the grid system. Graph things out on graph paper! You can see how things are broken down into units that will use the strip/square/brick sizes that you already have on hand. You will get good at saying...
"Wow, I could make that block with my 2.5" strips and squares...."

More Quilters share their Scrap User's Testimonies HERE!
(if you have a testimonial you want to share about leaders/enders or scrap user's please email me!)


There are many formulas for scrappy quilts. I tend to like the 'kitchen sink' variety where I throw EVERYTHING in and separate lights from darks as the only method of contrast. Sometimes there can be a common element that settles things down, like using one background, and all scrappy darks.....or the use of one color in one section of the block, repeating in ALL the blocks to bring out the pattern. I did this with the scrappy sister's choice. They all have scrappy 9 patches in the centers, different in all blocks. All have scrappy lights for the backgrounds, but the one common element is the use of green for all the star points.



By the way, the sister's choice block is a 5X5 grid pattern! All pieces came from 2.5" scrap strips!
Can you see how the green star points, even though each block has a DIFFERENT green, adds some continuity to the quilt top?

Some scrap quilts are very effective in controlled color pallets. I have done several. One of my favorite color combinations is blues and lights. My blues might range from very light all the way to navy and everything in between. The lights might go from white to cream to beige to tan, but they are still considered 'light' against the blues.



This would look totally different, and completely wonderful in 'kitchen sink' variety as well.

This block is a 4X4 grid.


If you were to super-impose lines over the block, you could count 4 grid squares across, and 4 squares down.
This block used 2" strips, or 2" squares...and 3.5" strips.

How about three colors? This quilt (quilting in progress) uses one common white background with various scrappy blues and reds as the main design element:




The solid white background gives the eyes place to rest against the busy-ness of the many reds and blues.
This "Ohio Stars and Rails" Quilt used 2.5" scrap strips for the blues and reds. The solid white was 2.5" strips cut from yardage. (Can't do EVERYTHING from scraps!)

Thoughts on using solids?

It seems there are always "RULES" in scrap quilting, and authors are always quoted as saying "Do not use this with this" or "You must use this with this." I have read a book recently that states: "AVOID solid fabric, all it does is read flat."

I have to add to this....I *DO* like to use solids, because to me they are another way of saying "almost neutral" because they ARE flatter than a print would be. They also show up the quilting detail much better than a print would, so they are a GREAT place for showing off really nice quilting.

A lot of quilts from the 1800's used prints and solids. I am LOVING the leader/ender project I am doing now...There are 5 squares in a row that go dark/light/dark/light/dark...and then on the ends of these are a SOLID red....it is going to act as a 'margin' between the pieced strips, and the plain strips I put between them.
Pics of progress...


If I used ANYTHING else besides that solid red....any print at all....it would be mushy and too blendy for what I wanted. The solid red is my 'punch card'. it says HERE I AM!

Here is a close up of a friendship braid quilt I did:


If I used ANYTHING other than the solid red....you wouldn't have seen the cornerstones in this pattern. Solids CAN be a good accent if they are used in the right way. (and can you tell I'm so partial to turkey red!?)

This is my "Somewhere In Time" quilt:


Quilt Close-up Quilt VERY Close-up

It also uses a solid turkey red. I was replicating this antique top from the 1800's:

Here is a pic of a double 9 patch variation:

I used a solid navy as the sashings because I wanted a space for the eyes to rest between the printy blocks. The light blue is also a print...and I just thought a navy would be a great place to showcase some pretty feather quilting because the 9 patches were too tiny to do something fancy in (they finish at 3") and the little blue squares were only 3" too....so solids here did it for me. I don't think they look "flat" at all, do you?

And this scrappy 6 pointed string star uses a wonderful solid civil-war poison green:

So I guess no rules are set in stone and I like using solids in my reproduction quilts. You can use them anywhere you would use muslin.....challenge yourself. Give it a try. You just might like the results!

(By the way, that same author says to purchase backing fabric only AFTER your top is finished so you can pick out a fabric that compliments the quilt top. She thinks they need to be compatible and interesting. I'm not going there! See my scrappy backs below!)


Storage ideas for Quilts-in-Progress!

Some other things I really like to help keep me more organized:

Big zip lock bags are great for keeping groups of blocks sorted from each other and yet together. You can file them upright and flip through them to pull which one you need. And of course, zip locks are reusable, I keep a drawer full of various sizes, from snack size up to 2 gallon size.

I also like plastic pencil boxes, plastic shoe boxes...just anything that keeps things together. Things with lids stack nicely! I like containers that are clear so I can see what is in there. Back-to-school time is a great time for finding bargains on containers like these. Otherwise, if it's out of sight, it's out of mind!

When piecing, I use safety pins to pin together units by 10's...10 blocks, 10 sections, 10 whatever....so it is easy for me to count how many I have and how many I need. For instance I needed 42 houses for the happy scrappy wonky houses quilt...as I was making them, I'd pin them together in sets of 10, so I wouldn't have to start counting at ONE every time I wanted to see how many I had done and how many left to go.



And while we are talking about using up our fabrics....don't forget about the BACK of a quilt!
You can ALWAYS make a big dent in the scrap stash by piecing your backs from many fabrics. I like to cut 10.5" squares of lots of fabrics, usually from the same color family, all blues, all reds, all neutrals, all pinks, etc. Why 10.5" squares? Well...I can get 4 squares across a 44" wide piece of yardage, and have really NOTHING but selveges left over. Total fabric annihilation! :c) The squares finish at 10"...so it is easy for me to figure out how many squares I need to go across the width and down the length of my quilt to construct my back. You can use any size of square you want, but I like to keep the math easy for me. I sew the squares block to block, but if you want to avoid seams that intersect you can offset them for a whole different look. Experiment with it! If you are like me, and have fabric coming out of your ears, who is really thrilled with the chore of having to go buy a 6 to 9 yard piece of ONE fabric for the back of a quilt?

I have machine quilted AND hand quilted through these pieced backs and they haven't caused me any problems at all. give it a try!

Here are some pic links of quilt backs I have pieced. These used up a lot of big sized chunks, left over pieces of yardage I didn't wan't hanging around anymore (less than 1/2 yard pieces I wanted to clear out) and I think they really make the backs fun!
Other fun pieced backs:
Quilt backs are a great place to use up oddball or left over orphan blocks that didn't fit into a quilt, as in the "other" fun pieced backs above. Even the left over length of Pioneer Braid piecing found a home in a quilt back..even though the piecing was totally unrelated to the front!


Indispensable Gadgets!
(Don't we all love them??)


Susan R writes:

If you don’t mind I have question about the attachment shown in some of your sewing pictures. It seems to be something screwed into the base of your sewing machine. I can’t see it clearly in the pictures and have been trying to get something similar for my Bernina. Would it be too much to ask you to take a real close up picture of it so I can show it to my dealer and not sound like such an idiot trying to describe what I am looking for. Maybe you can post a picture to your web site since I can’t possibly be the only person interested in it.

Sure Susan!


This little nifty gadget is called a "seam guide" It is sold by bernina for bernina machines. You can get it at your bernina dealer. The dumb part is that the set screw is sold SEPARATELY from the guide itself, so be sure to ask for both. A way for them to make more money I suppose!

Whatever kind of machine you own, check with your manufacturer/dealer to see what is available. My bernina has a screw hole already drilled into the machine bed, so the screw just threads into it. I use this for ALL my piecing, it is terrific when speed feeding piles of strips through. The only thing that I 'don't' use it for is if I am having to match points with pins. The guide gets in the way of feeding the pins through. But it is fabulous for putting on borders and binding. Just screw the guide up against your 1/4" foot and voila....straight seams! The guide acts as a little fence to feed your fabric up against, keeping the seam allowance even and straight.

Newer berninas even have a niftier foot....the seam guide is built right into their 1/4" foot. It has a little 'knife edge' thingy. I've heard that janome and pfaff also have their own version of the knife edge foot, so check with your manufacturer.

If you have a featherweight, these are available for you too. One came WITH my featherweight, and I use it up against the 1/4" foot by little foot.

No screw hole and no foot available? Never fear, a couple layers of mole-skin (sold in the pharmacy section for using as cushion for bunions, etc) will build up a fence for you to stick to your machine bed. You might have to trim out a space to fit around your feed dogs, but it is worth it!

a 1/4" seam is CRUCIAL when piecing, and chances are, if you can see the edge of your fabric at all at the edge of the foot, you've already gone a few threads more than 1/4".

This page on making scraps work wouldn't be complete with out listing some of my favorite tools!



A regular rotary ruler for cutting straight strips. One I use all the time is from creative grids and it measures 6.5" X 12.5"

Sometimes rulers have so many markings that it is hard to find just what you want and need to be lined up with on the ruler. Since my scraps are cut and sorted in 1/2 inch increments, most of the time I don't need things with 3/8" lines or 7/8" lines. And as I get older, my eyesight gets more persnickety, so there are some others that are great for the way I work.



For smaller cuts I LOVE the Easy Square Jr by EZ. It has 1/4" markings, and 1/2" markings. That's it! I like the dotted 1/4" line all the way around the square. I use this one a lot when trimming paper piecing because I can put the dotted line on the line on the paper, and trim 1 /4" past it... It's great for cutting smaller scraps into squares and bricks without having to use a huge ruler. Great for squaring blocks by keeping that 1/4" seam allowance line where you want it to go.



This is the Easy Angle 6. I use this to cut 1/2 sq triangles from strips without having to add that 7/8" to the finished size! You just add 1/2" to the finished size to cut your strip, and the rest of the math is added in for you on the angled side. Cut matched sets with your strips right sides together and you are ready to just feed the 1/2 sq triangle pairs through your machine. This works GREAT with my scrap strips, because I don't have that 7/8" to worry about. It works with the sizes of strips I have already cut.



This is another great ruler! It's the Companion angle. Called the Companion because it goes with the Easy Angle above. This is the "goose" part of flying geese units. You also don't have to figure the math with this one. It uses strips in the size you have already cut. And then you use the easy angle above to cut the 'sky' part of the goose block using the SAME SIZE STRIP...This is a very versatile ruler. This ruler also makes 'hour glass' type blocks easy. I also used this ruler to make the hidden spools quilt and others:


Hidden Spools Quilt



The Wonder Cut Ruler is a terrific tool for when you need TONS of pieced 1/2 sq triangles in a hurry! I use this ruler a lot even for things like string piecing. It's a great tool to have.



This "Diamond Strings" quilt was made with the wondercut ruler!

These are just the basics of what I use on a daily basis in my quilt making. Try everything! Find what works for you! I know we have all bought rulers that we thought were going to be *IT* for us, and sometimes they didn't live up to their reputation or they just weren't for us. But you won't know if you don't try something new.

I hope this gives you an idea on how I make my scraps work for me, and makes scrap quilting fun instead of a drudgery!