Scrap-Happy Stash-Busting Quilts
I love scraps. To me, they are the comfort food of quilts. My first contact with quilts was not the ornate Baltimore Album quilts or the intricately hand quilted whole cloth quilts, but utilitarian layers of warmth that brightened a room. They were interesting to look at because I would spot something different each time. I’ve grown to love all kinds of quilts, but when I want a feel-good quilting experience, I haul out the scrap basket and make some stash-busting quilts!
Vintage Orange Peel Quilt
Vintage Orange Peel Quilt is a combination of old and new. The “fruit slices” are vintage fabrics cut into shapes long ago. I appliquéd them onto new fabric to create a “vintage modern” quilt. The rainbow of vintage feed sack fabrics came from an antique quilt dealer. The little box in her booth was labeled “500+ vintage fabrics” and contained pieces already cut into melon shapes. Someone, sometime planned to make a quilt and cut each of these pieces by hand, making each one a little different. I had to wonder what the long-ago quilter thought about as she prepared each piece. I admired them, and the dealer gave them to me when I purchased one of her antique quilts. Nice bonus!
The box sat in my cupboard for years while I pondered off and on what to do with them. Orange peel quilts started to pop up on my Pinterest feed, and I discovered that I really love these quilts. Finally, a plan!
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In the make-do spirit of the feed sack era, I searched for a background fabric in my stash. I grabbed a handful of vintage pieces and waved them around in my studio until a solid orange fabric made the prints sing. But could I make an orange quilt? I didn’t think so, so I kept searching, but always came back to the orange fabric.
I cut the background fabric into squares, then hand appliquéd each vintage piece onto a modern square. No measuring – I just eyeballed the placement as I imagined the long-ago quilter doing. And it worked. Until I ran out of background squares. Off to find more background fabric. How hard could it be?
The elusive exact match nudged me toward purchasing two different orange fabrics – one lighter and one darker than the original. More making do. Looking at the quilt now, with its varied background fabrics, running out of fabric was a creative gift. The scrappy background rings true with the collection of feed sack prints. I made an orange quilt. And I love it!
Scrappy Hexagon Quilt
Scrappy Hexagon Quilt is constructed from hexagons and triangles. I love the serendipity of scrappy quilts, but wanted to control the color palette with this one. So I used just three blue fabrics for the hexagons and went scrappy with the triangles. I started this quilt in a class with Gyleen Fitzgerald on a Quilt Seminars at Sea cruise.
The construction process stitched triangles to two opposite sides of a hexagon, forming a diamond shape. Then I laid out the pieced diamonds to form larger hexagons, keeping the light, medium and dark solid blue hexagons in a consistent pattern.
Pin basting prepared for straight line machine quilting with a walking foot. I did no marking and found I could drive a straight-ish line from point to point, forming a triangular grid across the blocks. Not in the ditch – that takes more skill and focus than most people think. And I like the quilting to be more visible.
Here she is, finished! Bias binding worked around all those points and valleys. I considered straightening the pointy edges to simplify the process, but I really wanted to keep the playfulness and I’m glad I did. I think I can now miter 120-degree angles in my sleep!
Urban Abacus Quilt
Jenny Pedigo developed her Quick Curve Ruler to make easy work of cutting and piecing curved quilt blocks. Jenny’s Sew Kind of Wonderful line of quilt patterns uses this curve in a variety of layouts. The Urban Abacus Quilt is an easy one to start with. You get lots of practice cutting and piecing the curves, but the pattern is forgiving if your seams are not perfect. (Mine are not.) I used a variety of fat quarters and short cuts, but a planned arrangement would have super visual impact, as well.
I love the red theme, and mixing up the shirting backgrounds makes a more interesting quilt, I think. Also, necessity is the mother of…. I did not have enough of any one fabric for the entire background. This happens a lot, but I enjoy the challenge of putting patterns together that surprise the viewer. I didn’t plan to use them as partners when I purchased them, but I like the result.
Hand stitching the binding bugs a lot of quilters, but I find it relaxing. It’s a great way to keep my hands busy in the car or when watching TV. When I start that step, I know I’m on the home stretch and will soon have a finished quilt!
Feedsack Yo-Yo Quilt
This is a “good medicine” quilt. I was “confined to quarters” for several weeks to recover from spinal surgery and was not able to sit at my sewing machine. I planned to catch up on my reading, but I wanted to do some sewing, too. A hand sewing project that I could keep contained next to my recliner was in order. So I prepared to make this reproduction Yo-yo Coverlet.
I found a photo of a 1930’s feedsack quilt in a book on antique quilts and loved the pattern. I reproduced the layout in Electric Quilt quilt design software and got an estimate of the yardage requirements. The original quilt was pieced from squares, but I couldn’t use my sewing machine. I thought about hand piecing, but I couldn’t stand at the ironing board to press the seams. So I borrowed a die cutter and cut a gazillion 2-inch circles from reproduction fabrics in my stash to stitch yo-yos. I had to buy more white fabric for the sashing pieces.
The yo-yos were easy – just turn the edges and make a running stitch, pull the thread to gather, and knot. The yo-yos were simply whip-stitched together. I learned two important lessons during this project: The quality of one’s stitching is not improved by pain medication, and there is now a fabulous tool available from Clover for making yo-yos.
Machine Appliqué Taupe Album Quilt
Designing with low-contrast Japanese taupe fabrics can be a challenge, but I’m in love with quilts made by Japanese artists. I really, really love the fabrics and my collection, gathered over time, and they cried out to become a quilt. It was time to try Machine Appliqué Taupe Album Quilt! Electric Quilt Software takes a lot of the fuss and muss out of designing and building a quilt.
I selected stock blocks (Baltimore and folk art-inspired) from the EQ library that worked beautifully in a setting I designed in the software. You can make the blocks any size, adjust or eliminate the sashing, and adjust or add borders – or eliminate them altogether. You can also drop in colors/fabrics from the library to get a pretty good feel for how your finished quilt will look. Can’t find colors you like? Create new colors and save them to your library for future use.
The ability to preview fabrics on screen was so helpful for working with a challenging color palette. As a result, I made better fabric choices. For these appliqué blocks, the software let me print templates in the perfect size. I stitched the turned-edge appliqués with invisible thread using the freezer paper method. My walking foot made the grid quilting easy. Then I free motion quilted the feathers in the border, using a quilting stencil designed by Sue Nickels.
Cosmic Spirals Quilt
This quilted wall hanging was started in a workshop with Barbara Olson and lived in my office for several years. I’m now enjoying it at home. The blocks are from her Cosmic Spirals Quilt.
Barb had great advice on fabric selection and placement to make the colors flow. She introduced me to the concept of “bridge” fabrics. Bridge fabrics soften the transition from one color to another. Forming a color wheel with solids is one thing, but prints are more complex. And how do you select a border fabric that blends while holding its own in the composition? I would never have attempted anything this complex without her guidance.
The trickiest part was getting the centers of the spirals to lie flat – many, many seams converge. But Barb and a hammer got us there!
I liked the idea of doing both options in the pattern: spikey spiral and the curvy organic one. Construction for each was different, and I wanted to try as many new ideas as I could while Barbara was there to guide me. I think the two blocks balance each other well.
Foundation piecing gives the black and white spiked sharp, crisp points. I was so happy that I didn’t have to do this intricate piecing from templates!
The spikey pieces at the center of the spiral are tiny! Fitting it all together with tight curves challenged my patience.
I inverted the color vs. black/white sections of the organic spiral and really like the contrast.
In this close shot of the organic spiral, you can see that the curvy bits are appliquéd over the radiating black and white background.
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