Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Managing Scraps

I just finished the Scrap Quilting class at Craftsy with Pepper Cory.  I have at least one of her books in my stash somewhere--I think it's on marking quilts.    It's so nice to listen to her tell stories, and share her wisdom.  She really enjoys what she does.  It's like she was right here with me -- an old friend at Quilt Camp giving me directions and pointers on how to do something.  In the class videos, she comes alive in a way that's not possible in a flat instructional quilting book. 


And I loved seeing her use her old Singer Featherweight whom she called Jessica.  I had to laugh -- I called one of my old cars, Jess!    I think I'll name my own Featherweight Pepper, or maybe even Cory in honor of this most comfortable teacher and friend.  It's important to have a good working relationship with your equipment.  What better way to get along, than to name it?

I didn't actually make any of the projects Pepper demonstrated in the class, since I'd made similar ones in my past quilting history.  So for me this was more entertainment to watch Pepper, and listen to her stories. 

String Quilt
I didn't actually use the old phone book pages that Pepper recommends for this project.  I remember seeing this method a while back and being intrigued by it enough to give it a try.  In this digital day and age, phone books are not so common as they used to be.   So I had to scrounge to find one (if you can believe that!).  And once I tried it -- Sure, it makes a good foundation, but I did not enjoy the ripping and the picking out the paper bits that got stuck in the seams.   The ripping process distorted the blocks.  For me, it worked much better to use blank muslin blocks as the foundation.

This string quilt was not so much scraps.  I'd purchased multiple sets of black and white 2-1/2 inch strip sets to have good variety to choose from.

From the leftovers, I made a Mondo Bag, sewn with my vintage Featherweight Singer Sewing Machine.

My goal was to learn to get a handle on my growing scrap bins after 15 years of quilting. I did a lot more fusible applique back in the day, and I told myself that I needed all those choices and colors and textures and sizes of scraps because I might need them some day ...   But it's getting to be too much now.  Time to use them!

Chinese Coins Quilt
I'd done a scrappy quilt after buying a set of 200 4-inch squares.  All the pieces were different, and it came out looking varied and beautiful.  But something was strange about it -- and I finally realized it didn't have the emotional power that a true scrap quilt has, where you can point to a scrap and know exactly where else you used it, and when you purchased it.  Or that it came from a piece of clothing from way back when ...  You can give its full pedigree.  That kind of quilt has the power to settle you down, and start a walk down nostalgia lane with all the memories it brings back.

Don't get me wrong : I adore this Chinese Coins Quilt as a whole.  But the individual parts -- the individual pieces -- don't have that emotional impact mentioned above. 

Wedding Ring Quilt
Last summer when I was working on Rosita's Wedding Ring Quilt for her grand-daughter's wedding, I was just mesmerized because I knew all those little scraps and pieces were leftover from Rosita's lifetime of quilting.  That quilt was full of her story / herstory.  Powerful stuff, when you know that.  I'm sure Kayleigh knows that, too!

Then of course, you have to use the new stuff, to MAKE it part of your story.  To give those scraps their history, to make them yours.

Composed Fabric
I'd been keeping scraps and cutoffs for making composed fabric, but I think I'm over that.  Many of these became Journals.  My sewing room was too full, and something needed to give -- something had to go.  So I gave a big garbage bag away to someone who will use it for stuffing in cat beds for the local animal shelter.   Reduce - Reuse - Recycle!

In Pepper's class, I was hoping to learn how to tame the leftovers from any given project, to be disciplined about cutting them up into strips or blocks  of varying sizes and just wait until you have enough to make something -- Like my friend Laura does.  I'll have to ask her for some lessons on that in October at Quilt Camp.  I know basically what she does -- and still I'm afraid to commit to cutting something down like that -- what if I really needed that larger piece later on?

I think I need to get a few books on the topic of managing scraps from the Public Library and see what is recommended.   And figure out what will work for me ...

Maybe I just need to figure out what kind of scrap quilts I like to make, and have that in mind as I'm cutting down and saving scraps.  For instance -- Am I shooting for another Chinese Coins Quilt, or something with 2-1/2 inch strips?  Or something with 1/2-square triangles to make scrappy stars?  I'll have to ask Laura what her standard sizes are ...

1 comment:

The Idaho Beauty said...

I used to diligently cut leftover scraps into various standard sizes of squares on a regular basis, storing them in shoeboxes. Triangles went in another box. It was all so that I would have these ready to go for a scrap quilt or even just a block as I was entering block contests and involved in block exchanges back then. I did dip into those shoeboxes from time to time, but the always dreamed about scrap quilt rarely emerged from them. Since I moved back to Idaho and have focused more on art quilting, I lost interest in cutting my scraps into squares and every so often when I get into that closet for something else and see the boxes gathering dust, I know in my heart I'm not really going to do anything with them. But it's hard to give up on these old practices.

I've loved Pepper Cory for years! I can see why you would enjoy her class even if you weren't working on the projects.