The Beauty of Rejects, Leftovers and Foibles

Meet Annie, the Quilt

When I entered the quilting sisterhood, I did so with boundless enthusiasm and a charming naivety. It was cute how I assumed I would start a quilt, I would finish it in short order, it would be fabulous, and THEN I would move on to the next project. It would be as easy as – say – washing your hair. Lather, rinse, repeat… Hahahahahahaha.

It wasn’t long before I experienced the agonies of poor color choices, unrefined techniques and simple boredom. “Orphan block” and “UFO” became part of my personal quilting lexicon.

First there was the highly ambitious sampler quilt that exceeded my ability at the time. Some of the blocks turned out great. Some, not so much. I finally gave up in a fit of frustration. For years, I would pull the stack of blocks out periodically, shake my head, and put them back onto the shelf.

My most recent failed endeavor was the Splendid Sampler. A great project I joined with much anticipation. Five blocks in, I realized it wasn’t for me. Still, I made a few adorable blocks. I couldn’t throw them away. Onto the orphan stack they went.

There were MANY samples, mistakes and leftovers along the way. My orphan pile would likely have continued to grow, but I recently bought a Brother Dream Fabric Frame and I’m dying to try it out. Lord knows I won’t start with any of my real quilt tops, so I thought it would be a great idea to sew all my orphans together to make a practice quilt. I told myself, “It’s already ugly, so it won’t matter if you screw up the quilting.” Brilliant, right?

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As the idea gathered steam in my head, I began to research Orphan Block Quilts and found a wealth of resources. Books have been written. There are entire blogs dedicated to them. They are called by many names: Everything But the Kitchen Sink Quilts, Scatterbrained Quilts, etc. Some of them are really ugly. Some are more beautiful than my “pretty” quilts. I’m going for a semi-organized look with the black and pink polka dot sashing. I’m very excited about trying out machine quilting, but, surprisingly, I’m almost as excited about finishing this “ugly” quilt top.

Have you ever made an Orphan Block Quilt? Tell me all about it, and I’ll let you know how mine turns out.

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I Need a Bigger Bed…

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Current Work in Progress – Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is coming along nicely, except for one thing. It’s too big to lay out on my queen-sized bed. In fact, there’s not a space in my house big enough to lay out the entire quilt. When finished, it will measure a whopping 96″ square. I don’t know what I’m going to do. For now, I’ll just keep sewing.

I have completed seven of the 16 sections. Only 1,296 small squares left to sew – sooooo – I better leave you and get back to work.

Go Home Purple Geese…

An Original Design

Last night I finished the design for a new project. I’m calling it, Go Home Purple Geese, You’re Drunk. I realize I didn’t use purple for the geese on my first draft, but I decided to change to a different color scheme before I sew it up.

I haven’t bought any quilt design software, so for now I’m doing it old school – graph paper and colored pencils. At some point, I’ll turn it into an actual pattern.

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I’m anxious to start cutting and sewing this one, but I haven’t finished the top for my last design yet, so it’ll have to go on the back burner for now. In the meantime, I need to decide if I’m going super-scrappy on this one or choosing a few fabrics from my stash.

My current design, Chaos Theory, is a monster project. It has 16 sections. Each one is 12 by 12 squares. When I’m done, I will have 2,304 small squares. Here’s a look at Section 13. It doesn’t look like much until you see all the sections together, then the underlying pattern shows through.

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I haven’t finished all of the previous 12 sections. I’ve been skipping around. It’s easier to disperse the fabrics evenly that way. Also, I get bored and skipping around helps.

Here is another section…

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At this rate, I’m not likely to have a finished top to show you for several weeks. I think I’ll try something easier next time. 🙂

Mahalo, y’all for stopping by.

 

Earth Song

A Finished Quilt Top (Or Flimsy, If You Prefer)

My other New Year’s Resolution, besides the one involving my scrap tub, was to finish something old and something new every month. It’s a contract I made with myself after realizing my UFOs had gotten out of control and that I was going to die one day with a zillion unfinished projects if I didn’t do something about it soon.

My first instinct was to say I couldn’t start any new projects until I finished all the old ones, but a wise friend suggested I alternate one UFO with one new project to stave off boredom. It’s a system that’s worked marvelously. Thanks, Kelly.

Earth Song is my Something New for March. It was inspired by a quilt I saw on Pinterest by Adrianne Ove of Little Bluebell. It’s a bossy little quilt. It insisted on that hippy name. (Not that I’m denigrating hippies. Far from it. I have quite a few hippy tendencies. My two daughters are named after trees and I’ll tie-dye anything that gets in my way.) However, I’m not that great at naming my quilts, so I let this one have it’s way.

There’s a small scrap element to this project. The yellow center squares came from my famous tub. The yellow used in the sashing was a fresh purchase. 😦 🙂 Everything else came from my stash, which is great because I need to use that up too. Yay, me.

Now, when I say “finish,” I mean I finished the quilt top. It’s not quilted yet. I’ve been saving for a long-arm quilting machine, so for the moment, I’m stacking my quilt tops on a shelf and waiting patiently. Hopefully next year will be my year to really finish all my projects. Having said that, I welcome any and all advice on which long-arm machine I should purchase.

Skill Level: Beginner

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to beginner quilters. It’s not only easy, but it comes together quickly. More advanced quilters can take it up a notch by using a pinwheel as the center block (A) or incorporating a more complex sashing.

EarthSongPattern

Illustration 1, Block + Sashing

12-inch block w/2-inch sashing (finished)

  • A = 4½” x 4½”
  • B = 4½” x 4½”
  • C = 4½” x 8½”
  • D = 4½” x 8½”
  • E = 4½” x 12½”

Sashing

  • Yellow strips = 2½” x 12½”
  • Brown squares = 2½” x 2½”

Layout

  • 24 blocks
  • 6 rows of 4 squares
  • Finished quilt size: 58″ x 86″

Accuquilt Friendly: Somewhat 

I used mine to cut the 4½” squares, the 2½” sashing strips, and the 2½” sashing squares. I used a rotary cutter for the 4½” by 8½” strips and the 4½” by 12½” strips.

Precut Friendly: Somewhat

You can use a jelly roll for the sashing. A charm pack will work for the two 4 1/2″ squares in each block. If I were going that route, I’d probably adjust the size slightly and not trim the charm pack squares. And you could use fat quarters for the other three pieces. If you go that route, you’ll need:

  • 1 jelly roll
  • 1 charm pack
  • 12 assorted fat quarters

This will make twenty-four 13½” blocks. Finished quilt size will be 70″ by 105″.

  • A = 5″ x 5″
  • B = 5″ x 5″
  • C = 5″ x 9½”
  • D = 5″ x 9½”
  • E = 5″ x 14½”

I hope you like Earth Song. Mahalo, y’all.

A Found Treasure

Quilt #2 in the 2016 Year of Scrapfabulousness Series

This quilt isn’t beautiful so much for its fabric or pattern, but for its history. A couple of years ago, I bought a bag of fabric at a yard sale in Falcon, Colorado, and inside I found these Chinese Coin strips.

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There were seven or eight strips, some of them longer than the others. Someone had spent a lot of time sewing them together, but they had run out of time, ambition or ability, so the strips ended up in my hands. It felt wrong, somehow, to let them go to waste.

I dug through my scrap bucket and added enough pieces that I had eight strips of the same length. Then I picked a few low-volume fabrics and added them between the strips using the 1600 jelly roll method.

The finished top isn’t going to win any quilt show awards, but I like it. I enjoy knowing there’s one less UFO in the world. Or at least there will be as soon as I quilt it. 🙂

I hope that when I run out of time, or ambition, or ability, someone will find my UFOs and finish them. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Mahalo, y’all, for stopping by.

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Positively Scrappy

Quilt #1 in the 2016 Year of Scrapfabulousness Series

Positively Scrappy, the first in my 2016 Year of Scrapfabulousness Series, is the ultimate scrap quilt. It’s made up entirely of 2.5″ blocks – 1,440 of them to be exact. You don’t need any yardage. It’s ALL scraps. And it’s so easy to customize the look and size of this quilt.

I used my Accuquilt to cut the blocks, but you could easily do this with a jelly roll, fat quarters, whatever. I enjoyed putting it together, from start to finish. Can’t wait to get it quilted.

Skill Level: Upper Beginner

This pattern uses only 2.5″ squares. Nothing difficult about that. Really, the biggest challenge is the layout. I worked in big sections of 12 squares by 12. I laid it all out to my satisfaction and sewed, row by row. There would be unfinished pluses along each edge, so when I moved to the next section, I had to reference the adjoining ones to complete the pattern. It was an organizational nightmare, but the sewing itself was easy.

Accuquilt Friendly: Very

This quilt is comprised entirely of 2.5″ squares. The Accuquilt made cutting a breeze.

Precut Friendly: Very

If you don’t have a huge tub of scraps like I do, precuts are the next best thing. You could use jelly rolls, or charm packs, or even larger cuts like fat quarters.

Fabric Requirements

  • 3 Jelly Rolls – you would have about three-quarters of a roll left. Or…
  • 9 Charm Packs – That doesn’t leave you any wiggle room, so you might want to pick up ten. Or…
  • 26 Fat Quarters – Again, I would recommend a few extra to account for mistakes. Or…
  • 1 heaping pile of scraps – Each scrap should be at least big enough to get 5 squares @ 2.5″ each.

This quilt is 36 squares wide by 40 squares long. The finished dimensions are 72″ x 80″. And of course you can make it any size you like. That’s just what I ended up with.

 

2016 – Year of Scrapfabulousness

After nearly 40 years of sewing, I have accumulated a LOT of scraps. You’d think I would have done something with them by now, but sadly, I have not. I might never have, except we recently moved to Hawaii where the houses are much smaller. I have hardly any storage space, so the scraps must go. I can’t bear to throw them away, though, which is why I’ve designated 2016 as the Year of Scrapfabulousness.

By the end of this year, one of my scrap tubs must go.

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I’ve made some progress…

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I used my Accuquilt cutter (which I adore) to cut 4 1/2″ and 2 1/2″ squares. I’ll keep doing that all year. But… one of my favorite things to do for those pieces that are smaller than 2 1/2″ is this…

This is such a low-stress sewing activity for me. When I don’t feel like doing anything else, I’ll grab a stack of scraps and start randomly sewing them together. Once I have something close to 4 1/2″ square, I run it through the Accuquilt. Aren’t they cute? I can’t wait to make a quilt with them.

The only problem is, the more scraps I take out of the bucket, the madder my dog gets.

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TTFN.