Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stash to Strips!

A new 14" ruler! It's great for cutting scraps.

It started with the innocent desire to donate some fabric to the guild's annual sale, and quickly escalated into a massive Stash Reduction Project!
I had a basket of yardage that had been in the closet for a year. Giving it away would be the perfect anti-Pack Rat move, if I could only not look at the contents. But you know I did!

Now, the best way to overcome that Pack Rat urge is to donate items, because you are not throwing them away. They are just going to someone else who will love them. At least, that's what I tell myself, and works briefly.

So when I saw some fabrics in the basket that I liked, I cut them into 2.5" strips to make a pre-cut package for the sale.
That's where I went wrong. I decided, since I was giving away the yardage, the orange cut strips would make another nice Halloween style Quirky Bits (since DeLuna had bought the first one I made last year). So then I needed to cut some more while I was at it! There are plastic drawers of fat quarters and similar scraps that I had not looked at in quite awhile, so I figured the orange drawer was ripe for stripping!

You might be surprized how much fabric can fit in a 11" x 13" drawer...or maybe not!
Before I knew it, I was stuck in an obsession that had to be taken all the way...through the oranges, the browns, the purples and the greens...through the reds and all the way to the big Blue box!
And then, there was a box just labelled "Fat Quarters" (no colors), meaning I had started stuffing them into that box because all the sorted containers were full!

And even more can fit in a bigger box!

Oh, the big Blue box? Yeah, that one was under-bed storage size.
Or, as so many of us will understand, more than large enough to hold a cat.
Nothing collects cats like an open box of fabric! Shayla says, "It's mine now!"
But she's wrong.
All these pieces had to be ironed and folded back on-grain. Then cut and tossed on a stack: 2.5" or 2" or 1.5". Being innumerate, I randomly chose those widths. Then I attempted to be ruthless...
and did OK. I only have one large box left now with pieces I just couldn't bear to cut up!

The 2.5" strip pile.
It took 10 days. but finally I stopped. I had to swear to Cherry-Cherry I would not even peek in another box.
Yes, there are other boxes. And there is all the "real stash" on the shelves. That doesn't include the batiks, either. I am one fabric addict for sure!

At least I have learned that organization (some amount...) increases the probability of using these things, so the strips had to go into boxes. I chose to make them Light and Dark, letting the poor Mediums fall where they may. Just one width to a box. 
A piece of foam core makes a nice divider between Lights & Darks.
I even ended up with a couple of empty boxes!
And decided on my first project to use the strips: A Pink & Brown Log Cabin from 2" strips. Anything I thought I would use for that went into its own container. It's so nice to sit down and just start sewing, now that the cutting is done.
Ready for some mental health sewing!
I confess...the original scrap strips just went into the boxes with all the others.
But I did generate a GIANT scrap bag** for the guild sale, plus the basket of yardage. I'm putting those in my van today, because the sooner they are gone, the better the chances they will stay gone!

**10 pounds of scraps, covering a 30 year collection...not all my scraps, just the ones I could let go of!
It fills one of those pop-up laundry bags.
Yes, C.C., I am one sick puppy for fabric!
And, no...I am not cutting everything into strips. The yardage is safe.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Potholder Time Again!

Patchwork Pie is back, and today it's all about POTHOLDERS!
They can be as artistic as mini-quilts, or just slapped together utility items. They are the perfect gift, and...best of all...the most wonderful therapy in the world!
A pile of batted-up potholders!
I had a nice collection of batik scraps from a quilt I'd made for a class at the Campbell Folk School (it has been shown in their ads for the last year in every issue of Quilting Arts magazine...yes, these very scraps!). I also wanted to make a house-warming gift for some special friends out in Washington state, so a project was born!

This is a NO NUMBERS project, as in I didn't care if anything was the same size, and I certainly did not want to take the chance of doing any math!
Here's how I did it:

Rulers in this post are used only as straight edges...ignore those numbers!
1 )  After sewing some log cabin-ish blocks (with no regard to length, side, or direction of the "logs") I put each one on top of two layers of cotton batting and cut everything even all at once. In fact, you can just fold the batting (also scraps!). Measure by eye, not numbers!
 It does not have to be perfect or at right angles or anything at this point.

That's a fold along the bottom, another opportunity to just cut everything at on time.
2)  Batt not big enough? Just zig-zag some scraps together! Use a very wide stitch going off the batting layers, and lengthen the stitch. Or butt two pieces together and zigzag where the edges meet.
Two layers stacked

3)  These potholders are made to be used. And by "used," I mean "abused", as in grabbing them for any kitchen task. So I like terry cloth on the back! An old towel is terrific (also for inside instead of batting) but I didn't have one, so I had to visit The Big Box Store. But I had a 40% 0ff coupon, of course!
Lay the batted potholder on the terry cloth and just cut around it, free hand if you want!

Most of the potholders had more terry cloth around the edges at this stage.
4)  Time to quilt the layers together! If you care, match the bobbin to the backing. I had a nice blue King Tut thread for the top that looked OK with all the fabrics.
My favorite utility stitch: long wavy lines, with the machine set as you always do for regular stitching! You move the fabric back and forth for the wave.
You could do straight lines or anything your heart desires!
It doesn't need more than an X!
The extra backing means you don't have to worry about the layers matching!
5)   Trim from the front...no, I don't care what size it is, just make it look good. The binding will be easier with square corners (use bias binding if your potholder is round!).

6)  Here's an all-by-machine binding using straight grain strips cut 1 1/2". OK, so that's a number. I like to cut strips I can use for other things if there are any leftovers, but actually, in this case, the strips could be anything that looks like it's 1 1/2"!
By eye, fold & press one long edge of each strip to the wrong side, about 1/4"-ish. No, I do not know how many strips, or how long or whatever...cut cut & press some. This will use up scraps and encourage experimenting with various colors as you run out of each one you thought was ideal!

7)  Lay the strip on the BACK, right sides together, with the folded edge up and raw edges matching.
Just sew the strip on, and cut it off at the end...or chain sew the next potholder on until you run out!
8)  Do two opposite sides. Then wrap the binding to the front and topstitch it down, very close to the fold. You need to finish two opposite sides before doing the other two sides.
Read the next step!
9)  When you bind the other two sides, start and stop each strip by wrapping the end around to the front. The stitching will catch that part as you sew along the edge. Stop before you get to the corner, trim about an inch more than needed, and wrap that extra to the front (see pic below!). Finish sewing the side. When you bring the binding around to the front, the wrapped ends will cover the corners.
Wrapped end is underneath
10)  Topstitch through all the layers to finish. It doesn't have to be perfect. It will still be pretty and fun in the kitchen...until it's used up and thrown away (but that's after it has been washed several times) (unless you get it too close to a burner and...well....).

11)  I ended up with 9 potholders!
And not one of them the same as another.
Won't this be a fun & useful gift?
Long-time readers of Patchwork Pie will see that my design wall is still covered with threads!
PS: Inquiring Minds will want to know: any side is about 6--8".
Yes, that would be "about potholder size"!