Weekend Scrap Control

It is time to deal with scraps instead of talking about it.  One motivation is that my sewing machine is in the shop (only routine maintenance, nothing dire).  So since I am a one-machine gal, I need to do something other than sew. I opened one box of scraps, the oldest box.


Believe me this is less than 1/10 of the total. I’ve been collecting for a long time. This batch comes from when I was dressmaking. So the shapes, being odd, require individual attention. Nothing streamlined here.

I pressed a bunch that now looks like this.

Scraps pressed

Luckily I did the pressing on a cool day because today is in the high 90s without a breeze. The small blue pile will go into the crumb jar.  Everything less than 1 1/4 inch-square but bigger than 3/4 inch goes into the crumb jar. I have some extremely small pieces from early days before it occurred to me that I needed to allow for 1/4 inch seams and then to still have fabric visible. Those I do discard.

Crumb jar

I think it is a gallon jar.  When it gets full I’ll sort by color and proceed to make improv fabric for some future project.

So far I have two piles.

This one for immediate projects.

For immediate use

Here I have 3 1/2-inch squares, 2-inch squares and 1 1/2-inch squares. These are for Variable star blocks, the four-patch block, Sunny Lanes, and small 9-patch blocks for cornerstones. The latter will be my leaders and enders when the current L & E project becomes a primary project (which is soon). There are also 2 x 3 1/2 rectangles to accumulate for a pattern I recently saw on DesertSky’s blog. it will take a long time to have enough of these to work with, so it will be ongoing for a long time.

My approach to scraps is this:  If a piece is smaller than a 10-inch square, I start with the largest useful square I can get from it. Six and a half inch squares are the largest I usually use, so I start there if I can.  And I keep making squares smaller as I am able–and some rectangles too in sizes other than the above mentioned.  I once made a list of sizes I needed for various patterns I like to make, and it seems I can use most any size.

As I cut, if they are not the sizes for immediate use, I toss them on a heap to be sorted later.

Miscellaneous sizes

I started out sorting as I cut, but it was too cumbersome and took up too much space. This works much better. The tray s right under my cutting table. When the pile begins to topple over, I’ll sort by size and by light/medium/dark.  That allows for making a pattern and paying attention to value but not the color. If I choose to design by color, I’ll sort further at at that point.

I’ll try to keep going with this even after getting my sewing machine back. A little time each day, I’m told, adds up to a lot.  Meanwhile it is a good thing to do without a sewing machine since I haven’t gotten into EPP or other hand work.

Tomorrow I’ll like with Oh Scrap! (button in sidebar).


Filed under quilting

An Amazing Second Half of a Book

Cancer In Two VoicesCancer In Two Voices by Sandra Butler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent book, though if I hadn’t seen the documentary by the same name, I might not have made it through the beginning. In the film the couple’s openness and closeness is apparent throughout. In the book it shows up later. It is especially vivid in the chapter about Barbara making her will and some of the introspection it prompts in each partner. Though they had been coupled for quite a while, there had been no ceremony. But after Barbara’s diagnosis, she and Sandy created a ceremony meant to include their Jewish and non-Jewish friends, their professional friends and friends from the lesbian community.

It is a book of journal entries, some by the partner with cancer and some by the partner without. Because Barbara’s breast cancer was misdiagnosed when she first noticed a lump, there was no early detection. By the time it was diagnosed it was aggressive and already metastasizing. While the book is about coping with cancer and eventually about both coping with Barbara’s dying, it is about much more. It is about life, about community, about family, about communication, about loving.

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Filed under books

My First Set of Three for Foot Squared Freestyle (F2F) Bee

I joined the F2F group a month late, so this is my first participation. Blocks are 12 x 12 (Foot squared) (finished measurement) and the maker chooses the method and pattern (Freestyle). The “queen bee” chooses the colors. Annette chose orange, aqua/teal, and green with white background. I like the results enough that I might try something with that palette later.

Most of my standby blocks are one or two color with a background, so I browsed my trusty Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. And I found this one, Brackman 1144.

Brackman 1144

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

Yeah, by the time I finished there are more than three colors. Sometimes when two colors don’t seem to work together, they will play well if you add colors. So I did.  Technically the color change makes it a variation of the number marked by adding a letter, but I’ll use the number for convenience.The variation would have to have been in print before the 70s to make the system.) Those two center squares are not black, but a very dark mottled aqua and green. Brackman lists the block as “Sunny Lanes” by “Nancy Page.” Florence LaGanke Harris wrote a syndicated mail-order column under the name of Nancy Page from the late 1920s to 1940s. I remember a friend trying to research Nancy Page’s bio and not finding anything until she finally learned it was a pseudonym.

I could make three of the same or three different ones.  I like variety sometimes and this was one.  Right next to 1144 was a block that was shown in two colors plus background, but I could see a way to modify the colors, Brackman 1143. (Same qualification on number usage as above.)

Brackman 1143

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

Following the pattern exactly, I would have made the orange squares the darker green and the peach, white. I debated a while between the peach and white, and though I really like that orange and peach together, I think I might have liked the block better had I used white. But I don’t dislike this one enough to rip. Brackman found this one in four places with three names. (I wonder if all four thought they had invented it.) “Nancy Cabot” (a pseudonym for Loretta Leitner Rising and later Wilma Smith) called it “State House” as did Robert Frank in his catalog. It was called “Double Four Patch” and “New Four Patch” in Household Journal  and a related “Aunt Jane” pamphlet. Some block names are not so picturesque as others.

And the third block doesn’t appear in Brackman’s book, though she shows Variable Star with many different centers.

Variable Star

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

A block with a large center just asks for variations, and you can do anything you want with that square. I had left over squares from auditioning them for 1144, so I decided on this arrangement.

The arrangement also allowed for  repetition of fabrics. In a sampler quilt I like to repeat fabrics 2-3 times at least, and each color I’ve used has been repeated except the two lighter solids.  So if Annette also feels that way, she has some repetition here.  Maybe it is not quite so necessary when the colors are so close.

Check out the F2F Gallery here.


Filed under design, quilting

Boys in the Boat–A Good Read

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most amazing things about this book was that in spite of knowing the ending, it was suspenseful through and through. The second amazing thing is that it explained rowing to someone who had no clue (me) and little interest in sports in such a way that it was clear but not too much.

The story of the road to the Olympics is told mostly from the perspective of Joe Rantz; however, as he requested, it is told in the context of “the boat”–more than the shell that they propelled with oars, “the boat” is the spirit of the team working together in perfect harmony. The physical boat too is a character, and Pocock, its maker, stands out as one filled with wisdom about people as well as rowing and boat building.

The story is told in the context of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the drums of encroaching World War II. Joe’s surmounting of personal struggles as well as economic is admirable.

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Filed under books

Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) and Leaders and Enders’ Demise

It happened. The Leaders and Enders became their own project (almost). Somehow anything larger than a 2-inch seam feels too long to do between steps of a different project. So it became my Friday Night Sew In project for the first time that I joined it. Mostly it takes remembering.

I said “almost” because there are 32 blocks-in-progress that need rectangle pieces, the 1-inch squares sewn to the 1x 3 rectangles. They have to be made yet. So that is 64 leaders and enders till I put a square on each end. They are cut and ready to go. Only one got sewn tonight–chain piecing doesn’t pile up the L and E pieces very quickly.

Three-side pile

32 of these need the fourth rectangle

So these 32 will be in process yet a while. No work on them tonight. Meanwhile, these got their fourth side sewn.

4 sides

17 of these

And pressed.  I pinned them last night.  Since random isn’t my thing, I did some playing with combinations. I’d wanted all four neutrals to be different; however, there are a couple where I decided the corner color mattered more. I have a range of very old fabric from my great aunt’s scrap bag and some very new and modern. I think in the total product, the mix will work.

And some got a pair of triangles.

With two triangles

12 of these

I need to cut more triangles before I continue with these.

Tomorrow you can check out what others accomplished on FNSI and maybe next month you can play too. And If I don’t work any more on this project, I’ll link with Leaders and Enders next week, and on Sunday I’ll link with Oh Scrap! (Buttons for the last two in the sidebar.)

Here is the source of the block and what mine may look like when the blocks grow up–and a tutorial. Here is the first time I linked with Leaders and Enders, and here is a second link up with the same project. I have made some progress, slow though it be.


Filed under quilting

Le Challenge: Directions

If I start something early, it will be finished early, right?  Wrong. That was, however, the plan. Oh well, on time is good enough.

When Le Challenge announced this month’s theme of “Directions,” my first thought was “Mariner’s Compass.” Nope, not ready for those points yet. Then I thought of the “London Roads” block. What could be more evocative of “directions” than all those arrows with the implied dead ends and wrong ways? (Earlier, I’d mentioned that this one-way dilemma is common to many cities, not just London.) This is the first time I’ve started a project from the monthly challenge instead of fitting an in-progress project to the theme. So I sketched. And made blocks.

And finally finished the top. In addition to using three versions of “London Roads,” I made mirror images up and down, left and right. That started because I made the QSTs my usual way and ended up with arrows going in two directions. Then I thought, Why not with the others too?

London Roads Top

53 x 75 before quilting

I always do a post-mortem,asking, What could I have done differently?  After doing the light green on the corner blocks so that the arrows would show, I thought a similar treatment in the center blocks would have highlighted those arrows more as well. I had tried green centers and that just looked funny. Next time I might try three colors on the earlier versions, center and “other” quarter of the QST.

But then I saw something different in the “Nancy Page” blocks in the corners. They hadn’t needed the green at all.  The brown made the arrows in her version.  I just was so stuck on the other two earlier patterns that I’d not seen that design detail until I thought harder along the What-was-she-thinking line.

Well, now I have even more direction confusion showing as the round-about can go both ways. I did that on purpose, of course I did. :-)

And because the fabric doesn’t show up well in the picture of the top, here is a photo of the fabric itself.

Fabric detail

I thought city buildings went well with city streets. Earlier on I’d wondered if the print was too small for 15 x 15 blocks, but in addition the the thematic link, I think it is fins as a contrast to the large block design.

I will, of course, be linking with Le Challenge. Check in with them tomorrow to see what next month’s theme will be.

Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) is coming up; I’ll have to find a new project.  Maybe blocks for F2F.


Filed under design, quilting

Saltwater Taffy Revisited

Today is Friday, and as I considered which project to get out, the various “finish” linkies helped me decide. So instead of working on “London Roads” which is no longer new and exciting, nor is it anywhere near finished, I got “Saltwater Taffy” and its binding out.

Bouncing from project to project has been called “Quilters’ ADD.” I have a new perspective from having read How to Steal Like an Artist. Kleon advises, “When you get sick of one project, move over to another, and when you’re sick of that one, move back to the project you left. Practice productive procrastination” (65). “Productive procrastination,” I like that a lot better.

So, here is the finished look.

The sun was just right to show the quilting.  For those new to the blog, the quilt’s history: Beginning, Piecing the Back, Quilting.

I had a little over 1/2 yard of binding left, so it goes into this pile:

box of binding bits

I’ve seen several scrappy quilts bound with leftovers, so I started to save them. Maybe one quilt or maybe a light and a dark. Time will tell. Linking with Oh Scrap!  for these binding bits. (The quilt is also made from scraps, but has been shown before.)

And  linking with three finished linkies: LAFF,TGIFF, and Finish it up Friday.


Filed under creativity, quilting