Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A pair of scrappy tops

Well, the blocks to them, at least - they aren't sewn together yet. These two small tops are based on a very simple block - a square made of a rectangle half the size of the square and two squares, each half the size of the rectangle (i.e. two 3" squares + one 3x5.5" rectangle = one 5.5" square - or of course, you can do it any size you like - 4" square, 4x7.5" rectangle; 5.5" square, 5.5x10" rectangle)

I was inspired by the June Block Lotto (but went off on a tangent, of course). I can't talk about the block lotto yet (but it doesn't use this pattern), but you will see tomorrow!

I decided that, to maintain a little control over the scrappy look, I'd keep to a single colour in a given block (though I have used lots of scraps which have other colours beside the dominant one, so it's still scrappy). Thus the blocks are pink, green, blue, etc from a distance - though there is still a lot of variation. It just keeps it under control a little is all.

Here's a closeup of the block unit.

A few more scrap sessions like this, and I'll be able to stop scrapbusting!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Scrap system, revisited

Well, I finally feel I am making a dent in my scraps. In honour of this (and because it better suits the way I work these days) I am scrapping (ha ha) my old system of filing scraps by cutting into squares and saving in sizes, and going with a simpler, colour based method. I will still have a box of strips, of course. And then a basket of larger size scraps, as I mentioned a few days ago, but now the main scraps (other than the basket of yet-to-be-sorted ones) will be by colour - you can see them neatly piled on my sewing table. These range from about 2.5" square to 5" square (though they are not all squares) - 5" square is the largest that will fit in my little storage drawers:

So, anything larger than 5" square will go in the basket of larger scraps:

Which is now barely full at all - it was nearly full a few months ago. Woo hoo! As for the scrap drawers, most of them aren't anywhere near full, except the blue (why is it always blue?) which is nearly up to the top - I can squeeze a few more in, but there will definitely have to be some blue busting in the relatively near future. Also, I imagine when I tackle the scrap basket next (the wicker one) there will be some more scraps for these drawers - only the really small, oddly shaped ones stay in the basket...

There was other work done today as well - there was some progress on putting together another set of blocks, and some more blocks for charity tops made, very instrumental in scrap busting! But all in good time - I'll need things to show later in the week when I have no sewing time...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Red spools string quilt

This one is a finished top now - I like the effect of the way it came out. And it did make a bit of a dent in my string stash, although I still have far too many. It's going down, though! This one will also be off to a friend to become a Project Linus quilt, although I am also making great strides in putting together block sets I own which I might want to keep. That basket of blocks is going to be empty by the end of the year for sure. (Well, except for the string hearts, which are an ongoing project throughout the year)...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Giveaway - revisited

A while back I showed this pile of stuff I was giving away to a new home and asked for interested parties - I've decided to divide it up (with a few other things which have surfaced in the interim) between the six people who left comments - Clare, I will send the 9 patches to you, as discussed; Sophie, I'm sending you a selection of half square triangles in various colourways and sizes. Lynne, Gill, Kathy in Canada and Rachel D - if you email me (katelnorth at yahoo dot com) with your addresses, I will send you a share in what's left - mostly half square triangle units, but some other stuff as well...

I'm also looking for a home for the pattern to this cross-stitch (the finished cross-stitch itself already has a home...) - it was a kit originally, so there are some threads left, which I will throw in (not enough to sew the project again, though), and the pattern - but no canvas, of course. Let me know if interested!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Found Poetry

Another set of ATCs - these were for a "found poetry" swap, in a red/white/black theme. Found poetry, for those not familiar with the concept, is where you take a page or pages of text and use the words on the page to make up a small poem.

It's challenging, but fun.

I had a book about Chinese ways of happiness or something similar, which I found in a charity shop. The words and the backgrounds with the Chinese lettering came from there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


These were cards made recently for an Edgar Allan Poe themed swap. I happened to have a sheet of transparencies with Poe images and quotes on them, so that made a good starting place...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cross-stitch update

Nearly done. Of course, the border will take a while, though I'm about a third of the way around I guess. I've the word Contrary to do, a few more bees and butterflies and a couple of other bits and pieces, but it should be done soon - hopefully before next Wednesday's update (Wednesday seems to have turned into my cross-stitch update day by default - not sure why, but there it is...).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh My Stars - big block

Only one block this month in the Oh My Stars block of the month, but it's a big one - 18". Be warned, if you are making this block from the PDF instructions - the size for the border strips is wrong! (Should be 2" wide, not 1.5")

Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Snowball blocks

Here's another thing I worked on this weekend - the snowball blocks with the string centres. I haven't put the blocks together yet, but they are all finished (not all shown here, though - my coffee table isn't big enough). They'll make another nice scrappy top, I think.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another scrappy top...

Here are all the blocks from yesterday sewn into a quilt top - the size is around 39" square - a nice little size. I'm thinking of donating this one to charity - I think it would make a nice lap quilt, perhaps for someone in a wheelchair? Someone I know - can't remember who - works with a group that makes quilts for a senior centre or nursing home, etc. If that's you, let me know!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More scrap blocks

While I was searching for something in my sewing room the other day I came across a scrap of paper on which I had jotted down an idea for making scrap blocks which I got from a friend several years ago. One of those things I had been meaning to do for some time and simply forgot about. Ah ha! thought I - this idea's time has come, and I spent time today making a number of blocks to this pattern (as well as putting the corners on the string snowballs from last week - a task which is still not finished as there are four corners to each block and I am double seaming the larger corners to get HST units with my cut-off corners - the smaller corners are too small to bother). These blocks are very, very simply, particularly if you have a ready-cut stash of 3" squares, which I do - so I decided to give them a go. I am fairly certain that my friend Brenda, who had made a quilt top with this method, got the idea from a book, but I've no idea whatever what book, so if you recognise the pattern, please let me know so I can give credit!

I started with a block of three rows - 3 x 3" squares across the centre with an 8x3" rectangle on either side. I didn't worry too much about lining up the edges perfectly because I knew I'd be trimming a bit later. This was also helpful when I came across a scrap which was only 7 3/4" long - I could still use it.

Then, I stacked several of the blocks together - doesn't really matter how many - I usually did 3 or 4 at a time - and cut diagonally across the central portion. I then moved one of the pieces of the top block to the bottom of the stash and re-sewed the blocks together (i.e. top of block A to bottom of block B, top of B to bottom of C, top of C to bottom of A). When doing this, I off-set the top and bottom so the seams of the central piece didn't have to match. This is my favourite type of quick block - one where seams don't have to match!

And then, I trimmed. I think if you only offset a tiny bit, you could trim the block to 7.5" (it starts at 8" square before you slash it) but I trimmed mine to 7" square so I could offset a little more without worrying about whether the finished block would be big enough. You still don't have much wastage, frankly.

The top photo shows a possible layout for the blocks - it will be a very scrappy quilt, which is fine in this instance, but I could see doing this in a more controlled fashion, perhaps using only two colours for the 8x3" rectangles with unlimited scrappiness in the central part of the block. Another thing for the list, perhaps. It's probably a good thing I don't have a paper version of The List (i.e. all the quilts I would love to someday make) or it would be so long it would be scary!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The evolution of scraps

As those of you who hang out here regularly know, I've been trying to de-stash my scraps this year - and doing a fair job (though I swear those things breed when I'm out of the room) of it. The problem is, unless I do only things which are entirely scrap-based, new scraps pop up all the time. I was thinking about this recently, while making some scrap-based blocks - how things move from one stage of the scrap system (because I do have a system of sorts) and on to another...

Here's where my biggest scraps are. If something is bigger than this, I don't consider it a scrap, I just put it away in my "small pieces of fabric" section, which is a series of Ikea CD file boxes, with fabrics sorted mostly by colour (or sometimes other criteria, like Civil War Repros or Stripes or Taupes) - those pieces are mostly 10x10" or larger. If something is smaller than that, but still good sized, it goes in this basket. I used to cut things into squares - 3", 3.5", 4" and so on, up to 5" (anything smaller going in the scrap basket) - but I am not doing that any more as I am trying to get rid of those squares, so the scraps just go in this basket. So, these scraps are in a variety of sizes, but nothing smaller than about 3x3 and nothing larger than about 10x10 - although sometimes I put pieces that are really awkward shapes in here, too. I don't get out the ruler, though, I just approximate.

So, on this occasion, I was looking for larger scraps - 8x3" or bigger as I needed 8x3" rectangles. I grabbed this piece, which fit that criteria, and cut it to get my 8x3" rectangle.

There it is, at the bottom left of the page. That left me with a long strip and a small cut off - the strip then went into my strip box (which is why that collection doesn't go away despite doing loads of string blocks this year!) and the small piece goes in the scrap basket.

The whole thing is a kind of trickle-down effect, and I suppose that eventually, provided that I stopped buying new fabric, I would run out of larger scraps, which in turn would mean I'd run out of smaller scraps. I don't see it happening, though - it would mean not buying new fabric!

That's ok, though, as the point isn't really to get rid of all my scraps - it's more to be sure to consistently do projects with scraps so that the number of scraps in my house at any one time is small and sensible, rather than overwhelming. This year I am making a particular push on scraps because it had got to the silly and overwhelming stage. Hopefully, by the end of the year, there will be far fewer scraps and they will be contained and organised a bit better so they are useful rather than annoying.

Oh, and I am not fanatical about saving scraps - some things do go in the bin - but they are fairly small, as you can see by the ruler (only there to give a size-guideline). I guess about the smallest thing I save is 1.5x2 or so - smaller than that, I can't be bothered (I do sometimes save little bits for school, but I just gave them a load, so I probably won't do that for a while).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Whimsical Birds

Some little bird ATCs I made a little while back...

There were four, all fairly similar, though with different papers for the background and the birds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cross-stitch update

Not a huge amount of progress this week - I did get some of the border stitched, which does take longer than it might seem. And the sun. I've been quite tired in the evening, though, so haven't been stitching as much. Oh well, next week perhaps I'll get more done!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Here are some odds and ends going free to a good home - there are some blue scrappy string monkey wrench blocks, a few (three or four) nine patches in hand-dyed fabrics. And also, a big pile of half square triangle units in various colours - these are the offcuts from my scrappy string heart blocks so far this year. They are about 3.5" square, although not precisely. Anyone who wants them, leave a comment & I'll draw a name in a week or so.

Monday, May 16, 2011


So, a while back, I got rid of some of my block stash that I was probably never going to do anything with, by sending blocks to various people - often to folks I know through blogging who make charity quilts. This beauty was made by Sarah for her church's quilt ministry (read more here about this particular quilt) so I can take pride in having been part - even if only in a small way - in making this beauty, which she has called Daybright. Works for me... And so much better than the blocks languishing in my sewing room for another year or two. Or three...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More scrappy strings

In addition to the string hearts, I have been making blocks to use up other strings not incorporated in the hearts - I have sensibly saved the yellow, orange, brown and black strings as we haven't had those colours yet in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I decided not to save the white and neutral strings because even if we have a month which is that colour, I won't make string heart blocks as they wouldn't work with all neutrals and cream corners...

So. I made some 5" (finished) string squares. I am thinking of a snowball-ish type arrangement with these, but with variable size corners - partly for interest (it will give a sort of spool effect) and partly because it will be easier if the corners don't have to match. Something like this, perhaps:

Of course, all the strings will be scrappy rather than the same, but I didn't want an all-night EQ5 project, just a little sketch!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Purple & Pink String Hearts

So, I'm caught up with my scrappy string hearts - the purple and pink are done, to go in the box with the blue, red and green ones. There are quite a few purple, but only about half a dozen pink ones. Wonder what's going to happen to them all at the end of the year?

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Pick-a-Theme cards

This is another set of Pick-a-Theme ATCs, but this time, straightforward collage. A theme of daisies,

Vintage Travel,

Birdcages (this one done with a transparency to get the birds inside the cages)

and Vintage Men. I am running out of Vintage images, I have used so many for swaps. I will have to source some more!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Recent ATCs

These were for a Pick-a-Theme swap, which means that instead of a general theme for the whole swap, each player nominates a theme, and you make them a card for it. So instead of 3 or 4 cards to the same theme, you make one card each for 4 different themes...

Top one, theme was flower garden and below, artist's choice - but the person had listed flowers and butterflies as likes in her profile, so I went with another garden scene.

These were all fabric cards, as I signed up for a group using fabric/fibre media.

The purple card with red flower was a hostess card (fulfilling likes of both purple with a dash of red and flowers)

And the above one here, a Victorian theme. I went for something seasidey - Victorian being a little harder to render into fabric than some of the chosen themes. I used a pre-printed fabric sheet for this one.

Finally, a celestial theme - the moon and stars are done in organza on a dark blue background, stitched with gold thread, and then the excess removed with either scissors or a soldering iron - can't remember which I used this time.