Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life. ~Ryan Blair

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quilt Scraps into Strings

How is your collection of cut squares? Look impressive! Ready for more creative projects now because you've gone and done this process? But, have you got rid of enough of your scraps, yet?

If you have cut all the squares you think you'll ever need, why not also 
start a "strings collection".


If you wish to cut strips, instead of squares; and cut them 2.5" wide, you'll have several options: 
(1)  Longer lengths can be combined and used to make a scrappy binding. 
(2)  Shorter lengths can be re-cut to narrower widths, and used to make string quilts.
(3)  They can be used for appliques; whether 'whole piece' or 'pieced fabric' designs.

When we take a look at our scraps, we generally find many pieces already the perfect width for 'string' quilting projects. And the best part is, that we can use a variety of widths to create really beautiful quilt blocks.

So.. here's a look at my new 'strings collection':


Even though, the look of this drawer will continue to change over time; it is a great place to store the fabric strings. I plan on expanding it to all three drawers in this storage unit.
(I've used a Sterile 3-drawer unit; each drawer fits 8 1/2" x 11" size paper. Use whatever you have available.)

Did you notice that ALL my strings here are cut the same width at: 1 1/4" wide? 

Any strips that have been cut to 2 1/2" wide can also be used to make strings. I chose to cut some pieces at this width; as I can use them for either binding or string projects.
Note: My binding varies in width depending on what type of batting is being used in the quilt. The size mentioned here is perfect for high-loft batting; and making my strings for my pieced blocks and appliques.

Why have I chosen this size?
  1. I need a width narrow enough, but not too small once sewn to another string; and 1 1/4" wide seems to work out well. This makes a finished string 3/4" wide.
  2. When sewing together strings to make a 'pieced fabric' section this width enables smaller appliques to still have several colors. Any tiny appliques, could be cut from one string or other scrap fabric pieces.
  3. If you don't have time to do a lot of cutting or don't have enough scraps; you can start with jelly rolls, as they are 2 1/2" wide. [Time saver]
  4. Any strips that are already 2 1/2" wide; can be split in half lengthwise to make two equal pieces, each 1 1/4" wide.  [Cool, right?]
Many times those leftover pieces are not large enough for squares, but will work perfectly for strings. The new projects that I am presently designing and making use this width of string.

Strings can be used in a variety of ways, and that is what I wish to share with you on this blog. I have a creative string of project ideas (pun intended); that I plan to make into mini quilts, to share with you. 

In these examples, the strings are placed horizontally; and will not stretch like strings placed on the bias. It also gives a different look to the block. Hope you will be able to join me and try out some of these projects.  

To begin, let's take a look at several options for the color placement of these strings:
  • selecting different colors for all of the strings in the block  (Block 1)
  • selecting one color family and choosing 3-4 colors to alternating them in the block (Block 2)
  • selecting two colors and alternating them in the block  (Block 3)


This will allow you as much flexibility, as necessary, when selecting colors to put together in your own quilt blocks. If you don't have enough of one color; then several colors can be used to make up the block.

Beginning next week..
'mini quilt' project tutorial, so you can begin using strings from your own 'strings collection'. These three blocks (shown in the photo above) will be used in the following months:

BLOCK 1: August 1          BLOCK 2: September 1          BLOCK 3: October 1

New projects will be listed in the right-hand column, under: Pieced Fabric Blocks.


Quilters love to create; and there are always new avenues to travel down, so we can have this fun adventure to dig into that fabric stash and get stitching...

Enjoy the ride...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quilt Scraps into Squares

Do you have an odd assortment of quilt fabrics in your stash, that are smaller than a fat 
quarter and/or pieces with irregular shapes; and can't decide what to do with them?

Might be time for you to consider starting a "squares collection" in a variety of sizes.
There are many beautiful projects that can be made from these prepared squares.


How Did I Begin..

The book that got me started and taught me how to also organize my "squares" is titled: "Cut the Scraps!" by Joan Ford. Visit the links included below, to see more on this book.

I first went through my fabric stash in October 2011; and took out all fat quarters and smaller sized pieces to cut up into squares. While I waited for my book to arrive in the mail, I began cutting squares in a variety of sizes, and later narrowed it down for projects in the book.


And then, I did it again in May 2014. To make the process go faster, I also cut strips and larger pieces for quilt backings and practice squares for learning how to do free-motion quilting.

I wanted to use my new 12.5" square ruler; and thus, made some that size; and cut some 7" x 9" for my own mouse pad pattern designs. One day I still wish to try making a scrappy binding; and thus cut some 2.5" strips, for later use. (More on turning scraps into strips, next week.)

Organizing the Squares

After cutting the selected pieces, I combined them with the ones that still remained from 2011. To organize them, I stacked each size into color families. Then, placed them neatly into plastic storage containers ready for that next, NEW project. 

My GOAL here is to reduce my stash fabrics with this method. 

This allows more opportunity for older fabrics to still be part of those new quilt designs; rather than becoming outdated and left unused.  How do you deal with your fabric scraps?


Featured Book: 
Cut the Scraps! 
by Joan Ford

Still new to this process; or just wish to find out more on how to cut up your scrap fabrics into useful sizes?

The book: "Cut the Scraps!" by Joan Ford is exactly what you may be looking for! You will learn how to cut your fabrics into three useful sizes; and a great way to keep them organized. 

BOOK: Cut the Scraps! by Joan Ford

I chose one project from this book, to try out; once I had cut up my selected fabrics. To see more on this book and the project: "Empty Spools" please visit the following links, to read more.

          BOOK REVIEW POST:  Scraps Turn Into Quilts (part 1)
          PROJECT FROM BOOK:  Empty Spools (part 2); Colourful Spools (part 3);

*** *** *** ***

Need to free up space in your fabric stash? Perhaps, now is the perfect time to start your own "squares collection".

Happy cutting...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pieced Fabric Applique

The desire to use up my own scraps, was the main reason I began searching for other methods; and there are many beautiful books on the market to achieve that goal. Since machine applique is my fave technique, I also wanted to use my scraps in new applique projects when either making quilts or designing my own patterns.

  1. Ready to create that next applique project you've just purchased, but don't have the best colors in your scrap basket?
  2. Love applique; but don't wish to cut up those fabulous new fabrics in your stash to find that perfect color? 
  3. Are you tired of seeing your stash fabrics eaten up when making those special applique projects? 
  4. When it comes time to cut longer strips for borders and such, the perfect piece isn't quite long enough because you've been using it for your applique designs? 
  5. Wondering how you can solve this dilemma? Then read on...

    So, why not make your own fabric pieces for your 
    appliques? ...The results may simply amaze you!


Have you ever considered making your own pieced fabric for your applique designs? It is really quite simple. If you have been using strips and odd-shaped scraps when making scrappy quilts, you've already sewn together smaller pieces of fabric. The next step.... is to use some of those pieced sections for your appliques.

I first tried this on the flowers when making the "Garden's Edge" quilt using only selvages. And I got amazing comments for this creative method.  I'd like to say that I was the one to invent this technique; however, it had already been done using fabric strips.  [See my post on selvage quilts... here.]

So, why not try this alternate method.... the next time you can't find that perfect color; and make those applique designs unique on that next project.

Featured Book:
String Quilts
by Elsie M. Campbell

Still new to this technique; or just wish to find out more on how to make string quilts?

The book: "String Quilts" by Elsie M. Campbell is very informative and laid out well to guide you along in this process.

The section entitled: "Elsie's Top Tips for Successful String Quilts" is especially informative and will teach you everything you need to know about this innovative technique. The book provides 10 fun patterns and a gallery of projects inspired by other quilters when using strings, squares, diamonds, and triangle shapes.

Patterns in this Book:
Purple Pride, Purple Posies*; Unique Batik, Pots of Flowers*; Dad's Plaids, Plaid Poppies*; Picket Fence; Diamond in the Rough; Autumn Stars; Square Dance.   [*Appliqued Projects]

It was the project "Plaid Poppies" featured on page 47, and also shown on the book's cover; that has always intrigued me. But I didn't know why, exactly. Yes, I love poppies, but why else?

I've had the book for some time now; but it wasn't until I began thinking again about string quilts, and also planning this blog that I looked (read all the information pages) and had that "ah ha" moment. It was then, that I seen it for the first time.... that the flowers are constructed from pieced fabric. Aren't they amazing?

Check it out for yourself....

Book: String Quilts by Elsie M. Campbell

Currently, I am designing and working on several quilt projects that feature this "pieced fabric" technique; and should be available to purchase, hopefully later this year. However, if you wish to try this method now, check out the featured book, shown above.

Amaze yourself and create something unique...

Friday, July 4, 2014

That Selvage Edge

For many years, we were told to cut off the selvage edges on our fabric because it was not useful and put it in the trash... And then, someone came up with the idea to use them on their own to create beautiful quilt blocks. Being resourceful and creative are two key elements that make quilting so unique.

Have you tried this yet? If not, why not prepare a few blocks with collected selvages; and then, save them until you have enough to put into a project.

Here's an easy method to create these selvage blocks without the use of pins. Why not check out this tutorial that shows how to create these blocks using small squares; however, you can make them any size with this process.

And because I love machine applique; I've used some of these prepared blocks to create the flowers for my "Garden's Edge" quilt, shown below. Even with a few selvages, you can create some unique projects.

Here are my own projects that I was able to make using selvages that have been inspired by the sources shown below:

More on this project here
Book that inspired this project:
     "Quilts From the Selvage Edge" by Karen Griska


Christmas Stockings
Book that inspired this project: 
     "Fast Fun & Easy Christmas Stockings" by Susan S. Terry


More on this project here.
Book that inspired this project:
     "Advancing On II with the Square in a Square Technique" by Jodi Barrows


Pattern available here.


I still love this idea; and was originally inspired with this technique from visiting the selvage blog and purchasing the book "Quilts From the Selvage Edge". The book is no longer in print; however, if you'd still like a copy you can find it as a digital download here.  

Creating more beautiful projects...