13 May 2013

Scrap Quilting By Hand, Mini-tip: Whack-A-Stash

Dear Lissy,

I belong to an online hand quilting group that passes around photos, tips, and links on a daily basis.  I recently discovered this neat trick which has made a huge difference in how often I'm able to enjoy piecing. I owe the uber-productive Bonnie Hunter a nod for introducing this system on her blog.  After adapting it for hand piecing and using it for a month, I'm sold on the idea.

Problems : 
  • I have a ton of fabric in my stash I love, but I'm not using it because it's stored in totes in the atticMy sewing area was swallowed up by home schooling materials.
  • I choose other activities I enjoy less than piecing to fill my minutes because I don't make the time to get fabric cut and marked for piecing.  Even a fat quarter is on the big side for marking or cutting on the go.
  • I save every scrap of fabric because "I might need it someday."
  • I buy a new fat quarter at a premium even though I know I have a similar shade or color somewhere in my stash because I can't find it quickly.

Solution:  Instead of just washing and pressing most fabric, I've started processing it into 4" squares.  

  • I already process the fabric by washing and pressing it.  It only takes a few more minutes to cut fabric into squares with a rotary cutter.  A fat quarter nets 20 squares. I can store hundreds of them in very little space.  I also purchased an ARDCO window template years ago that allows me to mark and cut odd shaped scraps from dressmaking and crafting into squares easily.
  • I rarely used my stash for crafting or fashion sewing, but I often used crafting and sewing scraps in quilts. 
  • My ongoing quilt project is an antique pattern for a reversible quilt that requires all 4" squares and no yardage.  My other favorite go-to quilts are 9 patch variations and Irish chains, all of which take 2" squares in abundance.  I can quickly cut 4" pieces into four 2" squares for those quilts.
  • The 4" square is a nice size to work with on my lapdesk if I want to create other pieces.  Quarter and half triangles, rectangles, diamonds, and hexies are all very easy to mark and cut from a square. 
  • 4" Charm squares are easy to sell and mail if you need a bit of extra cash.  
  • Any piece of fabric smaller than 4" square gets passed on or tossed.  That is my minimum "keeper" size.  Yes, it hurts! But I'm actually using my fabric.  Using most of it is much more satisfying than dreaming about all of it. 
  • I get almost all of my fabric for free.  Once machine quilters know you're a scrap quilter, you get gifted with contractor bags full of fabric.  That means that cost isn't an issue.
I haven't cut up yardage of background/backing fabric or border/binding fabric.  I have enough fat quarters and leftovers from sewing and craft projects that I've saved the big pieces.  But who knows?  If I haven't used them in a year or more, I may just whack the yardage into squares, too.

I haven't chosen to pre-cut any other sizes or shapes -- yet.  The 4" square is so versatile for me I haven't considered any other shape at this point.  If I do, I'll pop it into this letter as a p.s.

I'm tickled pink that I'm sewing almost every day now. I love the gentle rhythm of hand work, and find creating much more refreshing than just sitting in front of a screen.  The totes full of 4" squares ready to go (or sew!) regularly call my name.

Sew in love,

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