Archives for posts with tag: scrap quilting

I love the process of constructing a quilt.  It starts simply enough.  Sometimes two colors lodge in my mind and I want to explore the various ways they interact with each other.  Other times texture leads the way — a rough, loosely woven linen is warmed with worn faded denim.  And the path fabrics followed to my work table is always present in my mind:  scads of worn linen from a couch slipcover enthusiastically shredded by the family cats; a caution-cone-bright orange backing a graphic superhero print on boys’ boxers;  a lightweight denim workshirt that put me in mind of a shirt found in Florence years ago, long since disappeared.  Pulling all these pieces together is a reflection on the various parts of my life.

One of the warm oranges here is from curtains my mother made for her kitchen.  There’s also a pillow case given me by a friend’s mother when she and her husband moved out of their longtime family home.

Inspiration also comes from my environment … I’m always looking when wandering.  Lucky enough to go to Israel this summer, I admired this doorway in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood

Orange and blue have always created sparks for me, though they’re too bright and lively for me to feel comfortable wearing.  They work to good effect in this Nine Patch Patwig from a few posts back

And so I embark on a quilt in these colors, with my creative process guided by a wish to use materials on hand, to not waste.  On this occasion I turn to my stash of completed blocks, made from scraps after earlier projects

There are lots of blocks in my stash, but I choose these mostly for color, and partly for shape

The blocks need to be unified, so I surround them, frame-like, with a soft blue.  My blue stash offers a combination of scraps, from lightweight faded denim to old blue Oxford shirts

Narrow borders recall the small squares of the nine patch

Making these borders goes relatively quickly, if workmanlike.  When a border strip is big enough I sew it around the sides of the block, iron-pressing down the seams along the way

The underbelly of a quilt block

It’s hard to explain what I like about doing this, but I get utterly lost in it, much in the same way as I do gardening.  Times like these the work is its own reward, and I forget for a moment that there is as of yet no particular destination for the end result

Modest Machine never questions why I ask it to do so much, it just trundles along, well earning its next oiling

As the blocks are surrounded in blue a feeling takes shape which reminds me of those black and white “scan boxes” that seem to be everywhere these days — which googling just told me is  QR code

With the center composition done it’s time to think about how to border it.  There are many different ways to do borders on quilts but I often end up making simple strip borders.  It helps to lay out a bunch of fabrics to see what happens

A little orange really does go a long way

This is more rote work, though I have fun rifling through my orange fabric box for strips.  The border length is roughly determined by the size of scraps I’m finding — I prioritize using up what’s already cut and not hacking into another large piece of fabric.

And since there’s no end to light blue men’s dress shirts the heady orange is readily diluted

I often hand tie my quilts with yarn (again, as in the Nine Patch above), but this quilt turns out small enough at 55 x 59 that I just seal it with a machine stitched border around the outside.

And it’s done.

Some time ago I sewed a bunch of scraps together into blocks, both as an exercise in piecing and to find a use for scraps from other projects that I apparently could not bring myself to throw away.  At the time the results did not suggest a unified project, so I shelved them.

This is one such block. The paisley is from a shirt I picked up off the street, a practice lately discontinued due to the ongoing bed bug crisis.

Recently one of my children bemoaned the absence of a blanket on the couch where he stretches out before catching the schoolbus.   I offered to make a quilt, but he said that would take too long.  And it wouldn’t be warm enough.  The centers in my brain that correspond to challenges fired immediately.  How quickly could I make one, and would it be warm enough?

I pulled out the blocks I had stowed away and lay them out on the floor.

There's all kinds of crazy going on here: suede sewn to flannel, an old silk tie, borders gone completely irregular, nothing "on point."

A unifying principal was needed.   First I brought them all to the same size, with the largest determining the outer dimensions.  Those that were smaller would have border strips added until they reached that size, 14 x 18 inches.

This one had the length (18") but not width (14"), so I added strips.

Though I’d like to use black, what I have on hand in greatest abundance is white, so white it is.   Because I have so much sheeting in my stash, I can cut full length pieces for the borders.

It’s straightforward assembly at this point, and it goes quickly.  The sashes frame each block, highlighting the colors, and expanding the total size of the piece.

Squared off and bordered, the blocks look less haphazard.

While Modest Machine and I sew rows together, it is raining outside.

I am bound and determined to use some material I already have for the fill.  You’ll recall the challenge that this blanket be “warm enough.”  I find an old mattress pad made, I believe, from lamb’s wool, which is about the right size.

It's a little lumpy, but the weight and warmth it offers should be worth the trade off.

Nothing I have on hand is large enough for the backing, so I sew several smaller remnants together, with this result

I tucked a Gap label from one of the oxfords into the middle of this: I like how it suggests where the fabric came from, though technically I suppose it's a trademark infringement.

The last detail is hand tying the layers together.  For this I chose some navy blue string, which seemed to fit what has turned into a somewhat nautical-looking (?) piece.  And here it is, on the couch where I imagine it might come in handy for a certain young man on a chilly morning before school.

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