Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pick Those Scraps & Whack Them Up!

Like a bad habit, I just can't stop making Mystery Quilts....and then not being able to show them to you before teaching the class!
I think if I were having a quilt personally designed for my group, I would be upset if it were shown all around. And wouldn't you hate somebody to say, "I know what your guild's Mystery Quilt looks like! But you have to wait!"
Well, I just had to go ahead and make the scrappy version of  "Florida's Brightest Jewel" (for St. Andrew Bay Quilters...visit their show February 12 & 13 near Panama City FL!). And though I can't show it to you yet, I can tell about choosing the scraps!

My challenge was to limit myself to my scrap container...that was really interesting! I did not know I had so many "vintage" ones (well, they are from the last century!). These are some of the Darks, or at least some that turned out for the audition process. Just like "A Chorus Line", many of them did not make it!
Let's look at one, that large piece toward the right:

Wow! A deep purple background (or aubergine, for the color-name lovers!) with golds and minty greens and even deep red. You can see that a square "fussy cut" from just the gold branch areas could be Dark...but one cut from the bouquet would be Medium.
I don't fussy cut scraps unless I have a huge reason, so this guy was told thank-you for coming in, but we cannot use you at this time!
Though I could have just cut it up into squares anyway and picked out ones that would work...if there were any!

Next came the Mediums:

There are many eternal questions, and one is "What is Medium?"
It's lighter than Dark, and darker than Light, of course!
Which means totally dependent on what the other fabrics are! This is why I often like to start fabric selection with my Background. It is usually the lightest fabric, so I work my way from there. It also allows me to use some fantastic color that gives the quilt power...like bright yellow!
For this one I chose a very bright white (oh, so plain! Not even a tiny dot or sprig printed on it!!!) so the Mediums could be almost anything.

Cutting scraps involves some ironing. This is a good time to use some scented water or starch spray, just because you are worth it! It smells nice, to help you avoid ironing fatigue, and the wrinkeld scraps benefit, too.
If you have a secondary motivation...such as trying to get rid of scraps***...I recommend cutting as much as possible from a piece, even if it's not for the project at hand. That way nothing returns to the scrap basket. Keep whatever strips, squares and rectangles you can cut (OK, you may also cut triangles, if you like) in a shoebox or a labelled container already collecting a particular size.
That is how you make your own 2.5" "jellyroll" collection, since so many patterns are based ojn that size strip now.

I needed a 4.5" square from this Dark scrap, so I placed the ruler with the 4.5" lines at least a quarter inch inside the fabric.
When I cut across the top and right side, I will have 2 clean sides for a square.

Here I have turned it around, matched the clean (straight) sides to the 4.5" lines of the ruler, and when I trim off the rest it will be just right!

I have a trash bag under the cutting table so I can just scoop or swish the trimmings off the edge.
And you can see I am cutting the rest of that scrap into some nice usable pieces...pre-cut pieces for another scrap quilt!

Some scraps look great but have a little problem. If you are a scrap lover, you will have encoutered this many times:

That's what happens when you cut a square out of a corner and then throw the fabric back in the scrap basket!
Since I am attempting to not put anything back, I will be whacking this pink stripe up as much as possible.

My first cut was just even with that nip...and look, 4" wide...or is it? I'll leave it up to the mathemeticians in the group to figure out all the ways that can be cut further!

Actually there was still a ragged side to clean up, and so I cut this to 3", the widest strip I collect. Anything less than 1"wide goes into a bag and I use those for tieing up gifts.
When I am completely cutting up a piece of fabric, I start with the largest shape/ strip I can get (I have my own standard usable sizes), then move down to increasingly smaller sizes.
Or whatever I think I will use most! I don't want to be too rigid, but I do enjoy having a system of some sort to work from.

I hope if anyone ever reaches the end of their scrap basket, having used up everything, you will let me know immediately! I will send a doctor right over, if it's not too late.

*** DISCLAIMER:This project did not even make a noticable dent in my scrap container. No matter what I suggest, I really do not think it is possible to get rid of ALL your scraps by using them. I would be happy to just reduce the volume occaisionally. At one time I was able to give some to CherryCherry, but I warned her that my scraps are "known breeders" and would multiply on their own. I cannot give her any more...she now has several scrap containers!


Quiltdivajulie said...

Great post (I'm a lurker).

I started a variation of this system a couple of years ago and it really does help keep things tidier AND provides a great starting point for scrappy piecing.

...and I'm in no danger of using up all my scraps so you can save the dr. for someone else's studio :-)

Sunnie said...

I am glad I don't have to call the Dr. for you, Julie!
Our scraps are just as important an investment as the rest of The Stash....even more so when they are pre-cut!

Anonymous said...

Colors that are very light or very dark are necessarily muted (white is half of gray), so my maxim is, "Medium is where the brightest colors live." You can have muted mediums, of course, but you can't have bright light-lights or dark-darks.


Sunnie said...

You make a good point, Elizabeth.
As a lover of bright colors, I feel they are almost a category unto themselves.
As with children, if the fabrics are playing well together, let them be. If not...send some home!