fabric

Teeny Tiny Scraps Shadow Box Craft

teeny scraps quilts

“How small is too small?”

Whenever I am speaking on scrap quilting, no matter the audience, this is a guaranteed question. I think people are looking for either A) someone to tell them it is okay to throw out fabric at some point or B) that they aren’t crazy for keeping every little bit. And both of those people would be right.

My default answer is that I will keep pieces as small as 1-2’’ square. And little triangles left from making binding or other blocks. Definitely keep those. Not to mention all those stringy strings of fabric shedding bits of thread, I always keep those.

Then there are the trimmings. Because the bulk of the work I do is improvised at some point I need to trim and square up blocks or components on a quilt. I might be left with very useful scraps or a mess of threads and what used to look like fabric. While finishing up my last quilt top the dazzling array of bits left behind were just as inspiring to me as the blocks themselves. So I spent 5 minutes - yes, that is all it took - putting together this fun scrap project.

teeny scraps from make waves quilt


TEENY TINY SCRAPS SHADOW BOX CRAFT

Supplies

  • Fabric trimmings, thread bits, and tiny scraps of fabric

  • Clean Shadow Box Frame in any size

Instructions

  1. Fill shadow box with trimmings. Arrange in a colour order, if desired.

Notes

  • Take a little time to make the front side of the scraps pretty. The back of a fabric is really just another fabric in the collection, so it isn’t a big deal if it shows. Just be happy with the way the top layer of scraps looks.

  • It might be tempting to jam in ALL the trimmings, but unless you have a latch on your shadow box frame it won’t stay closed. Experiment with just the right amount to be full yet still keep closed.

Now my project happens to match the last quilt top I finished, because it was that quilt itself and her gorgeous colours that gave me the idea. But this has the potential to be a whole different kind of art project. In a way it reminds me of the sand paintings that some people can do.

So, to answer the question: nothing is too small.

teeny scraps Shadow Box Craft

Tie One On Fabrics Blog Hop with Lilla Quilt Variation

Tie One On Lilla Quilt

A new version of Lilla. I just don’t get tired of this pattern. That’s because it is a guide more than a pattern. Plus, it includes 25 different block ideas! Use one or use them all! Or, in my case, use 21 plus 1 made up block.

Scott Hansen over at Blue Nickel Studios asked me a few months back if I would play with his upcoming fabric collection. Feeling motivated by the lush colours of his collection, Tie One On, and having some time in my schedule I said yes. The timing also seemed ripe to make another Lilla quilt.

My original plan was a straight remake of the pattern. Same layout, same queen size, but in different fabrics. The second version I made was random, put together from my test blocks. But I wanted a new version of the original. Best laid plans…

Tie One On Fabric.jpg
Sedona

I was sent the Sedona colourway of the Tie One On fabric. Gorgeous! These are all batiks from Banyon Batiks, a division of Northcott Fabrics. Really, they are gorgeous fabrics and wonderful to work with. I don’t shy away from batiks as many modern quilters seem to. Beautiful fabric is beautiful fabric! I will use any fabric if it is the right colour, truthfully. Getting the Sedona colourway seemed serendipitous, I always think of our trip to Arizona and the dessert three years ago. With no vacation for us this past summer I planned to live vicariously through this quilt.

Fabric in hand I made a plan. And 20 blocks in (the queen size quilt in the pattern makes 100 blocks) I realized I would run short of the Tie One On Fabric. Banyan Batiks were wonderfully generous and sent me more fabric when I asked nicely. Unfortunately, it was the wrong colourway. Well, wrong for my plan. By now I was 40 blocks in.

Tie One On Batiks Modern Batiks

This is the part where some quilters would panic. I figured I had 2 choices:

  • Throw in the towel. Finish the quilt with the blocks I had at this large baby size and move on. It would still be a good quilt, so no loss.

  • Figure out a solution that reflected, at least, my original plan.

I went with the second option. You see, when you embrace improv piecing the spirit of saying yes, of making things work permeates all your quiltmaking. It gives you creativity to figure out a new design solution to a problem. So I took the yellows and oranges and the green from the second bundle, putting the pinks and purples aside for something else, and figured it would just brighten up my dessert sunset thing I had going on.

My plan for the background of the blocks was rather formal. I sketched a colour draft to keep on track. I thought I was brilliant. Then two things happened. One, even with the new fabric I wasn’t going to have enough of the Tie One On Fabric to make 100 blocks. Okay, so it will be a 9 x 9 quilt, not 10 x 10. Easy fix. But two, it looked like utter crap when I laid it out like my sketch. Really, not good - busy and not in a good, fun, scrappy way. The block designs were completely lost.

Quilt Photo At Night

When in doubt, sleep on it.

Or, try to sleep. The idea hit me around 1 am when back pain was keeping me awake. I should have got out of bed and laid it out right then and there. I waited until 7 am and in the light of day I realized my new idea was brilliant. It gave order, but was still interesting. It respected what I’d done so far and my colour inspiration of Sedona. It shows off the fabric and the block designs. Success!

Lilla Quilt Sedona Colours
Lilla Quilt Blocks

Scott Hanson and Banyan Batiks have done a wonderful job with these fabrics. Gorgeous colours and were easy to work with for both improv work and precision piecing, as the Lilla pattern has both.

If you want a little bit of the fabric yourself leave a comment below. On October 1, around 1 pm MST, I will pick one random commenter to win a bundle of Tie One On Fabric! Please leave your email address in the comment itself so I can get a hold of you. Then the fabric will be mailed to you direct.

Tie One On Blog Hop


Visit the rest of the blogs on the tour for your chance to win more. Not to mention some great ideas with this lovely fabric.

9/22 - Teri Lucas                 https://terificreations.com/

9/23 - Robin Long               http://robinruthdesign.com/blog/

9/24 - Sue O'Very               https://sueoverydesigns.com/blog/

9/25 - Cheryl Arkison          http://www.cherylarkison.com/diningroomempire/

9/26 - Linda Sullivan           https://colourwerx.wordpress.com/

9/27 - Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill   http://blog.wholecirclestudio.com/  

9/28 - Debby Brown            http://higheredhands.blogspot.com/

9/29 - Blair Stocker             https://wisecrafthandmade.com/blog/

9/30 - Kim Niedzwiecki       http://www.gogokim.com/

Lilla Quilt Tie One On Fabric

Pattern available wholesale and retail through C&T Publishing.

CMYK - Another New Start

Mighty Lucky Quilting Club Carolyn Friedlander

Another new quilt start. Smitten from the beginning.

The Mighty Lucky Quilting Club is running again this year. I am signed up for a turn hosting in a couple of months. This year, however, the Club will work together to make an entire quilt. That is, each month plays well with each other and the whole thing is designed to give you a quilt top at the end. Still regular challenges, but with a different end goal in site.

The other difference this year is that the entire thing is about colour. So by the end of it you will have a quilt top and a deeper understanding of colour for all your other work. All without making a colour wheel.

Carolyn Friedlander kicked things off in January with a discussion about creating a palette and translating colour inspiration to picking fabric. I love her piece. I will admit, however, to be to being stuck on what I wanted to do. I've never been stuck for picking a palette before! New territory for me. But I didn't stress. Instead I pet some fabric and lived my life, confident that something would tickle my fancy eventually.

Enter the latest issue of Uppercase Mag. Devoted to CMYK - Cyan, magenta, and yellow. The base colours for printing. As with all issues of the magazines I had to wipe up my drool as I read it. Then I knew exactly what I was going to do for this Mighty Lucky Quilting Club challenge.

Uppercase Magazine CMYK
CMYK Fabric Mighty Lucky Quilting Club

So I picked a stack of fabric in these intense, pure colours. Not stressing too much about whether this pink perfectly matched that one. If I went that detailed then there would be no point to piecing! You need a bit of contrast in value, texture, and hue to have some depth to your piecing.

Then I printed off the templates for Carolyn's rows. She is a paper piecing master and it was good to work with her pattern. Pretty straightforward as paper piecing goes. Do not be intimidated at all! It takes me about 45 minutes to make 1 block. A beginner would probably take about an hour or more. Don't stress, just do it one seam, one block at a time.

While I usually like to use freezer paper when I paper piece, this time I used Carol Doak's Foundation Paper for my templates. They print right on my home printer, are thin, and are easy to remove. The print at home factor was big as I didn't want to draw out the templates for 12 blocks. (No affiliation, I just like it.) 

In a week I have 6 blocks done. I will plug away on these then start the next round - it's improv!

To sign up to receive the bimonthly challenges, and the templates for this particular block, check out Mighty Lucky Quilting Club. It is $50 for the annual subscription. 

Dear Quilting Industry: Simmer Down

Quilters Stash Closet

As we pull in to our neighbourhood, home from the pool or errands or whatever my kids inevitably start talking about the things they will do when we get home. Can we watch TV? What is there for a snack? I have homework. Does Dad have to work tomorrow? Can I go over to so and so's house? It is relentless. The demand for attention, the inability to focus on what is front of us right now - a conversation in the car together - and the creation of more chaos when a bit of order, first, is needed. It is exhausting.

Life is full of competition for our attention. The kids are in battle with our parents, the news is in battle with the laughter of memes, the dog is in battle with our partners. And around and up and back again. How we don't all live with a crick in our neck from the constant twists of the head to watch something, the next thing, is beyond me. 

Fabric and the quilting industry is no different. Hundreds of lines, with probably 10-20 different fabrics in them, launch each year. Actually, each season. Then there are the patterns to go with each. Not to mention the thread, the latest notion, and the world of bags, crafts, and garments. It is all enough to make one feel like they are spinning in a vortex of colour, not knowing where to stop or look.

And I didn't even mention social media. 

Those of us working in the industry have been saying for a few years that it is getting worse and worse. The churn through of inspiration, the saturation of the market, the sheer volume of stuff is overwhelming even for us. It makes the hustle more exhausting as you try to find a way to differentiate yourself. Yet we too are contributing to the noise.

I always think of the Grinch and Boris Karloff saying "Oh the noise. The Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise."

Quilt Books

Book publishing has already slowed down. You just don't see the volume of quilt books hitting in the market anymore. Two weeks ago we all saw the news of Free Spirit shutting down. Now it will have a new owner.  Brick and mortar stores are closing, and others are opening. Ecommerce still expands and contracts 

All of this could truly be a market correction. The quilt industry has nearly tripled in the last 20 years. That is a lot of years of buying, not just new quilters. The economy is still not great. I know my own disposable income doesn't get spent on  fabric even though as a professional I can write it off. How many other people are in the same boat?

I have three other theories regarding the consumer side, while others have addressed the supply side of the quilt market.

... One, all those new quilters, the twenty somethings who led the Modern movement, now have kids, and sometimes parents, to take care of. Our time and money disappeared. We are quilting less obsessively, if at all. Not to mention, #2 below.

... Two, we have enough fabric. Plain and simple. Many of us got caught up (still do) in the need to stock up on the latest and greatest, to build our stash of celebrity designers fabrics and products. Those stashes are now sitting there. There is that old joke about she who dies with the most fabric wins, right?

Some folks destash, others let it languish in the closet. This is regardless of the age and the situation we are in. Many of us can now shop at home first. Those large stashes have essentially created a quilt store in our home. That means we aren't necessarily hitting the stores to stock up anymore.

... Three, I'm seeing a move away from consumerism. It might be the recession, it might be a increase in environmental awareness, it might be simple exhaustion at the churn of new product. Regardless, I think a lot of us are buying less new stuff simply for the sake of buying less. This translates to a rise in upcycled material, thrift store purchases, and using what we have already. This also ties into what I am seeing as a backlash against new, new. new. 

Tag Fabric Names for Snow Quilt

Personally, I've been feeling a shift over the last year. At first it was because we were tight on cash and I needed to not shop so much. (Kid's sports, yikes!) It continued because I wasn't seeing much new stuff I eagerly wanted. Or rather, nothing was standing out to me. I also launched my own fabric line in there and 20 bolts of fabric suddenly in your tiny space is A LOT of fabric. To be perfectly honest, I have a large stash. At least for the last 10 years or so. And I always shop first from there. But if I went to the store because I needed a particular shade of blue, I would buy 4 different fabrics to fulfill that need and fill the blue bin. It was a lot of consumerism. 

At the beginning of the year I cleaned out the stash. The closet was full of falling over piles, bins that wouldn't close, and a heck of a lot of fabric I wasn't and will never use. So I went through each colour, purging and refolded. It only took a few evenings after the kids went to bed, not the big deal I made it out to be in my head. I now have a large blue IKEA bag ready for donation and a neater closet. Was it ever liberating!! I've been in a quilt store twice since then and only bought what I needed because that was the easiest thing to do. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

None of this, however, helps the quilt shops or the suppliers. Or my colleagues in the industry trying to make a living. This market correction is going to hurt some people, I have no doubt. People will leave the industry, things will get leaner. This isn't always a bad thing, but it sure can be ugly. It also doesn't guarantee that quality is the winner. If social media has taught us anything it is that those who know how to play the game, with or without the rules, are likely to win.

Aurifil Wonderfil Thread

I've been asking myself a lot of questions about the hustle lately for exactly these reasons. As I said before, I'd love to write another quilt book, but that may not be in the cards. I'd love to design more fabric but I have a lot of work to do there on improvement and I need to be comfortable with putting more product out in the world. I'm not ready to leave the industry, but it is definitely time to redefine my role in it. And I don't think I am alone in this process, from the consumer to the supplier level people should be doing this.

In the meantime, I've slowed down. Life is insanely busy between kids and the family business (outside of my own work). The only time I really sew is for that Morning Make habit. Let me tell you, slow is good! I love all my quilts under construction but I am starting to focus more. Working on only one or two at a time. Trying to spin less, take more deliberate action. Instead of walking in the door of my sewing room and asking a million questions about what comes next, I take off my shoes and move thoughtfully, getting things done little by little.

As I say to the kids every time they start off in a frenzy: Simmer Down.