quilting

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

A Year of Quilt Play

Scrap Quilts Under Construction

There I was, going through the mess on the cutting table, minding my own creative mess. Company was coming and tidying was in order. My blue clipboard emerged. This is my all purpose clipboard - it holds the Quilts Under Construction list, it travels with me to gigs for newsletter sign ups, it holds notes and sketches made during classes. It also holds the list of finished quilts each year. For whatever reason that particular list was on top.

4 quilts. And one was a mini. That was the last quilt I finished, back in July.

My first reaction was a bit of sadness and shock. That lasted for about 30 seconds though. I moved on to a bit of anger. How could I only finish 4 in the year?! Just 4! I know why and that is what brings the anger. Chronic back pain since April has meant that basting quilts is out of the question and sitting for long periods of time is also out. I’d always hoped that I could use a rented long arm and get some done but I don’t have the time to do that with our family schedule. All those things combined into anger, full confessions. Let’s be clear, though, not about the unfinished quilts, the anger it about those situations. But that is life and being angry won’t do me any good.

So perspective kicks in. I’ve been sewing nearly every single day this year. Some days only for 10 minutes, some days I get a whole hour. Sewing is what saved me from rage and frustration this year. Sewing kept me sane when pain and stress and constantly moving kept fighting for dominance.

Heather Ross Fabric

I worked on… let me count them… 22 different quilts this year. I feel like it might be more than that, there might the odd day where I played on one random quilt under construction or another.

Some started from scratch, some were old playtime pieces. These became quilt tops:

Improv Curves

Others were just consistent work that will eventually, probably, result in a quilt. Or something I decided to try, just playing.

I played with scraps, sorting and sewing. I taught classes and those samples became something. I tried ideas I had.

Mostly, I created for the sake of it. Sure a quilt at the end is nice, but mostly I sewed for the sake of sewing and what it does for me. Keeps me sane in a crazy, angry, busy, intimidating, and stressful world. Process matter so much more than anything else.

Maybe I will finish more quilts in 2019, maybe not? Either way, I will be sewing.

Quilt Sketch Uppercase Fabric

5 Ways to Find Your Sewjo

Sewjo Cutting Table

Have you lost your sewjo?

So many people I know are feeling little to no desire to sew, let alone create. Whether it is personal circumstances (kids, parents, sickness, bills!), politics, drama, or simply the heat, sewing machines are sitting idle this summer. It is all totally normal. Yet I find so many folks feel the need to apologize for it, or worse, give up on sewing all together!

Remember people, this is a hobby. (Unless, of course you are an industry professional.) We are completely free to create or not create on our own time. Despite what our mothers or partners or kids might say, it isn't wasted space or time or even money if we don't sew for a little while. This isn't a gym membership where money is going down the drain when we don't go. The money's already been spent, so there is that. 

Maybe you go in an pet fabric? Or you scroll through Instagram, liking pictures of pretty quilts? Or you don't think about quilts at all as you lick that summer ice cream cone and wet your feet in a lake? It's all good.

Seriously, it doesn't matter. Sew or don't sew. You have your reasons.

Now all that being said, the last thing I want is people to give up on their creativity. If you are missing your sewjo and want to cultivate it or at least try and locate it, here are some helpful tips.

1. Turn off the phone and the news

Whether it is the state of the world or the feeling of inadequacy from social media, all they are doing is making you feel bad. It's totally okay to walk away from it for a bit. The world will keep spinning, posts will be posted, and the news isn't likely to change. Give yourself a break to create.

2. Create in response

Channel your feelings (anger, despair, or whatever) into a creation. It's okay to make an angry quilt. Embrace the process of doing so even more than the final project. Make a statement with your work, whatever that statement might be. (Great ideas here.)

3. Make something different

Try a different kind of creating. Whether that is pottery, painting, brush lettering, woodworking, garment making, or anything. Learning something new will get your neurons firing and your hands moving. 

4. Clean your sewing space

Or, at the very least, sort your scraps. Sometimes our spaces and the clutter overwhelms us. Usually the thought of cleaning is overwhelming too. Sorting your scraps  - I recommend the tips in Sunday Morning Quilts - does wonders for freeing up mental space. It can be very inspiring. Whether that inspiration takes you to your sewing machine or helps you find it remains to be seen.

5. Establish a habit of creative action

You know me, I love my Morning Make. Frankly, if I didn't have this habit - one I still consciously make - I wouldn't be sewing at all. Most days it is 15-20 minutes, some days I can get a whole hour. For me it is about committing to the dedicated time before anyone else demands my attention, like the kids or our business. It might be before bed for you, or at lunch, or post dog walk. Whatever works. The key to it is that creativity begets creativity. The creative act invites creativity. So if you are struggling, just get your butt in the seat and sew. Pick up an old project or sew scraps together mindlessly. You may not be interested in running a marathon right now, but it will be a lot easier to get back into training if you at least walk every day. 

Sorting Scraps Sewjo

Firefly Quilt With a Fluttering Start (Via Pattern Drop)

Firefly Quilt A Long

Even though improv is my mother tongue, sometimes I crave a little precision piecing. It gets my brain working in a slightly different way. Yay for firing the neurons! (Does this mean I won't get dementia in later life?)

I made a single Firefly block to help my friend Katie launch a Quilt Along through her company, Pattern Drop. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour in the afternoon, digging through the scrap bin of solids. But hmm, that was a really nice way to spend the afternoon. Of course I started another block. Then I ran out of the backing fabric (before the block was finished).

Firefly Quilt Block

Darn it, I wanted to finish that block and make more! And usually I would just dig through the stash and keep going but I really, really liked the look with the Essex Linen (in the sparkle variety and regular) and didn't want to change that. That meant convincing myself to order some because no local stores had the regular Essex in Indigo like I needed. Then waiting for the order. And now I just need the time!

The original pattern calls for 16 Firefly blocks. Lindsey Neill from Pen and Paper Patterns did a great job of drafting this block. There are some piecing options plus a bee version (I think mine lands somewhere in between bee and firefly). The pattern reads for the whole quilt, with options. I won't lie, read that way it scared me with the cutting instructions. That's because I never cut all at once. I can cut one block at a time and feel good. Less efficient, but suits my time allowed and available brain space. Plus, I have a think a bit more so more neurons fired!

Scrap Fabrics Essex Linen Metallics