Posted in baraka, productivity, quilting, stash

Use What You Have – Got Stash??


well, this is embarrassing!  I knew I had a lot of scraps — defined below — because I had a large tote bag stuffed full, plus some that overflowed onto the floor, plus an open medium size moving box that the tote bag sat in also containing scraps.

Making slabs to recover southern Alberta  inspired me to tidy and organize them.   I emptied the bin in the photo above by consolidating some dyeing fabric and blank white garments which easily fit into a single bin, then started folding and laying scraps in.  Now the tote bag is empty and the box is nearly but not quite empty.

What an eyeopener!  This is the wake up call.  I could make a slab a day for the rest of my life just out of this bin.


and the slabs would be colour coordinated too!


NOT in the bin:

  • batiks for the prairie points on the dino quilt that coordinates with this pillowcase.
  • solid fabrics except for very small scraps
  • green and pink prints for baby quilts

The bin is on a shelf at waist height where I will see it and be able to reach it easily.

Of course, tidying one thing led to another and I have plenty of batting too, now consolidated into a Rubbermaid roughneck tote bin and a moving box.  And there is a little more floor space free than before.

Does anyone else have this problem?  What are you doing about it?

The bin there bin really is just that.  It seems that there are very few fabrics which I’ve completely used up.

This represents 15 years of quilting but I can see the next 15 years are already right here!  And in the very first class the teachers warned us about this, but who listened, LOL?



  • at least two inches square OR
  • one and half inches by six inches long


  • fat quarter with a chunk cut out of it, because of the number of times when I’ve been preparing for a workshop that calls for fat quarters only to discover the dreaded missing corners!
  • quarter yard or just over and NOT width of fabric
Posted in quilting, stash

What lies behind …

Here’s how the back of The Emperor turned out.  It started life as a royal blue background with white hibiscus.

What’s your approach to backing?  I like to have something worth looking at on the back myself.  And as many of my pieces don’t have borders, it’s a great place to show off the big florals and the splashy colourful prints that begged me to take them home, then sat around in the stash for eons.

I saw one recently with veggie prints on the top and donut fabric on the back, thus covering all the food groups!


Posted in baraka, quilting, stash

Blessed with more stash

About to leave for the quilt guild annual retreat, and will post the wild, wild, west challenge piece I made upon my return.

Yesterday I was blessed by a friend whose art quilts have gone in a particular direction, leaving her with a cluttered stash pile.  She did warn me to bring a suitcase and was not kidding!  It took two of us to carry it all downstairs and out to my van.

The smaller photo on the left shows some fabrics which I’ve pulled aside to audition for a summer picnic theme quilt.

The larger photo proves that my benefactress has good taste, ’cause these are fabrics I already have!


And the other small photo shows SOME of the fabric sorted into colours.  The other bag will have to wait until I get back.  This is awesome!

photo(20) photo(21) photo(22)

Posted in quilting, Uncategorized

Challenge Teaser

Here’s a test piece which  I made to experiment with curved piecing to be able to do sharper curves.

This reminds me of an aerial photo of a landscape and can turn into a nice small piece.  It’s all in aid of the Wild, Wild West challenge for our Guild retreat in June although it’s different enough from the design I’m working on for that to not be revealing any big secrets.  All will be revealed in mid-June.

Learned a lot from this and will probably have to do another one to see if I can get a curve going more in a U shape.  This time the blue fabric I used for the second curve wasn’t big enough to be able to do that.  But no worries there’s more of both these fabrics so I can make a third block that continues the river meandering along.


Lessons learned:

  1. don’t go so near the edge of the block with the curved piecing
  2. mark the seam allowance on the back of the “river” and align the blocks with pins
  3. square off the finished blocks

Note to self:

Make sure the next block is wider than the existing pieces so I don’t have to trim any more off the side of the existing block!

It’s amazing that the blue fabric was on sale at a very low price because it has much potential!

Posted in quilting, stash

Disappearing 9-Patch, work in progress!

This is a process shot of a disappearing nine patch quilt while it was on my design wall.  Other bits and pieces are peeking out from the sides, this was just right on top of everything.

It’s now assembled and in the process of being quilted.

The Missouri Quilter YouTube video I watched was great as it clearly explained what to expect and how to decide what fabric goes where.  That was how I picked the light blue feathery print for the four pieces in the middle of each outside, so they would become sashing.  I put my focus fabrics in the four corners and the centre fabric was consistently either dark blue or the rust fossil fern print.

There’s many ways to put disappearing nine patch together but for this first attempt I decided to follow the advice given and ensure that I wasn’t trying to match a whole lot of inside seams.  Just matching the seams on the blocks was quite enough of a challenge, thank you.  The design wall was a blessing as the blocks stayed up for over a week while I rearranged them to not have any matched focus fabrics touching each other.  Doing that probably took longer than it took to do the actual sewing of the top.  You can tell this was still in design because there a several places where focus fabs were touching.

Point of Pride:  Everything came from my stash, no shopping was involved!

Disappearing Nine Patch

Posted in baraka, creativity, stash

Just Magic!

Just Magic! is the name of this wall hanging, which I pieced yesterday and today.  The centre medallion is Spoonflower fabric I had made up from this sketch.

Readers will know I’m not one to avoid a challenge and that I oftentimes bite off more than I can chew.

I’ve decided to go for the WordPress Post A Week 2011 challenge, both here and at my new homeschooling blog, One Size Fits None.  This is very new and still very much a work in progress.

For 2011 the virtue I will aim to practice is Wisdom. Click here for more about the Virtues Project, which emphasizes shared human values and how much we have in common across cultures.

And I picked two slogans:

Just Magic!

and Use What You Have!

Just Magic! is more inspiring and less cliched than Just do it!  It reminds me that there are miracles everywhere and that there is magic in getting things done.

Use what you have is self-explanatory.  I’m using it to refer to knowledge and techniques — to use all the techniques at my disposal as well as the fabrics in my stash.

Now this is not going to be taken to ridiculous lengths.  In the Flickr group when it started (you commit for a month at a time), there were people saying their red pen had run out and they would make do without, a lady who agonized about needles for her sewing machine, and one person who was running a craft business and was still trying not to buy anything.  Not me!

I plan to use stuff up and curb full price impulse buys.  That still leaves garage sales, thrift stores, baraka, trading with friends, and sales at quilt stores, which deserve our support because we need them to be there once the stash is used up, right?

Related to all this, I plan to jot down a list of creative things I did each day.  This would actually make for a very boring blog because it would be all cryptic squiggles and stopping to illustrate each day would not happen.  I started this habit in mid-December and I can see that over time it will constitute a very useful record.

Activities I’m looking forward to:

Elizabeth Barton’s class at Quilt University. Every time it’s been offered, it filled up super fast and I kept missing out.  This class starts on Friday and I do in fact need to do a little shopping ~non fusible gridded interfacing.  Hopefully I’ll have the time to devote to getting the most out of this class and the work at home on my own machine format will be less stressful than the last design class I took, which was not a great fit for me.

Cindy Scraba is coming to our guild in March for a one-day workshop, midweek, which I signed up for.

and at Satin Moon next Saturday Arly Haner is doing a trunk show of scrap quilts, which I’ll be able to attend.

Posted in All things food, creativity, quilting, stash

You’d never know this has anything to do with Lutradur!

but it does.


Lutradur is a non woven synthetic material that can be warped or distressed with heat, painted, almost anything goes.

At this point I’m most interested in exploring the translucency of Lutradur.  Laine Canivet whom I know through FAD, is teaching a Lutradur class for the Quilt Guild at the retreat next summer and asked volunteers to make inspirational projects.  My first was a bowl, which Laine now has.  Then my thoughts went in another direction and my current project is to make a tote bag from Lutradur.


Although I’ve had the Total Tote Bag Book (Joyce Aiken and Jean Ray Laury, published in 1977) for ages, I have to confess this is the first time I’ve actually set out to make a tote bag from it.  I measured the Lutradur I have on hand.  Use what you have is becoming my new mantra, as you can see.  Based on the supply of Lutradur I did the math and decided it would be a good idea to make a “muslin” out of fabric to be sure the directions made sense and the measurements added up.  I found a practical piece of fabric from my stash of suitable size, then decided to use some of the assembled fabric I’ve been making in odd moments using up scraps and smaller pieces from my stash.  The intent is to make a bed quilt but if I keep on cannibalizing it it may be like Penelope’s weaving in the Odyssey!

Feeling that with all the seams it would be a good idea to line this, I used the fabric I’d chosen from my stash to make that.  Then I thought since I’m doing this, it would be good practice to make handles (although the plan for the Lutradur tote will have different handles).  Back to the stash, and more math because I figured 18 inch handles were too long for a boxy, undersized tote.


So now I’m at the point of assembly, some hand sewing is required.  One reason not to make a tote bag is the proliferation of totes we’ve acquired from various conferences, events, grocery stores, etc.  But this one now has a purpose in life, it’s destined to hold wooden blocks.


And here’s an inspiring photo of pomegranates!  The colour is so beautiful but when I tried using the arils with salt and vinegar to dye cotton I got a feeble mushroomy pink-brown colour.

Posted in baraka, creativity, quilting, stash

Blues Singing

Rules were made to be broken and I’m hereby breaking the rule I made for myself about not posting fabric before it’s been made into something.

The fabric on the left is a Sherrill Kahn design which a retired quilter who was downsizing gave to a family member who was helping her move.  I received two meters and I don’t even know this lady!  The diamonds on the right are from a fellow editor who has also been an avid crafter and seamstress, who just gave me a bag full of fabric goodies.  As soon as I saw this I knew these two fabrics will be together in something really cool!  Also in the bag was a light purple that exactly matches one of the stripes in some fabric I got at the Guild garage sale, and two different animal skin prints.  Woo-hoo!

Things that come with a story and not just from a store are so much more meaningful and fun, although of course smart store owners do their best to create stories of one kind or another.  I can go through my stash and recall all kinds of stories, where I was, or which garment I cut up, or that something was being clearanced because other customers just didn’t appreciate it.   Perhaps I’ll start an occasional series of quilts with stories, what do you think, and what’s your best stash story?


Posted in productivity, quilting, stash


How much stash do we quilters have that is just too precious to slice into?  It sits there for year after year, maybe when you bought it you had a project in mind but then it was just too beautiful to cut and if you use it all up there won’t be any left, and of course the older the fabric is the more true that is, because designs get retired faster and faster these days.

By the way, off on a tangent, I really appreciate the manufacturers who have the guts to put the year the fabric was issued into the selvedge!   Why doesn’t everyone do that?  To me it just makes so much sense.  I always look at the publication date of any book I’m reading (yes, even cookery books, I know, I’m a nerd!)

Back on topic again, Cathy Miller aka the Singing Quilter teaches a reverse applique mola class that’s intended to use up the fabric that’s too beautiful to cut, and she doesn’t make you cut it!   This little dragonfly is my first attempt at this technique, complete with my own little wrinkle that sidesteps binding and showcases the fabulous fabric on the back of the piece as well as in the image.

Cathy just released another CD and I went to the launch party at Satin Moon recently where she not only performed the songs but told us the stories behind them, which was fascinating.

Sidestepping binding is a hot topic with me right now because I’ve had a busy week with one thing and another, but I need to get the binding hand sewn onto the Shattered Angles quilt.  I get sidetracked so easily between taking stretch breaks, tending to family needs, work deadlines.  But I did make good progress today so I’m confident that tomorrow I’ll get it finished so it can go to the Post Office on Sunday (ours is open, since it’s in the back of the drugstore, what a blessing!)  I have a scrap of bright orange and turquoise batik pinned where I stopped yesterday, so that encourages me to keep going.

Also because I have another longer term project on the go at the moment, workwise, I have started scheduling in a set amount of time per day to work on each of these projects.  I just have to remind myself that you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Does anyone else struggle with this, elusive balance in life (well, probably everyone does!)  And what do you do to keep yourself on track?

Posted in embellishment, productivity, surface design

Idea Tree

This is a scan of my completed small beaded piece, Idea Tree.  It was fun to do and I learned new techniques, beading and doing a back to front finish instead of sewing on binding or doing a pillowslip finish.

The fabric started out as plain muslin that I worked on in the first workshop I took with Melly Testa, and layers were monoprinted onto it using soy wax resist and green and yellow thickened dyes.  I used a lot of this yardage in a very large bold piece called Commotion.

This offcut almost went into the scrap quilt I’m slowly making using up smaller surface designed, hand-dyed, and mottled fabrics.  This is a back burner project because there is no block design.

Then thinking about another larger piece of sunprinted fabric I would like to hand quilt and make into a wall hanging I decided I should practice the back to front finish on a small test piece first.  The wall hanging cannot be started until the beading on Geode is finished.