A Crafter's Life, Fabric Scraps Obsession, Special Events

Two Quilters and a Bed Full of Fabric Scraps

I know you’ve been waiting…and here is the follow up to my 03/30/18 post  Scrap Party! , where I had a special birthday celebration play-date with my fabric-scrap-loving friend.

It started with this plastic bin of my fabric scraps:

2018-03-25_16-26-20_225
More fabric scraps crammed in here than I realized…

Dumped onto my bed (the bed has a plastic sheet from packaging material covering it):

bed.jpeg
A king size bed filled with fabric scraps (awesome or terrifying?)

Before we dove into this delicious (or suspicious) pile of fabrics, first we took Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) and our miniature schnauzers to Whole Foods for lunch (okay the dogs stayed in the car as it was a wee bit too cold to sit outside and eat with them).

2018-03-31_12-05-41_935.jpeg
Mike and Sadie riding in style in the back of my vintage* 2001 car! (*hey someday it could be collectable…)

After lunch we headed back to my house to dive into the “bed-o-scraps”!

But first we needed to fortify ourselves:

2018-03-31_14-04-55_932.jpeg
I might have a small studio but I can always make room for tea and cookies (made by TTQH!). Note we sipped our tea from schnauzer themed mugs!

After a few minutes of frolicking in the fabric scraps, my friend pulled her initial stack and got to work on making improvisational blocks.

2018-03-31_14-04-50_502
I set up my travel sewing machine for her to use at the desk in my studio
2018-03-31_14-28-35_503
Her miniature schnauzer Sadie kept an eye on her while she sewed

As a challenge, in addition to access to my crazy fabric scrap collection, I assigned my friend these pieced block discards/trimmings to try and incorporate into her improvisational blocks:

2018-03-31_13-47-38_682.jpeg

Here are a couple of her blocks laid out on the design wall in my hallway:

2018-03-31_16-52-17_317.jpeg

And here is her “to-go” bag of fabric scraps to finish up her piece at home:

2018-03-31_16-49-41_467.jpeg
Note the expression on Sadie’s face like: “Are you really going to take ALL those home with us?!?!”

Sadie passed out on the pillow in my studio due to all the fabric scrap excitement:

2018-03-31_16-14-52_567.jpeg
Fabric Scrap Parties are so exciting!

I did get a little blue seeing Sadie sleeping on the pillow in my studio as my beloved Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer used to sleep like that on the pillow before she passed in December 2018. But I did enjoy having a girl mini schnauzer in the house again and so did TTQH.

Here is TTQH hanging out in the living room with Sadie and Mike while watching the College Basketball semi-finals:

2018-03-31_13-37-17_761.jpeg
We thought we’d let the ladies have their fabric scrap frolicking to themselves

So what did I work on? Well I thought I would take the opportunity to practice paper-piecing (Not the fun “English Paper Piecing” type but the “flip and stitch” type of paper-piecing that I suspect is what you have to do all day in the “Underworld” if you are bad in life and go there after you die…um, I would like to choose the “fire & brimstone” instead please…).

I signed up to participate in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show’s 2018 Wish Upon A Card Fundraiser & Fabric Challenge sponsored by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I needed to make a 4′” x 6″ fabric postcard to donate to the fundraiser, incorporating the two feature fabrics provided by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

In general I love Robert Kaufman fabrics, but I was completely underwhelmed by the fabric pieces they sent me to make the postcard:

2018-04-01_16-47-03_339.jpeg
Um…what am I gonna make with these?!??!

Thank goodness my friend helped me pick out some coordinating fabric scraps for my postcard.

Here was my first (actually second, as the first was a legendary-paper-piecing-screw-up disaster) attempt at paper piecing a little house for the postcard:

2018-03-31_20-05-35_639.jpeg

Hated it!

Here is my second (okay actually third) attempt and the final version with my embellishments:

2018-04-01_16-46-10_482.jpeg
“Visitor Arrives” by tierneycreates 2018 (note the back of the postcard is fused blank muslin covering the stitching so that it can be used as a postcard)

I mailed it off yesterday to Wish Upon a Card and I will not be offended if they say they “never got it in the mail” or they accidentally let it slip into the trash can – ha!

Now I bet you are curious: Did we make a dent in the pile of fabric scraps? Not really. Here is the tub of fabric scraps cleaned up from the bed and put back into the closet after my friend left:

2018-03-31_18-26-23_355

It appears I have enough for another Fabric Scrap Party (or 200+ Scrap Parties)!

A Crafter's Life, Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio

Scrap Party!

It’s no secret, especially if you’ve followed my blog for a while, that I am obsessed with fabric scraps. I won’t try to link any of my numerous previous posts on fabric scraps. If you are new to my blog, you will have to just trust me 🙂

Well one of my quilting friends, actually the one who got me into appreciating the value and opportunity for unlimited creativity provided by using fabric scraps, is coming over tomorrow for a SCRAP PARTY!

She had a birthday a couple of weeks ago and we are going to do a belated celebration by going to out to lunch and then coming back to my house and spending the afternoon playing in my fabric scrap pile:

2018-03-25_16-26-20_225

I did not post about it (as those of you who’ve followed me for a while may have grown weary of my constantly talking about fabric scraps) but last weekend I thinned out my scrap pile. I pulled out any remaining old lower quality fabric and donated more to a local charity thrift shop.

During a previous donation, a volunteer at one of our local charity thrift shops (for our local Humane Society shelter), told me that fabric scraps sell very well at the thrift shop. They cannot keep fabric scrap bags in stock, they sell out immediately! (See there are more weird obsessed people like myself in Central Oregon).

So what are we going to do at a so called “Scrap Party”? Well I am going to dump the whole box onto a plastic tarp on the floor of my master bedroom (as not to take up precious space in my tiny studio space that we will be sharing) and let my friend go wild playing with my fabric scrap collection. She is really into improvisational piecing (she is the one who helped me move from traditional quilting to art/improvisational quilting) so fabric scraps are one of her favorite textile mediums!

I’ve set up my travel sewing machine for her in my studio so we can sew together. I have two design walls (a small one on the closet door in my studio and then the big one in the hall way) so we won’t have to battle for design wall space!

I’m not sure what she is going to work on, but I plan to work on some paper piecing. I’m trying to spend more time with my extensive (ridiculous) craft book collection and rediscovered in my craft book collection – 50 Little Paper-Pieced Blocks by Carol Doak. Playing with fabric scraps seems like a great time to work on my paper-piecing skills.

2018-03-30_17-30-22_480

My friend is bringing over her miniature schnauzer so Mike will have a furry friend visiting.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) made us chocolate chip cookies (to keep our sugar fueled energy level high for crafting!!!):

2018-03-30_17-03-02_876

Of course I will share the outcomes of our Scrap Party!

A Crafter's Life, Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio

Oh Scrap!

Recently a couple of my blogging buddies, Mary at Zippy Quilts and Claire at knitNkwilt posted about starting projects from their fabric scrap piles and “fabric scrap wrangling” (organizing a crafter’s crazy scrap pile).

As fabric scraps are my secret (well..not so secret) obsession, I want to join the conversation!

Last time I posted about my fabric scrap organization, I shared this photo of my fabric scraps organized in windowed boxes by color:

2017-07-16_09-15-07_443
Fabric scraps organized by color

Well this organization failed. Why? Because I was not using the scraps, I was just enjoying them as “decoration” in my studio!

I knew I needed to do something and rethought how I was create with scraps I realized it was too cumbersome to pull down individual boxes by color to access scraps (my studio is small and I could only pull down 1-2 boxes at a time without serious crowding!). So I did something crazy: I pulled all the scraps out of the boxes and put them into a bag:

2018-01-15_08-34-53_718

Yes it is a giant bag! It measures 22″ in height and approximately 22″ in diameter…and it is packed (but not too tightly…just fairly tightly, ha!). I’ve named it “Giant-Bag-O-Scraps” and I love it!

In addition to moving the fabric scraps out of their boxes by color, I also thinned out my collection of “Challenge Bags” (see post Basket of Challenges) and moved many of the scraps from these bags into the Giant-Bag-O-Scraps. I narrowed by huge “Challenge Bag” collection down to this:

2018-01-15_08-36-03_049

2018-01-15_08-36-13_141
Note the random “tailor ham” in this area, hoping someday to be used to make a fabric cap…

I did keep one type of fabric scraps separate from the others – batik scraps. They have their own organization into three baskets under my cutting table: 1) light and medium-light colors; 2) medium-dark to dark colors; and 3) thin strips:

2018-01-15_08-36-40_655
Note the red arrow – this is Mike the miniature schnauzer’s ball storage in my studio

The reason for this separation is I want to make some landscape quilts using batik strips. I recently bought a book on Landscape quilts that I will discuss in a future post (once I start an actual landscape quilt project).

During this entire “scrap wrangling” project I did pull out a lot of scraps to donate to our local Humane Society Thrift Store. The thrift store has a crafting section and packages of fabric scraps sell very quickly there (other weird people like me who are also obsessed I guess..). Check out my post from October 2016 – A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps to see how I packed up a huge donation of fabric scraps during my purging in 2016. The packages of scraps shown in that post sold within a week at the thrift shop!

Although I am not seeking out any additional fabric scraps, currently I am embracing my fabric scrap obsession. I remind myself that my quilting studio area is “my playroom” and it is okay to go in there and just play with my scraps!


Postscript

Happy MLK Day! When the political landscape feels challenging to me as a person of color and as a woman, I remember his words and I am re-inspired:

martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-1.jpg

 

Studio, What's on the Design Wall

What’s on the Design Wall: Scrappy Improvisational Medallion

This post is actually a continuation of my ongoing series What’s on the Design Wall, featuring my latest project up on either the small design wall in my studio or the large design wall my hallway.

Got Medallion?

Obviously I have been influenced by my fellow blogger buddy Melanie at Catbird Studio (see post The Six-Pointed Star and per page Medallion Lessons) but I have a burning need to make a Medallion Quilt.

I am also influenced by this page I tore from a Keepsake Quilting catalog for a medallion style Block of the Month (BOM) sampler. The only problem is that monthly participation in this BOM is $42.99 plus shipping! As lovely as this quilt is that would not be in my budget, so I just added the image to my magnet inspiration board on my studio closet door:

2017-07-05_18-26-49_504.jpeg

Rummaging Through the “Challenge Bags”

For the 4th of July, we were “bunkered” in our house with loud movies or music playing in the background, all the windows shut and the air conditioner (actually we have 2 evaporative or “swamp” coolers) to try to keep our extremely fireworks terrified dogs calm. Each year we plan to get from the vet some anti-anxiety medications for them but we forget, so instead we distract them with other sounds. This works most of 4th while neighborhood kids are playing with their fireworks. It only stops working in the evening when there is a VERY LOUD fireworks display at local attraction near our house.

Since I was “bunkering” on the 4th, I decided to spend some time in my studio looking through my collection of “Challenge Bags” (see post Basket of Challenges). Inside one of the bags I found an old felt and tweed Schoolhouse block pillow top I had purchased 14 years ago for $1 in a clearance sale at the back of a quilt shop. Tucked in with the Schoolhouse block were several strips of “Pyramid” borders that another quilter gave me.

With Medallion Quilts floating around in the back of my mind, I started playing with the pieces on the design wall:

2017-07-04_08-53-03_326.jpeg

I had just enough of the Pyramid pieced strips to border the Schoolhouse block twice on each side and ended up with the beginning of a scrappy improvisational medallion quilt!

2017-07-05_18-14-22_396.jpeg

My very first Medallion Quilt in progress. I plan to make it using only fabric scraps and recycled pieced items from my challenge bags. I am going to read through Melanie at Catbird Studio’s lessons on for making Medallion quilts as inspiration and then let myself get all improvisational once I understand any helpful concepts.

What Comes Next?

I pulled from my “Basket of Challenges” (my stash of challenge bags) a bag of scrap squares and a bag of scrap triangles.  I am going to just keep this piece up on my design wall and slowly add to it as I am inspired.

2017-07-05_18-19-40_869.jpeg

I had fun “bunkering” on the 4th!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Outside Adventures!, Studio

Basket of Challenges

One the years I’ve grown to appreciate fabric scraps, especially coordinated fabrics scraps shared from other quilters’ projects.

I have gathered a collection of coordinated fabric scraps donated by quilting friends.

Each collection of scraps is organized in a plastic bag, which I call a “challenge bag“. Each bag is a challenge to create something from a fabric scrap collection otherwise destined for the trash.

I had these challenge bags stored in two storage containers:

2017-04-11_22-15-30_247.jpeg

I decided to move them into a large basket in my studio where I could see them all the time and be reminded of the fun challenges to work on:

2017-05-08_07-02-24_533

While going through the challenge bags to move them from the storage containers to the open basket, I figured it was time to work on one of them.

My friend gave me a collection of brown batik scraps and partial fat quarters that she had started making little wallets out of – she also gave me the pattern and the templates she had cut. I think she thought I would just use the fabrics/scraps as part of a scrappy quilt. Instead I used nearly all the fabric/scraps she gave me to make a collection of little wallets:

2017-05-08_06-59-24_892
Little Wallets, pattern by Valori Wells
2017-05-08_07-00-17_678
Perfect size to hold business cards

I am looking forward in the future playing with another “challenge bag”. We’ll see what I make next…


Postscript

Yesterday I hiked Pilot Butte (miniature mountain with 360 degree views of Central Oregon and surrounding region) and nearing the summit I took a photo of a controlled burn off in the distance. The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service has to do controlled burns in the Deschutes National Forest to control forest fires.

Prescribed Fire in Central Oregon

I used the zoom on my iPhone and although it is not the clearest photo it gives you a sense of the scope of the controlled burn:

IMG_7646.JPG

If you are new to my blog and wanted to read more about my Pilot Butte adventures, check out this link: Pilot Butte Adventures.

For those of you who have followed me for a while – yes, on my hike yesterday, another Senior Citizen dusted me on Pilot Butte. At least the 80+ year old (maybe even 90) was kind enough to wish me a “good day” as he effortlessly walked around me on the hike back down the Butte!

Audiobooks and Podcasts, Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio

When all else fails, reorganize your fabric scraps

As I shared in previous posts, a month or so ago I was in the midst of a creative block. I first picked up English Paper Piecing and then revisited traditional quilt piecing to get myself creating again.

Before I got to this point however, I was trying to figure out a way, short of forcing myself to sew something, that I could “get my creative energies flowing”. On a whim I decided to reorganize my fabric scraps.

I first shared my fabric scrap organization in the 01/01/2016 post Inside the StudioMy fabric scraps were organized by individual color – Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Cream, Black/Gray/Black & White, Brown, and Yellow. Each color had its own bucket.

Reorganizing my fabric scraps I decided to group colors together that sometimes I have trouble telling apart and to make it easier to work with by having less individual buckets.

IMG_2937.jpg

As you can see by the photo above, the new groupings are:

  • Orange & Brown
  • Black, Gray, and Black & White
  • Red & Purple
  • Blue & Green (interestingly this was my largest group of scraps)
  • White, Cream and Yellow

While I was regrouping the scraps, I got to revisit my fabric scraps and I could feel creative energies start to percolate!

Interestingly, one of the books from my latest library stack (The Library (Mega) Stack) – Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachary – addresses creative block. The author interviewed a group of artists for this book and their wisdom and experiences are peppered throughout this inspiring read.

One of the artists  the author interviewed, Bean Gilsdorf, an art quilter out of Portland, Oregon (www.beangildorf.com), shares the following tip for dealing with creative block:

When it starts to stress me out that I’m not doing anything in my studio, I try to make myself do something to get my hands busy again. The ideas will come back eventually…Clean out your files, rearrange your paints,  or clean everything so that when you’re ready, everything is in order. – Bean Gilsdorf

I read this book after I reorganized my scraps, but this book reinforced that I was headed in the right direction!


Postscript

I am currently listening to a wonderful nonfiction audiobook – Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In this book the authors discuss “Gravity Problems” and how we get mired in “Gravity Problems”.

What are “gravity problems”? They are problems that are not actionable to resolve.

The authors share a great example (paraphrased):

A friend asks you what is wrong. You reply “I am having a hard time in life, I just cannot make it up hills as easily as I want to due to this thing called gravity. If I just did not have gravity in my life pulling me down, I would be fine and I could run up any hill I want”.

The authors humorously share that unless you are able to change how the earth spins on its axis and its rotation around the sun, you are not going to be able to resolve your “gravity problem”.

Now perhaps the real problem is you are not at your ideal fitness level and/or you need to improve your cardiovascular health, so you can more easily climb up a hill. That is an actionable problem.

Here is a wonderful quote from the book that I will leave you to ponder:

If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag (so to speak), but, like gravity, it’s not a problem that can be solved. – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

earth-1581554-640x640.jpg
That pesky thing called gravity…

Photo credit – Michael Lorenzo, free images.com

Studio, What's on the Design Wall

What’s on the Design Wall: Backlog

Not all quilters are like me: saddled with a backlog of projects. I know quilters who (they are freaks!) work on ONE project at time, seeing it through completion, and not starting another project until their current project is complete.

My mind does not work that way. I am basically that golden retriever in the movie Up, who says “Squirrel!“when I see a new project to start. I am easily distracted and I tell myself I will get back to the current/previous project eventually.

I was having a bit of creative block on designing a new art quilt and I realize I need to work through my project backlog. So here it is sitting up the cutting table, festering:

 

IMG_1252

In this pile under the cutting table, I discovered 120+ 6.5 inch log jam blocks (scrappy pieced log cabin style blocks) that I had pieced earlier this year. With the assistance of Terry the Quilting Husband, I got them sewn together and now they are on the Design Wall awaiting assembly of the rows.

IMG_1251

I have a total of 10 rows with 12 blocks in each row. I am hoping that by floating the pieced blocks in a solid color border, I can make it a twin, full or queen size quilt top. I will post a photo when the top is complete (before it journeys to the long-arm quilter).

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” – Mark Twain

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio, Thrift Shop Adventures

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps

If you have followed my blog for awhile, then you know about my addiction to fabric scraps. This addiction seems to be incompatible with my desire to downsize and minimize my possessions.

The fabric scrap addiction began innocently enough – friends would give me their fabric scraps at quilting retreats. I would go for a “sew day” at a fellow quilter’s house and leave with some of her fabric scraps. As if that was not enough, I began to actually BUY scraps.

Yes, BUY FABRIC SCRAPS, you read correctly. There is a wonderful quilt shop in Central Oregon called The Stitchin’ Post and occasionally they would sell scraps bags of their beautiful high-end quilting fabrics.  I bought numerous bags from them.

Beautiful scraps or not, still I was buying fabric scraps.

In my post “Creative Inspiration: Organization???” I shared my new organization of my favorite fabric scraps by color. Although I had organized scraps by color I still had a GIANT box of remaining fabric scraps.

I knew I had to do something. I needed to let go of the fabric scraps I did not completely and absolutely love. However, I did not want to throw them away or try to convince another quilter to adopt them.

So I packaged them up into 30 bags and organized them into two baskets and DONATED them to our local Humane Society Thrift Store to sell! (How do I know that the Humane Society Thrift Store sells fabric scraps? Do you want to take a guess? Yes, because I have bought fabric scraps also from several thrift stores include the Humane Society Thrift Store in the past).

The Humane Society Thrift Store Volunteer accepting my donation seemed pleased that I had packaged them up for sale. I like to imagine if they sell each bag for a couple dollars or more each that could be over $90 – $150+ profit for a wonderful local animal shelter! Some of the bags are packaged by color and some are random – so many options for the Humane Society Thrift Shops’ customers!

A
A “Humane” way to let go of excess fabric scraps!

When I buy fabric from quilt shops in the future, it will be actual whole fabric (fat quarters or yardage). I still have plenty of fabric scraps and my fabric scrap collection contains only scraps I truly love and plan to use…eventually.

POSTSCRIPT

I am still working through the lessons from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo that I discussed in the post “The Space in Which We Live“. 

Fabric Scraps Obsession, tierneycreates

A Scrappy Existence

Okay. I love fabric scraps. I am not sure how or when it started but it has been going on for years. And it has developed into an obsession.

I go to a quilting class or a quilt retreat and I see piles of fabric scraps, many which are going to be thrown away.  I have been guilty of staying a little late after a quilting class to “clean up” and grab the fabric scraps left behind – on the class ironing board, on the table, under the table…okay once I reached into the trash during a quilting class (when no one was looking) to rescue a large beautiful discarded scrap!

A local quilt shop sells bags of high quality scraps and I have bought several over the years. There is something exciting about a new bag of scraps – the discovery – opening up the bag and seeing what goodies are inside! When visiting friends in Seattle during an annual quilting trip, we stop by a quilt shop that allows customers to fill up a sandwich bag (yes the small one) with scraps for $3. I see it as the “challenge of the century” each time. I have mastered rolling up scraps tightly and cramming them into the tiny bag. My friends are usually amazed when I empty the bag later and see how many fabric scraps I fit in!

My quilting friends support my fabric scrap obsession. A dear friend and original quilting mentor, Judy, sent me over the holidays a lovely package of scraps from a recent quilt she finished.

Yummy fall color scraps from my friend Judy
Yummy fall color scraps from my friend Judy

I do make quilts with the scraps, though my husband says it will take roughly 25 quilts to use up my scraps.

Today I pondered: “why do I love fabric scraps so much?” The high quality quilting fabric scraps that I am attracted are from quilts others make. I guess that using other quilters’ scraps in a quilt (or just having them in my quilt room!) connects me to other quilters and the quilts they make. Quilts are pretty special thing and I love thinking that my fabric scraps are part of handmade items making someone, somewhere smile.

Textiles & Smiles!