Monday, October 25, 2010

Scrappy is my M.O. (means of operation)

Well hello again Stash Manicurists! It's Penny from sewtakeahike. I appreciate Stash Manicure for having me here today. Always nice to share something with all of you.

As you may know, scrappy is my M.O., and today, I would like to share with you how to organize, and then how to pare down that scrap pile with a great improv project.

First, here's a shot for you of my "organized" scraps. I have a separate cubby for each color (except black and purple, which I don't use often). And do you see that green bag hanging there? It contains my very small scraps that I can't bring myself to toss.

And now on to the curved piecing tutorial.

I made this pillow from my first set of 4 improv curved pieced blocks.

But really, the possibilities are endless, you could make so many things with these blocks!

Here's how to make them!

Step 1: choose your fabrics

Step 2: Cut a 90 degree angle on one side and a gentle curve on the other side of your first (and) corner piece of fabric and lay it on top of the second piece. Cut along the curve, with the right side of both fabrics facing up.

Step 3: Flip the first fabric over and align the beginning of the curve of the first piece to the area of the curve of the second piece where they fit together, with right sides facing.

Step 4a: Using a 1/4 inch foot with a guide (do you see that metal plate on the right side of the foot? That's the guide. My Bernina dealer sells the 1/4 inch foot with or without the guide), start sewing a 1/4 inch seam , bringing the edge of the fabrics together as you move down the curve. (think about how a pair of scissors works. As you pull the handles together, the edges of each blade come together, but only at one point. That's how the edges of the curved fabrics will be sewn together.)

Step 4b: This is how the fabrics will look after the seams have been sewn, but before pressing.

4c: Seam after pressing.

Step 5a: Lay your square template on top of the newly pieced fabrics so the square tip is placed over the square tip of the fabric.

Step 5b: Trim your fabric edges so they overlap the square template by about 1/4 inch (I do this to make sure I have a big enough square to trim it precisely in the end) and cut an improv curve along the edge of the second piece.

Repeat the last part of step 2 with your next fabric:

Repeat steps 3-5b over with new scrap pieces until the pieced fabric is big enough to cut the size square you'd like.

Once you have pieced enough scraps together, trim your square to the size you'd like.

And there you have it. Improv curved seams are really simple and forgiving.
You could make several of these and make a quilt, or make a tiny set of 4 for a potholder, so many possibilities!
Happy, happy Monday to you!! Love to hear from you. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Can you be too Organized? Not if you are ME!

Hi!  This is Teresa of Fabric Therapy back again.  I posted here back on October 6 and talked about "Shopping My Stash" and even revealed part of my hoard stash...otherwise known as "Teresa's giant wall o'stash."  I was asked if I might go into some detail about how I organize my stash and reveal even more of it.

I have to tell you that revealing my stash is a little like showing people my underwear drawer...all of it, even the ratty stuff.
I've been hoarding collecting fabric since the early 80's, and I'm not so much embarrassed at the size, but more my obsessive-compulsive organization of it.  I have tried all kinds of storage ideas over the years and what I am doing now works well for the fact that I sew in the basement, which isn't what you would call "finished."  Oh, it's cozy enough, lined with stash...but most people would want something more finished and sophisticated (with less rollie-pollies and spiders...).  I think it is Heaven.

I sort in three major categories...yardage (including fat quarters), large scraps, and wee bits. 

For yardage, I fold based on fat quarters, which are roughly 18 x 22 inches.  By this I mean I fold in half from fold to selvage, then in half again in the same direction, then in half crosswise.

I used to store fabric in really big bins, but they were just too heavy and now I use boxes by Sterilite and Art Bin.  My folded little piles fit well in them and they are readily available at Joann's, Target, and even my grocery store.  I collected them slowly, getting most of them on sale or using a coupon.   Here, I picture the container on its side.

I can get two rows of stacked fabrics in a tall bin.  I NEVER permanently label my bins because things can change so easily, and I hate removing sticky labels.  I use 3 x 5 index cards and a black marker and just insert the card on the inside of the container.

I collect heart fabrics and outgrew my first bin...I added a second one, in a smaller size and labeled it accordingly.

So that brings me to how I sort yardage.  I used to just sort by in one tub, blue in another.  Then I found it inconvenient to have red reproduction fabric in with bright caused too much rummaging around in big heavy tubs.  Now I separate everything, which allows me to utilize these smaller containers.  I sort my reproduction stuff by color.

I sort my crazy brites by color.

But I also sort by categories...Cats, Dogs, Horses, Halloween, Christmas, Hearts, Animals, Butterflies & Bugs, Harvest, Black on White, White on Black, Batiks, Plaids, 30's (sub-divided into colors), Patriotic (sub-divided into neutral, red and blue), Kitchen/Food, Misc. Novelty, Misc. Flowers, Music, and some lines of fabric that I wanted to keep together.

Then I have bigger bins of general colors like these neutrals.
I separate the general greens, blues and browns into light, medium and dark.

For bigger yardage, I still fold into the same basic shape, based on how I fold fat quarters.

Then I sort my larger scraps by color and keep them mostly in Art Bin boxes with handles...this way I can grab them and go for taking to workshops or cutting parties (I LOVE scrappy quilts!).

My scrap bin categories are neutral, green, blue, red, brown/orange, black, warm brites (red, yellow, orange, pink), cool brites (blue, green, purple), reproduction, 30's, and novelties.

I do a lot of hand applique and save even the smallest scrap.  I put them in larger art bins and sort in color groups.

I also cut and save scrappy strips for log cabin and liberated piecing.

I also store ongoing projects and misc. cut scraps (squares, triangles, etc.) in labeled bins.

I love little drawer units that are meant to store hardware, etc.  They are great for tools and thread.

I have storage for tools, rulers, thread, and movies right at my fingertips.  I use found objects from garage sales and second-hand places for storage.  All the shelving units that surround the basement and hold stash (and games, toys, overflow kitchen stuff, scrapbooking stuff, seasonal decorations, etc.) are plastic, as we have had water in the basemnt before.

As this is getting really long, another time I will show you how I store books, patterns, ideas, etc.

As you do your sort, make it fit your stash.  I like being able to walk right to some container, shelf or drawer and find what I am looking for.  I keep some open bins at my feet under my sewing machine to throw scraps and fabrics that need to be washed and/or "be filed." 

 I'm a wash girl - I wash everything because I am sensitive to the chemicals and because I don't like surprises concerning shrinkage and color fastness.  I keep scraps of batting and larger yardages for backings in larger totes under the stairs.

I'm not really crazy about keeping my fabric in bins...I love pictures of other stashes where it is out on a shelf, just looking all yummy and inviting, saying, "pet me, pet me!"  But, since I sew underground in the quilt cave, it has to be so.  My husband and daughter have computers in the basement, so along with the washer and dryer, an old TV (and the cat food/cat box), I am never really alone down there.

Thank you for stopping by and enduring my stash...I try to keep things orderly and neat because I don't function well in chaos.  I appreciate your comments, your suggestions.  We all pull our creative energy from different places, different spaces.  My stash is a living, breathing, work in motion.  My buddies give me a hard time about being too organized, but I sure like being able to put my hands on something when I need it (or when I want to offer them something for their project...)!  As my blog title suggests, fabric is my therapy.

Happy sorting!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)