Friday, January 14, 2011

How to bust your stash while traveling?

Hello fellow Stash busters!  This is SewCalGal.

I've enjoyed being a follower of  Stash Manicure and hearing insights by Madame Samm, as well as a variety of guest bloggers.  Thus, when Samm mentioned she was looking for guest bloggers I decided to give it a try.  I've actually never been a guest blogger before, so I hope I won't bore you. 

I compiled a list of things I wanted to share, but decided to focus on one that deals with a way to reduce your stash while you are traveling.  This works on long trips, short trips, and many other times too.  You just need to realize that good things can come out of small pieces, if you take little steps at a time.

Many people fear hand piecing, but it is really quite easy.  And when you pre-kit your blocks, hand piecing can be an excellent way to reduce your stash, consume scraps, and make beautiful quilts while you travel. 

You can hand piece just about any quilt block design you want.  I'm currently working on simple unstructured designs using  half-square triangles (HSTs). 

I use a plastic template and a fabric marking pencil to mark my fabric scraps.  I visually cut 1/4" away from the drawn line on the fabric with scissors!  I keep the cut pieces in a large ziploc until I have a variety of cut pieces.  I will layout the different colors to select pieces for a block and then place these pieces into a small ziplock, creating a kit.  Kits are stored in a small box, along with thimble, matching thread and hand sewing needles.

When I travel, I can quickly reach in and take as many block kits as I think I may have time for.  Or, if I am going to a guild presentation, I might take a couple of kits and finish them while at the meeting.  I hand sew the pieces together using a running stitch, with about every 4th or 5th stitch I'll take a back stitch.  And I do knot the thread, to secure the first stitch and I back stitch and tie off the last stitch, before I cut the thread.    

You can certainly plan colors ahead colors for hand piecing, just like planning a machine sewn quilt.  But, as my goal is also to reduce my stash I focus on using scraps - not on the effort to plan & coordinate fabrics.  If I don't think the color of a scrap fabric will work in my project, I toss it ASAP and don't worry about it.  But I do strive for randomness on these type of projects, and want a variety of colors and prints in these scrap quilts too!    

I enjoy seeing the blocks come together and laying them out on a hotel room floor.  Sometimes I will sew a few blocks together, and then groups together.  Yet other times I will layout enough blocks for a particular top, before I start sewing the quilt together.  Again, my goal is stash busting and making a scrappy quilt.  And have fun and zero stress while creating.

This quilt top was made while we went on a boating vacation in British Columbia.  I have made several pinwheel quilts with bright colored pinwheels on white backgrounds, over the years, and never get tired of them.

Ultimately, if a scrap of fabric is too small for a piece to work in this quilt, I will toss it ASAP.   I find the kits take up less space and are handy to take with me on trips.   Having these kits ready increases my ability to finish a quilt block faster too!

This approach to using scraps  may not work for everyone, but it is one that I've really enjoyed while traveling.  If you do not already hand piece, I hope you'll consider pre-kitting and taking some kits with you on your next trip.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how fun it is to quilt while you are traveling and amazed how this also helps to reduce your stash!

Thank you Samm for having me be a guest on your delightful blog.  And thank you to all her wonderful readers too!  I've had fun sharing this insight with you. 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to get your family to help you bust your stash!!!

Hi everyone!!!

It's me again! Ariane from Ariane's Crafts.
I'm so glad Madame Samm invited me to share with you again.

I was trying to figure out what to share with you and I was a bit stumped.
I did have one idea, tried to make a tutorial, but it didn't quite work out.

So, I went to my sister Michele to rescue me.
You see, she did a family project a short time ago to get rid of some scraps.
She made placemats and got her 6 year old son and her husband to make them too.
I really liked them and thought it would be a fun project to do with my kids too.
So, I thought I would share the placemats I made with my kids. 

I managed to convince my 15 year old son, 13 year old son, and 11 year old daughter to each make a placemat. I told them that they could design them any way they wanted, as they would be for them to use.

This is the material list we used:
-scraps a quilting cotton
-fusible web
-ironing board
-scraps of batting
and of coarse a sewing machine

The first thing I did was cut 4 neutral pieces of fabric 12.5 inches by 17.5 inches.
Then, I gave the kids each a bowl and told then to pick any fabric they wanted out of my scrap baskets.
I have my scraps sorted by color in my sewing room.
They all went down and picked out their fabric. This is what they came back with.
I got them to decide what size they needed for each piece and I ironed fusible web to the back of the fabric.
I, then asked them to draw their designs on the paper side of the fusible web.
Here they are at work.

They then cut out their designs and started placing them in position on the background fabric.
I helped then iron down all the pieces, once they had decided the final settings.
These are their final designs.

This is what my 15 year old designed.
He wanted to have water, grass, fire, the sun and the moon.
I really like it!!!

This is what my 13 year old son came up with.
He really likes detailed designs. He's a budding artist this one.
His battle of the Romans is his original design.
It all came out of that head of his and didn't copy any pictures.
He really enjoyed this process.

This is my daughter's design.
I really like her design. It's more modern, and also has a quilty kind of block appearance.

Once they were all done with the tops, I started working on mine.
I only used the left over pieces of fabric with fusible web on them.
I also wanted to challenge myself to keep it simple.
I am working at "simplifying" my life.
So, here it is.
Now, the fun part for me was to quilt these placemats for the kids.
Here are the finished products.

I must say that this was a very rewarding experience. I had told the kids it would only take about an hour to do the tops. But they chatted, laughed, and sang songs. After about 2.5 hours, they were done. It's an amazing feeling when my kids get together and get along. I learn a lot about them in times like these.

So, get your children and grandchildren involved with your quilting.
It will give both of you some wonderful memories.

Just a quick note!!!
I'm celebrating my two year blog anniversary with a giveaway.
Leave me a comment here and visit be over here, you know at


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hellooooooo from The Raspberry Rabbits!

Well helloooooooooooooooooo there! I'm Michelle May from The Raspberry Rabbits! Everybody calls me Shell. Thanks so much, Madame Samm, for inviting me to be a guest blogger today! I'll try not to let you down  um...embarrass you. hee,hee,hee. Alrighty then, let's get this party started!

I've been quilting since 1989 when I was a mere 21 years old. Ahhh yes, the good ol' days of youth, fun, freedom....oh save yourself the calculations, I'm 42!  So anyway, I've been totally sucked in, gaga, crazy over quilting ever since then! I taught quilting at a local shop for over ten years and loved every minute of it. Quilting 101 was my most popular class. It was soooooo much fun introducing others to the joy of quilting and watching them become fabric addicts too! I mean hey, being an instructor and having others to blame your addiction on is fabulous!! (Still can't believe hubby fell for that one!)

In 2006 I opened my shop, The Raspberry Rabbits. Initially I opened the shop as a creative outlet from my stressful job in custom home building. A place that I could sell my patterns and art quilts and a way to share with others, as well as, a way to raise money for rabbit rescues. I have been in love with rabbits since I was six. I have two rescue rabbits that run free in my studio and use a litter box. Cool huh!

In April of last year, with the housing market going down the toilet, I was laid off from my construction job. However, being the positive person I am and with the support of my husband, David, I looked at it as the next chapter in my life beginning. The Raspberry Rabbits is now my career.

Okay, enough about all that, blah, blah, blah. Let's get on with it! My style tends to be "elegant folk art." It's the two sides of my personality. The interior decorator and the crazy bunny lady! Here are a few examples.

Fleur de Bunny. Do you see the bunnies in the middle????

Peter and Peter the Pumpkin Eaters. This is a fused collage background with white velvet bunnies and pumpkin. This was a one of a kind art quilt sold to a bunny lover who's husband's name is Peter! FUN!!

Rococo Rabbits. This pillow used the same collage method with white velvet.

I also love doing stitcheries as I find stitching incredibly relaxing and portable! I carry Valdani floss and am a designer with them. I looooooooooove this floss! These are a few of my stitchery patterns.

Rococo Roses No. 2.


Winter Wishes.

Then, it's also so much fun to mix stitchery and quilting!

Friendship Rabbits.

Roses for Laura.

Bunny Love.

I am truly blessed to work from home in a studio with two fuzzy assistants. Occasionally I can get them to actually "assist" with something.

Here Sir Walter Harrington  (Harrington for short) pulls fabrics out of the cupboard for me to audition and then gives me his opinion on what he thinks will work well together.

Most of the time though there is a lot of this... (Sugie)

and this...(Harrington)

and this going on!!

Of course I also catch them whispering to each other about the boss!! Naughty bunnies!

It is so hard to find good help these days!

Sharing with people, bunnies, and story telling are as big a part of my life as quilting and stitching. My Blog is a blending of all. In fact, today starts my New FREE BOM stitchery series called "12 of Hearts!" Each month on the 12th, I will give you a new free heart pattern on my website. But, there's more! On my blog I also have a giveaway! Don't ya just love a giveaway?!? Leave me a comment here and hop on over to my blog too...

The Valdani 3 strand floss we are using this year!

I do hope ya'll will hop by and visit with me and the bunnies! It's been so much fun to be a guest blogger here! Thanks again Madame Samm!

May each of your days be fun, magical and full of love! So glad to meet you!

xx, shell, sugie and harrington

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not a Bunch of Squares ~ Improv Patchwork {a tutorial}

Happy New Year!  I'm so excited to be back here to share.  For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jennifer and my blog is That Girl... That Quilt.  My brain is all too often overflowing with creative ideas so how perfect that I have the opportunity today to post on two blogs! 

I adore patchwork and I get a lot of questions about how I make my patchwork projects.  The short answer: no templates, no patterns, no sketches... just fabric, a ruler, a rotary cutter and your creativity.  So today I wanted to show you how to make improvisational patchwork.  It might feel a little strange at first if you are not used to sewing as you go but I promise that it's lots of fun and a great way to work with your stash!

I like to choose a foundation fabric piece first.  This isn't a foundation fabric in the traditional quilting sense.  It's more like the inspiration and the fabric you will be building your block around.  In my patchwork I use a lot of linen.  I love the texture created by using a mix of quilting cottons and linens.

Now find a similar sized piece of fabric and stitch the pieces right sides together {RST}.  Open and press.  Square your new "block" if it will drive you nuts to have wonky sides.  I like to keep it improvisational so I don't square until my block is done.

Next find a piece of fabric that is similar in size to your new created "block".  Stitch this fabric {RST} to your existing block.  Open and press.

Here's where it gets fun!  Take some smaller pieces and stitch them together to form a strip that is the approximate length of the block.  Press each seam and then stitch the strip to the block.  Unless you are just extremely talented {or lucky}, the seams of the strip and the seams of the block will not match.  If this bothers you ... breathe ... remember that you are learning something new!

Get creative and continue to build your block until you have a nice sized patchwork piece. 

I am using a 12.5" square ruler to square up the block.  Make three more patchwork blocks and you will have yourself a nice 12" x 48" patchwork table runner!

Stitch all four blocks together and press your seams.  Baste, quilt, and bind.  For a small project like this, machine binding works great.  If you need a tutorial, here's one that I wrote several months back that will walk you step by step through machine binding.

Too busy to make your own improv patchwork??  I'm giving this little table runner away on my blog today...

Thanks for letting me share!  I hope you will visit me over at That Girl... That Quilt soon!