Saturday, May 26, 2012

Got Scraps?

Got scraps? Oh man, we sure do. We have two big baskets, filled to the brim. Having the baskets next to the cutting table is really handy because you can easily toss scrap pieces into them as you work.

Too many scraps.
However, the baskets cease to be handy once they're overflowing! We've been in denial for quite some time now, trying to shove more and more scraps into the baskets. Incredibly, we've also been guilty of collecting scrap pieces from other folks as well! But finally, it has become time to do something with our bounty of left overs and castaways -- So began my recent obsession with making use of scrap fabric. That, and a certain frugality recently imposed by my current state of transition between professional student and the gainfully employed!

Digging through the baskets is not unlike an archeological dig: there are layers of fabric roughly stratified by age, with the oldest remnants toward the bottom. Some of the pieces even date back to my childhood; Now that's vintage stuff! ;) And of course there's fabric from nearly every quilt project that my Mom and I have done over the last decade or so. So, it's fun to take a stroll down memory lane of projects past, by rummaging through our scrap collection.

I currently have a number of scrap quilts in progress, but have been focusing lately on one that makes use of a traditional star block. Several women from my Mom's quilting group at the Martinez Senior Center have also been making star block quilts recently, so my Mom and I thought we'd try one too. I decided to see if I could make my star block quilt entirely from our scraps on hand -- Such fabric recycling is, after all, the traditional heritage of quilting. I selected light and dark scrap fabrics that I thought would coordinate together for a traditional/americana look.

I hadn't yet worked with small half-square triangles, so we figured this star quilt project would be a good learning experience. And indeed, maintaining cutting & piecing accuracy was a bit of a challenge.

Hmm ... cutting and/or piecing accuracy not so good ...
Part of the challenge came from working with a large variety of fabrics of disparate levels of quality, which is inevitable when using scraps. As a result, many of my star blocks ended up a wee bit wonky, probably due at least in part to different fabrics shifting in different ways.

However, when I assembled all of the blocks into the quilt top, I was happy to discover that I could successfully shmooze my less-than-accurate blocks together, matching seams pretty well. I lost some points here and there, and there are a few tiny tucks in a couple of the seams, but I don't think these "booboos" are too noticeable. I think the very scrappy nature of this quilt pattern makes it quite forgiving, lending itself quite well to a half-square-triangle newbie such as myself. So, this quilt is not a juried-quilt-show masterpiece -- but I think it'll make for a functional but pretty quilt, like in the traditional heritage of quilting. Overall, I'm rather thrilled with the treasure that has arisen from "the trash"!:

Star quilt top -- first stage of completion.
Close-up of star quilt top.
I'm now in the process of debating border choices. I'm thinking about trying some flying geese, which would be another first for me. Or, maybe some prairie points? I'm perusing some options using The Border Workbook by Janet Kime. Alas, I've still got plenty more scrap fabric to work with!

My Mom's star quilt is also beginning to take shape -- she's using her stash collection of 30s fabrics, and it is going to be a very bright and cheery quilt. Of course it has been fascinating to see how different fabric choices, for the same exact quilt pattern, create a totally different look! Stay tuned for a comparison.


  1. It looks great Holly! The colors are so soothing and I always love a scrap quilt.

  2. I love it! Of course, I've never met a scrap quilt that I didn't like. I can't wait to see what you decide to do for the border.

  3. Excellent job! I am a fan of scrap quilts, and yours is dynamite!