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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waste nothing

The following project is an experiment in using every bit and piece of fabric originating with a specific project.  This is challenging to those of us who don't use patterns, love scraps and seem to create more leftovers with each and every project.  My scrap bins, although precious and useful in their right, have grown way too big.

The project started with 22 fat quarters and the intentions of using them all to make one quilt top and to use all the bits and pieces up.  The fabrics all had 2 things in common, they contained the color pink and were florals.

I cut strips out of each of the fabrics in 6", 4", 3" and 2" varying widths to use most all of the fabrics, keeping stacks of each width as I cut.  If I made a project in this fashion again, I'd use wider strips at this point, probably with the widest strip starting at 9" and a few 1/2 yard cuts in place of the fat quarters.  It would lead to a bit less variety of fabrics and less piecing.

As I cut the strips, I stacked strips of the same width together in piles to stay organized.

I mixed up the strips of the same width and cut them in chunks of varying sizes.  Nothing was measured.  The strips originally cut at 6' wide were now stacked in groups of 3 or 5 across my cutting board and chopped apart at whatever intervals or sections appealed to me visually; wide, narrow and in between but being very careful to keep the original strip sets together.  The result was stacks of rectangles that were 6" long by varying widths, and then 4" by varying widths and so on with the remaining strips.  It is very important to the overall construction to keep the cuts lined up across the grid and to keep the sub cuts perpendicular using the lines on the mat and the ruler.

Keeping the stacks organized, mix up the fabrics and sew rectangles together in sets of 2.  Sew the sets of 2 together to create sets of 4, and so on until reaching a desired length that would be the width of a large lap-sized quilt.  Another way to reduce waste when strip piecing is to pay attention to starting a set under the presser foot before the prior set is completely done.  It eliminates wasted thread between pieces and time spent cleaning up when you cut pieces apart.
Once you finish one stack and the strip sets are approximately the same length (the desired width of the quilt), move on to the next stack and do the same process to create strip sets the same length as the previous strip sets (the desired width of the quilt).
Sew the rows together in a way that is visually appealing to you.
Kelly and I were fortunate to spend another perfect week in East Boothbay at our favorite place on earth - courtesy of dear, generous friends. 

This is the total amount of leftovers, including selvage edges (there will be a separate complimentary project using these in a future post), trimmings from squaring up and clipped piecing threads (the little grey nest of threads on the bed of the Featherweight).

I'm not sure what I'll do with the trimmings.  That will be a real challenge!