February 27, 2011

Scrap Multiplication

Yikes, it's been almost a month since I last posted! Back then I had just finished the UFO Challenge for January with a few days to spare, and was feeling pretty good about keeping my resolutions (I know, I know only ONE month--big deal).

But I was also feeling ANTSY. I wanted to sew, but I hated to start something new with just a few days to go. So I decided to work on another of my UFO's (#7 -Teal Quilt to be specific.) I figured working ahead would give me some slack during the year. I managed to sew on the first of two borders, then I ran out of thread (and enthusiasm). I took a photo with the borders, but apparently it didn't work or is lost on my computer. So this is #7--just imagine narrow pink borders around it.)

Then, still being disciplined, I decided to clean up the sewing room to have working space for February's UFO.  But, after all the hand applique I'd been doing, I really was feeling the need for some mindless machine piecing. And I had a new (to me) Bernina to sew on since my old Viking machine was in the shop. (Many thanks to Patty for the loan of her machine!) Since seam allowances on different feet vary from machine to machine (at least for me), I knew I'd better not work on any old UFO's requiring precision piecing. And, didn't I need to start something new so the new machine would feel at home?

As luck would have it, I found a bin of scraps that I had (years ago) sorted by color into ziplock bags. I put the strips I found in my strip drawer, and looked at the remaining scraps. This got me thinking about a quilt named Maple Leaf Rag made by Sarah Fielke I'd seen in the book, Material Expressions 2. This quilt uses both strips and scraps, and wouldn't that free up more space in my cluttered sewing room? Surely it couldn't take that long, and I'd still have time to do UFO #10 for February, wouldn't I?
So yes, I started a new project just a couple days before February!

Maple Leaf Rag is a spiderweb type quilt. First I cut out the background pieces from some awfully stiff muslin (probably not a good choice, but I was anxious to get started, and it's done--thank goodness it will NEVER be hand quilted).

Then I used the darker small scraps to sew the background part. Of course, once these were done, I decided I should have had a better plan color wise. Oh well--I forged on. I'm just using scraps, and so be it, I thought. Then I started sewing the strips.

For the outer colors of the rings, Sarah's instructions say you need two full strips, and you do. I rarely had these, so of course I had to sort and sort to find something similar, or find the missing fabrics and cut more. So I decided to cut enough double strips so to not have to stop and cut more, and well, my drawer of strips grew into a LARGE bin of strips.

The instructions also say to pay close attention and lay the blocks out so you can keep the colors in each web put together right. This will give you a rough idea of a couple of the rings.
After making 4 blocks, I realized placement was definitely going to be a problem. I would either need to lay it all out on the floor, or to take stuff off my design wall which I didn't want to do. At this point a week of February is gone, and I realized I wasn't going to speedily finish this, so I stopped working on it. The book's directions are great, but it isn't a quick project, and the layout definitely requires you pay attention--so much for mindless stitching!

So I packed up this new project and looked at my (now) TWO bins of scraps. While stitching on the Maple Leaf Rag quilt, I had been using a fabric only once (except for the scrap backgrounds), and I had tossed the leftover strips into a basket. Some of these were quite long. I had also set aside the lighter strips that I didn't want to use. These discarded strips reminded me of another quilt I had intended to make someday--Courthouse Steps.

Since I had such a big mess of strips all over, and since I really didn't feel like working on February's UFO (#10), I figured I might as well sew these leftover strips into that quilt.  At last, some mindless stitching!  I rapidly stitched up several blocks.  (Key word is rapidly--they aren't exactly uniform in size, which will definitely make for some future finishing issues.)  Here are a few of the pinker/redder ones--they are primarily blue/black/red/pink/green.

When I had used up the larger strips (and about 40 blocks or more later), I started cleaning up again, sorting out the remaining shorter strips (4-8 inches).   Hmmmmm I thought. I can use these strips on another project with some squares I had leftover from some other cutting. (I figured it would only take a couple of hours and I'd have the shorter strips used up.)  So I stitched up the leftovers into these blocks which will have an end use (I'll show you someday--if I live long enough).

A week later, I put the rest of the short strips away, and put these half done blocks away, and FINISHED cleaning up the sewing room for February's UFO.  So where did that leave me? Did I finish anything?  Did I make more room by using up scraps? NO--I just made more scraps!

Scorecard for 2011: One UFO Roseville block completed, three, YES THREE NEW UFO's, NO quilts/projects completed!

ARRGH! And worse yet, I at that point, I hadn't even started on February's UFO with just a week to go. The UFO drawn for February was #10, Cookbook Cover.....it's NOW in process.  I've been sewing like a possessed woman, trying to make amends for starting three new projects!  More on UFO #10 later...