Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's In Your Stash....Do You Really Know?

Since the first of the year I have been engaged in a pretty massive scrap management initiative.  It was prompted by the fact that a) our house is on the market, and sooner or later we will be moving; b) I wanted to get more variety and sizes in my scrap boxes for quilts, and c) I bought an Accuquilt GO! specifically to help me cut up and size scraps for future projects. In a future blog, I'll share a few links with my favorite "scrap management" bloggers...because they are the ones that I blame for all this nonsense worthwhile activity.....

In the past few weeks I have been sorting through my fabric boxes, and it occurred to me that it would be a great exercise to see how much "stash" I really had.....although I'm more than convinced that I will come to regret this some day soon!  Plus, having an inventory of my fabrics is really not a bad idea for insurance purposes, moving estimates, and the like.

How do you sort your fabrics?  Many quilters say they sort by color, and frankly, that's the first thing I say, too.  And, indeed, the "color boxes" are the ones I've been sorting through in the last few weeks.  But what you don't know if you look at the picture below, is that only 13 of those containers is sorted by color:

The rest of the boxes contain my little "secret" collections.  Because, of course I sort by color, but I also sort by theme, by designer, by manufacturer, by "process" (hand-dyes, batiks), and by a few weird selections known (or at least understood) only by me.

So today, here is part I of what will be a multi-blog posting.  My goal was to identify each one of my collections, and determine how much fabric I had in each.  I also removed everything from the box, gave it a loose organization by dark-to-light, and removed smaller pieces suitable for "scrapping" immediately. I photographed everything.  I started with this container, since it is "buried" over in the right side corner of my quilt studio:

I keep my Cherrywood dyed solids here, as well as my "small" solids (3/4-yard or less).  Plus, there's a drawer for batik jelly rolls, a drawer for "Australian/New Zealand" fabrics, and Hawaiian fabrics.  I also have Dupioni silks in one drawer, a collection of "hankies" in another drawer, and some pretty ugly plaids stuffed in the bottom drawer.  Here's what I discovered:

I have 17+ yards of Cherrywood Solids stuffed in that left-hand open drawer.  Yes, 17 yards.....that's just kind of mind-blowing!

That's a lot of Cherrywood solids, considering I don't really "collect" them (you are going to hear that phrase a lot in the next few weeks).  They are almost all dark/autumnal hues, with a few light exceptions that I picked up in a few "grab bags".  I really need to think about how I am going to use these.

It turns out that I have the equivalent of about 5 batik jelly rolls in this a charm pack or two....

At slightly less than 3 yards per jelly roll, that's about 15 yards of batiks in predominantly dark greens, black and grey, dark blue, purple and teal, and a small roll of orange/tan/cream.

In the bottom right drawer are my Australian prints.  I bought a lot of these in Australia and New Zealand in 2001 and then picked more up at various quilt shows when I saw them.  I also have my Hawaiian fabrics (3 different trips)'s the totals:  11 yards of Australians and 4.5 yards of Hawaiian....

In the middle drawer are my "small solids".....not such a small group after all:

There are 6 yards of fabric in this photo, and in another drawer I have 11 yards of Peggy Toole designed fabric for Robert Kaufman (well, we went to high school together, what do you expect?)....

So today's "blog total" of fabric is 56 yards of cotton fabric, plus 5 yards of silks and these two small rolling carts.  And I didn't bother adding up the hankies and plaids yet.

It was an eye-opening exercise.  I will share more with you later, but I think I am already firmly convinced that I need to get busy working even more from my stash, not only on "scrap" quilts, but on using the larger pieces as well.

That's a good thing, and another good thing to come out of this exercise is that I have photos, in one way or another, or almost everything that I own.  Now that makes looking for a specific color a lot easier.

And the third "good thing" is that I am really excited and inspired by some of these fabrics again.  As always, there are way more quilts in my head that I have time for.

Have a great day....hope it's dry and warm(er) wherever you are.

Talk to you later,


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Happened to January?

Wow...January just seemed to soar right on past.  I was busy, busy, busy (but obviously too busy to post on my blog).  Every time I thought about posting something, I thought I would just wait a few days.  Well....I'm here now.  So here's a summary of what I did this month.

I got all the blocks assembled for Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  It turns out that I need to do some "fiddling" with the border elements, but this will be done pretty soon.  It's just taken a back seat to my "stash management" chores.

I got my AccuQuilt Go cutter in early January...a Christmas present to myself.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and spend some money to help me alleviate pains in my wrists from rotary cutting.  I am very happy with my purchase.

I used the six-1/2 inch triangle die to cut the pieces for my "Library Quilt",  I stash-managed scraps into all of these 2 1/2-inch strips, and I used the 2 1/2-inch strip cutter to tame my "French Collection" fabrics into the beginnings of this quilt design from Moda Bake Shop.  

I spent some time playing with "10-inch layer cakes", using a design from Missouri Star Quilt Company, to try to tame my "Summer Breeze" fabrics into a usable block, and then I played with my Drunkards Path die and the "Tumbler Die" to get started on these two designs.

I cannot emphasize how enthusiastic I have become about the ability to take relatively small pieces of fabric and quickly (did I say quickly) do the precision cuts necessary to achieve some really nice layouts.  The "tumbler quilt" is done from 1950's dress fabrics and my 1930/1940's reproduction collection.  This quilt just makes me so happy.

Finally, my friend Nancy came out on Sunday, and we had a Scrap Happy Super Bowl Sunday Funday in my sewing room.  We "tamed" a lot of her fabrics and mine.  She went home feeling like a SuperBowl Champion, and I finished up today by emptying a huge bin of fabric scraps and turning them into "strips and bricks".  

Today I finished sewing some more Drunkard's Path blocks, and my little "tumbler" quilt is headed on the long arm tomorrow.  It was a great January, and it promises to be a productive February.  In addition to all my happy quilting adventures, I had a wonderful month visiting with my three granddaughters who are close to us in Virginia and Maryland.  I'm sharing a few photos, of course:
Maya Joy with her first car...Merry Christmas from Nanny and PawPaw

A quick visit to Richmond to see my beautiful VCU student, Brianna, and a fun time looking at Richmond Street Art

Miss Paige came to visit; we stacked blocks and read books, and just played with each other.  Isn't that what it's all about?

Oh, since I'm sharing, just one more photo.  Here's our son, Chuck and Laura....and Baby #2.....due in May....we're so happy for them..and us.

Hope you all are well and happy.  Talk to you soon,

Chatty Kathy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday Funday..

I have had a good few days getting into my sewing room every day and pursuing new ideas.  I seem to be out of my black and white phase and into the "January Blues" phase.  I decided to use my AccuQuilt GO! cutter to thin out some of my blue scraps  (I have boxes and boxes of blue "scraps"). Using 7-1/2 inch scraps, I cut these 6 1/2-inch triangles.

I'm happy with the result. 50 x 64 inches. This will be a nice nap quilt. I found a back for it and it's ready for Guy to put on the quilter. (By the way, about 6 months ago, I spent an afternoon sorting and measuring potential fabric backings and actually WROTE DOWN the measurements and pinned them on the yardage.  Boy, does that making searching for the right size easy.......!)

I've also revisited my Summer Breeze blue/yellow/green collection. Using a disappearing hourglass pattern from Jennie Doan at Missouri Star Quilt Company, I started working on these blocks.  They are started with 10-inch layer cakes and a matching 10-inch neutral.  Jenny has some great video tutorials with some truly interesting block constructions.  I've got a way to go to figure out just how much contrast I can get away with in these blocks, but I'm enjoying the construction process; the pieces fit together so nicely.  I love making what looks like a very complex block from a relatively simple sew/cut/sew/cut/sew process.  Each block takes about 7 minutes and you end up with a 12-inch block....that works for me!  Those are 9 blocks below; not 36.....

I've been trying to finish each day sorting through various boxes and cutting scraps into manageable pieces for future projects.  I'm enjoying the cutter, and my wrist is definitely enjoying a break from rotary cutter pressure. My friend Nancy and I have a "manage your scraps" day planned for Super Bowl's always fun to play with a friend in my sewing room.

Just around sunset last night, there was an awesome rainbow that just "appeared"....there must have been some moisture in the air somewhere.  It's the first rainbow that I can remember where I could see the entire arc.  Unfortunately, my "phone" camera wasn't quite up to the photography challenge, but still, here's an idea of what it looked like...what a pretty end to an enjoyable day.  

Hope you had a good weekend; it's a quiet day out today; not too cold, and sunny.  A perfect day to do some more sewing.  Talk to you soon...


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quilted Solutions: Playing Around.....on a Snow Day....

Quilted Solutions: Playing Around.....on a Snow Day....: I have spent the last few weeks giving myself permission to "play" in my quilt room.  Once I finished some Christmas gifts, and be...

Playing Around.....on a Snow Day....

I have spent the last few weeks giving myself permission to "play" in my quilt room.  Once I finished some Christmas gifts, and before I tackled a few big projects, I decided to play with "found objects" that showed up as a result of cleaning.

One thing I discovered was a bag of teal/white/turquoise scraps.  My friend, Nancy, had loaned me her book, 15 Minutes of Play a year or so ago.  While I didn't do any of the book exercises, I did spend a good bit of time absorbing the philosophy of "letting go" to allow some creative side to take over...without being hypercritical about it.

I decided to just do some improvisational blocks with these scraps.  I don't know where this will go; maybe in the trash, or maybe into some future larger enterprise.  But I didn't care. My only "rule" was to make 6 1/2-inch squares.....

This was the result:

This week, I found a bag of 1 3/4-inch strips that I have used for various black/white log cabin blocks.  I am always inspired by the "Strip Twist Quilt" using scraps on Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville I decided to change the block size (5 1-/2 inch vs. 8 1/2-inch) and do a "mini-scrap twist" substituting one solid color for either a dark or a light in each strip set.

I'm pretty happy with the results.  Here's how far I got today:

Now I'm arguing with myself about borders.  Lazy Kathy says "one big white border all around".  Critical Kathy says, "alternating borders of white print, solid color segments, another black, and a white print for finish"..keep them all narrow, keep this look clean and elegant. I suspect Critical Kathy will win, but after 3 hours, I was ready to quit today.

The fun part of all of this is a:  it's from scraps, I have nothing to lose.  b:  I love working with small designs so I can find my "sweet spot". c: Repeat a:  I have nothing to lose....this quilt top makes me happy.  The solids juxtaposed against the black and white prints just sing to me.

Do you give yourself permission to play with your fabric?  Do you just give yourself permission to play, period?  Nobody needed this, nobody wants this, and I'm not looking to sell it.  I just made myself a little piece of "quilt art" that makes me happy.  I think that is a good product for a day's work.

What do you think?  I'm glad to be back among my quilt blog friends.  And, here's a photo I took of the sunset last night.  We do live in an incredibly beautiful spot in Virginia.

That could be an improvisational quilt right there.  Don't you just love all the complementary colors?  Talk to you soon.

Chatty Kathy

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year's Resolution.......For 2015

Well, it's been an entire year since I posted on my blog.  Why?  I can't really explain it.  I had a "fallow season" the first part of 2014, in terms of quilting and sewing.  I couldn't get the creative juices flowing very well, and didn't feel like I had anything to share.

We spent a good part of the first three months experiences, a lot of miles logged on the car, and, of course, good food. Once I got home, I just sort of languished into a period of inactivity on the quilting scene.

A week or so ago, we hosted a good friend and her children for Christmas Eve.  Her younger son expressed a desire to become a writer, to which I chimed in, "Well, start a journal or a blog, and try to write every day."  A warning bell went off in my head when I said that...."hypocrite, when was the last time you sat down and actually wrote something longer than a four-line Facebook post?"

I guess I've let my Facebook connections taken over for my more descriptive expressions of interest, one's that I have shared in the past on my blog.

This is changing.  A 2015 New Year's Resolution.....sit down, take time to think, take some photos, get a point of few, and share it.  It's not really important whether anyone reads it, it's just important to get thoughts organized and let some experiences take bigger shape on the page.

I sat down and reviewed my blogs from 2013 this morning; I had a pretty good time then, getting involved with the larger quilting community, with my inner creative self, and with inputs from "blog" friends. we go into 2015.  Here are a few pictures from the last few months....the onset of the holidays got my "mojo" working......

This is a paper-pieced stocking, with, of course, the hanging loop on the wrong side!

 Another paper-pieced stocking; these are from Cindie Edgerton's designs, and the "canning jars" quilt is named "Patrick's Garden Bounty".  The fabrics were a gift from a friend right after Patrick died....he was a chef and loved to participate in our garden activities out here on the "farm"....he mostly loved my pickles, salsa, and pickled jalapenos.

 This is another scrap quilt from my "Christmas" box; the pattern is from Bonnie Hunter's great site,'s a scrappy trip around the world....I "controlled" the design by making sure that every red square fell diagonally from left to right.  Just a fun quilt to make....and fast!

The table runner was for a friend's request.  "Autumn colors, six feet long".....I loved using the striped fall fabric, and just bordered it with a few coordinating strips on the end.  She loved it.

And what would New Year's be without another Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.  Started this in November, the day after Thanksgiving, and got all the individual "clue" pieces finished by January 1st.  The will be "Grand Illusion"......I still have half of the blocks to piece and assemble, and then borders to do, but this will definitely be a January finish. This pattern is also available on Bonnie's Quiltville site......

Now here's a photo to just make you smile.  In the cold of winter, isn't it nice to see the summer geraniums blooming?  I actually managed to get these inside before frost and have kept them thriving.......Have a great day!  Have a wonderful New Year! Talk to you soon.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday....Discovering Forgotten Treasures

I'm marching on in my quilt room; I'm determined to reduce my stash and eliminate things that will never see the light of day again.  Today I tackled the basket that held all of my small, unfinished projects.  I discovered a bag full of yellow/blue half-square triangles.  I know that these date from about 2002 when I was working on a yellow and blue sampler quilt.

What can you do with a bag of triangles?  I decided to make a small baby quilt of out mine.  It measures 34 x 46 and is a perfect "infant" quilt.  I love the soft blues and yellows in this (yes, I'm a sucker for blue and yellow).

It took me about three hours, but I finished off the diamonds, cut remaining squares that were in the bag for the first border, and found a cute striped print for the outer border.  I also found a great backing in my "kiddie quilt fabric" box, and Guy is going to get this quilted for me in the morning.

I also threw out several patterns that were never going to see completion.  I reorganized all my small embroidery projects (so that's where they went), and was able to put all my batting strips big enough to be sewn together in one spot so I can access them when I need them.

It helps that this was my view from the window this afternoon:

Nothing like doing a little sewing on a "snowing" day....hope you had a good one.  If you're up in the Northeast or Midwest, stay warm and indoors.  It's going to be a nasty day tomorrow.

I had a great January 2nd....I'm working on keeping positive and moving forward in 2014.

From snowy Virginia,