Stashes, Scraps, and Squirrels

It has been such a rainy month here that the chickens have been coming up to the back door, trying to get into the house.  (They don’t have to be outside; they have a perfectly good hutch, shed, and barn to choose from.  Maybe they want tea.)

chickens looking in

DeeDee, Pearl, Tammy Lynn, and Jerusha.

So, it’s been a perfect time to really deal with my boxes and bins of scraps!  Determined to get them used up or moved out, I have been doing a good job at whipping them into tops — so many tops!

(Usually, when I take pictures, I put them through the filter “Correct Camera Distortion” so that they look nice and even, but tonight, I am just going to post them without correction.)

First, I did this strippy lap quilt with leftovers from Chips and Salsa.

Bright Bars lap quilt top.

These solid fabrics came from scrap bags at a guild sale in 2015, and mixed in with them were some sashing strips of a brown fabric sparsely sprinkled with orange and yellow flowers.  I decided to use those with large rectangles of glowing colors for another lap quilt.  I think the bits of color randomly appearing look more interesting than solid sashing would, and I hope to remember to use this trick in the future.

Red Bricks lap quilt top. Scraps of brown sashing used with new pieces.

While looking for warm-colored pieces to use in that lap quilt, I dug through my shoe box of brown and yellow scraps, and realized there were enough for another lap quilt.  I used Kaffe Fassett’s draft for “Shirt Stripe Boxes” from Passionate Patchwork as the basic plan to help fit squares and rectangles together.

Brown Improv lap quilt top. There are three columns of patches, not yet sewn into the complete top.

Then, I bravely pulled out a bin of spool blocks from about nine years ago.  When I made these, I foolishly thought it would be easier to layer and fold triangles instead of piecing half-square triangles.  And then, to hold everything in place, I blanket-stitched around the spools.

With my lack of precision, these little blocks were all different sizes. There was no way they would fit together as in a real spools quilt.  And I am really over the 1930s reproduction fabrics I used.  But with all the time I spent stitching, I didn’t want to just throw them away.  I got a jelly roll of Moda ombre strips and sashed them.

Sashed Spools quilt columns. The colors are softer in real life.

Spools with blanket stitching. The columns are just laid next to each other, not stitched yet.

I’m not really sure of their final arrangement, but I think I will have to leave the purple in the middle, because that sashing is from solid fabrics, not ombre. I like how the ombre looks like satin.  There will be more borders in the final quilt.

So as I was taking a little break from all this piecing, I was reading blogs, and I saw a great quilt called Plaid-ish, made by Mary at Zippy Quilts, and she gave the link to the (free!) original pattern, and all my scraps were already out, all over the place, so I had to start it!

Now as I have proved with the examples above, I am better at improvisation than I am at precision, and I usually only make designs where corners don’t actually have to meet.  So I knew Plaid-ish would be a challenge for me, and I even thought about skipping the tiny squares in the middle of each block.  But Mary did a tutorial on matching corners, so I tried her tips, and got good results!

Plaid-ish blocks, just placed on the bed.

I also usually make small lap quilts instead of bed-size quilts, and this one was going to have a lot of piecing.  So I thought that for once I would turn on some YouTube videos to keep me company as I stitched.

Well, Missouri Star Quilt Company has 475 videos on YouTube (as of today) and I think I watched 50 of them!  I really liked the one called “Brick Yard,” and thought it would be great for the rest of my brown scraps.

Brickyard lap quilt blocks.

I really love this pattern; it goes together so quickly!

So that’s what I have been doing this February — starting projects with scraps, dipping into my stash to complete patterns, and chasing those new shiny projects like dogs chase squirrels.   It has been really satisfying to bring so many ideas to the next step.