Saturday, October 30, 2021

Strips and Strings and Other Good Things

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to teach a scrappy workshop for our local chapter (Salt Lake City) of Quilts for Kids. The October meeting is always a scrappy workshop, and is the last one of the year until we meet again in January. 

We were at the Quilters Lodge, but because they had a retreat going on, we were in the basement quilting room instead of the main retreat room of the lodge. There were about 15 people there, the limit allowed for public gatherings based on room size, etc etc in these Covid times.

I showed several scrappy quilts and answered questions, and then showed them the Zipper block and quilts made by Cousin Kim (also in attendance) and me. I had prepped (over several months) eleven kits (cutting All.The.Pieces) to make Zipper Quilts, and they were all taken (checked out by members). 

Often at workshops, people will bring in their unwanted scraps and yardage. This time, not only did we have a member clean out her stash (Mary is moving across country), but two of the Board members brought me strips and strings. For all the yardage donated, our Board member Cindy goes through it first to see and take any pieces large enough for making our standard quilt kits. She and other Board members make varying numbers of kits every month and have their assigned local quilt shop to keep stocked. Then the leftover scraps are distributed to anyone else. I’m the only one who usually wants them. A couple ladies brought some scraps in just for me (in addition to the Board leftovers and the strips and strings mentioned earlier). 

I only took half of what one Board member offered (a whole tub), and it was still an Embarrassment of Riches. When I got home I dumped it out on my sewing tables.

Mary had even rolled up strings into rolls (like jelly rolls) - there were more than a dozen of those. Some were single-color rolls (3 rolls were light neutrals), and some were mixed. And then there were bundles of strips just tied together. 

There were lots of quarter-yard cuts of fabric, too, and two whole quilt kits. Those kits will get returned to the Board as they can give them to ladies who need a plan to follow.

So, I did a little bit of sorting on Saturday afternoon and realized I was going to have to come up with a plan. Do I sort by color? By strip length or strip width? Cousin Kim was over on Sunday, and we both spent about three hours working on sorting before we decided we needed a break and started a new puzzle!  The sorting continued on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and most of the day Wednesday. By late afternoon it was done. Sort of. This is what I came up with. 

I set up a clothes rack in my sewing annex and put (only) 2.5” width-of-fabric (WOF) strips by color on hangers. I can use them in my various “everything but the kitchen sink” quilts or use them by color. Most of these are solids or tonals. If they were wild kid prints, they went into a specific project bag.

I made project bags by theme or color grouping. This is a boxful. I think I counted 28 kits (potential quilts), about 10 of which were left over from the past year. Some examples of quilt project bag themes are: sports, girly pink/purple, and pastel baby. 

In one cubby of one of my bookcases, I have these leftover kits from last year as well as yardages dedicated to QFK (themes include cats, bees, bears, etc).  The project bags are not all-inclusive. They’ll need (perhaps) things like background yardages or WOF strips or other scraps - all of which are in my stash!

So you can see that I have no lack of projects to pick from over the next year! Oh, and then the remaining strips were sorted into four plastic shoeboxes by length.

The pile of strips immediately in front of the boxes are WOF multi-colored thin (2” or less) strips. The other pile in the very front are strips sets sewn and left over from this week’s efforts. Which brings me to the only real sewing I did this week.

This pattern is from The Long Thread and the block is called Crossed. Cathy at Sane and Crazy just did these too. Anyway, here are twenty 10” (finished sized) blocks for a quilt that will be 40x50”. The top three rows are just pinned up; only the bottom two rows are sewn. If I do this one again (and of course with all those strings I will!), I will make 30 blocks and set them 5x6 for a 50x60” quilt. The one above didn’t make a dent in anything!

Oh! I also sewed together the cat blocks. The cat blocks were one of my projects for this year’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC). They were already sewn into “litters”, so I just had to join them with sashing. And I can say it’s not my finest work. *cough, cough*. They aren’t as wonky as they look. In fact, the whole thing IS square - 58” (within a quarter inch). But I had to ease in the last row and it’s not as flat as it should be. But it will be OK once it’s quilted and washed, so I’m not worried.  And this wonky-looking photo once again reminds me that I need to get the last piece of foam board up for the design wall. That way I can either pin up a flimsy or hang a flimsy (instead of half and half).

Alfie’s reaction to this quilt was “meh”!  Here he is in his heated bed, doing his best Rockettes imitation.

So, there was no quilting or finishing of quilts this week. But I do plan to baste and quilt up the cats quilt and Framed Pinwheels and hopefully the string quilt too.  However, before I move forward with more string quilts, I need to finish up a dinosaur quilt for the brother of the boy who’s getting the cat quilt. I need to get those delivered soon.

Finally, I went to my WW (formerly Weight Watchers) meeting last Tuesday and a friend there, Ruby, owns a quilting business. She does mainly commercial sewing and quilting of duvets and cushions as piecework for Denton House. Anyway, she brought this fabric to show us (before the meeting started). There were about four of us chatting away, ooohing and aaaahing. She told us she’d just finished 20 cushions made with this Italian fabric that was $400 per yard. We all admired the colors and stitching (it’s machine made, of course). She asked me what I would make from the leftovers and I started riffing..... it would make a great journal cover, or a small cross-body bag, or even a zip pouch....  And then she handed it to me and said “I actually brought it for you!”. I was blown away. There is one piece that is WOF by 10” and another that is only 6-7” wide by 20”.   I’m going to ponder what I actually want to do with it, and then make it for myself for Christmas! 

And that’s about it for this post. I plan to sandwich/baste up three quilts this weekend and get started on that dinosaur quilt. I’ll have at least one finished RSC project next week, but I can always hope to make progress on some of the others. The last couple months of the year are usually dedicated to finishing up our rainbow projects, but I will also be focusing on my dark neutral scraps over the next couple months in addition to RSC finishes and string/QFK quilts. I think I need a stunt sewer and quilter!


  1. oh! how fun! (but no pressure with that $400/yd treasure!) ha! a zip bag, with a colorful lining sounds great! or what about the handle of a (brightly wonky pieced) over the shoulder bag? i'm sure you'll come up with something.
    but the real reason i'm commenting: I LOVE your cats! i really like how each mama is sitting differently with her litter- that adds interest. great job!

  2. That's quite a collection of strips and strings and all kinds of fun stuff, Cathy! I love your photo of the color coordinated strips hanging together. I've got that Crossed block on my list, too - it makes a neat design!

  3. all that eye candy! yummy! I love your kitty litters!

  4. My goodness, you made a good job of sorting out all that donated fabric, now you can see what you have. Love those kitten families, I've enjoyed seeing you make these blocks each month. And now we will all be watching to see what you make with that $400 fabric!

  5. Wow, those strings! I need to separate mine by color! Now they are jumbled all together and they overwhelm me when I think about sewing with them! I need a couple more zip pouches for travel and “hiding” stuff. They can be multi colored, but I prefer to make string blocks in color families another thing for my To-Do List!
    $400 a yard fabric! Yikes! Can’t wait to see what you make! Fabulous!

  6. Organizing scraps takes a lot of time, but it is good to have them ready to go. You made a great job. The cat blocks filmsy is looking beautiful. Crossed blocks are great for those multicolored strips. Looking forward for seeing what you will make with that $400 fabric.

  7. Umm... I thought *I* got a lot of scraps from my friends. That load it unbelievable, Cathy!! What a sweet WW friend you have with that $400/yard Italian fabric. You are going to have fun with that! Congrats on getting your Kitty Litters together into a quilt top, too.

  8. LOL, a stunt sewer would be perfect!
    I love your enthusiasm over taking those scraps home and organizing them. I first got really interested in quilting when I went to a yard sale and for $10 bought a black leaf bag filled with scraps and fabrics. OMG! My husband was out of town for work and I remember pulling out all the wonderful colors of quilting cottons, ironing them, cutting them to standard sizes, folding them, and wondering what I could make with them??? It was the lure that pulled me into the world of quilting. Your idea about a journal cover for that special fabric appeals to me - that way you could see it every time you wanted to jot something down! Have fun!

  9. $400 per yard. Seriously?? I must be cheap. I don't like to spend over $5 yd anymore!
    Looking forward to all of your Q4K quilts! Looks like you are in string heaven!

  10. Can you please come to my house and teach me how to organize my stash? Actually, I need someone to come and kick me into high gear! LOL!!! You have once again got my mind twirling in the direction of organizing...if I could only stop chasing squirrels.
    That $400 yardage is beautiful! I'd love to see what you make with it!

  11. I could use a stunt sewer too! What a great time that would be, they could do all the close unpicking and pinning too! Love all your scraps. 2022 is going to be a " cut it, sew it or move it out " year! Stay safe and sew on!

  12. You can't fool us, we know you do all your own stunts! And you've got to be in really good quilting shape to sort All. That. Fabric. Wowsers, what a haul!

    My eye caught a glimpse of the $400 fabric before reading about it, and I thought, "Oh, that's a nice couple of string blocks sewn together!" Please send me $400 and I will send you a yard of string blocks, sewn together. Shipping is free, special deal, just for you :)

  13. Wow - your haul of scraps gives new meaning to the old phrase: when life gives you scraps - sort them out! It would have taken me weeks to get that bunch of scraps organized. So fun seeing the Kitty Litters put together! Have fun with your fancy Italian fabric! Definitely can see it as a crossbody bag.

  14. I had several overwhelming urges for a little lie down when I read this post. First of all, the sheer AMOUNT of fabric scraps you brought home and dealt Then I fell to thinking that those have to be a mere drop in the bucket because I know there will be more meetings and more fabrics coming home with you. And THEN....THEN.....I read the $400 per yard and I definitely felt faint.
    I think you need to clone you.....


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