Sunday, November 6, 2016

Second Chance Quilts Super Scrap Project

 Made by Irene Krall
Second Chance Quilts Are My True Love!

There comes a time in every avid quilter's life when she or he ask themselves what in the world will they do with the growing heaps of left over fabric. This dilemma hit me last year so I made the quilt below for Hands2Help. It was made entirely from scraps and stash. The beauty above was designed, made, and donated by a friend, The Scrap Queen, Irene Krall. It came to me for quilting, and I fell in love with it!

Made for the 2016 Hands2Help project.

And there was one before it....

..and another after. This one is quilted, but 
awaits its binding.

Not to be forgotten, there is this one that lives on my bed. The pink borders are made from the skirt of a very old dress I bought, and tore apart.

Oh, my! This scrappy doll is one of my most cherished makes. Why? Many of the fabrics were originally in my husband's grandmother's quilting stash, and found their way back to me through a relative. Others were given to me by the dear quilter who made the first quilt above, Irene. She knows how much I value vintage fabric, and shared some.

Even my 2016 Mini Round Robin attained the look of a well seasoned scrap quilt. My friends were in tune!

Only the Tip of the Iceberg

In spite of all those quilts using up precious pieces of leftover fabric, I still have tubs and tubs of scraps. I need to figure out a process to manage, and then use them. This project is going to take months! You are most welcome to scrap along with me. Let's see what we can learn and share about managing our scraps, and make some Second Chance Quilts while doing it. This involves something totally new so you'll want to leave your Pinterest name in the comments below!

Start With the Experts

My local expert, Irene, talked often of Bonnie Hunter, and then she stumbled on Joan Ford through a library book. Those were two books I had to have to understand her methods, and the newest Bonnie Hunter was already on my side table. I read, I asked questions, compared what other quilters around me were doing, and I scoured Pinterest. (You will find a few hundred more pins there now under Scrap Quilts!) While I liked part of one method, there were ideas with another that made sense, too. Whose camp would I set up my tent in?

Day 1: Just Start

Without making a binding decision, I just started digging through. I decided to cut the 3 sizes from the Joan Ford book, and also the few extras from the Bonnie Hunter books. Then I added a few of my own. 5" squares played nicely with charm packs I already had, and could easily be broken down into 2.5" squares, too. Both methods used those. If I was already cutting 2.5" squares, and I had scraps in the way of a strip or string, I just kept it whole. As a matter of fact, these were the 3 string widths to give you an idea of my cutting strategy: 1.5", 2", 2.5" 

Another odd size I made was a 2" x 3.5" brick. These have worked nicely as piano key borders for me in the past, and fit the cutting scheme. 

Day 2: Refining My Technique

There was little to show after a whole day of cutting and trimming, and I was seriously disappointed. It would take forever! I had cut myself with the rotary cutter for the first time ever, and my back hurt. Time to rethink the process. Here is what worked.

 Start By Sorting!

I cannot stress this enough: Sort first! Dump the bin, and start by finding the largest pieces of fabric. Lay them aside in a pile. Then pull out strips, and lay them flat. Smooth them out with your hand, and keep creating piles. You will be so surprised at the effect of just smoothing and stacking!

Turn that scrap pile, and keep looking for the largest pieces. It takes time, but you are allowed to take breaks. Some nice music or recorded book helps sooth the anxious quilter, too! Keep going, and the little bits will soon be all that is left. Scrutinize those bits, and decide what you can let go of. Smaller than 1.5" went in the trash, but even some of those found their way to a string bin to save.

Triangles are especially difficult to manage, in my opinion, but I started by just creating one large pile. Anything under a 3" HST was tossed. It would take at least that size to make a 2.5" HST block.

I brought my ironing board into the kitchen, and started moving the strip piles onto it. I ironed each PILE OF STRIPS at once--not individually pieces of fabric. I steamed, I spritzed the tops of a few, but generally just pressed 1/2"-3/4" tall whole piles at once. Then I flipped each over and steamed from the other side. In rare cases, I split the pile, and repeated with the smaller amount. It was not perfect, but pretty darn good for so little effort.

Then I took strips of similar widths, and cut up to 8 layers at once. It was twice what I would usually cut, but keeping good pressure on the acrylic ruler helped me out. I also stood up to do the cutting, correcting my posture to help my back and saving me from any more nicks from the rotary cutter. 

Am I Getting You Excited?
Think 'Spring Cleaning'

This is not the glamorous side of quilting. This is the grunt work. But there is an upside to dealing with the scrap disaster, and that will be the usable stacks of precut fabric ready to be used as leaders and enders as in the Bonnie Hunter method, or laid out to create a quick project in time for the holidays. It will save space, too, and give peace of mind that I am dealing with that unruly beast instead of just feeding it. When spring rolls around this year, I will have several gorgeous, one-of-a-kind quilts! You can, too!

Let's Collaborate at Pinterest
In Lieu of a Link Party!

In the meantime, I am finding some ideas I want to try. There seems to be no end to the number of patterns centered around scraps, and so many are free. I have been pinning ideas to my Pinterest boards, and created one special board called Second Chance Quilts. I would love for you to use the board to add all your own quilts or projects made from scraps. If you would like to pin to it, leave your Pinterest name in the comments below or email me. I will add you to the list, and we can all collaborate there instead of having a link party here. Pinterest costs nothing, and our links will stay forever. Be sure to add your name and blog address to the comment box below your Pinterest post so others cab find the home of your creativity.

Coming up next: The pile of precuts is growing, and another great book to share.

Now back to the cutting board!
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Unknown said...

You always inspire me, and get me going!! Sometimes I feel I will never get my stash and scraps under control. Just seeing your dining room table all covered made me feel good. My dining room table is the first thing you see when entering my home.....and I often feel like a 'messy housekeeper'.....and try to explain WHY there is this clutter of fabric, tools, stuff!!! But now that I am retired.....this IS my new work! You will inspire many with this post! Keep posting! I was happy to see my donated quilt on your daughter's back (smile) - I failed to keep a photo of it. I plan to do another one like it. I almost always have a stack of 4-patch blocks in progress. They add up quickly and soon the design wall is up & running. Thanks for posting this!

Sherry said...

Now that my swap obligations are winding down I hope to have more time for my own projects, and posting on my blog. I blog over at and my Pinterest is Sherry Vlcej.

Looking forward to working some scraps with you.

Linda Swanekamp said...

I loved every single thing about your post. I love scraps. I have not tamed scraps. On the recommendation of Wanda, I bought an Accuquilt Studio and am using that to cut squares, rectangles, and triangles. I cut strips with the stripology ruler. I am always looking for plastic bins to store these cut pieces in. Now I am looking at trays or something to keep my 2 1/2" squares organized for colorwash quilts. I use some of Bonnie's system. Trying to file everything is work because I want to be able to retrieve the pieces when I need them by color or value. Thanks for the Link up!!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

I love scrap quilting like that - and I love sorting thru my scraps - sometimes a whole new quilt materializes before my eyes ;-)

Seetha Ram said...

Good post. Thanks for sharing.

cleaning materials in chennai

Kate said...

You really bit the bullet and got it done. I've done some sorting and stashing by size, but I've got a big pile of scraps I should really go through. But that's not happening till the graduation quilts are done. Good luck with your efforts.

KaHolly said...

I applaud your stick-to-iveness with this project. I approached my scrap mess a few weeks ago with these same intentions, and within an hour I gave up. I just wasn't in that frame of mind that day, I guess! But I will follow your lead and try again.

Barb Neiwert said...

There's a wealth of possibility in a pile of scraps! And taming them does feel good. Looking forward to seeing your scrappy creations this winter!

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts said...

This is a great project for a cold wintery day or when my creativity is sleeping. Just sorting and touching the fabric can spark and idea and before I know it I'm off and running. My scraps are sorted already by color, but are spilling out of their bins so its definitely time to do something with them!

Bonnie said...

I keep trying to control my scraps...they keep winning. I use Pinterest with Bonnie Stapleton. Although, I must admit to not being that involved with it. I forget for weeks on end or just get too busy to keep up. I have started using Bonnie Hunter's plan but picking and choosing what I'm interested in. Of course, I don't often have the correct color and/or size needed. Although I am working on a rw and blue quilt as a leader ender and found a bunch of 2 1/2" squares in reds and blues that I've pulled. Yea!

Cathy said...

Love your scrap quilts! I do a pretty good job of keeping my scraps under control as far as current scraps. It's the older ones I'm still sorting through. Great projects!!

Angie in SoCal said...

LOL - so now I know what my problem is - I hate grunt work. But I'm going to do as you say - sort first. What with so many other projects calling, I'm going to sort for 15 minutes a day and move forward that way. I've added a few to the Second Chance board. Blessings,

evaj said...

A great inspiration you are bidding on today with your linking to Show and Tell Monday !! Hug Bambi

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

I'll have to remember my Pinterest name ! I'll get back to you . I love scrappy quilts though I don't have a huge pile of scraps . I could cut up fq to make scraps ? I too iron my scraps in piles . Your scrappy quilts are beautiful , you did well to part with them x

patty a. said...

My scraps have been weighing heavy on my mind. I have at least 7 bins of scraps. I had been thinking about dedicating a year to work on the scraps the majority of the time. I have been very good about not buying anymore fabric for months now since I think I have plenty already! I agree it is a lot of work to organize scraps and I think your tips on how you are approaching yours is great! I have no idea on how to add photos to Pinterest, but I will certainly be following your progress on your blog.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

I need to deal with my scraps. And thanks for the reminder for Hands2Help. Need to start thinking about that instead of last minute.

Tish Stemple said...

You have motivated me :) I need to deal with our scraps, they are out of control. I also can't forget I inherited my friend's grandmother's string scraps. Do add me to your pinterest board. I'm pretty sure I'm TishNWonderland, at least that seems logical :)

Kaja said...

Well now, I love scrappy quilts the best and even the ones I make from proper bits of fabric seem to end up looking scrappy, so I love this idea. I'm full of admiration for your determination to get your scraps under control too!