Friday, December 23, 2016

Snail's Trail with Depression Scraps aka Feed Sacks

Snail's Trail Block

Always Start by Sorting!

About a year ago I started collecting vintage fabrics. They can still be found around here by hunting little shops, word of mouth, or scrolling through Ebay. Everything I buy comes home, and gets a good wash and press, and then stored flat. Up to this point I haven't used a thing. I've been literally stockpiling it waiting for just the right project.

When I started down the (modern day fabrics) scrap management road a few months ago, one big question plagued me. How do you cut up very, very precious scraps like these? At first I thought in the same way, and I started in on the lot. I soon realized it was nearly impossible for me to determine what sizes would be usable, and there were such odd sizes of fabric scraps. I was panicked I would screw it up, and the fabric is both expensive and limited. I put it away to think.

A few days ago I dragged it all back out to the kitchen table. This dilemma bothered me. Why would I collect something I was almost afraid to cut into? I decided to sort first, then make a few blocks. These were great, but they used 2.5"-3" squares. I had such irregular pieces to work with, and I set to work to find usable pieces. It turned out that most of my pieces were quite tiny, and I would need blocks that used those bits.

I launched back into the worst pieces, carefully cutting out usable fabric. Would you like to see a trick I found?

Decide how you can best use a piece. A lot of the usable area here was on the bias. 

Use your ruler to cut one flat side on the bias. Having it exactly at a 45 degree angle is not that crucial. Line up the diagonal of a small square ruler on the line, and use the numbers on either side of the peak to determine how large a HST you can get from it. Following the numbers from the bottom left hand side of the peak going up, you can see this will be a 4" HST.

*The side on the right is good, but there is fabric missing under the lefthand side. Otherwise we might get a 4.5" HST.

Cut up the right, and down the left even though the left side won't be usable. We'll use that line to line up our ruler again.

Flip your ruler around to trim the damaged side by lining up with the left hand cut you just made. Trim.

No fancy rulers were necessary, and it went very quickly. Soon I had a stack ready to try some blocks.

My scraps are small! The center squares started at 1.25". I used two fabrics in the middle, and then echoed the sides as I proceeded. That wasn't necessary, but I liked the balance.

The white fabric is plain feed sack, while the prints are all feed sack and vintage fabric from 1930's-1940's.

I used the Jean Ann Wright 6" Trim Tool for a Square on Square, and couldn't have been happier with it. Feed sack has a loose weave, and it is str-e-t-ch-ey! The ruler was ideal! Check out the demo by Penny Haran, but there are a few more Jean Ann Wright videos below worth watching. 

YouTube has a wealth of free information for quilters. You might be surprised what you can learn.

I'll keep sewing through the holiday. I hope you can, too. If I don't catch you before then, Merry Christmas!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

Linking up with~
Crazy Mom Quilts


Stitchin At Home said...

Your blocks are beautiful, using your precious vintage fabrics. That ruler is worth looking into getting, not like I don't have any rulers as it is. But anything that makes things easier is a big plus.

Unknown said...

Your dining room table makes me feel sooooooooooo much better about mine!! lol You always inspire me to keep working with my scraps, and now I see even more possibilities! You are a gift to me!

Karen @runsewfun said...

I've been quilting about 3 years now and am starting to become overwhelmed with scraps. I'm so glad I caught your post. Thanks for the tips. That Creative Grids ruler with all the cutting sizes listed right on it might be something I need in my tool box! Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...

I also meant to say earlier.....thanks for taking time to snap photos of your process, and to bring the demo videos to your blog!! I did watch one so far. I want to start NEW stuff - but am trying to make myself look at the ufo stacks!!!

Angie in SoCal said...

I have some of that. Need to decide what to do with them. And seeing those teeny pieces left from your triangle made me wonder about a collage out of them. Hmmm. Lovely blocks, Julie. Merry Christmas.

Kimberly Smith said...

Guess who else is sitting on a stack of feedsacks waiting for the right project? Where do you find the plain white feedsack fabric? Is it necessary or would muslin do?

Julie said...

I think it can be hard to justify getting another ruler when you're not sure you will use it. I also have a few I thought I needed, and they're still in shrink wrap. This little ruler is nice because it is square in a square with variations, AND the snail's trail. It will make you a believer in the value of a specialty ruler after using it. This is a particularly tough block for me to get just right most days, too, without it.

Julie said...

Thank you, Irene. You know, if we keep everything stored away all the time, it's discouraging to have to 'get it back out'. I'm not usually spread all over the house like this, and do work in my studio most of the time, but there's nothing wrong with telling the family to take dinner into the living room once in a while. They really don't mind here.

Julie said...

I'm working hard at seeing my work in 3 sections: Current, planned, and innovative. UFO's are problematic because they fall into all three areas. I think if you want to get them off your plate, decide what you want to do with them, plan when you'll do with each one, and execute or DO IT! It's when we work without a plan that we start feeling guilty about unfinished objects. Most of them are at a standstill because we're stuck somehow.

Julie said...

Oh, Angie, start playing with them! This is really a freeing project because of the many possibilities.

It took me a while to decide what was really TOO little a scrap to throw away, and mine are pretty small. One idea was even to take the tiniest bits and decoupage them onto a journal cover. I think is a good way to use even the scroungey scraps up, and you get a bonus item. Let me know if you figure other ways out. Would you?

Julie said...

I found plain vintage feedsack locally at a shop, and a woman called me with a stash she had from her mom. Hunt eBay or antique sellers even.

Muslin I'm sure would be okay, but the feedsack doesn't have the cotton nubs and debris in it. These might have been old sugar or flour sacks, and honestly the closest I've seen is just at our local Rural King. The white dish towels in the canning aisle were very close in weave and appearance to what I'm using.

And may I say how lucky we are to be able to be using this fabric! Let me know what you wind up doing with yours. If you can't find the toweling I told you about let me know. I can check around here.

Have fun!

Julie said...

Karen, I'm just starting down the road of making sense of scraps. I have several years worth of mine, and some of other folks now, too, who don't want theirs. You have to have a system! The Bonnie Hunter method is one I like, and Joan Ford's is another. Both suggest slightly different sizes to cut, and I have combined both in my system, plus a few more sizes I personally use often. That's the thing--do what works for YOU, not someone else.

If you're looking for an excellent book to give you ideas of using your scraps, may I suggest "Big Book of Scraps" by Owens and Wilens. I think it's excellent, and inexpensive to find used.

And as to the sizes on the rulers, do a block or two to see how they work for you. This ruler has each size listed with ample extra to trim to size. Because I am working with such treasured fabrics, I found I could reduce each of the recommended sizes by 1/4-1/2"! That's quite a bit if you're digging through odd sized scraps. I couldn't bring myself to waste it after it had been so carefully preserved for decades.

Have fun!

Kate said...

You've found a great pattern for all those little pieces. Have a very Merry Christmas.