Thursday, October 02, 2014

Patchwork of the Crosses

Many of you have asked what to do with the scraps that are accumulating from fussy cutting the fabric.  Like you, I'm accumulating quite a pile of “swiss cheese” and, since I don't like to throw away fabric, I've decided to use mine.  Today, I'm going to share one way to use lots of little bits and pieces!

When I have fabric that looks like this
I first cut off any parts that may still have potential for future fussy cut blocks and put that back into my Lucy Boston stash.

With what's left, I cut strips, if possible.  I keep all my strips in containers sorted according to strip width.  I have several strip “collections” in separate containers.  When a container gets full, it's time to start a new strip quilt – maybe a log cabin, or a rail fence, or one of many patterns available for jelly roll size strips.
The problem is what to do with all the little bitty pieces that are left.  Many people choose to throw them away, which may sound wasteful, but if you're just going to collect them and never do anything with them that's probably the best solution.  Most of us have sewing rooms already filled to over-flowing.  There's no sense in keeping things we're never going to use. 

When my scrap bag started to overflow, I decided to make a quilt using Baby Bow Tie blocks.  I chose Baby Bow Ties because they are so easy to make and they use even the tiniest pieces of fabric.  Each of my blocks finish at 2”.

The block I'm making requires no inset or "Y" seams.  Here's what you need to make one block:
  •  Two 1 1/2” squares of background fabric – this can be scrappy, but I chose to use solid white because I wanted a strong emphasis on the bow ties, and, also, white allowed me to use even the lightest scraps in my scrap bag and my bow ties still showed up.  In addition, my bag of white scraps was overflowing and getting rid of two bags of scraps at the same time sounded really good to me!
  •  Two 1 1/2” squares of colored fabric.               
  •  Two 1” squares of colored fabric – I tried to keep these the same color as the 1 1/2” squares, but if you don't have enough fabric to do that, just substitute something similar  – it's called “making do” and  adds a lot of interest to your blocks.

I organize the cut colored squares on paper plates – ten or twelve sets per plate – and then stack the plates by the sewing machine.  Each day I try to sew at least one “plate full”.  It's amazing how fast the finished bow ties start stacking up!

The sewing is simple.  Using a sew & flip technique, sew the two 1” squares across the diagonal to a corner of the two white squares. 

 Press over, and trim off the bottom layers.  (You have my permission to throw away the little snippets – even I have a limit to what I'll save!).

Next step is to sew the white squares and the 1 1/2” colored squares together into four-patch blocks making a Baby Bow Tie block.  Square up the block to  2 1/2”.
When you have a fairly large collection of Bow Tie blocks, start piecing them into larger Bow Tie blocks.  I'm using sixteen Baby Bow Ties all sewed together in the same direction to make  larger 8” finished Bow Tie blocks.
These will be the building blocks for my quilt.  They can be turned in different directions to get some really interesting, and sometimes abstract, designs.

I don't have my quilt finished yet.  I don't even have many 8” blocks made, but I do have a collection of Baby Bow Ties that is growing larger every day.  Here is a picture of all 1,343!
As you can see, my container is overflowing and, by now you know my philosophy – if it's overflowing, do something with it!  My goal is to make 1550 Baby Bow Ties which should be enough for a large lap-size quilt.

This is what I hope my quilt looks like when I'm finished.
I saw this picture on the Temecula Quilt Co. blog and loved it!

There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than a scrap quilt!  The best part is that you can combine fabrics from a lot of different genres and they'll all work together.  You can even use the ugliest fabric in your stash – if you cut the pieces small enough, even ugly fabric is beautiful!

Now, here's the best part!!!  When I had 1,000 little blocks made, I started wondering how much fabric I had used, so I got out the calculator.  It takes 4½ yds. of colored fabric and 3 yds. of white fabric to make that many blocks!  And that was ALL out of my scrap bag!!  Fabric that many people would have thrown away.  I couldn't believe my scrap bag would even hold that much fabric, but, believe it or not, I haven't even used up half the bag.  There's still another quilt waiting to happen in there, which I've already started – this time with baby Four-patch blocks.
I would love to hear what you've been doing with your scraps.  Comment below or send me pictures and I'll share them in future posts.

If you're new to the Lucy Boston Blog Along, click here to get to the beginning of the posts which started in April and post every Thursday.

Click here to check out our Pinterest board to see pictures of blocks that others have made.

Check out our website here if you need more paper piecing supplies.


Annie said...

Wonderful suggestion for using up all those little scraps. A lot of us have been making this the year when we try to finish our UFO's, so I, for one, seem to have a LOT of leftover little pieces. Your idea of slow and steady accumulation of little units is one I can sure take to heart. Thanks!

Margs Primitive Quilts said...

Hilarious ! I just finished squaring up some blocks and had to cut the pointy edges off. I was putting them into a bag to be used for doggie blanket beds...but I may just give this a try:) thanks for the tutorial! Hugs Marg.

Elaine said...

I pinned this post sometime this summer, and loved the baby bow ties and your little four -patch units. Something to do worth my Lucy Boston swiss cheese! This post inspired me to cut into those bits and make some of each pattern. I'm using these scrap projects as leaders and enders on two different machines. In no time I have 170 bow ties and 20 5" blocks with the little four -patches. Thanks for these brilliant idea. My wastebasket is filled with the tiniest little snips and slivers. It's comical.