Tag Archives: Stash

Annual Stash Declaration

The yahoo group Stashbusters has a tradition. Each year during their birthday month, members declare the state of their stash. Today is my birthday. And this is the state of my stash.

I don’t keep records of my purchases and yardage used, as some do. This year my purchases have been exceptionally small in quantity. My sister visited in the spring and helped me indulge with a few pretty things. My friend Nancy and I went to Helios in Mt. Vernon, and I got a few others. Other than 3 yards of backing fabric purchased a couple weeks ago, I don’t think I’ve bought anything since the middle of the year.

Of course, I haven’t made much since then, either.

Still, I think usage has probably been higher than purchases this year. I think my stash has depleted some in total. I’ve emptied a couple of my plastic bins. My dusky teals and old-fashioned rusty oranges are largely gone. I’ve consumed most of the navies in my blues bin. My scraps drawer is close to full…

Here. Take a look. This is ALL my stash. Okay, not all of it, but the vast majority.

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In the upper right corner are two stacks of oranges. This is what they look like spread out a bit.

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You can see, there is A LOT of fabric there. But in a relative sense, not really a lot. Very few cuts are more than a yard, across my whole stash. There are lots of little pieces, less than a fat quarter, in those stacks above.

I also have a bit already grouped for specific projects, and I have some solids that aren’t with their color sets. And there are a few special things, including fun large prints and batiks, an African wax cloth, and an Aboriginal print.

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From left to right: traditional print, African wax cloth, print that looks like batik, Aboriginal design print, print that looks like batik. These could all end up in the same project.

Finally, there is my scrap drawer. While I love scrap quilts, I don’t use scraps very well these days. Occasionally I’ll dig through and find pieces to use, and I’ve become comfortable with piecing scraps together to make patches that are large enough. But mostly these languish. I don’t make quilts that use them easily. And I don’t much want to.

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Over time, my purchases have changed. Early in my quilting I found a lot of value in tone-on-tone prints. These provide a sense of texture and depth without giving a distracting or specific pattern. On the far right is a print that mimics coffee cup rings, an example of tone-on-tone since the patterning can disappear into piecing. Others are more mottled and less patterned than it.

Early on I also bought what were called “focus” fabrics or inspiration prints. They were mostly larger florals, but there were some other types. Two you can’t see in the orange stack are one with bunnies printed in yellow on coral, and one that’s a 1930s repro with tiny kitties on it. They are harder to use than fabrics with less distinct patterns, and they are  most suitable in quilts with a particular feel.

I still buy tone-on-tone and small prints. I don’t use many large florals. But there are more interesting prints in my stash than there used to be. Some of them are “ethnic” prints reminiscent of other cultures. They can be harder to use, and sometimes quilts need to be designed just for them. However the impact of these can make a quilt something quite special.

Today, for my birthday, I’m going shopping with Jim. My favorite quilt shop has a sale going on. While that rarely lures me, I’m ready for some inspiration from new things.

(If you’d like to see my studio, please take a look at my stash report from last year.) 

Stacked Coins

When I was done creating the Diamonds quilt, I had a lot of oddly shaped scraps and remnants. Rather than trying to file them back into my stash that way, I decided to use some of it immediately.

There is a traditional quilt design called “Roman Coins” or “Chinese Coins.” As simple as they are, I’ve always wanted to make one. It is a strip quilt (I love them!) that uses stacked “coins” in alternating strips. The coins are simply narrow bands of color.

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Stacked Coins. 65.5″ x 72.5″. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

To make my pieced strips, I cut patches from the oddly sized scraps from the Diamonds quilt. When I depleted those, I also cut a bit from stash. Each patch was cut 2″ x 6.5″, but the size doesn’t matter a lot. They don’t even need to be the same, as long as each long, pieced strip is the same length. You can make a quilt like this as a mini or wall-hanging, or you can make it to go on a bed, or somewhere in between.

One thing that does matter is the distribution of colors. The majority of coins are purples and turquoises. I made sure to include at least one orange or green in each stack of four coins, in order to brighten it. Other than that I didn’t work very hard at arrangement.

Originally I planned to use the turquoise as sashings and outer borders, but once I opened the piece (from stash) I realized it wouldn’t be enough. Plan B was to use it for sashings and a narrow inner border. The same raspberry color used in the Diamonds quilt was used for the wider border. I don’t know how wide any of those are, off the top of my head. I could measure it, but … it doesn’t matter. Seriously, this is a quilt you can decide all these things based on what you have available, and it will look great.

You might notice how the narrow border and outside border are arranged. For the top and bottom, I stitched them together for the full width, before attaching to the body of the quilt. It’s not suitable for every quilt but I like the effect on this one.

This is one of the four quilts I finished in August. September has other things going on, so it was nice to finish a few things. (And if I am slow in responding to your comments, have patience! I’ll check in as soon as I can!)

 

Green Quilting

Over the years Jim and I have changed our living style to reduce our ecological footprint. We’ve made small changes over time, incrementally improving as we learn how to do things better. It’s meant buying less, recycling more, and upgrading to lower-energy lights and appliances, among other things.

Aside from basic daily living, my biggest environmental impact may be created by my quilting. Quilting has a cozy, natural image that belies the modern truth. From cotton production and fabric distribution, to all the steps we consumers take to complete a quilt, we make our mark when we quilt.

Cotton production uses enormous quantities of highly toxic chemicals, vast areas of land with undiversified agriculture, and fuel-guzzling machinery to plant and harvest. Post-harvest, only about 20% of US-grown cotton is processed by US textile mills. About 65% of US cotton is shipped overseas to be processed and made into something like clothing, bedding, or quilting fabric. One cargo ship, fully loaded, can carry about a million bales of cotton. The equivalent of about 11 fully loaded cargo ships will cross the seas with cotton from the US every year, one way. Much of that will be shipped back as finished products. A loaded cargo ship uses 86,000 gallons or more of highly-polluting fuel per day at sea. Then the cotton goes through incredibly toxic processing, sometimes in countries that have minimal worker-safety standards and poverty-level wages. Then it gets shipped back to me.

See my previous posts about cotton fabric production.
Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Frankly, this is very disheartening to know. I have long realized that my need to quilt is a luxury that the world might not be able to afford. For now I will continue. But I will choose to find ways to reduce my footprint on the consumer end.

Here are some tips on reducing your carbon footprint of quilting.

Fabric acquisition and use:
* Use stash you already have before heading to the store or ordering online — save on delivery costs of fuel, road and vehicle use, gasoline, etc. If you need help with that, unsubscribe to all the ad emails you get. If you want something, you know where to find it anyway, right?
* Trade yardage and scraps with friends or guild members.
* Consider acquiring fabric in the form of used clothing, rather than as new yardage.
* Use your scraps in projects. More variety lends more richness and interest, anyway. Consider piecing same-fabric scraps together if you need somewhat bigger pieces. I’ve done this in a number of projects and believe me, it’s not like anyone will ever see the seams.
* Save selvage edges to use as you would heavy string or twine. I give mine to my husband, and he uses them in the garden to tie plants up.
* Consider buying American-made quilting fabric (assuming you are in the US.) There are only two brands that pop out. One is American Made Brand fabric, in 75 solids. One is Made In America cotton from JoAnn Fabrics. For all I know, they may be the same company.
* Consider buying fabric made from organically-grown cotton. These will have lower environmental impact because of less pesticide and herbicide use on the crop. In addition, other parts of fabric production have strict standards for impact. See this article on sewmamasew for more details.
* Use your own tote bags for shopping; decline plastic bags, or any bags, at the quilt shop or the chain fabric/craft store.

Books, magazines, paper patterns, and other stuff:
* Buy new (to you) books and stuff thoughtfully. Is it something you already have but can’t find? Is there a different solution than buying new? Most of my book purchases the last few years have been used ones. Can you borrow the specialty tool from a friend?
* Subscribe to digital editions of magazines.
* Unsubscribe from paper catalogs; ask all the junk mailers to take you off their lists.
* Download patterns when you have a choice. Store the pdf on your computer or a back-up drive rather than printing out.
* Recycle quilty stuff by first seeing if others will use them — donations, free table at guild meeting, friends and those in your small group, free-cycle, craigslist, paperback exchange, consignment stores, used book stores, your library. Only then recycle by putting in the bin. Last resort is to throw these items in the trash.

In your studio:
* Unplug your iron so it doesn’t continue to draw current while you’re out of the room.
* Turn off lights and TVs and audiobooks and other electrical devices when you walk away.
* Switch to LEDs. An LED lightbulb will last about 20 times as long as an incandescent and about three times as long as a CFL. They also are less expensive to operate, meaning their energy use (and your cost for it) is much lower. See the interesting chart on this page to compare. I’ve added LED lighting in my studio and am so glad I did. I have an enormous amount of light at a bare increase in energy used.
* Put your computer to sleep when you walk away for awhile. Power usage drops to about a third while in stand-by or sleep mode.
*Prewashing fabrics? I can’t tell you the impact there. I prewash, not post, so I am not washing and drying batting. On the other hand, I do iron my fabrics before use. My habits on this won’t change, regardless. I prewash partly because the sizing and other chemicals in new fabric bother me.

And what about batting?
Wow, this is a tough one, too. Polyester has the benefit of not being cotton; instead it is made from petroleum. Cotton has the benefit of not being polyester… Wool requires sheep, at about one sheep per twin-bed batt, depending on breed. And sheep require acreage, too, up to a half acre each. Compare that to cotton output of about 249 sheets per bale of cotton, and depending on location, about one bale per acre. So the number of cotton battings per acre must be many times the number of wool battings per acre, though otherwise the environmental damage is different, as well.

We also have other options. Bamboo is environmentally friendly and can grow prolifically without fertilizers or pesticides. Quilters Dream Green batting is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Without being able to do a more granular analysis, I’m not able to tell you what kind is a winner. I haven’t tried Quilters Dream Green, but it sounds like it’s worth trying. Other than that, I’ll probably continue to choose batting for each project based on that project’s needs and what I have easily available.

Do you have tips or ideas for green quilting? Please share in comments.  

Leftovers ==> Donation Quilt

I have the quilt top done, having found just the right border fabric in my stash. The background of it is blue with a touch of green, making it work well with the blues in the centers of the blocks. The olive green leaves add to that match. Also there are orangey-gold star-shaped flowers, which repeat the cheddar orange in the blocks.

I cut the available yard of border fabric into six strips, each 6″ wide. I pieced them into the four border strips needed. The top finishes at about 53″ square. It’s a nice size for a lap quilt. I’ll donate it through my guild and it might become a donation for our local VA hospital.

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This might give you a better idea of the colors:

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I also pulled a bunch of fabrics from my brown stash to piece for the back. I have blues to mix in to brighten it.

Son is gone already. We had him here for a whole 49 hours. It was too little but we take what we can get. Next week he deploys overseas for the summer. I am feeling pretty sad, to tell the truth. But that is the way of things, yes?

 

I Love Leftovers!

I’ve finished the top of my new medallion, and I have a name for it: Moonlight Waltz.  No pictures are ready yet and won’t be for a few days. In the meantime I want to share a new project made of leftovers.

It often happens that I build blocks for a border that won’t work. It’s been a long time since that upset me, as I know those leftover blocks will come in handy somewhere else. (Okay, every now and then a few find their way to the trash, just like tidbits from my refrigerator. But I am GOOD at making soup, and I’m pretty good at using orphan blocks, too.)

For Moonlight Waltz, I made 25 6″ puss-in-the-corner blocks. They are simple in design and can look clean and elegant. However, my fussy fabrics and odd color combination hit every note wrong. Instead of them (and all the alternate blocks I hadn’t yet made,) I used the flying geese border.

I had several choices for layout of these 6″ blocks. Here are some of them:
* straight setting, no alternate blocks, no sashing
* straight setting, no alternate blocks with sashing
* straight setting with alternate blocks, no sashing
* on-point setting with alternate blocks, no sashing
* on-point setting with alternate blocks and with sashing

The blocks are not suited to being set side-by-side, which means alternate blocks and/or sashing is needed. Adding only sashing would create a quilt center a little too small, so alternate blocks are needed. And honestly I didn’t even consider using a straight setting with alternate blocks. On-point setting was my initial reaction and decision.

Using a 6″ block on point, in a 5 x 5 layout, makes a center that is 42.5″ finished. (That is 6″ x 1.414 x 5 = 42.4″. With trimming the edges barely wide it will finish at 42.5″.) With borders it will be about 50″ square.

This morning I arranged the blocks on the floor in an on-point layout. Once they were spread out, I noticed the eight square-in-a-square blocks leftover from the last pieced border. They finish at 4″. I spread them out within the design. !!! That’s not bad! I had already cut two long strips of toile to use for alternate blocks, so cut the remaining of those needed from one strip. The other strip I cut into framing strips for the square-in-a-square blocks, to bring them up to size.

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Finally I cut four large squares of toile to create side setting triangles. I still need to cut the corner setting triangles.

The whole thing is ready to sew into a quilt center. I have other leftovers (fabric, not blocks) to use for borders.

With a little luck on sewing time, the quilt top will be done by the end of the weekend. However first priority today and tomorrow is spending time with my son, home for a couple days of leave.

🙂