Tuesday, May 07, 2013

More Adventures with Scrap Strips

I was pretty pleased with Green, the second of my "sew a bunch of strips together and call it good" quilts.  It and its earlier cousin Purple and Blue, were great ways of burning through fabrics that were ugly or just not to my taste, or of which I had long, skinny pieces not likely to be of much use otherwise.  Purple and Blue actually started out just as an attempt to clean out my blue and purple fabric drawers, and it ended up being one of my favorite quilts ever.

These were very easy quilts to make.  Easy cutting, and then lots of long, straight seams that were kind of like driving on Kansas highways.  The piecing was easy, the quilting was easy, and, since all quilting lines cross the entire length of the piece, there was minimal burying of threads involved.  For better or worse, you don't even really have to think very much.  There is a little bit of design-as-you-go, in keeping similar fabrics from ending up too close to each other and in trying to avoid having the lateral seams get too close to lining up.  For the most part the design is just one simple concept.  For Green, the idea was pretty much "I'mma put together 2" strips of green fabric and see what happens"; the end product is just an extrapolation of that original idea.

So, having stumbled onto a way to turn junk into respectable quilts quickly, I have a number of follow-up experiments in the hopper.  Although the color-based pieces were very attractive, though, I find that a lot of the surplus and salvage fabric that I look for ways to do something useful with tends to be multicolored.  In order to be able to use my idea with that stuff, I'm experimenting with using strips of particular values rather than colors.

Here is what happens when you start working with the concept of "two inch strips of darks alternated by one  and a half inch strips of lights."

It looks a little bit like I've already got a solid quilt top there, what you're seeing is actually lengths about eight strips wide lain side by side.  Obviously, the effect isn't as pretty as the color-based quilts were, but I don't think it's half bad.  Again, most of the fabrics were edge remnants or pieces I can't imagine any other use for, so having them as part of a respectable whole gives me a real feeling of something-for-nothing.

Since I didn't bother to plan how many strips I would make or need, I've ended up with an unusual problem: much more pieced area than you would ever want in a scrap quilt.  In fact, I think -- I haven't decided for sure yet -- that instead of one very large quilt with the strips running across the length of the quilt, I will cut those long strips in half, and make two smaller quilts with the strips running width-wise.  Actually, I think I'll cut the strips not exactly halfway, but at around 3/7 of the way across, and then make the "shorter half" wider by...  well, it's hard to explain.  That will have to be the subject of another post.


Elizabeth said...

Scrappy! I tried to make something interesting once out of one of those 450-piece sample packets you used to be able to order (maybe still can?) from fabric places, you know, the ones that are all 1-inch pinked squares that leave you not much to work with? Way way too much sewing for me, who does it all by hand. I am in awe of your mechanically-enhanced skills.

Michael5000 said...

I and the machine are together something of a cybernetic fabric-attachment machine. If you ever want to buy another packet of 450 small pieces of fabric, just let me know. For you, very special price!

The Calico Cat said...

With this kind of piecing, you should try quilt as you go - once the batting is filled, your done!

Too bad I can't get a 2.5 inch square pack of scraps...

Rebel said...

You know, if you want to do quite a bit more cutting and piecing you've got the makings of a few bargello quilts there I think!

Michael5000 said...

Reb, I don't think it would work, actually. Bargello seems to depend on having a range of colors, values, and/or widths that are consistent across the piece. Since this only has two flavors of stripes -- thick/dark and thin/light -- I think trying to bargello it would just make a mess.

p.s. I hope you noticed how I verbed bargello.