Cut, Store, Sew!
The Featured Writer of March : Em Komiskey
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Which came first, the quilter or the scraps? If you have been a quilter for any amount of time, you almost certainly have a pile of scraps from past projects. For me, the scraps actually came first. FIRST, I had a bunch of really pretty scraps, THEN I became a quilter because I wanted to use them. Hi. My name is Em Komiskey. You can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/moonlightsewing. I found quilting when my oldest daughter, now 12, was about 2 years old. I had dabbled in making toddler dresses and had made quite a few fabric baby carriers called “meh dais”. (Note: If you’re curious, you can read about them here.) I currently live outside of St. Louis, Missouri and recently began my tenure as vice president of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild. My husband and I have 4 kiddos, age 5-12, with whom we enjoy hiking and summer camping trips. I am looking forward to our camping trip to Minnesota this summer, where I will also run my first full marathon, assuming all goes as planned. My day job is owner of a home-based preschool and daycare, so almost all of my quilting is done at night, thus the "moonlightsewing" Instagram handle.
Because I had used quilting cotton for these early projects, I had quite a few scraps that were definitely too small for the projects I was doing at the time, but were too large and pretty to just throw out. So, what’s a fabric lover to do? Make a scrap quilt, of course! Nevermind that I had never quilted before, had not grown up with quilters in my family and had no idea what I was doing. I awkwardly muddled my way through that first quilt, using YouTube tutorials and blog posts, but by the end used up a bunch of scraps and found a new hobby I had fallen in love with. While I don’t always make scrap quilts, the aesthetic remains a favorite.
But let’s get back to YOUR scraps. Perhaps they are just thrown into a big basket, or perhaps they are neatly organized by color. Maybe you have a plan to regularly use your scraps for projects, or maybe they just continue to build up project after project with no plan in sight. An ever-increasing pile of scraps can be pretty stressful for a quilter. On the one hand, you don’t want to just THROW AWAY all that pretty, pretty fabric (*gasp*! THE HORROR!). On the other hand, without a plan, you are just drowning in all that pretty, pretty fabric for eternity! You’ve got to use some scraps; it will free up space to buy new fabric! I’m going to tell you how I cut and assemble scraps to make “scrap charms”, which you can then put together into a quilt. If you’ve been quilting for any amount of time, you know that a charm square is a 5-inch square of fabric that would “finish” at 4.5 inches. As you would guess, a scrap charm is an arrangement of scraps to create subunits that are 5 inches unfinished, or 4.5 inches finished in a quilt or block layout. The various sizes used give the finished scrappy quilt some great movement and dimension that adds a level of interest beyond a straight patchwork quilt where all the patches are the same size.
The size options for cutting scraps are endless, but for today, I’m suggesting cutting your scraps into 5 sizes, which you will use to make 4 scrap charm types. Cut scraps into these sizes:
2 inch square
2.75 inch square
3.5 inch square
2 inch x 3.5 inch rectangle
5 inch square
Make 4 scrap charm types:
9-patch (9, 2 inch squares)
4 patch (4, 2.75 inch squares)
mixed size (3.5 inch square next to 2x3.5 rectangle with 3, 2 inch squares along one edge)
charm (5 inch square)
STEP 1. Get those scraps under control. Cutting scraps into usable bits can be soul sucking if you let it, so I just choose to let it be zen. When I notice my scrap bins getting a little too full, I make a point of spending some time cutting scraps for a few minutes every time I step into my sewing room. If I finish cutting for a project and I have a small scrap left, I’ll cut it to one of my predetermined sizes right then. It’s an extra few seconds that keeps my scrap bin from overflowing in the long run. Storage suggestion: You’ve rescued your scraps from the catch-all bin and carefully cut them into predetermined sizes. Store them in a way that makes them accessible and easy to use. I stack mine in an inexpensive scrapbooking paper storage box, something like this. STEP 2: Sew ‘em together! Sew your 2-inch squares in rows of 3. Sew your 2.75-inch squares into pairs. Sew the 3.5-inch square to a 2x3.5 inch rectangle and then add one of those rows of 3, 2-inch squares. Sew the scrap charms into a quilt.
That’s it! Cut, store, sew. Simple!
Currently, I have jumped on the #sewthescrapoutofMarch band wagon, hosted by Tea and Brie and am attempting to work my way through my strip scraps. The pile does not seem to be getting smaller; I think they must be breeding while I sleep. I am also working on blocks for both the online Stash Bee and my local guild bee and am hoping to complete a king size green scrappy "postage stamps and stars" quilt that has been in my WiPs pile for years! Please tag me on Instagram and show me what you're working on!
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