Scraps of Inspiration

“They’re too small to call scraps, really…” said my son when he saw the bags crammed with these delicious offcuts of fabric gifted me by fellow textile artist, art quilt maker Lorraine Edmond of WA, USA; and we settled on ‘offcuts’ for the purpose of that conversation.

Despite lots of piecing, the pile seems undiminished – do scraps breed in storage?

As Lorraine said when offering them to anyone who could use them, they really were too small for her and most other art quilt makers to use but she was offering them free of charge to save them just going into the landfill… I quickly put my hand up because they are the perfect size for the piecing I so often do to make inset strips; and I carefully keep offcuts, knowing that just little bits of a large number of pieces of different fabric in a work adds a richness to the contemporary freehand piecing I do…. I feel a bit of a wrench when discarding even tiny little bits of fabric when I’m seriously rationalising my scrap bags.

I put a few sets of scraps together earlier this week, cut them into strips and used a little fusing web and raw edge applique to attach them to a background by oversewing with neon thread:

I don’t remember all the steps that brought me to this point, but I was thinking of a scrap bedspread I made for our bed some years ago, using the equilateral triangle with fabric pieced in (actually edge to edge freehand cutting and piecing two layers, cream+print, at a time, then cut into triangles – it’s easy, pm me for basic directions)

2009 – detail of a row of Ebb & Flow scrap quilt, triangles are ~15cm on perpendicular

Then suddenly, bingo! this idea popped into my head:

Different ways of stitching down the shapes, and I’m favouring the style on the right of this pic.

So, what else could I do but set to work on piecing a large number of sets of strips? I just picked up and sewed pieces together randomly, finding that often something great was right at my finger tips, just waiting in line to be next, but other times I had to search a bit to find a dark one, something yellowy, grey/neutral, or occasionally black.

The great thing about this piecing is that when I eventually get to use a piece, if I think a colour is just wrong (rare) then it’s but the work of a moment to open the seam and insert another piece, or to combine two groups. For many years now, for machine piecing, I’ve used only Gutermann Skala (a multifilament type often called ‘bobbin thread’) When it’s necessary to pull a seam apart, you unpick by simply pulling the top thread out, and even with the very small stitches I favour, it’s quick and easy; but the seam itself is as strong as any other machine piecing thread I’ve ever used. And, as this strong thread is very fine, it doesn’t add any noticeable bulk along the seam line, which I also like.

Tags: ,

2 Responses to “Scraps of Inspiration”

  1. Franchi says:

    When you piece these “off cuts” do you use a 1/4 inch seam, and do you do anything crazy like press the seams all in one direction or press them open? I am very attracted to your method of attaching strips to another fabric with neon thread?


  2. Alison says:

    January 22nd – my sincere apologies Franchi for not answering your question before now, because it somehow slipped past my notice. I think you might have asked it elsewhere- perhaps on a SAQA page? Anyway, I’m glad you like what I’ve been doing with this windfall of scrap pieces – and on IG@schwabealison and several FB pages you might have seen the progress so far. Stay tuned – I have further plans, and like quilter Maryline Collioud-Robert, whom I only just discovered this evening, I’m not sure that what I do with my heaps of scraps will really make much difference to the quantity 🙂 !!! cheers Alison

Leave a Reply

Translate »