It's probably not the best way to attack a project that by its very nature is taken on just to fill up time and space, but I've been a production potter for too long. Organizing a system is second nature at this point. So, when I decided to convert all
of my cotton fabric scraps into quilt squares, I started out systematically
The first thing I did was bring in an extra wastebasket.
Then I started trimming out edges, skinny bits, anything narrower than an inch and a half or shorter than eight inches. I cut bigger chunks down to the eightish inch lengths, and ironed everything. The last time I did this, I just eyeballed the strips. This time, I got fussy.
I got out my cutting mat, a straight-edge and rolling cutter. Marked an eight-inch width, and ticked off marks at 1.5, 2 and 2.5 inches. Then slapped down pieces of scrap and started cutting strips. My ideal width was 2 inches, though I cut as narrow as 1.5 and as wide as 2.5. If the usable width was a little wider or narrower, I'd trim to keep as much as I could. The rest went in the basket, where Denise could choose what she wanted to pulp for paper and what to throw out.
You'll note that there's no color scheme here. I started sewing to make myself Hawaiian shirts. Conservative colors were never
on the table. I blame my Slavic heritage--bright colored flowers on black background are my default. (Anything in the buff, gold or orange range was probably made for Denise. The blue background patterns are more-or-less split between us.)
Once I had enough strips of fabric cut, I started matching pairs, right sides together, 32 strips in all. Took them to the sewing machine and stitched all sixteen pairs along one edge, one after another (to save thread). I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance because I could conveniently line up on the edge of the presser foot. I'm using black thread, partly because it goes with any color, but mostly because I had two spools of it and figured I'd be less likely to run out.
After finishing the first pass, I cut the double strips apart, spread them out, and matched pairs again. Sew, cut, repeat. Eventually, I ended up with a strip about a yard long. Then started on the next set of 32.
What I love about working with such small (and short) pieces, is I don't even both to pin them together. Line 'em up and surface tension/friction keep them in place as they zip through the machine.
At length, I was tired of sewing, so took my lengths to the ironing board and pressed the seams flat. (This is a pain in the butt, especially as they're so close together.)
Now it's back to the cutting board. I've made myself a template out of foam-core board (left over from a previous art project, natch), a right isosceles triangle 13 inches on the base, just over 6.5 inches high. I use the rolling cutter to cut out successive triangles, flipping over ever second one and using the previous edge, so get as many as possible out of each strip. The half-triangles left at either edge can be sewed onto the next set of strips. (Like I said, I got a system
At this point, I have to decide which edges will make the nicest match and put a pin in as a reminder. (Or just slap 'em together at random, like I did on all the previous steps
.) I take them back to the sewing machine and stitch together sets of two, one after the other. (The result looks not unlike a string of prayer flags.) Clip, unfold, match and sew half-squares into squares, trying to keep all the pressed hems from flipping over. (It's not a big deal--it's a quilt, not formal wear--but I find myself getting fussy as the project continues.)
Once the squares are stitched, there's two more hems to press open, and the whole thing gets a good ironing. I finished five full squares in the first two days (so already double my previous total).
Today I went full production on the rest of the fabric strips; I think I have enough material to double that again.