Thursday, August 29, 2019

I'm Baaaaaaack ! ! !

Never say never. Suddenly I have a reason to blog and it's about quilts.  Here's the story: A bunch of us were sitting around a table having lunch when our hostess got out a slip of paper with Agenda scribbled on it. She proposed that since we all are in our 70's that the time to use up our stash of fabric is NOW.  We have all given away as many quilts as our relatives can easily collect, and have in our closets more than we need in the increasingly short years we have left, so let's make quilts and give them away to needy causes. The idea had merit and while it sunk in we discussed how we could do this as a group. Nothing was decided at that first meeting but soon afterwards a series of events at my church led me to undo the third floor sewing room and bring it all back home to my sunroom. Three machines, work table a small pin up wall and lots and lots of light made this a great place to meet and sew. Not to mention it isn't on the third floor, and parking is free and close. No one need bring a machine, just their fabric. I am just as eager to use up mine since it was collecting dust for lo these many months of inactivity. I had a bunch of batting too, plus yardage for backing, but soon we used those pieces up and we decided to order a huge bolt of batting and save some money.

We'll be making Charity quilts yes, but not boring old simplistic get 'em out quick designs, although that wasn't uttered, but knowing us, it aint gonna happen. Our Instigating Member had a box of scraps to start us, and I grabbed a bagful and in a few days returned for more. Here's the quilt made from some of those scraps.
 I found it really easy to use someone else's fabrics, willy nilly getting them sewn into large sections and then trimming them down to 14" squares. I found ideas for settings on Pinterest and even used scraps for the white X's. Initially we were using up scraps as a goal but that very quickly led to including yardage we hadn't even touched and planning designs that were color or pattern based. This next one was inspired again by Pinterest (what did we do before we had that site?) and uses lots of leftovers in neutrals and yellows. We sewed this one as a group and it went so fast that is took only one four hour session to sew the strips. After everyone left I did the last of the connecting and it was ready to quilt. 
 O yes, the quilting. Easy enough to make tops as a group, but the quilting would be done by our expert Illustrious Member who has a long arm and volunteered. She also contributed an Accuquilt cutting machine which makes perfect 2.5 inch strips, and squares of several dimensions. This stellar device temporarily resides in the sunroom and is gonna be pretty hard to live without. 
Since we collected yellows for the first quilt and had leftovers, they were combined with some precut strips of blues and other darks for #2 in the striped category.
 We weren't just sewing together, but also on our own and adding them to the pile. Our Downtown Member made this great top which I have so desired to make from my own colors. 
And this one too: Decidedly modern, yes? As you can imagine, getting us together on one day a week took some organizing and not everyone could be here every time, but we settled on Thursdays as our weekly meeting and that seemed to work for most, most of the time. This meant that I would be missing my weekly Knitwits meeting, but sacrifices were made by everyone for this truly epic project, so I was very willing to concede.
Our Instigating Leader had to go on a vacation that was planned before we started, but she managed to cut up her collected men's shirts and produce this outstanding top, now already quilted. 
Then this complex but fun design was chosen by our Downtown member and we all cut and sewed it and completed in two 4 hour sessions. Homespun cotton plaids which were a giveaway from another quilter who also realized that time is slipping by. 

Many bins of scraps were beginning to accumulate and I took advantage of a large collection of darks, which combined with my sweet pastels took this staggered form. I enlisted my quilting pal from the Knit Wits to come sew with me on Tuesdays and we assembled this together. Now I've got her and another church friend to join us regularly and sew. Two groups meeting weekly at my house... HEAVEN!!!

 I found a nearly completed top that only needed seven more blocks to finish at the suggested size of 60x80ish and voila it was added to the pile. 
This wonderful design, Garlic Knots was suggested by our Downtown Member and completed in two sessions. So delicious!
  The Tuesday group is not as advanced (or as old!) as the Thursday bunch, so I am teaching them basic blocks which can be introductions to many design possibilities. The four patches combined into 16 patches, paired with half square triangles, and set with cornerstones were three lessons combined into one top.
 Then half square triangles cut again to make hour glass blocks combined with nine patches, was our next foray into basics.
Now here we are at the last week of the month since we began and our Thursday group is making Delectable Mountains from 10 inch square out of my stash, YES! Today we'll be cranking out more of these and deciding on a setting, of which there are many choices.

 I never thought I would have this opportunity, or feel this energized to use up the stash as I do now. The friendship factor is amazing and is deepening with each meeting. Love this so much! I was never a fan of some of the colors or patterns we chose but that has also changed and now I am crazy about everything we tackle.
The idea that my fabric is too precious to use is history. I want it all gone, but I am not alone, we all want to get it out of the closet and into a quilt that someone will use/love/need. No one wants to leave our fabric to be disposed of after we're gone. We want to use it up while we can enjoy doing it.

Here's what I learned: Using someone else's fabric is easier than sewing my own. It has no sentimental value.
And secondly, having cut up strips and squares is THE BEST. It makes it so easy to use. I want all my stash precut and decide on the uses later. Why not? It will all get used up eventually.
Thirdly, toss out excess scraps as you go. No saving ridiculous stuff, unless you want to spend hours trimming them down into usable shapes...which I have done. 6", 5", 4.5", 4", 3.5", 2.5" and 2" squares reside in my scrap box. Not to mention strips less than 2.5" wide. But they are not getting used, so far, as getting larger pieces cut and sewn is taking priority. So I think I have gotten that frugality out of my system.
Fourthly, have a good set of seam rippers handy, as talking and laughing can lead to mistakes. We all make them, even the experts. It is so worth it.