Welcome New Followers!

I want to thank all the new quilting friends that have signed up for the email.  I can’t believe how many of you have found me and want to join in on my scrappy  passion/addiction/or whatever is it!  Who ever thought that I’d be doing this.  This little old lady from upstate NY who collects scraps and actually uses them (some who know me are rolling their eyes right now) and now people from all over the world are doing her mystery quilts!  But who knew?  This will be my fifth mystery quilt! My how time flies!  And for all of you out there who think you could never do this……..I never thought I could do this!!! What a learning experience I’ve had……From putting together a mystery to figuring out how to do a blog to selling patterns on Craftsy!  You are never too old to learn something new!

OK, after that brilliant opening, my original thought was that I would write this post to tell my new readers and maybe refresh some older readers on just how I organize my scraps.  If your scraps are wadded up in a bag or stuck in a box somewhere under the table how are you ever going to use them?  My scraps are cut and ready to use……boxes of them!  Well, actually shoe boxes that I purchased from the dollar store are all labeled by size and lined up on a shelf over my cutting table.  But I started small with sandwich bags pinned to a cork board. I save my scraps by size and not by color.  As you may notice, I usually do not have a color pallet in mind when I make a quilt.  I prefer to use anything and everything, mixing all colors, patterns and textures in my quilts.  So, as I get a piece of fabric scrap, I decide what is the largest square I can cut from it.  The largest square I cut is 10″ and then 6″ on down.  I cut out as many difference size squares as I can until there is only a crumb left.  I don’t save crumbs although many people do.  Mine go into dog or cat beds for the animal shelter. The smallest square that I cut and save is 1 1/2″.  I also save strips in various sizes.  Start by figuring out what sizes you use the most and cut them.  You’ll be surprised how fast they pile up.

So, if your scraps have multiplied into a ridiculous pile how do you start to get them under control?  Well, you can’t eat an elephant in one bite.  But one bite at a time will work!   People literally give me garbage bags full of scraps……..a huge pile!  When that happens, I grab a handful and press/iron them flat and place them on the corner of my cutting table.  They are then ready to cut up as I have time. You probably don’t like to cut up scraps for hours and neither do I.  But if I have a few minutes here and there I will cut a few.  If you are waiting for that load of wash to finish, that cake in the oven, or you have ten minutes before you have to leave for an appointment……cut some scraps!  Play a game with yourself.  Every time you have to trim a square….cut a scrap!  Set a timer and cut for 15 minutes before you sew or get up to move around!  Before you know it, that scrap pile will be gone and you will have to iron up a new pile and before you know it all your scraps will be cut and ready to go!  You will have made your own layer cake or jelly roll!  Your very own pre-cuts!  The best thing is to cut up those odds and ends as you get them!  Don’t throw them in a pile to cut up later!  Because, you know it, that pile grows and grows and then when will you take the time to Cut The Scraps!?!

I hope this has inspired you.  Just have fun with it and stay tuned!  Wednesday will be here soon!

A Hearty Welcome to my New Quilty Friends and Newbies!

My!  This site is growing!  I want to say “Thank You” and “Welcome” to all the new members and quilters from all over……we’re not just the USA but EVERYWHERE!!!  You amaze me!  Isn’t the internet mind boggling!  Just think!……and we all have the same things in common……AND we all love to quilt AND we all have lots of scraps!  Got to love those scraps!!  If you haven’t joined up on Facebook, check out my site  MakingScrappyQuiltsWithCharlotte.  It’s a spot where you can interact and ask questions or show your progress on the mystery.

Since there are so many new quilters here, I thought I’d share my scrap organization system and  my thoughts on putting a scrappy quilt together.

As some of you know, the scrap fairy must come at night and multiply all of our scraps!  So if you wake up some morning and your scrap bin is overflowing what do you do?  First of all take a few minutes, take a deep breath, and then iron those scraps flat.  I make a small pile on the corner of my cutting table (not the whole bin! maybe an inch or two high)  so they are available when I have a few minutes to start cutting.  If you don’t love cutting scraps, set a timer for 10 or 15 min…..cut for that long….and then do something you like.  Play a game, every time you have to trim or cut something….cut a few of those scraps.  Got 5 min. before you have to leave, or make dinner or take the laundry out of the dryer?…cut some scraps! Before you know it the pile will be gone and you’ll have to iron some more and your scrap bin will be looking empty.  Remember, when you are cutting pieces for a new quilt don’t throw those odds and ends in the scrap bin……cut them up right away and get them usable!  You wouldn’t dirty all the dishes in the house before you washed them or wear every piece of clothing in your closet before you did the wash, would you?  Probably not! Sometimes I just don’t want to get into a project or I just want something mindless to do. So cut up those scraps before the pile gets out of hand and you are overwhelmed!

So, where should you start?   If this is new to you, first, think of the size squares that you use all the time.  Probably 2″, 2 1/2″, 3″…..you decide.  OR you could be like me and just cut everything!  Yes, I mean I cut a lot of sizes…. from 1 1/2″ to 6″.  When I first started to organize my scraps I had a cork board on the wall behind my cutting table.  I marked sandwich bags and pinned them to the board.  As I cut a scrap it went into the appropriate bag.  I have since graduated to plastic shoe boxes from the dollar store.  I also keep various size strips and half square triangles.

No wall behind your table(?)…use those salad boxes from the grocery store, brown paper lunch bags or whatever.  Don’t be intimidated!  The object here is to get those scraps into a manageable state so they can be used.  As someone said at one of my talks, I’m basically making a kit for a future quilt.  And it’s true.  Don’t you love a kit? When I have enough of a certain size…when my box gets full…..I start thinking about what I can make and lo and behold….another scrappy attitude quilt is in the works!  When I see a quilt pattern that I like I automatically think…how would this look scrappy?  Hmmmm!

Lets define what is a scrap.  To me, anything smaller than a fat quarter is probably a scrap. Anything larger gets folded up and put in the stash. Sometimes, if I have a ragged edge on a large piece of fabric, I will “even” it off and add that as a scrap.  Ok, so you ask, how do you cut them??  After I have ironed my scrap nice and flat, I determine the largest square I can cut from it (6″ is the largest I save although if it is really large and I want to get rid of it I often cut 10″ squares).  I cut as many as I can get. Then, I cut the next largest size square and I work my way down size wise until I have a scrap smaller than 1 1/2″ square. Some people sew those crumbs together but anything I cannot squeeze a 1 1/2″ square out of goes into the dog/cat bed pile.  If the scrap is width of fabric I will cut strips.

I do not sort by color, only by size, because I like the way ALL the colors work together in my quilts.  I do have a stash that is sorted by color but I like my scraps “all mixed up”!  And I put everything in my scrap boxes……thirty’s prints, civil war, batiks, children’s, stripes, dots, Christmas…..everything goes into my quilt.  If it’s ugly…cut it up!  If the print is too big…cut it up!  I do not discriminate! In the grand scheme of things, it all works and guess what!  When you are putting those blocks together…… it doesn’t need to match!  You can get over your matchy match self.  Get out of your box, live dangerously and have some fun! Yes, it will all go together….trust me!  Just cut those scraps!  The key to eye catching, dynamic scrappy quilts with attitude is diversity.  On occasion I do “audition” what goes together but it is just a quick glance and if it absolutely is not what I’m looking for it goes in line for the next selection.  I try to not have like colors, patterns or prints in the same square or next to each other in adjoining blocks.  Value and intensity is important to achieve that diversity and pop to make your quilt stand out and have that winning scrappy attitude.

I know, a lot of people have their own system of how they like to do things and I applaud you if yours works for you.  This is mine.  I’m not in a race to see how many quilts I can pump out each year.  My scrappy attitude quilts are a labor of love.  Each of my pieces are cut individually (and lovingly, lol) cut and accumulated over a period of sometime years.  Each one is fondled and remembered, both when they are cut and then again as they are sewn.  Can you hear the violin music playing in the background…..lol!  You’re probably thinking “Oh, oh,….she’s lost it!”……..but I’m just havin’ fun!  LOL!  I LOVE my scraps and making my scrappy quilts!

I hope this has helped some of you to get organized and keep ahead of the game.  Have fun and Happy Quilting!   Stay tuned!  The next clue will be out next week!


It Was Just A Goof-Off Kind of Day

So what do you do when you want to sew but you just don’t want to sew what you’ve got?!  I had one of those days last week.  I just wanted to goof-off sewing.  But I wanted to be productive with something too.  So, what’s a girl to do?  I didn’t want to start some big project or look at a bunch of patterns to figure out what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to go through my stash and pull stuff out.  I surely didn’t want to clean my sewing room!  Hmmmmm.  So what to do?

I saw my miscellaneous strip box was overflowing.  So I thought, what could I do to get rid of some of that?  Well this is what I came up with.  Let’s make some wonky squares!  So first, I guess I’d better explain what my miscellaneous strip box is.  It’s all the strips that are wider on one end and narrower on the other, or a little bit crooked somewhere, or just don’t fit into the size range for the other strips sized boxes that I keep (like 2″, 1 1/2″ etc.).  Some are short and some are long.  Doesn’t matter.  They all go in there.  They just need to be wide enough so that something still shows after I get my two 1/4″ seams sewn off either side.

So I started with a little fat piece in the center and I sewed around and around like a log cabin.  Mindlessly picking up strips.  Don’t care if they’re straight or not, hence the wonky.  Different widths.  Don’t care.  I decided 6 1/2″ square would be a good place to stop since that was the size of my square ruler.  I squared them up and WhooHoo!  What cute little wonkies they are.  I like em!

Wonky squares

Wonky squares

So I sewed and sewed.  Fun, mindless, goofy, wonky fun!  So, I don’t know……thirty squares later I figured I better think about putting them together because I don’t want another pile of “something else I have to get back to”.  And you know how I do love on point.  So, I went to my trusty EQ and put in my 6″ square on point quilt and it told me the size squares that I needed to cut for the sides and the corners.  I love my EQ!  No math! No hassle!  Life should be so simple!

Well, “A Little Bit Wonky” was born!  I sewed and I played. And I have a cute little wonky top to show for it.  It still needs borders and quilting and such and it’s still in the must get back to it pile.2015-03-21 14.04.28 2015-03-21 13.59.50But, someone somewhere will stay warm under a strange little wonky lap quilt.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I did making it.  And look at all those crooked little strips that didn’t end up in a landfill.  BTW, my miscellaneous strip box is still full but at least I can get the top to stay on. Lol!2015-03-21 14.00.12


I hope you all have a wonky kind of day.  Goofy and fun! Sometimes it’s ok to be a little bit off and wonky.  Our points don’t always have to match and we don’t always have to be coordinated.  Sometimes its just fun to take it as it comes right out of the miscellaneous wonky strip box.

Happy Quilting!

Random But Pleasing?! What’s That?

The other night at our guild meeting, Mary asked “Random but pleasing?  Does that mean it’s not random?”…….(tongue in cheek).  She’s a great scrapper and was giving me that look, just being a smartie.  So Mary, this is for you and all the others who may legitimately want to know.  Random but pleasing is random but sort of.  As I cut and choose my scraps, I like as many different options as I have available.  Meaning many colors, styles( 30’s, civil war, kids etc.), patterns (stripes, polk-a-dot, florals, fruit, etc.).  I like and use it ALL …whatever is in the bag, box or pile!  When I’m sewing my pieces together, I usually have them randomly stacked in piles next to where I’m working and I “audition” the pieces as I am sewing them together.  I want interest and balance but most of all I don’t want to lose the focus of my block pattern.  So I look for diversity in color, fabric pattern, and value.    So if one piece is the same color, same pattern (polk-a-dots, stripes, floral, solid), same value (light, dark, etc.), that piece is set aside and the next is “auditioned”. It’s a quick glance.  No matchy match!   No hemming and hawing about whether I like it or not or whether is goes……do I love it or not.  Not important!  Can I live with it and does it give me the contrast and balance that I want to have in my block.  That’s what I’m looking for.  Of course, when the blocks are finished there are always some that I really like and some not so much.  When I’m down to assembling those last couple of blocks, there are always some pieces that just need to be put in there.  They may not have that zing that I’d like.  So I stick that “not so much” block somewhere in a corner of the quilt .  The corner is usually hanging off the bed and you can’t see it that well anyway.  The ones with the pop go in the middle  where they are most visible.  I hope that explains my “random but pleasing” theory.  Happy Quilting, Everyone!  BTW I love seeing your Clue #1 blocks on Flickr.

What do I do with ALL those strips and squares!?

So, now you have your scrap stash shrinking and your strip and cut square inventory growing. How do I use all that new found treasure? First, I look at the bulging bags or overflowing bins. What needs to be used? I can almost hear them calling me! Lol! There’s a quilt in the making….or a border……or sashing…..or cornerstones.

The larger squares can be cut into smaller sizes. I had a block pattern that needed four 3″ squares that were the same. Instant match! One 6″ square provided what I needed. Plus I had a whole bag of 6″ squares, so I pretty much had my quilt set up.

I have one large bag of miscellaneous strings. Do you ever have a day where you just need to do something mindless? I sure do. Some days I just need to zone out! That’s a good day to sew those strings together. As I sew, I vaguely sort the lengths, and sew the ones that are similar in length together. Now I have long strips that can be cut into squares or used as a border. I have not used these for borders yet, but I’m sure there will come a time when they will add just the perfect touch. They are waiting patiently in “time out”!

Whew!  Looks like enough to make a quilt!

Whew! Looks like enough to make a quilt!

2013-05-30 09.59.27

Another, neat idea is to sew those squares, end to end to make your own sashing. Mindless, to be sure. But what a statement! Talk about scraps with attitude! This top has been in “time out” for a while waiting to be quilted. I’m a hand quilter so my waiting to be quilted pile is never ending. Those pinwheels will pop when I give it my special touch. 2014-11-19 11.59.44

So, look at those bags or bins and say
“Speak to me!”
Happy Quilting!

So now What Do I Do?

Ok, so you found a few minutes here and there to tame that scrap stash. I probably err on overkill! Behind my cutting table I have a large cork board hanging on the wall. On the cork board I have plastic bags (sandwich size to the next size larger) pinned to the board with push pins. Each bag is marked with a size. You can put the label on the bag or inside the bag…whatever you like…so you can see what the size is. I cut and store squares only by size. I like the mix in my quilts of all the happy scrappy colors and fabrics (unlike some who store by color). This makes it really easy to cut up that last little bit of fabric and GET RID OF IT! when you are working on strips or fat quarter leftovers, etc. Just cut it up and put it in the bag. GONE! (for the moment at least…and not in that scrap pile any longer!) So here is the clincher……how many bags does Charlotte have on her board! I just counted! Oye!!! Currently I have 22 different sizes that I cut. The smallest is 1 1/2″ and the largest is 6″. Do you have to have that many? Well no. But I use them ALL!
I also in the last year have begun saving strips (1 1/2″ to 3″). This is mainly because in the “gifted scrap bags” that I have received, there have been many great strips and I just don’t need that many squares that are all the same! so I don’t cut them up…YET!
So, to begin building your scrappy stash squares, I would suggest that you start with a few common sizes. 1 1/2″ squares make nice cornerstones or borders (I also do 1 3/4″ and 1 7/8″). 2″ and 2 1/2″ squares are a staple (I also do 2 1/4″, 2 3/8″, 2 3/4″ and 2 7/8″ for HST’s). 3″ and 3 1/2″ are a must! (I also do 3 1/4″, 3 3/8″, 3 3/4″ and 3/7/8″ HST’s again) I know…..I’m nuts! On to the 4″ and all the same increments in between. Then there is 5″, 5 1/2″ and 6″. If I can eeeck out an odd sized square in between I surely don’t want it to go to waste……..I must have been fabric deprived as a child! The other odd bits go into a bag for a friend who makes beds for the animal shelter. So that’s the story!
I cut the largest size that I can get from a scrap and cut my way down to the smallest and the rest is Dog Bed! Those little bags fill up before you know it and then you have the fun dilemma of “What Will I Do With Them”?
Until next time! Happy Cutting!

So Many Scraps…….So Little Time

Are your scraps overflowing the scrap bin? Do they seem to multiply over night? Or are you lucky enough to have been gifted a garbage bag full of scraps? WooHoo! First count yourself lucky and then lets get down to business! What? You say you don’t have enough time to cut up all those scraps? Well Rome wasn’t built in a day! You can’t eat an elephant at one sitting! But……One bite at a time will take care of it! So, Grab yourself a handful of scraps and iron them flat. I put that little pile on the back of my cutting table ready for those stolen minutes that I use to cut them into usable squares and strips. Then, when I have a few minutes (like just before I have to leave for an appointment, just before it’s time for dinner, waiting for that cake to come out of the oven or time for the next load of wash in the machine) I set the timer and cut away…….for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. In no time that pile of unruly scraps will have been tamed to something I can look forward to using. As the squares and strips accumulate, my mind starts thinking about just what project will they work into…….hmmmmm. Of course, now that you have a system to cut up the scraps don’t forget to take care of business when you are cutting from your stash. Everything left over either goes back in the stash or gets cut into strips and/or squares. It only takes a minute to slice it up or put it back. Get into the habit and soon you’ll be ahead of the game.
Happy cutting!