Progress on my 15 minutes a day

A while back, I challenged myself to cut scraps for just 15 minutes a day until my tin of scraps was empty.

Well, what have I learned from that challenge? I learned I can't do anything for 15 minutes EVERY DAY. I lack that kind of consistency. But, I can average about 2 hours a week. And, that's close enough. So, I've been cutting scraps. It's a shame I didn't think to take pictures before I filed everything away into the bins.

I know I was supposed to work on that popcorn tin of scraps left from making garments. But, garment scraps are a pain in the butt. They're all wierd shapes and long strings that taper to nothing and curves. That takes forever to cut down. I've done what I could in there, but let myself get distracted and moved over to quilting scraps, which are generally straight edges and easily cut into squares or strips. I cut a few out of the tin every time, but only a few and then I move to something easier. This is my portable cutting surface. It's on the back of a portable ironing board. Made it to take classes and it's one of my favorite things. Heavy, but useful and I made a custom bag to carry it in. (even though I've only taken one class and have already managed to knock a chunk out of the bottom edge of the cutting board).

When I got bored with garment scraps, I pulled out this gallon jug that I bought for $4 at the last quilt show we went to. I purchased nearly a gallon of 2.5" squares. I cut for 4 hours before I found one that was both 2.5" and square. Most were a bit oversize, so cutting them down to 2.5" was pretty easy, but tedious. Some had a wonky side and that was pretty easy to fix, too. And, a few had to be cut down to 2" squares. There's a ton of variety and I like that. But I suspect that multiple people contributed to the jar and they didn't all use the same ruler. Some of them may not have used a ruler at all. Someone may have tried to tear scraps into squares. But, this was a donation to the guild bazaar and was likely a gift of love and I love it, so there's a lot of love in that jar...even if I have to whack away at that love to make it work for me.

What have I ended up with? I have well over a hundred four patches ready to sew. These have pairs of matching darks and pairs of matching lights, so they'll make really nice matchy-matchy 4 patch blocks. I bundled them and tied them with string and dropped them back in the jar to sew later, when I don't have half a dozen leader/ender projects going on. And, I still have a large stack of "onesies" where there's just one block cut from a fabric. Those can be fun, too and I have a block picked out from Adventures with Leaders and Enders that I think they'll start nicely. Definitely a long term scrap project.

And, I'm still cutting bricks for my Texas Braid. 1028 neutral bricks and 1028 colorful bricks and 1028 red squares. No, they're not all cut, but all the colorful bricks are cut and about half have the red squares attached and I'm ready to take them out of the basket I've been tossing them in and do some pressing and start to assemble at least one braid so I'll have incentive to keep at it. Usually, my leader/ender projects work as leaders and enders for a while and then I get so excited I just have to work on them full time until I get the quilt finished. I've not been excited about this one because I knew I had a thousand neutral bricks left to cut. But, now that's started and the excitement is building again. This will likely be a quilt for Sydney's bed. Or maybe not. Maybe we'll keep it and give her something we've grown bored with.

This is my scrap users system. I have all my blocks sorted by size and layered in this sewing box. And, the most plentiful size, 2" is sorted by light/med/dark. The others are just willy nilly. I've made two quilts from my 2" squares already and the bin is still full. And, the sections for 1.5" squares is overflowing, so I need to piece something with them. I have a few 9 patches made and may add to that, just to move these little scraps along. Usually what comes out of this bin goes into Linus quilts. The drawers in the background have my strips, in half inch increments from 1.5" to 3.5" and they're pretty full...but there are no neutrals. What's up with neutrals??? I can't seem to keep them at all. I use them in almost everything, so neutral scraps are a premium. And, there's another small bin for strips 4" or larger that is getting pretty full...and unfortunately is not sorted by size or color or anything...a situation I need to rectify...one day.

Much as I'd like you to think that all the scraps in this bin were cut in the last month, that's not true. I've been storing them here for over a year and add to it constantly. Every quilt leaves a scrap and if it's at least 1" wide and 6" long, it goes in the string bag. If it's at least 1.5" square, I save it to cut down for this bin.

I'm just glad I'm using these. For several months, I collected, but didn't have enough scraps to do anything with. But, squares are like coathangers. Put them in a dark place and they manage to multiply.

I haven't started the Orca Bay mystery from Bonnie Hunter yet. I got home that first Friday with my printed instructions and sent Sydney to cook supper and pulled open my 1.5" strip drawer and I found about 25" of neutral strips and NO blacks. That meant I'd have to start from scratch and cut from yardage and I wasn't up to that in the middle of my holiday quilt and a cmas gift for a friend and all the other holiday activities. So, I'm going to wait and see. I don't use much black and don't have much variety in black fabrics, so later, I might be able to substitute another color and make the quilt. Or, it will give me an excuse to buy black fabrics. What could be funner than that???



Pauline said...

Love your scrap system, wish I was that organized and motivated. I'm doing Orka Bay, and hate to cut strips for triangles so I used the 3¼ inch square method. Sure went fast for me. I'll finish the step two tomorrow, it's really pretty.

Anonymous said...

I keep telling myself that I'm going to start that scrap saver system. I've got scraps all over the house. Hopefully when I complete the Christmas gifts, I'll get started. You're doing a great job at keeping a handle on your's. Thanks for sharing.

lw said...

I buy and use a lot of black fabrics-- it really makes the colors stand out if you use a little black. It's not easy to find good black fabrics either, they're usually compromised with a lot of patterns and read as grey or silver; or they get too much white and read as chaotic.

By my calculations, 2 hours a week is longer than 15 minutes a day (1 hour, 45 minutes) so you're ahead of the game!