Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not!

Have you ever thought about how much money you throw away when you throw out those little scraps? If you weigh one yard of fabric you will find that it weighs an average (depending on the fabric, of course) of 5 ounces. That means that if you pay $10 a yard you are paying $2 an ounce. My scrap pile above weighs 7 1/2 oz., so I would be throwing away about $15 worth of fabric. Hmmm..........I must say that this is a very small portion of my scraps!!I have four bins stuffed to brimming with scraps of all sizes. I weighed the fabric in one bin at 8 lbs. The fabric in that one bin alone has fabric worth at least $256! Remember I have 4 of them. I don't want to even think about how much I've spent on fabric in the past!  I want to use up every tiny bit of fabric I can. It is the "green" thing to do, after all. (There is a point, of course, where you need to just give those scraps away or throw them away. I don't promote hoarding!)  I decided to make a string quilt. Our quilting great grandmothers used this method often to use up scraps and provide warming quilts for their family. Most of you probably know how to make one, but there are still some of you out there who don't know how simple it is. You can make blocks any size depending on the size of your scraps. String blocks are good if you have a lot of long narrow scraps. Here is one I made a few years ago. Absolutely everything, including batting, was scrap. I used a leopard print silky fleece left over from pillows for the backing. It is large enough to curl up in while watching television.

 You can make these either with or without a foundation to "build" on.  For a foundation you could use scraps or inexpensive muslin. Actually, my husband's aunt used newspaper. She tore it off after all blocks were sewn together.  (Another opportunity to recycle.)
Start by placing the first strip right side up at the edge of the foundation (your muslin or newspaper). If you're not using a foundation, you will just sew each strip to the next.
Place the second strip right sides together matching the edges. Sew this using a 1/8" seam at the edge.
Flip this piece over and press. Continue by adding each successive piece just as you did this one until you have covered your foundation. You can keep your strips uniformly straight, or let them become "wonky". 
Here are a couple of finished blocks. I think I will start putting all my strips from cutting in a bin dedicated to strips. These could made great "piano key" borders or just string quilts. This might even make a nice project for someone just learning to sew. You don't have to worry about grainline when you have a foundation. Until next time....
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  1. Totally fun, Linda! :) I have scraps, as well, but lots of them are really small. I am thinking about a ticker tape quilt as you go, but this would be fun, as well!!! However, I have so many unfinished projects I am not sure where to go next....ha!

  2. I had never thought about scraps with a money value - wow! I have several bins full of scraps and maybe one day I will have to make a string quilt. Thanks for the quick tutorial.

  3. Great post! Something to think about..

  4. great post I am going to have to give that a try!

  5. When you start calculating scraps as cash it soon wakes you up! I love the cushion, super colours! Would have losed to have seen the dolls you made. E x

  6. I know what you mean about the cost of fabric. Last fall I was tempted to donate my BIG box of scraps. After considering how much I paid per yard for those scraps I changed my mind. SO glad I did, because I have cut STACKS of 2 1/2" strips from those scraps and have sorted out plenty of smaller strips and saved them for strip quilts. There are still a LOT of scraps left, big enough to cut 5" squares and more 2 1/2" strips. Everything is sorted into plastic boxes by color and is now quite usable fabric.

    I love your strip quilt and the new blocks you've made. Makes me want to stop admiring my freshly-rescued strips and start sewing them together!

  7. I was just looking at my stash of leftover bindings.. and thought I would put them together in a pleasing manner.. then make "something" from them! Waste NOT want NOT! :)

  8. I love string quilts and have made several but gave them all away and don't have one for myself. I really need to do that! blessings, marlene

  9. Wonderful idea. I must try this. I have a gigantic tub of scraps which I can't bear to part with.

  10. When we are down to small pieces of scraps, they are given to a lady who makes doggie beds for the humane society. So we quilters are a sharing group. Caring also.


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