Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dancing Trains

At my quilt guild's quilt show last September, scraps were being sold by the bag. My girls knew this and they were armed with change, ready to buy! "Yeah, sure, Mom, the quilts are pretty ... but where's the scraps?!" We started at one end of the building and searched for the scrap tables ... the only thing slowing us down was me, trying to actually enjoy the quilts LOL! But, finally, close to the other end of the building (wouldn't ya know it?), the Promised Land ... several tables filled with bags and bags of scraps ... big paper grocery bags for $1, small lunch bags for 50 cents, and a few more small lunch bags filled with really itty bitty scraps for 25 cents. Now for the girls to choose ... "Mom, are you going to get any?" "No, dear, I don't need MORE scraps ... got plenty at home that I don't use anyway."

But, wait, what's that posted on the wall? A challenge? Ooh, I like a challenge ... what's it say? Make a 48"x60" quilt top using only scraps from up to 5 bags and bring it to the next meeting. The next meeting?! ... that's, like, only 4 weeks away ... I can't do that! Hmmm ... it is only a quilt top, doesn't need to be quilted or anything ... hmmm ....

Okay, so I caved, er, rose to the challenge ... I brought 5 bags home with me ... and no small bags for me, no sir, I bought 5 of the big ones ... I was going to give myself plenty to work with! My girls had dance class that afternoon, so I brought the scraps with me, along with some big Ziplock bags for sorting. I separated them by color and thought, "What was I thinking?!?! I'm not a scrap quilter! How am I going to make a pretty quilt out of this stuff?" Now, don't get me wrong, I love scrappy quilts, I make scrappy quilts, but there's a difference. I'm of the variety that likes to work with lots of fabrics ... if the pattern calls for a green fabric, why use one green when you can use 10 different greens. That's my kind of scrappy ... controlled. There was no control with those 5 bags ... just chaos. But I was determined not to give up ... at least not in the first 24 hours!

My next mission was to scour all my quilt magazines for just the right pattern. For the next couple of days, I skimmed through my past issues, pulling aside about a dozen or so that looked promising. I brought them with me to the next dance class and narrowed it down to one that looked easy enough to complete in less than a month ... it's called "Happy Cows" and is in the March/April '08 issue of Quiltmaker (page 46, designed by Roxann O'Hare in Nebraska). A little fiddling with the sizing of the blocks and sashing to fit the scraps I was working with, and I was good to go.

A few days later, I got an email ... several members want to participate, but during the next meeting they'll be at the Houston show. So the challenger agrees to move the challenge to the following meeting ... cool, an extra month to work on it. I just might pull this off! At each dance class, I brought scraps and cut them in strips with a pair of scissors (the pattern was great for this ... I just eyeballed for length and width). Then I'd go home and sew the strips together. Back and forth I went. The scrappy sections were coming together nicely. I found a long strip of train fabric that was the closest thing to a focus fabric that I could find in the bags to use for the center, so I went with it ... it wasn't perfect ... the trains were too big to fussy cut into the small centers, but it looked kind of cool having just small sections of train ... at least they were big enough that one could tell they were trains!Well, not only did I make the top, but because of the extra month, I was able to back, quilt and bind it, too. And, best of all, it all came from the scrap bags! I even made it a quillow using a large piece of prequilted material I found in one of the bags. The only things I added were batting and thread. I named it "Dancing Trains" because of the train fabric for the centers and because I did most of the cutting and planning during my daughters' dance classes (thank goodness that gave me 3 times per week to focus!) My 7 yo claimed it while it was still a work in progress and it now resides on her bed ... well, most of the time LOL! Not bad for $5!Wonder what I'll do with all those leftover scraps ....

1 comment:

  1. I saw this quilt on Quilt Qua. Love how you worked with the similar fabrics to create major patterns.

    I like to make scrap quilts that are a little wacky. Check out my quilts at:

    Your quilt definitely inspired me.


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