YOTS2018 / How I Bind

My Year Of The Stash is off to a slow start but I love using this space to identify and explore the ways that I quilt and what quilting means to me. Due to my quilting background being diverse and mostly self taught, I am constantly examining why and how I quilt. 

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One technique that I find I do very differently than most quilters is how I bind my quilts. I bind my quilts by extending the backing and folding it over to the front. I have seen people do a folded binding before, but it is a rare sight. I love making my quilts this way and I'm not sure why more people don't use this method. 

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I really enjoy that this method gives the quilt backs a clean, full to the borders, look and that the backing shows to the front. Recently I have been using mostly full cloth backings, but I also like to piece my backings sometimes. I love the way a pieced backing shows to the front of the quilt when creating a folded binding. 

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Sometimes when binding, I make a straight corner, sometimes a mitered edge. it usually just depends what the quilt "wants" so to speak, and like all my quilting, is an improv decision made as I go. 

As I am working on a quilting a few quilts at the moment, I find my mind moves forward to the binding step as it is such a satisfying aspect of quilt making. I'll be happy to get to that step with my current quilts and see what happens! 

Another thing I like to track in Year Of The Stash is my stash usage. Year of the Stash is all about using what you have and here is my fabric intake/output so far: 
Fabric Added Since Last Update: 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: 0
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 3.5 yds
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 3.5 yds

How do you bind your quilts? Is it something you look forward to?

YOTS2017 / What is Improv Quilting and Do I Do It?

Quilting is all about following a pattern, measuring, planning and being precise.
Sometimes.
A lot of quilters quilt like this, some of us work differently. 

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When I started quilting again, I never used a pattern, I made things up as I went along. I developed what I called my "squares and strips" quilts by sewing together whatever I came across. Now I tend to take more inspiration from classic blocks or things I see other quilters doing, not just the fabric it's self. No matter what I take inspiration from, I don't use a pattern or a guide, I don't measure. 

When I was young, I learned to quilt from very strict and traditional quilters, but even as they taught me, their styles changed and grew. When I returned to quilting, I discovered improv quilters ranging from the quilters of Gee's Bend to new modern improvisationalists. Nowadays improv quilting is all the rage! 

"Improvisation: the art or act of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation. "

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The definition above, doesn't precisely fit what I think of as improve quilting, but it does fit. Improv, to me, is going into a project with no clear finish but perhaps an inspiration, an idea, or a image that evolves as you go using swatches, sketches, references, trial and error, and anything else that helps you get to the end of your work. It's an exciting endeavor bc you are making it up as you go to see what happens at the end. It's a bit like putting together a puzzle in that way except the image "on the box", or in your head, is blurry so that you don't really know what you will end up with until you get there.  

Improv quilting means never know how much fabric one will need, but also often using what you have at hand. It goes well with my Year Of The Stash goals. 

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Here's what my YOTS stash report looks like this month:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 0 yd
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 42.75 yd
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately .5 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 14 yd

How many of my readers are improv quilters?

YOTS2017 / Rummage Sale Finds

I wasn't thinking about fabric when we set out to a huge rummage sale in Far Hills NJ that we heard about earlier this week. I was actually in the market for a second hand water pitcher. And maybe some records...

So, I was happily surprised when my husband pointed out the linen tent which had a whole section devoted to fabric! There was a ton a apolsetry fabrics as well as weird synthetics for clothing or costume, but mixed in there was some quilty goodness!! And I was even more pleased to see that there was vintage fabric, not just newer items.  

Part of my Year of the Stash Manifesto always includes not buying too much new fabric each year. We're trying to use our stash, not increase it! But I do always allow for some shopping, especially when it's from finding vintage fabric! I try to incorporate some vintage fabric in all my work, so coming across a small jackpot like the Far Hills Rummage Sale is always exciting! I also love to get most of my fabric second hand even if it is newer. It feels good to use up what someone couldn't and it fits right in with my zero waste philosophies! 

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Finding this fabric was bittersweet as it nearly doubled my intake for the year! But think of all the wonderful things I will sew!! And I got all 19.5 yards for only $27! That's approximately $1.38/yard! I can't wait to unroll all the bundles and take a closer look as I start putting this fabric to good use!

Here's what my YOTS stash report looks like this month:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 19.5yd
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 42.75yd
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 0 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 13.5 yd

Sadly, there isn't a YOTS link up this year, but I am linking up with Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash. Who else out there is still working on Year of The Stash? How's it going?

PS, I never did find a water pitcher. Too distracted, I guess!

YOTS2017 / Wrinkly Old WIPS

All year, I've been meaning to get out my WIPs out to take a comprehensive look at what I have. I kept putting it off, but knowing that I need to baste some quilts and a recent request from a friend, I was motivated to finally take them all out and have a look. It was a good opportunity to see a lot of what I've worked on over the past few years. I wrote down where in the process I am for each project and my goals and ideas for them in the future. Many, I put right back into storage, but some I was happy to see could be advanced to next steps.  

This project also fits in perfectly with YOTS (Year of the Stash), bc if it's still in the house, unfinished and unused, it still counts as stash to me! When quilts, minis, pillows, garments are finished, they go in a basket to leave the house, either to sell or give away, or they get used at home. Only at that stage do I reconsider their Stash Nature. 

I found I had WIPs in all stages, from just a few blocks to close to done. The following are the quilts that were pretty near to finished and that I definitely left out to work on.

We've all seen this quilt before which I call Maybe Lyz Quilt. I've been working on and off on this one for more than a year.  It's a big heavy quilt so it was hard to work on in the warmer weather. 

The front uses a lot of vintage fabric, all calicos! This was my first attempt at an all calico quilt and is a very old quilt top for me. I can't wait to have it finished and out of the house!

The front uses a lot of vintage fabric, all calicos! This was my first attempt at an all calico quilt and is a very old quilt top for me. I can't wait to have it finished and out of the house!

The back is also all calico, most a gorgeous tiny yellow rose print that I thrifted in Vermont. 

The back is also all calico, most a gorgeous tiny yellow rose print that I thrifted in Vermont. 

Tom's Mat is the closest to being done as a small project that I still really enjoy. This one will be good to finish before Winter so that Tom can enjoy it as well. 

Here the dark purple T and the yellow border are both vintage. 

Here the dark purple T and the yellow border are both vintage. 

I mentioned enjoying a project bc this one I hate! OK, I don't hate it, or I just wouldn't do it. But this little Flying Geese Mini is just totally meh in my mind. I do want to finish it, but it's been so long, I don't remember my direction. 

I loved this out of character pink leaf fabric and I think these are the last scraps I had. I made this mini to try flying geese, and i've never attempted them again! The red seersucker and pink floral square are vintage scraps. 

I loved this out of character pink leaf fabric and I think these are the last scraps I had. I made this mini to try flying geese, and i've never attempted them again! The red seersucker and pink floral square are vintage scraps. 

I stopped working on this Fat Little Cross pillow cover bc the tread was catching on the batting and it was absolutely frustrating. I still really like it tho and think it will eventually be a sweet pillow. Just got to get it done!

This top is totally vintage! Not sure what I will back it with to make the pillow but I really dig this top. 

This top is totally vintage! Not sure what I will back it with to make the pillow but I really dig this top. 

These WIPs won't help me use up fabric from the totally unused stash I count each month (except the backing for that pillow!), but I did also do some sewing this month. Here's my stash report:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 0 (I did buy a vintage sheet, but I think I'm going to use it instead of cutting it up!)
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 1 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 13.5 yd

I have many more Wrinkly Old WIPs to show you, and some that I'm sure I didn't unearth. And hopefully some finishes to share when these are done and dusted! Where in the process do you consider a project no longer stash? Any WIPs out there to share with us?

YOTS2017 / Starting New

There is a pheonomonon in quilting, I'm sure you sewists know it, in which it is far easier to start a new project than to finish an old one. 

No matter how in love with a WIP I am, there comes a time in the project when starting something new becomes too appealing to resist. I love every part of quilt making, but starting something new is extra special. 

Starting a new work isn't bad, in fact for Year of The Stash, it's quite good!! For me, it means more stash is getting used. But if the abandoned semi-finished project still lingers in your home, is it still stash? I think for a project to be truly complete it must be used and useful. So while starting new isn't bad, it does drag out the finishes and that's not good.  

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It's been a few months since my last update and I can't quite recall if anything new has come into my stash. Since there is nothing I can remember, I'm calling it zero! Here's what my stash report looks like this month:
Fabric Added Since Last Update: Approximately 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Last Update: Approximately 2 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 12.5 yd

What are your thoughts on starting a new project before finishing the old one? I know many quilters are like little butterflies, flitting from one project to the next with ease and grace. Are there any true blue one-project-at-a-time people out there? How does it effect your stash?

YOTS2017/#30daysoffabricstacks

On Wednesday, Stitched in Color announced her new challange, 30 Days Of Fabric Stacks. I read the post that morning and have been thinking bout it ever since. I don't usually go in for monthly challenges, but although this one is a 30 day challenge, you have more than 30 days to complete it! I love how she says:
"Would you like to explore the possibilities of your fabrics on hand, to rekindle that spark of excitement felt upon their first arrival?"
That line got me thinking about how perfectly this challenge fits in with YOTS (Year of The Stash)!

The first challenge prompt is True Blue and here's my Fabric Stack -

Tray as I might, I couldn't keep the cats from sitting on this stack. Cat hair!

Tray as I might, I couldn't keep the cats from sitting on this stack. Cat hair!

I thought of a cloudless, fading-to-night sky while putting these fabrics together. I'm not sure if they will ever become more than a stack, but it was fun to imagine while putting them together. 

Racheal encourages you to do them in order, but at your own pace, and finish by Aug 6th. There's a contest and prizes, so you should check out her full post! Personally, I'm not sure if I'll finish this challenge but I plan to use it as some YOTS inspiration, for sure! Here are the rest of the prompts:

  • Day 1:  True Blue
  • Day 2:  Ethereal
  • Day 3:  Orange
  • Day 4:  New Fabric
  • Day 5:  Baby
  • Day 6:  Folksy Fall
  • Day 7:  Yellow
  • Day 8:  Hand Dyed or Printed
  • Day 9:  Softly Against Black
  • Day 10:  Fabric I Want
  • Day 11:  Complementary Colors
  • Day 12:  Green
  • Day 13:  Scale
  • Day 14:  Masculine
  • Day 15:  Aqua/Teal
  • Day 16:  Novelty
  • Day 17:  Pink
  • Day 18:  Clashy Bright
  • Day 19:  Gray
  • Day 20:  Fabric I hoard
  • Day 21:  Purple
  • Day 22:  Analogous Colors
  • Day 23:  Teen
  • Day 24:  Almost Primary
  • Day 25:  Old Fabric
  • Day 26:  Rainbow
  • Day 27:  Brown
  • Day 28:  Soft Botanical
  • Day 29:  All Solids
  • Day 30:  My Style

Are you joining in with #30daysoffabricstacks

YOTS2017/Sunday Stash

I've been pretty good about not buying much fabric this year. Except, the other day, I got a little stone in my craw about trying out some clothing patterns. So, of course I had to run out and buy some fabric suitable for clothing making.

I got soft, shear muslin to try out a few self drafted ideas I have. And some linen like fabric if those ideas go well. I wanted linen, but it's so expensive!! And it's all in the experimental phase....

Here's my month Stash Update for May:
Fabric Added from the Since Last Update: 10 (mostly for experimentation, but I picked up a piece or scrap and a vintage table cloth to use as backing at a rummage sale, too) 
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 23.25
Fabric Used Since Since Last Update: Approximately 2 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 10.5 yd

Although I feel good that I haven't bought too much, my output is still about half of my intake! I have to do better at making!

How's your Year of the Stash going so far?

YOTS2017 / Evolution of a Stitch

One of my goals for this year is to be more mindful in how I improve my quilting craft. To me, this is a goal that coincides with Year Of The Stash. To be mindful of what fabric you use and how you craft it goes hand in hand!

One thing that I've been working on is the size and consistancy of my stitches. I'm completely blown away when I see the tiny stitches that many practiced hand sewists have. Being self taught, I really stumbled my way thru my first dozen years sewing and quilting. Now I'm finding my technique and style. 

After years of sewing and watching quilters, I'm trying to get my stitches small and even. This is a great collection of hand sewing videos. Practicing stitches is a great way to use my stash!

So far, my work isn't as precise as I'd like. But I'm trying!

Here's my month Stash Update for April:
Fabric Added from the Since Last Update: 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 13.25
Fabric Used Since Since Last Update: Approximately 2 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 8.5 yd

What are some of the ways you practice your craft and use your stash?

Honey Pot Bee March + New Block: Echo Fragment

Every month, Molli Sparkles picks two blocks for the Honey Pot Bee BOM. One is generally a picture block and one more traditional. Some months he even throws in some extra blocks or modifications of previous blocks! I love this idea, because it allows you so many blocks to choose from. Make one each month, or all of them! So far, I've only made the more traditional blocks (another BOM I'm doing uses picture blocks). 

But I have to say, now that we are three months in, I'm not thrilled with any of them. I know that this falls mostly on me. Because I hand sew all my blocks and tend to favor simplicity (and ease) I have modified both the Feb and Mar Block. That's fine, I like how both of them have turned out. But overall, I'm just not excited or overly inspired by the direction this BOM is taking so far. 

I'll stick with it. I do like it, I'm just not thrilled by it. Here is my modified Echo Block for March. 

Sorry I cut off the block a little in this photo: I had to include that cute kitty!

Sorry I cut off the block a little in this photo: I had to include that cute kitty!

I chose this "background" fabric to tie all my blocks together and every time I get ready to sew one I think, why did I do that? It's such s particular brand of ugly. But when each block is done, I'm so pleasantly surprised!! I really like the way it works with all the scraps I've been using. I also really like how light and easy it is to sew. 

Despite my misgivings, I am interested to see what else is in store for this BOM and wonder what the finished quilt might look like. 

Are you following along with The Honey Pot Bee? What are your thoughts so far?

I'm linking up with Molli via instagram, as well as Needle and Thread Thursday, Building Blocks Tuesday, and more!

YOTS2017 / Spotlighting the Vintage

I love to use found, reclaimed, vintage and thrifted fabric in my quilts. I love that these fabrics find another new home with me, and where ever my quilts end up. Some of the fabric become very dear to me. For my 2017 Year of The Stash manifesto, I included the fact that finding and using these materials should be a priority.  

I like to look back and reminisce about them when looking at my quilts. I thought my readers might, too. For this first (perhaps only) installment, I wanted to look back on a very old quilt I made. I no longer have this quilt as it was a wedding anniversary gift, but I dug out some old photos to show. 

Here are the quilt front and back after I photographed them many years ago before gifting. 

Here are the quilt front and back after I photographed them many years ago before gifting. 

Below, the highlighted areas (in yellow) show vintage fabric I used to create this quilt. 

Most of the vintage fabric I used for this quilt came from mine or my mother's stash. I pieced this quilt a long time ago in Vermont and also used new fabric I had purchased there. This is an old style of squares and stripes improve piecing that I don't use too often any more. 

Here the yellow highlight was a vintage square. The red highlight is a piece of fabric that was part of a display at the wedding of dear friends. For this anniversary quilt I wanted to incorporate it. 

Here the yellow highlight was a vintage square. The red highlight is a piece of fabric that was part of a display at the wedding of dear friends. For this anniversary quilt I wanted to incorporate it. 

Using vintage and reclaimed fabric and participating in YOTS, for me, are both ways to be mindful  of what I'm sewing and why I'm sewing. 

Here's my month Stash Update:
Fabric Added from the Since Last Update: 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 13.25
Fabric Used Since Since Last Update: Approximately 2.5 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 6.5 yd

I'm feeling pretty good about my sewing this year so far. I wish I was doing more, of course, but I feel happy about what I am getting done. I have a lot of BOMs and Projects going that are helping me shop and bust my stash. I really like seeing that fabric becoming blocks and quilts instead of just sitting on the shelves. 

Share your Year of the Stash progress in the comments!

YOTS2017: February / Gifted Fabric

YOTS (Year of the Stash) started in 2016 as a community project and link up to help quilters use up stash instead of buy new. There is no community link up for 2017, but I am continuing the challenge for myself anyway! I have written my YOTS2017 manifesto and am committed to another Year of the Stash!

I'm pretty lucky to have friends and family that know I love fabric and gift it to me from time to time. Earlier this year, my Brother In Law sent me some vintage fabric he found. 

I've been using them up when I can, especially as backing as there is a ton of fabric!! I love that I can incorporate a gift, vintage and reclaim fabric, and the thoughtfulness that came with it, into my work.  

My monthly stash report looks little different from last month. A little got used, but none came in so far!
Fabric Added from the Since Last Update: 0
Fabric Added Year to Date: Approximately 13.25
Fabric Used Since Since Last Update: Approximately 1 yd
Fabric Used Year to Date: Approximately 4 yd

So 2017 is rolling right along. Feel free to add your stash update to the comments or put a link to your posts!

New Block: Plus Squared - Last MCQBOM of 2016!!

I found this block while browsing The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts. She credits it as coming from Quilty Love. I thought this would be a neat block to finish my MadCatQuiltsBOM for 2016. It showcases a lot of the fabrics I've used throughout. 

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This block came together quickly and easily and I would definitely make it again. I like how it turned out!! I forgot to get a group pic of this block with it's 11 cousins before I started sashing the others. I was just so excited to get moving!! I will be posting a MCQBOM2016 post wrapping up the blocks, and showing what I'm doing next, soon. And be on the look out for Mad Cat Quilts 2017 Block Of the Month! I'm working on the blocks and intro post for that as well. 

Which BOMs is everyone joining for 2017?

YOTS Check In / Wrap Up for December

Here we are at the end of 2016 and the end of Year Of The Stash. I had a lot of fun participating in this quilt community activity. It definitely helped me be more mindful of what I was bringing in and what I was using up. 

These were some new fabric purchases from a chain fabric store. These were all on sale, of course, so I couldn't resist. 

These were some new fabric purchases from a chain fabric store. These were all on sale, of course, so I couldn't resist. 

The year started out with me buying a lot of fabric!! I wasn't feeling too good about it and when I found YOTS from A Quarter Inch From the Edge, I knew it was going to be great for me. I started out by making a Stash Manifesto:

1) Buy as little new fabric as possible. I won't say buy none. I want to be free to get a great new piece here or there, patron indy quilt shops, or buy backing when needed. I'll buy used, reclaimed, and/or vintage fabric when possible. I pride myself on using these fabrics in my quilts, and need to scoop them up when they preset themselves. But I want to be mindful not to add too much to my stash!
2) Use some used, vintage and/or reclaimed fabrics in all quilts. Last year was the first time I used all new fabric for some quilts and it just didn't feel right. As I said above, I pride myself to use these vintage items, and I need to get back to that. I have such a wonderful collection in my stash, it needs to get out into the world!  
3) Organize as I go. When we moved, I started folding and color coordinating my stash and discovered that I have far too much fabric!! I barely made a dent before I filled up the entire space I'd set aside. I'd like to utilize this space better this year. I want to use up, organize, and consolidate during The Year of the Stash!
4) Sew, sew, sew! One of my goals is to have at least one finish per month, I'd also like to make one new block per month. Sourcing from my stash will help me as I have so many wonderful fabrics at my fingertips! 

Here's how it worked out in real life:
1) Once I started YOTS, I went long periods of time without buying anything new. I was even able to go to quilt shops and not come home with anything. I was able to find some great vintage fabric, some fun vintage sheets and such for backing or cut up and some interesting thrifted pieces this year. I designated some old clothes and other items for repurposing as quilting fabric. Overall, I'm happy with what got added to my stash.
2) I'm happy to report that after joining YOTS, everything I made had some used, vintage, or reclaimed fabric in it. 
3) I started out the year pretty strong, but that was all the organizing I did and it was very little.
4) I didn't sew as much as I would have liked this year. When I did, I shopped my stash and was pleasantly surprised and inspired. But very few finishes happened for me and I did not devote enough time to my quilting craft. 

These were purchased from  Rock Paper Scissors , a really lovely quilt shop in Montclair NJ. 

These were purchased from Rock Paper Scissors, a really lovely quilt shop in Montclair NJ. 

Here's what my year end stash report looks like:
Fabric Added Since last Update (in August, yikes!!): approximately 8 yards

Fabric Added Year to Date: approximately 29 yards
Fabric Used Since last update: approximately 5 yards (wallets and BOM)
Fabric Used year to Date: approximately 13 yards

That's a total of 16 yards in the plus category for my stash. Not horrible but not great, either. Still, for my first of mindfully adding to my stash, I'm happy!! 

One thing I've tried to be better about this year is joining in with the quilty community. I've tried to do more challenges (like YOTS, OMG, FAL2016) and more link ups (like Slow Sunday Stitching, Move It Along Monday, etc...).
YOTS was a challenge that I really enjoyed and I plan on making a 2017 manifesto and continuing to track my progress in the new year, but I'm not sure if Quarter Inch From Edge will be hosting another year of YOTS. I found that there wasn't a lot of community activity in this challenge, bc there were very few link ups, very few check ins and a general lack of group encouragement. I totally understand how hard it must be to be the leader for such a community, when even just blogging can be a struggle. I'm not upset or disappointed but I do hope that YOTS continues into the future and it gets more community involvement. I'd be willing to take a swing at leading it, but I couldn't promise I'd do better at regular YOTS activities. I would try, though! Maybe I'll contact Quarter Inch from the Edge... Or maybe I'll concentrate of my own Year Of The Stash!

I hope some of you guys will start a 2017YOTS and share your progress (no matter where that may be). I look forward to seeing your manifestos and stash reports in the new year!

Sunday Stash: Yard Sale Finds

In my Year of the Stash Manifesto, I stated that I would try not to add too much to my stash this year. The exception would be vintage or reclaimed fabric. For 4 months, I did a good job at not buying or aquiring anything. 

But now it's yard sale season!

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Right after I wrote a YoTS post (here), I added quite a few yards to my stash. Better get sewing!

Today I'm linking up with Mollie Sparkles for Sunday Stash. 

New Block: Tree Of Life Variation

A little while ago, I was inspired to make a baby quilt in white, silver, red and black. Not my usual palate, but I thought I'd give it a try. Then I set out to find a pattern that interested me. 

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I've long thought that a Tree of Life Block would make a great focal point for a baby quilt. I've avoided this block because... so many HSTs! After looking around on Google images, I worked out a variation and got to work. It's a little wonky but that's kinda my style. At least Elvis likes it:

I'm linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching