OK, I’m going to digress from my usual cat or quilting commentary and take the time to give a product review (and – ‘no’, it is not a quilting product). Have you ever caught yourself saying “they don’t make them as good as they used to…”? I’m talking about GRAHAM CRACKERS! You remember Graham Crackers? Those yummy, crumbly flat ‘boards’ from kindergarten that we loved to dip into milk? My husband has been jonesing for some good old-fashioned graham crackers for the last year or so and we have tried EVERY brand we can find. The Honey Maid, Annie’s, Nabisco; the store brand generic, the ‘gourmet’, the organic… cheap ones, expensive ones, cinnamon covered, plain, we even tried a knock off brand from the Dollar Store… NOBODY makes graham crackers like the ones I remember from my childhood. Some came close but missed the mark, others weren’t even close (in flavor or texture – the Safeway house brand were the closest we found). Try tossing in trying to avoid high-fructose corn syrup and the playing field gets much smaller. Well, we finally found them! Good old Trader Joe’s wins again, Their ‘boxed’ Honey Graham Crackers are it. We just put them to the milk test and it was like going back in time to sitting around that circle painted on the floor and dipping our crackers into the milk – I could almost smell the tempera paint.Mind you, these are NOT the TJ’s cinnamon topped crackers sold in the clear plastic deli containers, these are plain and come in the box but oh the memories… These are just cardboardy enough, sweet but not too sweet, and have just the right ‘sandy’ ‘gritty’ texture, hold their shape when dipped in milk but crumble in your mouth. Heavenly!
If you are anything like me, you love to find interesting fiber art stuff. My sewing studio is jam packed with not only the standard ‘sewing’ things (fabric, batting, thread…) but also unusual finds – beads, novelty yarns and other exotic materials.
I want to share a great source with you, many of you ‘locals’ already know about this place but some may not or may have heard of it but not gotten around to checking it out so here’s a nudge. It’s a thrift shop devoted entirely to sewing and related crafts. It was formerly called Knitt’n Kitten but is now operating under a new name – Kraft Kitty.
The shop is run by my former daughter-in-law and her mom and features – well – just about anything you can imagine. Vintage and unusual fabrics, trims, old patterns, buttons, lace, beads,,, You never know what you will find but you can count on it being something you wouldn’t find anywhere else. I love to embellish some of my art quilts and have found all sorts of treasures there. If you like the rare and unusual, you need to check this out.
Well, that’s not entirely true, there are ugly scraps I have discarded albeit with some sense of regret. It is scrap quilting that got me interested in quilting in the first place and there was a time when scraps were all I could afford. My mom sewed clothing (she was not a quilter) and she generated LOTS of scraps. Mind you, most of these were not cotton and my early quilts were made of such inappropriate materials such as robe velour and taffeta; I even put parts of a mink coat into one quilt. Once friends learned I was into quilting the influx of scraps became a torrent.
Now when I say ‘scraps’ – I mean SCRAPS! most of what I have pulled out of classroom wastepaper baskets is what I would call ‘yardage’, a ‘scrap’ is small enough that you could fit over two dozen of them into a sandwich bag. But what to do with them? If you like applique as I do, there are always opportunities to use even very small pieces in applique work but it seems like no matter how many scraps I pull out of my boxes and baskets, the contents of these containers never seem to diminish, it’s almost like they are breeding in there like some kind of rabbits on fertility drugs.
Every now and again I threaten to just dump them but can never make myself do it. A couple of months ago, I went to a friend’s studio and found her busily piecing tiny (3″) blocks from her scraps – a center strip with a white strip on either side. She sand the old familiar song of going into her studio that morning fully intent upon tossing these bits of flotsam and jetsam and found that she too, could not bring herself to part with them. Her quilt is several feet in diameter now and keeps growing every time I see it. When asked how large she intends to make it, she shrugs and replies that it will be done when it’s done.
This was just the push I needed to finally start a serious assault on my own scraps. So… what do you do with scraps that are too narrow to work their way into an on-going Log Cabin scrap quilt?
You strip piece them of course! Sew them together into parallel rows in whatever lengths they happen to be. Leftover pieces long enough for another block unit can be added onto for further blocks. I settled on a 4″ square as a base size and to make that goal easier, I positioned two pieces of blue tape 4″ apart on the front of my sewing extension table; I can hold my ever widening panel of strips against it to check the progress and check that a strip is long enough to participate as well. The strip pieced panel can be a bit wider than 4″ (it will be trimmed and squared) but it mustn’t be less,
After enough strips are joined, the panel is pressed and then trimmed and squared down with a 4″ square ruler (the blocks will ‘finish’ at 3 1/2″ when sewn together. I don’t concern myself too much about colors and grouping other than a general attempt to not have glaring clashes in color or value, the idea here is just to get rid of most of my scraps.
The trimmed blocks get tossed into a large Zip Loc bag with all the others, sooner or later I will have enough to do something with.
Like my friend Jane, I have no actual plan or goal for how large a quilt I am aiming for, nor how I am going to lay them out though the image below is one idea.
I just want to make a productive dent in these scraps that have weaseled their way into my psyche, I can’t bear to relegate them to a landfill (or even as stuffing for a dog bed though that is where the really ugly ones go as well as those too small for even me to bother with). I have a few such ‘scrap’ projects going and in future posts, I will share some of those other ideas and designs.