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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Using Up Scrap Strips - 1600 Quilts on Steroids

I have a ton of scraps and strips that are cluttering up my sewing spaces. They are left over pieces, or strips cut for bindings or borders that never ended up getting used up.  What to do with all these?

Well, since I make lap quilts for hospice, under the Power of the Quilt program, I thought that I could just take enough strips and make a 42" x 55" lap quilt:

This had a selection of 6", 4", and 3" strips.  Went together quickly.

But I had done the jelly roll race, and I thought why not mix it up and use different width strips?

So here are 3 42" x 55" lap quilt tops ready to be sandwiched and quilted.  Notice that I included stray blocks:

Half square triangles, flying geese, and square blocks all the same size as a strip got included together.

I start by sewing together long strips all the same width. Here is a 2.5" strip and a 3.5" strip. The 3.5" strips include 3.5" x 6.5" blocks I had laying around, I included several between each strip to mix it up and use up some of the zillions of blocks I have waiting to be put into quilts.

I start with a wider strip, say 4" or 4.5", and sew a set of narrower strips on each side. So then when I go to press, I do both seams at the same time. The bottom strip set here is an example of that. These strips sets are 100's of includes long, maybe even 1000's of inches long.  The top strip set had the 3 strips like the bottom strip set, and now I have added another strip set on the top which I haven't pressed yet. I'll probably get a second strip added to the bottom, and then press both at the same time.

Pressing isn't one of my favorite activities, and I find these long strips sets take hours to press, and create a giant pile of fabric on the floor.

To speed up creation of these strip sets, I use my sewing machine to join the strips into long strips, and my serger to sew the strips together. I increase the stitch length from 2.5 to 4.0 on the serger, so I don't go through so much thread. I'm always excited when I can empty a 3000 yard spool of thread. I have 100's of cones in my thread drawer, and scrappy quilts are a great way to go through thread quickly.

This way, when a strip set isn't long enough to go to the end of the strip group I am serging it onto, I can continually add pieces to the strip on the sewing machine and continue serging on the serger.  I find the serger feed is much better, as I don't have an even feed/walking foot setup on my sewing machine. Plus the serger trims off any excess fabrics as long as I'm careful and don't cut the strip set with the serger cutter!

My goal is to get at least 25-30 of the lap quilts completed in 2014 and donated to my local hospice. I need to reduce some of all these scraps and fabric strips I am storing in my family room, and this will at least eat up 50-60 yards of strips, and allow me to more quickly make up some interesting lap quilts for donation. It's a mindless sewing activity, and I keep finding more strips as I clean up.  And it's a great way to mix up the really ugly fabrics with the bold, bright, and patterned fabrics and have an interesting mix. Gives the hospice patients something to look at each time they look at their lap quilt.

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