Friday, April 10, 2020

Inventory quilt top nearing the finish line

I had a few moments of doubt about the stars for my Sparkling Inventory.  I pulled out various creams and golds, thinking I could inventory those in the stars, but they really didn't pop on the scrappy blue background.  I didn't take a picture, and those fabrics are are all tucked away in their bin again, so you'll have to take my word for it.

White popped on the blue, but I never built up my collection of white on white fabrics after I decimated it to make Milky Way.  The same white in all the triangles was very bland.  Ah ha!  How about that white Quiter's Linen "Blanc" by Robert Kaufman, the white with silver metallic texture?  That's not plain, and maybe the silver bits would add interest.  Never mind that what I had available was specifically earmarked for something else.  :)

Yes, I think that worked.

I liked the way that looked in the stars, but 10 of the same stars all in a row lacked spark, so I cast about for a second star fabric.  I found this grey with silver accents in a bin with snowflake prints.  I vaguely recall buying them all for a very specific idea that I fell out of love with, but clearly I never got around to re-homing the fabrics to their appropriate color bins when the original plan fell apart. Indirectly, this bright blue inventory quilt is making me take stock of what else I have!

Piecing went mostly smoothly.  I had a few bad moments one evening after piecing a bunch of the white and grey triangles.  Fun fact, the two shapes below are not interchangeable.

I knew this, yet after the first two I proceeded to sew the remaining 18 units in the wrong orientation.  That's what happens when I sew past my bedtime!

It didn't take long to rip and resew the next morning, and the rest of the assembly went smoothly.  Next, I need to decide what to do with borders.  The pattern calls for scrappy, but as I flipped the scrappy and non-scrappy parts in this quilt, I think I might do the same in the borders and choose a single fabric.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Sparkling Inventory progress

The bright blue inventory is progressing.  After selecting all the brightest blue fabrics in my stash (49 different ones, if you're interested) I was pleased to find that I could arrange them in more or less gradated order on either side of the star path.  I then cut each down to size according to where it would end up in the pattern.

The background is made up of strips.  As written, the pattern calls for some strips to be twice as wide as the rest.  To include a larger selection of fabrics, I made the wider strips from two different fabrics, sewing two narrower strips together to make up the wider width.

This particular version of Sparkling Trail is a scaled down one using 2 1/2" and 4 1/2" strips. If I had made the original throw size as described in the pattern I could have used 4 1/2" strips for the narrow strips, and sewn two of those together for the wider 8 1/2"strips.  I also could have used jelly roll strips (2 1/2" wide) to build up the 4 1/2" and 8 1/2" strips:  2  strips sewn together yield a 4 1/2" strips, 4 strips would yield the 8 1/2" strip.

If you would like to make the scaled down version of the pattern, you can download instructions to convert the pattern. Please note that these instructions are only for the adjusted fabric amounts and cutting sizes.  They do not include the assembly instructions or assembly diagrams.

Scaled down version of Sparkling Trail
The throw size pattern is available in my Etsy shop.  Use the coupon code JWQIQ2020 for 20% off this pattern now through June 30th, 2020.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Inventory project fabric pull

While I was still working out what direction to take for my inventory quilt, I sorted through my stack of quilts for a trunk show.  With Inventory Quilts on the brain, this one particularly caught my eye.

Milky Way has samples of most of the bright blues I had in my scrap bins in 2018.  You can see in the progress picture below that the background is also scrappy, using up most of the white on white fabrics I owned. 

I suppose it is actually a record of my past inventory of white on white, because I have none of those left after making this quilt.

Milky Way is also an example of mixing up the color placement from what is suggested in the pattern.  It uses all the cutting numbers and sizes, and the assembly instructions from my pattern Magnitudes, but throws all the color into the stars instead of in the block backgrounds, and matches the sashing to the block background to make it disappear.

How does this relate to my inventory project?  I decided to flip the color placement.  Where there is a single background color in the Sparkling Trail pattern, I am going to build the inventory quilt version's background from multiple fabrics.  The stars are going to use neutrals this time around.

Also, I'm using blues! My bin of blues is still larger than all the other colours' bins, so it seems a good one to inventory.

This does not represent the entire fabric selection in the blue bin.  When I started sifting through the collection, I realized two things.  First, I have way too many blues to shoehorn into this project.  Second, not all blues play well side by side.  I know, it's shocking!  There are bright blues and grey-blues and turquoisy blues that look blue when you put them with turquoise and turquoise when you put them with blues and... Well. You get the idea.

In the end I decided to narrow the inventory focus even more and just use the brightest blues.  I like how it's turning out.  Of course, it's blue.  How could I go wrong?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Where did all the grey come from?

I wondered if I had enough light and medium neutral scraps to make a throw with my three sunflower blocks.  You should have seen the look on my daughter's face.  She looked at my stash shelf, then looked at me and laughed.

She was right.  I had plenty.  In my defense, I wasn't sure how much variety I had in that bin.  Still, as you see, I made it work.  The grey bin now contains a reduced variety of fabrics, and is comfortably full rather than bursting at the seams, but there are still plenty of grey bits and pieces to pull for some other project.

Where did all that grey come from??!!  I'm a brights gal!  This quilt has to be the most neutral, low-volume quilt I've ever made, and even that had those pops of yellow to brighten it up. I just had a look through my quilt pictures to see if I could figure it out. 

Since 2001, I have finished 74 quilts plus assorted table runners and place mats. Four of those quilts have grey backing.  Trimming the backing after quilting yields a lot of scraps, so I'm not surprised to find those fabrics in my sunflower quilt.  Still, there is a lot more variety than that in the quilt!

I didn't use any grey at all in any quilt until 2014 when a some grey block corners made an appearance in my son's Kaleidoscope quilt (finish #34). Eclipse Sky (#47) and Fundy Skies (#42) in 2016 were yellow/grey quilts, but there were only 3 different greys between them, and I only scraps had of two of the three.

Eclipse Sky

Fundy Skies

My daughter's bed quilt has a scrappy neutral background, including light greys and grey on white prints, though the greens and oranges certainly dominate it.  I used up the last of those scraps in this quilt.

Altogether I could only identify 14 projects that used any grey, in the top or the backing or both.  Scraps from three of those were too dark for this background, so didn't contribute.  There were four 1/4 yard cuts in the bin that I had bought for something yet never used, so that accounts for a little bit more of the variety. 

All this to say, I think scraps multiply.  How else did I get a whole quilt background from scraps from so few projects?

Don't worry.  I won't list all the quilts the yellows came from.  I honestly don't think I could!  I had expected my yellow stash to lack variety too...

I'm off to add prairie points accents to my sunflower quilt!  Thanks goodness for the yellow stash to brighten up the grey stash!

Sunflower blocks are from the pattern Soaking Up the Sun from the book Mini Wonderful Curves from Sew Kind of Wonderful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Sparkling Inventory

I'm a Featured Designer this month for the Just Wanna Quilt Inventory Quilt Project. I sent them a few copies of Sparkling Trail to play with back in January.  Besides wanting an excuse to make another Sparkling Trail, I thought the design would be a good one for an Inventory Quilt because it has a lot of patches.  That leaves room for a lot of different fabrics, which is perfect for taking stock of an extensive stash curated fabric collection.  120 triangles give plenty of opportunities to showcase individual fabrics.

This version was a pretty good snapshot of my red stash in 2014 when I made it.

There are not 120 different fabrics in that quilt, as I used some more than once, but you certainly could use 120 different fabrics if you had that many.

You could even use more that 120 by piecing several fabrics together and cutting the triangles out of that pieced swatch.  The original Sparkling Trail was actually Sparkling Strings.

Oops, it's upside down!  Just the same, you see you can stuff a lot of fabric samples into those stars!

You could also inventory just a subset of your collection.  This version used some of every Thirties reproduction fabrics I owned.  You can guess that I didn't have very many, as I repeated each multiple times.  It does demonstrate that you don't have to have all the triangles in a star be different fabrics of a single color.  In this fabric style it worked much better to scatter all the colors throughout.

None of these quilt, or the other two versions I made (here and here) were meant to be inventory quilts.  The version I'm making this month for the JWQ Inventory Project needs to intentionally fit that bill, so I had to decide precisely what that term means.

OK, precisely is not quite the right word.  I founds a couple of different interpretations:

  • a quilt that uses one piece of every fabric in your collection - a quilted inventory of your entire fabric stash.
  • a quilt made up of fabrics entirely from your stash, with no additional fabric purchase required.
That first interpretation was problematic for me.  Twenty years into my quilting adventure, I have rather a lot of different fabrics in the stash, even if some only in exist in small leftover pieces.  Perhaps I could refine the definition by dividing the stash into scraps and pieces large enough to be worth inventorying.  Hmm.  At what size should I draw the line between the two?  That's a bit  daunting, and frankly, it takes a little of the fun out of this project, so I reversed course.

I liked the challenge of working entirely from my stash, so leaned in that direction for a bit.  As I wrote in January, I'm trying to tame and reduce the scrap collection this year, but I hadn't made much of a dent since shortly after blogging about it in January.  In fact, I added more than I subtracted.  Working entirely from my stash for this project would help with the scrap mitigation project.  Let's do that.

But I have a lot of scraps and that's a bit paralyzing, so in the end I bundled both interpretations together and refined my plan.
  • Inventory a only a subset of my stash, to keep the project manageable.
  • Use each fabric only once, just because that seems like a fun challenge.
  • Purchase no new fabric, even for the backing and background (scraps from those two components inevitably grow my stash!).

Care to join me? Besides posting updates here on the blog, I'll be posting on FB on my page  and in the JWQ Inventory Quilt Sew Along group, as well as on Instagram (@canuckquilter). 

You might also like to see how other featured designers from past, current and future months interpret the theme.  You can find their posts on Instagram by searching for #justwannainventoryquilt, #inventoryquilt and #justwannaquilt.