This quilt has a bit of a story behind it… don’t they all?
One day, I was reorganizing my fabric collection, which isn’t very big by most quilters’ standards. Since I work with sewing patterns for clothing and other items, I decided to “square up” the fabrics. After I cut off all of those weird shaped pieces, I was left with a bunch of small bits. Instead of throwing them away, I decided to see if I could make one piece of fabric with it all.
Then, I got the idea.
Why not make a quilt using only what I have on hand? No trips to the store…. NONE!
Doesn’t this sound like the perfect quarantine quilt? Especially when we were all in self-isolation and the craft stores weren’t open because APPARENTLY ‘they weren’t a necessity’? Pfffft
I made this quilt back in 2018. Two years before the Corona Virus chaos.
Through this quilt, I learned that the small bits to fabric are called crumbs. I learned that if I’m not happy with my results, I can consult my more-seasoned-quilter-friends for advice and encouragement. I learned that it is OK to scrap an original idea and go in a different direction. I learned how to make something beautiful from an ugly mess.
Here was my process:
I started with a pile of small piece that I had cut down to 2 inch widths. The pile sat next to me at my sewing machine as I ran two pieces through at a time. My only rule was “no two of the same fabric” joined together, until I had one gigantically long “chain”. *I sewed them together on the diagonal…because I seem to enjoy making things complicated. But I like the angles I got in the end. It adds to the crumbly effect.
Do you notice the large spool of thread in the mug?
Pro-tip: If your spool of thread it too large to fit onto your machine, use a mug set behind your machine, then thread it as usual.
The mug thread is leftover from when Mama made one of my bridesmaids’ dresses. Two of my girls sewed their own! Aren’t they all just amazing? They all had the same lace-up back.
Where were we? Oh yeah, quilt!
So, see? I was using every bit of leftover whatever I had. Also, every single one of my bobbins was semi loaded. So, I used those in the piecing of the top quilt as well. I’m not too sure why I have a full, almost new, spool of blue thread on the top of my machine. I guess I took the picture before I realized I should use the bobbins.
I kept working until the pile was virtually gone.
When my first chain was complete, I went through and freed each pair of sewn pieces, clipped off the little triangles (because I was sewing them together diagonally), and continued to stitch them together until I had another long chain. I repeated this process until I had one super long piece of pieced fabric.
I saved all of those super tiny pieces. I decided to hand sew all of those triangles together because they were too small for my machine.
((I was going to add all of these to this quilt later. SPOILER ALERT: that didn’t happen… but it did make it into my second crumb quilt currently called “Crumby Pinwheels” which is in process.))
Now that I had one absurdly long piece of fabric, what was I going to do with it?
I thought I would make a regular square block. Once I started, I was kinda’ OK with it. It didn’t look very interesting to me so I started to off-set the block and only add to 2 sides.
Looking back at the above image, I think the quilt would have been fine if I continued adding to it. But I didn’t want to use my bigger scrap pieces. Besides, I was itching to make something NOW!
I sent the above picture to my friend and expressed how I was disappointed with the size. It was only a little larger than a welcome mat. She mentioned that when her quilts aren’t to the size she wants, she adds sashing. She suggested cutting it into blocks and add sashing in between.
I thought this was a great idea. It was also a good way to use more of that fabric I just reorganized.
There was already too much green and blue, so i picked out a solid mauve.
Why be boring and do regular square blocks? Let’s be adventurous! Let’s add interest! Let’s do triangles!
I don’t remember exactly how I did it, but I ended up being a bit short on the length of sashing. So I had to add the purple flowery bit in the middle.
UGH!!!! WHAT THE HECK DID YOU DO, SHANNON?!?!
Now it just looks like a horrible homage to the underused asterisk.
I sent the above image to my friend.
Her: I prefer it the other way. I’m not a fan of the mauve sashing.
Me: Same, and it didn’t add much to the dimensions. It’s still too small for my liking.
Frustrated, I shelved the project, but not for long. The local quilt show was right around the corner and I knew I would be struck with inspiration…. which I was.
Once I got home from the show, I knew exactly what I needed to do to make the quilt “work”.
I took the asterisk and chopped it up into two inch rows, sewed those rows together to create another super long strip of fabric. I then dug through my stash and found a large piece of fabric that was mostly white, but had a dragon design along the bottom. I cut off the design and cut the white into 2 inch strips, sewed the white into one long strip until it was about the same length as the crumb strip. Then I sewed the 2 strips together, lengthwise. After that, I cut the strip into squares. Then I arranged the squares into the biggest size quilt I could make. I ended up being able to use all of the blocks! Plus, I was SUPER thrilled with the layout:
Someone get a broom! It looks like there are crumbs on these stairs! It is also a decent size.
Great! Layout decided, sew them together and add a boarder:
I searched through my stash to find more fabric that I could use. I didn’t have enough of one cut, so I pieced it together and tossed in some fabrics that make appearances on the front.
Making sure the “After Quilt” or backing is completely flat, I painter’s taped it to the floor. Then used some of the batting from my stash and put the top-quilt on top. I used safety pins to keep everything from shifting.
I wanted to really drive home the stairs effect so that was how I quilted it all together. During the quilting process, I didn’t use “leftover thread” because I didn’t want to keep changing bobbins or spools. Besides, I had used them all in the piecing process. So I stuck with white for the top and bottom threads. You can see the quilting better from the back:
I don’t know how many full bobbins I went through, but I had a lot of loose threads after machine quilting. I tied and hid them in the layers of the quilt.
After it was quilted I stretched it to make it square. I did this by getting it damp and pinning it down to the floor:
I like to add layers of thick blankets so my wet quilt isn’t directly on the carpet.
While it was drying, I created my own binding using remaining bits from my stash:
After the quilt was finished being stretched, it’s time to unpin and trim:
Add the binding and a rod pocket! (The rod pocket is the cutoff bit from the white fabric.)
The final touch, a han
I decided to start putting the date started and completed. It’s always interesting to see how long the process took.
For all of the changes that went into this particular quilt, it was a really short time by most quilt-clocks!
I also like adding what I learned with each quilt.
I have used this quilt so many times. It is perfect for “pandemic picnics”! I’m not afraid to use this quilt.
I whittled my fabric stash down a great deal, created more real estate in my
crap craft closet, AND made something I’m quite proud of. PLUS everytime I use it, I see fabric from previous projects (some of which were not my own):
I was able to enter this quilt, along with another, in our local fair the next year!
*Cheers my Dears!*