Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Scrap Vortex, finished top and leftovers WIP

Still raining hard, our pond is nearly full.  Time for the next instalment of 'what I did on my holidays'. Clearly what I didn't do was keep up this blog, contrary to all my good intentions.  I was thwarted by our computer going sick and being at the menders for FIVE weeks, all because of some software that wouldn't install properly and then wouldn't uninstall.

I don't know all the technical phrases and ins and outs, but 'jolly annoying' would seem to be the politest way of putting how I have felt about its absence.  Unfortunately I am not very up to date with tech matters and don't have an alternative method of posting, so I have been incommunicado.  Need to get a grip on that side of things soon.

However I would always rather sew than learn new computer skills, so I have done a lot of sewing, some of which I will show you now.

First up is my Scrap Vortex quilt, blogged about here and in several subsequent posts.  It's 61" x 66". Big enough as I'd like to try spiral quilting and I don't want too much of a wrestling match...

I had such fun making this, and it fitted in around other projects, so that when I fancied a bit of free machining I could add a few strips to the component blocks.  Then, when I felt I had made enough 'chunks' I would start the jigsaw process of putting them together into slabs.

As I have said in an earlier post, I really appreciated Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts running this as a recent QAL, or I might never have decided to have a go.  She gives lots of hints and tips which are really helpful, but I thought you might like to hear what I learned from my first time experience of the process.
  • That this is a great introduction to improvisational piecing, as there is a clear structure and overall plan but within that you are free to play with colour, texture and scale.
  • That when it seems to be getting bland you must throw in something strong - bright or dark or both!  Even if you think it won't go it will be just what's needed to give depth to your piecing, so it doesn't turn into mush.  If you are nervous you can keep the strong/bright piece relatively small.  Have a look at the photo above, you will see what I mean.
  • That wonky is OK but I think this design works better if you keep the axes roughly north-south, east-west, vertical/horizontal: square up regularly and you will find the slabs fit together more easily.
  • That there are a LOT of seams and you need to press regularly and well to keep the pieced slab manageable.
  • That you get a more interesting quilt if you keep your pieces relatively small.  Big wodges of one fabric take away from the delicious intricacy: my favourite areas of the top are where there is the most detailed piecing.  This does take time - sometimes you will feel you have done a lot of piecing and still have quite a small chunk to show for it: it is worth persevering though - again, have a look at some of these pics and see if you agree.  The smallest pieces measure about 1" x 2".
  • That it makes a terrific mess, because you need to have access to all of your fabric all around you - or I did anyway - and all the little bits which are so important in your quilt shed lots of little threads everywhere. And you don't seem to be using up fabric as fast as you think you should given the amount of time you are spending machining and pressing, because the bits are so small (compared to making a regular quilt, that is).  But remind yourself that quite apart from the messy fun you are having this is going to be a 'free' quilt top, from fabric you have paid for but might have thrown away - that always works for me!
  • If you are finding that piecing the small stuff just doesn't bust your scraps fast enough, why not make a second quilt at the same time which uses bigger bits, as I did with Scrapper's Delight?

And there are moments of serendipitous joy: along the way I discovered mixed into my bag of scraps the leftover ends of binding I had made for other quilts, so now I have the makings of a scrappy binding just waiting for this top to be quilted!

So if that top is finished, what's my WIP to link today with Lee at Freshly Pieced: WIP Wednesday?

Well, you know I said about not using up big scraps fast enough?  Even after the Scrapper's Delight blocks were finished I still had strips in my bag that by now I was pretty tired of.  So I tackled yet another of the quilts I like from Sunday Morning Quilts - Candy Coated.  And here's my progress so far.

Nearly at the bottom of the bag...


  1. Gosh, what a lot of scrappy fun you've been having! I enjoyed reading all about your findings as you made the scrap vortex too! He-he, I recognise quite a few of your scraps in 'candy coated', they're in my scrap basket too!

  2. Gorgeous! I love the scrap vortex and the string quilt. Great job.

  3. Great scrap busting! Thank you for the tips.... I'm planning on making a Scrap Vortex quilt (eventually!), so the tips will really help!

  4. Thanks all for your kind comments - I have been so out of it that they mean a lot. Get stuck into your scraps without delay, you won't regret it!

  5. I love piecing with small bits, but I tend to go for regular sizes - squares & strips. Your quilt looks great with the irregular bits all pieced together.