Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't Discard Those Triangles!

Quilting or patchwork used to be a craft where the quilter would use scraps and small pieces of fabric - now it has become a craft where we take large pieces of fabric, cut them into smaller pieces and sew them together again. We can now make quilts faster and more accurately, but many of the techniques that make this possible, unfortunately, waste fabric. In these days when the price of fabric is rapidly rising, I think many of us will have second thoughts about throwing away those pieces that we easily cast off in the past, and will be hanging onto the stashes that we joke about instead of purchasing fabric without thought.

One of the techniques which I am fond of for making flying geese units involves sewing two squares of fabric on a rectangle, then trimming off the extra triangles to leave you with a quickly made and very uniform "goose". If you are working with smaller units of 2 inches or less, the waste really does not add up to much and easily discarded. But, if the pieces are 4 inches, you are left with triangles of a good size that it seems a shame to throw away. But what can you do with these? Plenty, but first it's nice to sew them into squares so you don't have to worry about that bias.

The first thing I do is to sew an extra seam on my blocks so that my triangles are already pre-sewn. This doesn't take long, and ensures that I will eventually use the extra pieces, plus eliminates the need for sewing those bias seams. Simply draw a line 1/2 inch from the center stitching line on the squares - in this case I am using an 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch rectangle with two 4 1/2 inch squares. I have a 6 inch by 1/2 inch ruler that works perfectly for this. After sewing on the center line for the flying goose unit, I sew the second seam, then simply cut in between the two stitched lines and press the seams. If you are in a hurry you don't even need to press the seams on the triangles yet - you can save that for when you want to use them.

Here on the right I have a pile of triangles left from making my mother and father's 50th anniversary quilt. There are a lot of triangles here! They are made with batiks, so I know they will be beautiful when I use them, but I haven't even pressed them yet. I still have some of the blue fabric that makes up one half of the triangles, so I think I will combine that with them to make a larger quilt or maybe a dramatic wall-hanging.

The pile on the left is a set of blocks I've made using the leftover triangles from a queen size quilt I made several years ago. This is how I am contemplating putting them together. With borders it will make a nice small lap quilt.

I know that not everyone enjoys playing with small bits like I do, but I feel good getting two quilts out of one, so to speak. I even have saved a baggie of even smaller triangles that I just may get around to playing with someday - so if eventually the price of cotton rivals the price of gold, at least I won't have to worry about not being able to enjoy my quilting habit - I could go on my saved scraps for a very long time!

Save those scraps!



FabricFascination said...

Your quilt layout looks great. I thing scrappy quilts are the best!

What a great idea for salvaging those corner triangles.

Dawn said...

Pamela, this is inspiring me to dig into some of my scarps! Lovely

Colleen formerly of South Africa said...

I love scrappy quilts or quilts that are all from orphan or stash projects. Thanks for sharing yours.