Monday, 25 January 2010

Sorting Out My Scraps Stash & Uses for really tiny bits of cloth...

I spent quite a lot of time yesterday looking through patchwork & quilting blogs.  And found blocks called Crumb, Nine Patch and Strip - which use up 'bits' of fabric.  Of which, being someone who can't throw away even little bits of leftover fabric (and cutoff threads) in case it's useful, I have quite a lot.  But have no idea what colours/ fabrics/ sizes as they're all crammed into an under bed storage box.

But then I found a blog that has a Challenge to post your Design Wall on a Monday and on one entry there was a link to this article, which amongst other things, suggests how you can organise your scraps stash.

It splits into 6 categories, but I changed them a bit to suit my embroidery habits...  Being a patchworker the article suggests you actually cut the fabrics down into suitable square/strip shapes, but I've not bothered with that, I've just looked at the bulk of the piece and not cut off trailing bits in case I need them for embroidery as I tend not to work in geometric shapes for that, so whilst patchworkers will have actual squares etc mine's a bit more erm loosely interpreted.

1. Chunks - at least 8" square

2. Charms - between 4" and 8" square

3. Chips - anything less than 4" square

3a. (my extra category) Mincing - anything that's too small/random to be used in a Crumb block, so less than 1" square, including tiny bits you'd have trouble picking up with tweezers.  See below for a pic of what I do with this stuff

3b (my 2# extra category) Threads - any threads that have been cutoff from sewing, or frayed off.  Sorted by colour.  Used for same purpose as Mincing fabric.

3c (my 3# extra category) Bondaweb fabric/films - offcuts from something that has been bonded.  No idea what I'm going to use these for, Crumb applique?  But worth keeping for experiments...

4. Strip - length of fabric that is evenly cut all the way along, I decided at least 4" long & 1" wide.

5. String - uneven length of fabric at least 4" long & 1" wide.

6. Stray - 'orphan' blocks you've already made up that didn't make it into a finished project.  (As in not blocks that are just Unfinished Projects).  Needless to say, I've only actually got 2 stray blocks - the Tic-Tac-Toe ones I burnt by ironing accident...

And this is what my scrap stash looks like having sorted the Charms & Chips into 2 shoeboxes, the Strips & Strings into rolls, the Mincing and Threads into Ziplock bags, and the Chunks just a pile to be spread over the top:

Result!  It's much better having it sorted out so that I can just start using it rather than spending ages sorting through first...  It'll cut the boredom down no end!!!

Ok, so Minced Fabric using 3a & 3b above - it's a free machining technique, you take all the little bits of fabric/waste threads and cut them into smaller bits around the size of a split pea, then you take a piece of backing fabric (and an embroidery frame if you're nervous about your fingers....) and with the feed dogs down and a darning foot (or no foot at all, in which case, DEFINATELY, use an embroidery frame) meander all over the backing fabric pushing the minced threads & cloth under the foot with tweezers or a chopstick/ skewer until they're caught down.  And bingo, a new totally unique fabric that's great for 3D items like bags or buckets etc. 

An alternative method is to mince bondaweb, mix it well with the bits and make a sandwich of backing cloth then bits spread thinly then a chiffon scarf, then iron it all together.  It makes a flexible & smooth (and thinner) new totally unique fabric.

The red one is the basic minced fabric using curved zigzag stitch (red felt backing, red/gold/orange bits) then a pic of the basic fabric cut up into blocks & zigzagged to a red felt panel.

The blue one is the basic minced fabric using straight stitch free machining meandering around (blue acrylic paint on calico, blue/cream/gold bits) then a pic of part of the basic fabric which has had blue dyed muslin sewn into a spiral then cut away to leave a frayed 'ribbon' spiral, then basic minced fabric with cross hatched plaid stitching in pink over the top with squares of the minced fabric appliqued on the intersections of the cross hatching.

Then finally, a couple of strips (I must have used this for something, but can't find the sample in my books at the moment) using the chopped up bondaweb and bits sandwiched between cloth and chiffon scarf alternative technique.

Now I've got it all sorted out, I will eventually be making some minced fabric to use in bags etc, so when I do I'll take pics for a tutorial.  But it'll be in a month or so.

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