Updated: Jun 22
Ah scraps, the inevitable by-product of quilting!
Some discard, some keep, and others hoard and collect, turning them into beautiful quilts.
I have a confession, I have always wished to be a scrap textile artist. I would envisage myself making these grand appliques with all my saved pieces but for some reason, I could never make a start. Usually, I make my appliques from my stash and scraps, however, the smaller the pieces became, the more difficultly increased.
Then something happened after weeks of filming our free quilt as you go along. Long days behind the camera and then countless hours of editing made me obsessed with quilting. I would go to bed at night practicing in my mind's eye the process of stitching and flipping and sewing from dot to dot - (if you know you know). Suddenly my Pinterest feed evolved from fashion to quilting images. Just like that, I had caught the quilting bug.
I have always steered clear of quilting in the past as sewing precisely just wasn't something for me and I preferred to stay in my lane with applique. I could easily palm off some messy sewing as a 'sketchy look' that kept the perfectionist voice inside me at bay.
When we made our string quilt, I started researching the history of quilting. I was swept up in the community and thriftiness of it all. My generation missed out on the essential skill of sewing. There was no need, with the rise of fast fashion you could buy a top cheaper than you could make it. Not only that, all the manchester you could dream of existed at department stores for low prices. I was one of the only people at my school who could sew and who also had a mum who could sew. Yet, now as a society, we are shifting again. My generation is moving away from fast fashion due to the increasing awareness of textile waste. I feel that this could bring things full circle.
Historically, string quilts and crumb quilts were made from all different types of fabrics cut up from old clothes, blankets, flour sacks, etc. Please note that I am not glorifying this as in the articles I read, this was a sign of the economic times. More so, I am inspired by the geometric patterns and works of art created. As a society, we are always facing changes and challenges in the world. I believe that there is a lot to learn from the past that can help us with today and the future. The thrifty secrets of my generation were common knowledge of those times.
My late Grandmother Jeanie was a supreme dressmaker, she never wasted anything. Her frugality, a habit learned from the economic times she faced in her life, ended up challenging her creativity to produce works that never would have existed if she could easily pop to the fabric store.
A few months ago, in her memory, Mum made a coat to wear to her funeral using fabric in Grandma's stash. Mum chose a striking green knit, however, halfway through the project, Mum realised she didn't have enough fabric. We were determined to make the entire project only using this fabric. Grandma had started cutting the fabric into strips so these parts that we originally thought were unusable, ended up becoming the feature on the lower skirt.
At business school, we touched on this concept in entrepreneurial studies. My teacher called it bricolage, from the French word meaning DIY. In the business world, it is the process of constructing a start-up with an array of whatever is available and on hand. My professor said this type of entrepreneur tends to have the most success as they push themselves creatively. I remember chuckling to myself and thinking about how this concept that has been deconstructed, studied and analysed is something a lot of quilters do naturally.
So after much deliberation, I decided to steamroll Mum's plan for the week and we started crumb quilting, if you follow along with our social media you may have seen the updates. It was the first time I quilted in 2 years!!! I never have time to sew as we are a two women show and I also have another business outside of Pattern Poole.
The process of stitching together tiny pieces was actually therapeutic, especially with Mum's tips and tricks. We get a lot of comments from people who say she makes things look easy. I can attest to this, after much struggle with my temperamental machine I was almost too exhausted to continue, but I pushed through and we completed all our scrap/crumb sections for the quilt. We filmed a lot of it on my new camera for vlogging and next week when we release the tutorial it will show both of our perspectives to include some beginner troubleshooting. (But I haven't checked my footage yet so It could all be rubbish)
Next, we moved on to making the blocks, I finally got to stitch and flip my first ever block and it was so addictive. All that practice from obsessive thinking about it and mentally practicing had paid off. Mum has come up with the most creative design for this quilt using a mix of scraps, crumbs, and strings for the entire array of diverse pieces that exist in one's stash.
I am excited to edit this video. You may have noticed we don't really give any time frames and info much these days. We have found we work better when we don't have deadline as sometimes life gets in the way or our designs take longer than expected. However, we are aiming to release our new full-length tutorial next week on Wednesday morning (Eastern Standard Time). We are also writing up a pattern that you can purchase as a PDF from our website if you wish to make this project.
So, moving forward we have finished all our blocks and on Monday we are going to join them together quilt as you go and I can't wait!
In the meantime, I am going to get sketching on these fun quilt ideas that I want to make and we hope you join us on our new journey of working towards being more sustainable with our quilting. We are not perfect and of course, will still buy fabric mindfully, I even want to design my own fabric for personal projects, however, we want to make tutorials that are accessible to everyone. Where possible we make our own templates because we don't want to exclude anyone from diving into the fun and fulfilling world of quilting. Quilting is clever, therapeutic, community building and life-changing. Every day we can feel the embrace from the community we have all created together during this strange time that we are living through. Thank you for being a part of it! xx Alaura
Wishing you a creative weekend!