Every so often blog readers ask questions that I think other readers might want to know the answers to. I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days.
Yesterday I showed you my quilt top of Wonky Wishes. Read that here if you missed it.
The question come from Julie in WA: “Did you work from a planned color scheme for this quilt or did you blindly pull from any fabric scraps? The coloring is beautifully uniform; I want to make scrappy quilts and my intuition says to plan rather than grab….I’d really like to know what you do?”
This is a little hard to answer…No, I don’t plan my color scheme…but Yes, I do plan my color scheme. Let me explain.
First off. I use Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap Users System. Find more info about that here if you don’t know what it is.
Bonnie says that she cuts fabrics into 1 1/2″, 2″, 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ strips. I do that. I’ve found that 2″ is the one I use the most so if I get a bunch of scraps left over, I cut more pieces that are 2″ than any other size.
The thing that I do that others likely don’t is that I have more than set on containers. I have one set of containers that are for darker, jewel tones and Civil War type prints. I keep them all together. Neutrals that are more cream based go in this system. That’s to the left in the picture.
Pardon the mess…the sewing room needs a cleaning.
I have another system that is for brights. All fabrics that are bright and funky go into that set of containers. Neutrals that are more white based go this system. That’s the middle of the picture.
I have yet another system that is for recycled shirts and plaid types of fabrics. That’s to the right in the picture.
I don’t mix my fabrics. I think most people who use the scrap savers system do mix fabrics. By not mixing, I know that most everything I grab from the box are going to match.
For this quilt I needed LOTS of 2 1/2″ squares. I had to decided if I wanted the quilt in jewel/Civil War prints, brights or shirts. I opted to pick jewel tones and Civil War prints. I found my 2 1/2″ bucket, pulled it out, took it to the cutting table and started cutting. I simply pulled fabric and jumped into cutting. I didn’t have to pull out fat quarters and cut a strip or two of each and then fold and put them away. Being only jewel tones and Civil War prints are kept in the box, I knew everything would coordinate.
I will admit that my box didn’t have very much red in it. I had pulled a bunch of the red for a previous quilt so I did go into my fat quarters. I picked four that I liked the least. I cut them up into strips…some 2 1/2″ and some 2″. I put them in the box and used them up.
So did I plan…Yes. I did…but my planning happened a LONG time ago. My planning started YEARS ago when I first started keeping the scrap users system.
So did I plan….No, not really. I simply decided what color base, jewel toned Civil War prints, then I grabbed my bucket and started cutting.
When it came time to cut the cornerstones…I was back to scrap buckets. This time I knew to grab the 3 1/2″ bucket….again I didn’t have to pull and drag out fabric. I just grabbed the bucket.
People always ask how I get so much done. One of the biggest helpers for me is the scrap users system. It’s especially good for me as I make mostly Bonnie Hunter quilts….it’s gotten so that most of what we design ourselves is also based on the scrap users system.
After cutting out this quilt, my bucket was still VERY full. I grabbed a Bonnie pattern and started sewing right out of my bucket. Nothing could be faster or easier. You can read about that quilt here.
This came from Cheryl: “Once again, Jo, I like your example of this Bonnie Hunter quilt better than the original one she made. We’ll let that be our secret. I have the Wonky Wishes book on my nightstand so I can plan how I’m going to tackle this quilt. You’d done a wonderful job.”
Chances are Cheryl you prefer the jewel or Civil War tones….That’s the only real difference. Bonnie made her’s with brighter prints….also, I added another column on mine. Bonnie made a 5 x 6 setting….five blocks across and 6 rows down. I like my quilts big so this is 6 x 6….six blocks in each row and six rows. That left me making 6 more blocks.
Bonnie doesn’t discriminate between jewel tones and brights as much as I do…It’s all a personal preference. No way is right. No way is wrong.
I know for me, my quilting life COMPLETELY changes when I took Bonnie’s scrap users system and made it my own. Give the scrap users system a try. You won’t be sorry.
Now that sorting/not sorting system makes sense. I like some harmony in my quilts, even the scrappy ones and your little secret to that is going to be well used. Thanks for taking the time to share your approach.
Now I understand why your scrappy quilts always appeal to me! I have tried the whole anything goes approach and didn’t care for it at all. I am currently switching over to the scrap savers system. I will sub sort as you do and hopefully be a happy, scrappy quilter. Thanks for the great explanation.
Thanks for answering my question! I am going to study Bonnie’s scrap saver system and see how to incorporate it into my organization. What you do makes a lot of sense, and it shows in the cohesive overall presentation of every scrappy quilt you make.
Jo, thank you for sharing. I too use Bonnie’s scrap saving method but I like your additional step of saving in fabric type families. This would make using scraps more cohesive, which I believe is a better fit for me. Again, thanks!
I also use the Bonnie Hunter scrap user system but in a smaller way as I don’t make th huge quantities of quilts you do. I love cutting up scraps at the end of a project to add to my boxes of organised scraps. All my colours go in together though as there is such a small amount compared to yours. I recently made a Wonky Wishes quilt, baby girl sized with solid pink sashings. That small quilt cleared me out completely of neutral scraps!
Thanks so much for the info! Now for a dumb question… Are there any other categories for fabric in general? If I were to sort my fabric scraps (or any size piece), would they all be either jewel tones or brights? .. plus the neutral fabrics? I don’t think I have even one gene of creativity and as a result have really lost interest in quilting. I have made 5 of Bonnie’s quilts using the suggested ‘color families’, but I really like those you do!
Any help from anyone reading this would be appreciated. ‘Nana’ is getting old ‘er’ and really needs to use some of this fabric!!
I do jewel tones which includes anything in darker colors that are rich. Bright for me are something that are bright and spring like….if you lay the pieces together, you’ll get it before long. Neutrals are easy…white backgrounds go with brights…creams with jewel tones.
Your sub-sort of fabric by style is such a great idea! I will have to start doing that with my scrap user system too :) I just couldn’t resist and am now making a Wonky Wishes quilt too.