Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quilts From The Stash

I want to teach you how to plan well-designed quilts using the scraps of fabric you already have in your cupboards or closets. You know the fabric I'm talking about, your "stash", that fabric that is too big to throw away, and too small for most projects. Simply said it's your leftovers.

You will notice right away that all of these examples are using squares. For my needs, a 4" square was the perfect size. You might decide that you want squares that are a different size, depending upon the size of your scraps, or not use squares at all. The knowledge gained from these examples can be applied to any type of pieced quilt, any pattern, any shape.

To begin this discussion, I will introduce a new term to you, a term that I made up for my instructional purposes here. The term is "anchor fabric". It's the piece of fabric that you will want to coordinate everything else with. It is the "anchor" of your quilt.  The other term we will use is "coordinating fabric". I'm sure you have heard of that before. Simply said, it is a fabric that is different than the anchor fabric, but still looks good with it. If you are planning to purchase new fabric for a quilt, you can often find coordinating fabrics where someone else has chosen them for you and they will be clustered together on the rack. Since I wanted to use my stash fabric, I learned to look for coordinating fabrics in my stash.

In each of the following examples, the picture on the left is the quilt. The picture on the right is the individual squares, the center square being the anchor fabric, and the others being the coordinating fabrics. You will notice that coordinating fabrics do not necessarily look good with each other, but each one of them looks good with the anchor fabric. The quilt backing is one large piece of one of the coordinating fabrics, which one is dependent upon which I had a piece that large of.
Aqua Bears Baby Quilt
In this example, the square of fabric on the left is the yellow square in the picture. It actually has green dots, not black dots, just like the drum in the bear fabric. The blue stripe and solid blue are the same shade of blue. The pink check is the same color of pink as the bear fabric. The backing is the yellow with green dots.
Blue Bears Baby Quilt
In this example, I had fewer pieces of my anchor fabric, but found more options for my coordinating fabrics. Once again, the yellow in the quilt picture is the same yellow as in the close-up of the coordinating fabrics, and in fact, is the same fabric as the previous example. There is orange in the bear's hat and clothes like the solid orange I used. There is ivy/holly trimmings on bear's hat, thus, the two pieces of green/red leaf look great. The orange/blue plaid works well, as does the blue/white stripe,the bright blue abstract piece and the country blue with white dots. The backing is the blue abstract piece.
Country Bears Baby Quilt
In this example, the yellow print on the left of the squares close-up is the same shade of yellow as the yellow stripe in the anchor fabric. There is red and white in the anchor, so the red/white stripe matches well. The blue square on the right has a "denim" pattern which coordinates well with the bear's pants. The blue stripe with the hearts looks good with anything country, as does the green leafy calico print and the blue/white check. The backing is the red stripe.
Zoo Animal Baby Quilt
With this quilt, I found I didn't have enough pieces that coordinated with my anchor fabric. I had to go buy something! Surprisingly, the anchor fabric was still on the racks with all it's coordinating fabrics around it. The green/blue leafy piece with the elephant on the bottom was one of the coordinating fabrics so I did get some of it. I also bought the many colored dots to the right, but found it on the clearance racks for $1/yard, can't go wrong there, and it still looks good with the anchor. The anchor fabric has quite a lot of peach color to it, hence the peach plaid fabric, and of course the solid blue and solid green pieces are the same shades of blue and green in the anchor fabric. The backing is the many-colored dots fabric.

I bet you've already had your mind wander to your stash, and had several ideas pop into your head, haven't you? My examples are all baby quilts 40" x 40" square which I made for my son's Eagle Scout Project. This is a great size for a baby quilt, lap quilt for the elderly, wall hanging, etc. You could also use more coordinating fabric options for bed size quilts. The sky is the limit (or for me, the "square" is the limit)! And remember, if your stash isn't big enough to pull something together from it, holidays are great times to go to the fabric stores when they have all their clearance fabrics 50% off clearance price, and stock up! So get quilting!