Scrap Overload

The mad rush of the holidays is finally over.  Now the mad rush of January with it’s end of the year accounting, garden and orchard pruning as well as housecleaning all begins.  With the change of the calendar to a new year, we all seem to naturally think about resolutions even if we don’t really make them or keep them for long if we do make them.  We also seem to think about simplifying and decluttering our lives.  In that mode, I must say that my quilting studio is really quite organized and clean.  I have trouble working in chaos and I am a little OCD (or CDO in alphabetical order like it really belongs) about having things organized in general.  Yes, my spices are lined up in alphabetical order in the spice rack.  There is nothing more satisfying than being able to put your hands on exactly what you need without wasting time searching for it.  As they say, opposites attract, and I am married to the polar opposite.  My wonderful husband is what the family fondly refers to as a Stuffologist, and not a neat one either.  He lives in utter chaos.  I will not go past the doorway of his garage because it just makes me itch to go and organize for him, which he refuses to let me do.  But I digress.

The one area where my organization has fallen short is in my scrap inventory.  I have been quilting for over 11 years, so as you can imagine, since I tend to not throw away anything larger than around 2 inches, I have quite an impressive inventory of scraps.

The above photo is a view of all my scraps stored under my cutting table which the previously referred to Stuffologist custom-built for me.  You can see why we get along so well.  11 of these canvas bins are filled to overflowing with scraps.  They are sorted by color, and of course placed in the storage area in alphabetical order.  When you are done laughing at my obsession…

Blue, being my favorite color, is divided into two bins, dark and light.  Here is a photo of the dark blue bin in all it’s glutted magnificence.

Keep in mind, I make a lot of scrap quilts and all of my quilting buddies have free rein to come shop my scrap collection, and neither activity has made a dent in the bins.  So, I decided I was tired of having to dump the bins out to find exactly what I want.  My sister-in-law, Mary Deeter of stitchinggrandma has always impressed me with her scrap organization.  She uses the system that was developed by Bonnie Hunter.  Here is her link  So I have decided to bite the bullet and cut up my billions and billions of scraps (only a “slight” exaggeration) into usable sizes, and of course, organize them.  I dug out my AccuQuilt Go Baby, which I bought several years ago for 40% off and have hardly used.  Unfortunately, I only had the 2 1/2 inch strip and the 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 inch combo square dies, so it took me a long time to get through the first half of the dark blue bin, which was the first one that I tackled.  I finally broke down and ordered a 3 inch die which makes 3-3 inch squares at once; the 3 1/2 inch die, which makes 2 pieces at once, and the 5 inch die which also makes 2 pieces at once, and a combination 1, 1 1/2 and 2 inch strip cutting die.  I was able to whip through the second half of the bin in half the time and I’m finally justifying the investment I made in the AccuQuilt.  I am just cutting each piece, which of course needs to be thoroughly ironed first, into the largest usable size, with the largest being 10 1/2 inch squares.  If the piece is bigger than that, I refold it and place it back in the bin.  I found these great containers all at the local dollar store and am trying my best to color coordinate the containers to the color of the fabric. Unfortunately, the smallest ones only came in about 3 colors.  These are the containers for the yellow/orange bin.


Once the bin is emptied, as I said, I placed the large uncut pieces neatly in the bottom with any squares over 6 1/2 inches laid neatly on top of them.  Then the containers all neatly stack on top of or inside each other.  This is the after photo of the dark blue bin when it was finished.

It is still filled to capacity, but everything is neat and organized.  I placed a card with the size of the cut on top of the two stacks of largish squares in the two shoeboxes so it’s easy to find what I need.  The 2 1/2 inch strip container is absolutely overflowing.

So far I have finished the teal and the dark blue bins and am a quarter of the way through yellow/orange bin and I am getting inspired to get busy and quilt.

How are you decluttering your world this year?


An Ode to Buttercup

Farewell, Dear Buttercup

I say a sad good-bye

As you fly on up

To the pressing station in the sky.


You have been an iron faithful and true

Doing pushups many and strong

Each time I let go of you

For these many years, oh so long.


But alas, you have grown weary

And weak in the knees.

You’ve pressed till you’re bleary

Always eager to please.


Without you, I tried to get along

But old-fashioned iron would not suffice

Demanding to on her heel be like she belonged

She did burn my board once or twice.

(Oh, that just wasn’t nice)


So at last your replacement is here!

Still nameless, she is pretty in pink,

Bringing to a quilter’s heart good cheer.

As she does pushups and to her knees doth sink.


Okay, maybe I should stick to quilting instead of poetifying.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Oliso irons, they are meant to be left horizontal on the ironing surface when not actually in use, pushing themselves up with little feet when you let go of the handle, and the feet folding up flush to the bottom when you pick up the iron to press.   I have really become spoiled in the 5 or 6 years that I have had Buttercup.  I love not having to worry about whether I remembered to put the iron up on its heel, the cord is extra long, and the iron doesn’t turn itself off until it hasn’t been used for 30 minutes, which is a far cry from the usual 10 minutes and is ideal for a quilter.  I don’t tend to iron at all once, but intermittently throughout the quilting day.  So the only debate about whether or not to replace Buttercup was because these irons are very expensive.  I tried using my previous iron, which still works just fine, for about a week, and indeed I left it down in the horizontal position a couple of times.  Keep in mind, I just put a brand new cover on my oversized ironing station, which is a major undertaking because both the old and the new have adhesive to hold them in place, and can be ordered to fit large ironing stations.  My husband built this one for me, and as you can see, it doesn’t have a point like most ironing boards do.After the second incident, which was the worst, I immediately went on the Internet and ordered a new Oliso, trying to ignore the expense.  What is pressing bliss worth anyway?   Besides I use my iron heavily because I spend hours quilting nearly every day.  I was amazed to see that they had available a limited edition pink iron, so decided why not.  I was thrilled when the new iron came an entire week before it was due to arrive and I had it plugged in and was putting it through its paces immediately.

Now the only challenge is to name her.   Just so you know my best quilting friend got me started naming my tools and came up with the name Buttercup.  So my longarm machine is Rosie, my Baby Lock Jane is Plain Jane and my fancy Janome is Lady J.   My friend who came up with Buttercup’s name happened to be over to quilt on Thursday afternoon when the new one came, and we debated about a name, coming up with Petal, Raspberry, Shortcake, Lily, Barbie, and then getting really silly, Pepto Bismol.  So if anyone has any brilliant ideas, I am eager to hear your suggestions.  Rose or Rosie is out because I’ve already named my longarm that for very convoluted reasons.

Happy quilting!





I’m freshly home from a fabulous 4-day retreat with my Quilter’s Anonymous (Quilt Guild) group. The above photo is the main building which houses the quilting room to the left, a spacious lobby in the middle and the dining hall to the right. It was held at the St. Francis Retreat Center near San Juan Bautista, CA. What an incredible setting.
These next two photos are where the rooms were located that we stayed in, a short walk from the quilting space…and more importantly…the food!
This photo is taken from the patio in front of the dining hall looking past the quilting room.
And this is just a lovely shot from the same patio looking towards the rooms.
The next photos are all of the interior of the quilting room.
This last one is of my sewing station. Looking out the window just to the right of my station, I saw a herd of 5 deer and a flock of turkeys strolling by. Of course, they wouldn’t wait for me to get my camera out.
There were a total of 30 very talented quilters as you can see from the sampling of quilts that were hung as they were completed. The food was also wonderful…and it was such a treat to not have to cook or clean up afterwards. This was my first quilting retreat experience and I am planning to go every year from now on because it was such fun. One of the few times that I was not ready to return to my home routine after four days away.

Quilting Studio organization

When I first started quilting, I was using a very small desk that I used when I did nothing but make clothes for my nieces & nephews.  The table was located in a corner of our guest room.  Then I discovered my dining room table was a much better option.  When my sister-in-law,, and I went to the Houston quilt show this past October, we took a class on creating a perfect sewing space, and I discovered ergonomics! On the plane ride home, I sketched out a plan for a total makeover, and my darling, longsuffering husband immediately got to work on it.   As a little aside, let me say that this is the first time he’s ever worked on a project immediately when I batted my baby blues at him…it was a small miracle.  During the class, we also learned the best way to fold our stash, which was the first thing I did, even before I started cleaning out the room.  Here are before photos of the guest/sewing room.



The table with the computer on it was my former sewing table. The white table in the middle of the room is the fold up cutting table. And here is a before and after photo of the stash. I didn't take the before photo until I'd already refolded the second shelf down of the stash.
Stash Before
Of course this photo doesn’t include the bits of my stash scattered throughout the room. Here is the after photo.
The method involves using an 18″ X 24 inch ruler to fold your fabric over as if you were putting it back on the bolt, and then folding the folded fabric in half lengthwise. The ruler is also handy for stacking and pulling out pieces without upsetting the entire stack by inserting it wherever you want to place or remove a piece and sliding it on the ruler.

We found a family that “loved” the plaid sofabed…well, loved might be an overstatment, but they took it away for their family room, and we didn’t even have to pay them to take it. 🙂 I cleaned all the junk out that I didn’t use or want anymore. My husband built this two-station sewing table that’s at nearly the perfect ergonomical height for me. The office chairs are adjustable to make the sewing surface the perfect height.
He has since added these little cabinets underneath on either side to stabilize the table, and there is still room for my machine trolley and some large project bins to slide underneath and the cabinets provide more storage.
The original idea was to use the fold-out, wheeled cutting table along one wall and just build storage to hold up the two “wings” with pull out bins for scrap storage.
Then hubby noticed that the body of the table took up what could be storage space and suggested he could just put a counter all the way across and build another shelf below. He’s not only handsome and talented, but brilliant as well. I’m a lucky woman! He also elevated the sheet of plywood a bit so I have a place to store small, flat items under the cutting surface.
The mats you see in front of the table are anti-fatigue mats that we got at Home Depot. They are heavenly on our hard tile floors! I want to permanently attach some to my feet.
Over the cutting table, hubby installed a shelf between the two storage cabinets that I kept. The idea was to put lights under the shelf. We tried the battery operated puck lights, but they just weren’t bright enough even with fresh batteries. We found these low profile LED lights that plug in tandem to each other and then to a wall plug, which my talented hubby carefully camoflauged. Also on the wall we installed two ruler racks that I found on Etsy. There is also a bulletin/magnetic/white board as well that he mounted on a small crate that we had. He hinged the bulletin board so it lifts up, and there is storage inside. The board is also easy to access to jot measurements and other reminders down quickly without having to reach all the way to the wall.


The last thing we did was take the original sewing table and a small chest we found at a thrift store and build an oversized ironing board on bun feet to go on top of the two surfaces. Impossible to get a photo of, but I made a V-shaped fabric catcher out of muslin with wooden dowels in pockets and hung both dowels from cuphooks installed on the back of the two small chests and and on the wall under the window. The fabric catcher is close to the same length as the ironing board and prevents large pieces of fabric or quilt tops from picking up dust bunnies from behind the furniture. I also got this idea at the Houston quilt show.
As you can see, the bun feet on the ironing board provides yet more storage space!
To complete the room, you can see in the after photo of my stash that we had made a design wall to the right of the stash cabinet, which remains in place. The design wall is a copper rod run through a pocket made on a piece of flannel and hung on the wall on curtain rod hardware. There is also a piece of PVC in a pocket on the bottom of the flannel to keep it from flopping around. There is, of course, the existing closet as seen in the before photos that was the only spot that was organized in the whole room. The room is 11 X 11 feet, not counting the closet. I think we did a good job utilizing every inch and it’s a comfortable spot for two quilters to work. I find I can spend a lot more time working on quilts without as many aches and pains because all the work surfaces are at the right height, and I enjoy just being in the room. I can toss my scraps directly into the appropriate bin as I cut, and its easy to find what I need. Now my only dilemma is where in the world I’m going to put my long-arm quilting machine when I win one. You don’t suppose hubby would be willing to build me an entire quilting house now that he’s experienced in space design; do you?