Friday, May 18, 2012

Don't Be Intimidated by Scrap Quilts

Reminder - get going on your Civil War Stars quilt if you haven't already. The quilt for this month is a very scrappy one.

I recently met some quilters who said that  making scrap quilts intimidates them. Many antique quilts were made from scraps and those of you who know my quilt style know that this is my favorite type of quilt. Not all scrap quilts are created alike, however, and you can always control just how scrappy your quilt turns out. If you are accustomed to making matchy quilts, just try going a little scrappy at first -  throw in a few different blocks amongst your matching blocks. It will grow on you. And take a look at antique quilts.

If you're afraid to go too scrappy - use the same colored sashing throughout to pull the scrap blocks together.

You can always try using different scrap blocks with the same background fabric.

When I lecture and show my quilts, I am often asked how I get that particular scrappy look in my quilts. I learned to  do this early on by studying old quilts that I was drawn to and determining what it was about them that I loved. In the quilt below, each block is made from different prints, no two color combinations are repeated. Antique quilts are often scrappy like this because they simply had to use what was available. I like to think that the women who made these quilts didn't just create them randomly, however.  In many of them you see that wonderful creative essence of play.

If I'm making a scrappy quilt, I like to make it using simple blocks. Simple blocks can be made to look more complex than they actually are by using a large variety of fabrics. And you can use the same block and  make another quilt with different fabrics for a totally unique look. Try it sometime.

Ophelia (Princess Lia)  is not usually allowed to play or sleep on my quilts but OMG how cute does she  look here? Poised and posed. If I stay perfectly still, like a statue, maybe Mom won't notice I'm on her quilt . . . .

 She thinks I'm playing when I yell at her to get off the quilt and she does this every time I try to set up my quilts for the camera.

What I love about this blue stars quilt (which was modeled after an antique quilt made with scrappy LeMoyne Star blocks on a light background), is that while the backgrounds of the blocks are blue, each is made with a different blue print.  Still blue, but using different prints gives it a subtle tone and keeps it from looking too matchy. A good way to go if you usually make matchy quilts and are afraid of making each block different. Just make the backgrounds of the blocks different. I think  it gives a nice old-fashioned feel to the quilt. And it's easy because the blocks are made using half-square triangles, no set-in seams. The quilt is in my book Remembering Adelia.

This one is in Adelia too . . .

I miss this particular quilt because right now it is hanging in the Grout Museum in Waterloo, Iowa for their Civil War Commemorative Quilts exhibit and will be there until Sept. If you have not seen this exhibit and are planning a trip to Iowa, please stop and take a look. It's a very nice exhibit. Scrappy quilts, antique quilts and lots and lots of small quilts too. I  blogged about it here.

But I'm getting off track. And sorry  - Blogger is messing with my fonts again and I can't change the type size or make it all the same so everything looks crappy, Arrgh! 

For many, the best way to make a scrappy quilt is to be spontaneous. I like to plan a little bit and always make extra blocks for a quilt. Use light prints with medium prints and medium prints with dark prints. Try making some extra blocks in varied colors and play around with them in the setting until you come up with a combination you like.  Set them together with the light and darker blocks contrasting for a nice flow. But don't fuss too much. It's not as hard as it seems if you just take the time to play and find what is pleasing to your eye. Throw in a lot of the colors you love and your scrap quilt will turn out just fine.


WoolenSails said...

When I use scraps, I just grab and sew, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but I do like the naive look in some pieces. Usually I grab and if the color just doesn't look right or match what I am putting it next to, then I think a bit on what color I want.


LesQuilts said...

I'm working on the new small quilt with the stars. I'm using fat quarters in a grouping that looks good together.
It won't be civil war fabrics, but soft soft florals.
I'm hoping to finish it up this weekend!
Take care, Leslie

Mary said...

Hi Kathy--I am a regular reader of your blog and have all your books--and have even made quit a few of the quilts! Your photos are always so crisp and clear. I am in the market for a new camera, and was wondering if you would share what brand and model of camera you use? Have you taken photography classes? I have so much to learn! Thanks in advance. Mary in Virginia

Kathleen Tracy said...

Thanks, Mary - I have a Canon SD1200 camera which is a few years old so they probably have newer models now. Check for ratings. I think it takes very good photos and highly recommend it for the money.

I did take a couple of photography classes years ago. Make sure you buy a camera with an optical image stabilizer to avoid blurry photos. This may be a Canon feature, not sure.

I used to have a nice 35mm camera but gave it to my son. Someday when my kids are out of college I will buy a nice digital SLR camera for myself : )

Heather said...

Scrappy is my favourite style of quilt too. I do have a hard time going COMPLETELY scrappy though and I have some boundaries for scrappiness. Maybe this is silly, but I just can't get past the control thing! I'll usually pick a colour scheme to stick with as the control, but after that all randomness applies!

I find the Mary Ghormley book, Childhood Treasures, wonderful for authentic antique small quilt inspiration and there's lots of scrappy business in it!

I love your Orange Peel pattern and it was a great "step out of the box" for me since ALL the background squares were different and ALL the applique "peels" were different - ACK! It was hard for me to see it as lovely until it was finished. I kept telling myself that "If hers looks good, so will mine!" Thanks for stretching my quilting boundaries and adding inspiration to my bag of quilting tricks!

Wendy said...

My cats are always attracted to my newest quilts. Princess Lia looks so cute on your quilt. Scrap quilts are my favourite in any type of fabric.

Jane's Addicted. said...

enjoy reading your blog, kathleen... i have to comment on your dog. (cockapoo??) insanely cute.

Thanks again for the great post - keep up the good work...

Der Nadelfl├╝sterer said...

Today I found your great blog.
First sorry, for my english. My german is a little better ;-).
I love your quilts. They are great.
The pictures with the dog are so cute. Your dog looks like our Miley (Bolonka Zwetna).

Wish you a nice weekend.

Greetings from Bavaria,

Jans said...

And this was not a crappy blog but a scrappy one.
I like your dog and of course your beautifull quilts.
Greetings from Holland in Spring ( at last).
Janny S.

Anica gp said...

who could be a puppy to sleep on your beautifull quilts!!!...ALL your quilts are spectacular...your design,fabrics,colours...really I LOVE YOUR QUILTS,and your dog,ophelia,too...she's pretty!Greetings from Pontevedra,Spain. Ana

E Craft Classes said...

Thank you for sharing pictures of your lovely quilts. Your garden is inspiring as well. Hopefully my patchwork gardening will be a larger project next year.


Anonymous said...

This blog is very interesting:)
This stuff is very nice:)


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