Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The return of the 2" squares . . . .

The 2" squares languished in the dark in their pizza boxes for years. In the meantime I'd learned all about stitching through little pieces of scrap fabric in between batches of piecing. This was to save thread, to prevent the machine from becoming unthreaded, and to keep the machine from "eating" sharp points on little pieces of fabric. Quilt teachers everywhere touted this system, giving these little scraps cutesy names. I dutifully stitched through my scrap until it was so covered with thread that I could hardly see the original fabric, at which time I tossed it and started on another.

Then along came the reining queen of scrap piecing, quilt construction, and online tutorials - Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame and the Quilt Mavericks ring. Being a lady of creative brilliance, Bonnie had come up with her Leader-Ender system. What a tremendous concept - instead of wasting thread in scraps piece a second quilt at the same time you are piecing your primary quilt. I "met" Bonnie through the Stashbusters yahoo group three or four years ago and quickly became one of her biggest fans. I loved the idea of leader-enders. I was doing almost no piecing at the time - having become completely addicted to needle turn appliqué and folk art quilts - but I promised myself that as soon as I started piecing again I'd try the leader-ender system.

Fast forward to this year. I'm still doing appliqué but I'm also piecing again. And when I started piecing I suddenly remembered all those 2" squares. So I dug out the pizza boxes and separated the thousands of squares into lights and darks, which wasn't hard because each box was already arranged from light to dark when I took the illumination class years ago. I dumped the lights into one basket and the darks into another. Many of the pieces are really mediums, which just adds more interest to the mix. I started sewing a light and a dark square together as my leader ender piece. I pressed them and tossed them into a third container. I did this for months and months without any idea what I'd do with them.

Fast forward to last week. When I finished the current round on my medallion I decided I wanted to play with the squares. They could be 4-patches, 9-patches, postage stamp blocks or any of several dozen other things. However, my friend Kathie in New Jersey had started a making postage stamp blocks that really spoke to me. I know it was because she had wonderful scraps from lots of 19th century reproduction fabrics. I decided that even though mine are entirely different fabrics that was what I wanted to do. So I did. And I really like how they are turning out. So far I have no idea how I will set them together.

As you can see I have hundreds more 2" squares to stitch together. They represent a history of the first 10 to 12 years of my stash, plus many oddball 2" squares that I've cut from scraps since then and added to the mix. Years and years from now they will be a historians dream - a palette of fabrics from the early part of the late 20th century quilting renaissance. Separately some are pretty and some are darn ugly - but all together they make a beautiful new whole.

23 comments:

Sweet P said...

You write a wonderful tale. I especially like your comment about the squares "aging". Sometimes that has to happen for the quilt to be right.

Bonnie said...

It is a true stash buster scrap quilt - and it looks warm and comfy, exactly like a quilt should look.

Libby said...

Quite a saga of the 2" squares. Scrappy quilts are just the best and this one will be stunning.

Finn said...

Hi Patti, what a great 2" square adventure you have been on!! I love reading the "whole" story of how your postage stamp quilt came to be begun...*VBS*
It's great to have so many visual reminders of our fabric collection over the year. Actually that is one of my favorite parts of loving scrap quilts..*S*
And when the scraps start talking to you, it's hard to resist.
Absolutely NOTHING has budged me from my slump til I came across that pile of cut triangles(the X cut square) and a few orphan broken dish blocks next to them. Suddenly I wanted to sew..and sew I have been!! Happy and crazy as a loon, playing with all those triangles and cutting more. Go figure!
Big hugs, Finn

Nadine said...

What a nice (and inspiring) story !
This gives me the idea of going to Bonnie's, to read again her "leaders-enders" concept and then "jump" into this adventure !
Actually, I've got two big tin boxes, full of 2.5 inch squares, sleeping on my shelves (a habit I took long ago, to cut 2 squares of each fabric I buy, and set them aside). I never started something with them, because I'm always a little scary, when machine piecing(don't know why). Hmmm, but my fingers are burning now ! I have to try this (no matter the UFO's !)
Thanks, Patti, you show me the way ! Oh, and your quilt is going to be so beautiful !

Hugs and smiles,
NADINE.

Ruth said...

It's a great story, and the quilt will look wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Love it!

In the end, leaders/enders is/was only partially successful for me...
But I still LOVE the concept and am in awe over what Bonnie & apparently you have been able to do with them!

Cher said...

I liked this story...it shows you can start in one direction, change your mind, and end up in a completely different place! so not only is it a wonderful history of your fabrics over many years, it's also your own personal quilting history story. I hope you print this off and eventually put it with the ending quilt result-those stories will be the best for the grandchildren to read!

Jeanne said...

This was great reading! I love the part about not knowing what to bring to class, so you brought some of EVERYTHING!
Jeanne :)

Pam said...

Wonderful story Patti.

What a great house to stay at for a quilt retreat. And the rental price is amazing, it is really reasonable - if not downright inexpensive. Don't let that secret get out!!

MARCIE said...

They say if you keep something long enough it comes back in vogue. Your scraps look great to me! Organization is the key to it all, isn't it?

EileenKNY said...

I guess you could call it "A Decade in the Life of a Quilt". So, it's a little longer time. No big deal. What is big is that this quilt is going to be so cool, and it's going to tell generations to come what you did. I love the concept.

YankeeQuilter said...

What a great project! With all the complicated piecing and applique we do there is still alot to be said for a good one piece quilt. Sort of like a fabric lover's I Spy!
Siobhan

Tazzie said...

I loved reading your tale of 2" squares. Don't we just love Bonnie for her inspiration to reduce our stash, and to use pieces we never thought we'd use. I'm so looking forward to seeing more of your scrap quilt. It looks sensational already!
*hugs*
Tazzie
:-)

Darlene said...

What a great story, Patti. 2" squares are so much fun - your postage stamp quilt is going to be wonderful. Your use of the pretties and the uglies will give you a terrific quilt.

Susan H. said...

I loved your story of the 2" blocks. They will be a true journal of your past.

Quilts And Pieces said...

You know, she is just a big trouble maker! Like I can't think of things to make myself! Nooooo - she has to come up with more ideas for things for me to make!

Hedgehog said...

Love the explanation. I've been wanting to start up a leader/ender project - thanks for the inspiration.

Richard said...

Patti

I like your postage stamp blocks. They are very colorful. I like the histry you gave of your stash.

Judy said...

Excellent journey into the 2" bins Patti!! Can't wait to see what you do with them!

Judy

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

So glad you visited me so I found you. I am a huge scrapper and this is how my general quilts are made so I'll be whipping a few into 2 inch squares and trying this for stopping my ends being eaten...do you know, I thought that was just me??

2monkeys_mom said...

I'm glad I read this - it gave me an idea for a better way to piece small blocks together (the coins of a coin quilt).

Your squares are lovely and lively!

Lisa said...

The postage stamp quilt caught my eye right away on your blog - every quilt has a story, thanks for telling this one's. It's inspiring, I may have to add something like this to my sewing time. I have a rediculously large box of 1" squares...