Thursday, May 9, 2013

Waste not, want not!

Our eastern redbud (cercis canadensis) is coming into bloom! It is native to Southern Ontario and is the prettiest little tree! In spring the branches are covered in these lovely little pink blossoms. They are replaced by lovely heart shaped leaves that are lively green. The leaf cutter bees seem to love them; I know this because of the large chomp marks! For the next several days I will just enjoying looking at these tiny blossoms!

I may have mentioned that I hate to throw out small scraps and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the day after I throw out the scrap I know I’ll need that exact fabric in that exact size! Don’t tell me that hasn’t happened to you! Secondly it is wasteful. Thirdly the smaller the fabric gets the prettier it seems to become, not always but almost always! So I trim up my scraps and store them in a bag with other scraps of the same size. I often use these little gems to make nine patches. A 3” nine patch (3 ½” with seam allowances) is my favourite size.

Another thing I hate to waste is thread. I also don’t like trimming loose threads at the beginning or end of my sewing. It is the time it takes to tirm and also those threads always seem to turn up in unintended places, like on my backside, chest or legs (particularly when I’m wearing dark colours). So my non-quilting friends often remark “you’ve been sewing, right?” as they pick at me gathering up the loose threads!

So I’ve got a solution to the problem of scarps of fabric and loose threads. I have a stack of flannel squares that I cut up to fit in a box. I use these flannel squares as mini design boards. On these little boards I lay out nine patch blocks.

Here's one set up on a flannel just waiting for four 1 ½” squares to fill the north, south, east and west positions.

I keep a stack of the flannels to the right of my sewing machine. Each time I sit down to sew, I sew part of the nine patch and then I start working on whatever it is I am making.
When I’m done I sew another couple of pieces of the nine patch and then clip the thread between the nine patch and what I was working on. No loose threads! When I've sewn three of the nine patch patches together they are pressed and placed back on the flannel ready to be sewn together.
Eventually I end up with a completed nine patch and as a bonus there are no stray threads! Two problems solved!
These nine patches are stored in another box (the plastic salad clamshell boxes are great because you can see what is inside). When I want to make a scrappy quilt I pull out the box of nine patches and in no time at all I can have a quilt top made. That is how I made my Baskets and Nine Patches quilt…..I pulled out the clamshell box and had more than enough nine patches to make a quilt! Actually I’ve probably got enough to make another six or eight full size quilts!

The patch above has one pretty little flower - the only one I had. And it is perfect for the centre of a nine patch! I fished it out of the bag of 1 ½” scraps - it was the only one I had and it was ideal for the centre of the nine patch block.

That's it for today. Until I post again, may your pile of nine patches increase, may there be no stray threads on or about your person and most importantly, happy sewing!


  1. Love the redbud - must be a delight every year! Nice to have seasonal change in the garden. I know what you mean about stray threads - am always covered in them too :)

  2. Lovely tutorial--like that flannel idea a lot--thanks Julierose