Tiny Treasure

I love scraps and have the hardest time throwing even the smallest bits away. I have been known to go through the trash after teaching or taking a class and dig out all kinds of precious materials.

For the most part, these bits exist in two very large tubs.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureDuring SEW FUN, many of my students use the scraps to try out new ideas before they cut into precious salvaged materials or yardage. Knowing that you are using scraps (or waste in some people’s minds) can really free you up to experiment. Andria dug in these tubs for three days straight–using just bits to create all of these lovely little compositions.

Maria Shell Tiny Treasure

Working with yardage is easier–you’ve got more fabric and have to do much less ironing and cutting to get the pieces you want to work with. Still there is something so satisfying about taking bits and making them into a sum that is larger than its parts. It’s one of my favorite methods for piecing.

Nowadays, with my constant schedule of deadlines, I rarely get to just play with scraps without having a clear end goal in mind. For me, its like a tasty indulgence to dig in the scraps and see what happens.

The other day, I realized that I had a quilt in mind and using a bazillion bits of cotton just happened to be the best way forward. Lucky me!

I started digging in the tubs and pulling out usable bits. For each color, I knew that I needed about 6” by 20” of fabric–not much at all. Here is the pile ready to be ironed.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureOh the ironing! It took me a solid three hours of pressing to get these scraps in order. Yes, I did have to turn the generator on. I think the rain ordered the sun to go on vacation this week; consequently, our solar power has been limited. The good thing is that our generator is set up to power our solar. So, once I get the solar juiced up again, I can turn off the generator. Scraps stored in a giant pile can develop some serious wrinkles. I ended up misting all of the pieces and then ironing them. Still, some wrinkles persisted. I know that by stitching and ironing these pieces several times, I will work them into submission. These scraps will do as I say–eventually.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureLater in the afternoon, I had a beautiful collection of color.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureNext, I sorted through each color to match scraps to scraps. So that the piles go from this.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureTo this.

One of the really interesting things about working with scraps are the memories those bits of fabric bring to the surface. As I’m ironing I am reminded of old quilts I have made. I think about where they are now and how I struggled or succeed in the process of making them. Some bits of fabric clearly tell their story, and others are complete strangers–where did you come from?

I’ve bought more vintage scrap lots from Ebay over the years than I really should confess to.. Many have been partially made garments. Its good to think that they will finally have a purpose.

It feels like magic really. Like a beauty make-over. The fabric pile in the beginning was certainly an ugly duckling, but now I have a whiteness of swans.

Maria Shell Tiny TreasureWhat about you? Do you love scraps? What do you like to do with them? Or better yet, maybe you hate scraps but would like to find yours a good home. I love gifts of scraps especially vintage and hand dyed ones. 

This entry was published on July 13, 2014 at 1:36 PM. It’s filed under My Process-Quilts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Tiny Treasure

  1. pmgarrett2 on said:


    Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2014 21:36:29 +0000 To: pmgarrett@hotmail.com

  2. I love scraps, like you I can’t bear to throw even small bit away. My scrap sorting system is getting better!

  3. Lois- My scrap collection at home is really well organized, but here at the cabin the two tubs are my primitive system. I bet your orange scrap collection is your largest!

  4. Pingback: Image Journal #27 | Maria Shell

  5. Pingback: Trending Now In Art Quilts | The Snarky Quilter

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: