Category Archives: stash reduction

One man’s trash…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Last night we had our annual auction at our quilt guild meeting. Throughout the year member’s earn “quilt bucks” by getting involved in our guild’s activities. Basically it is monopoly money, but it has been a successful motivator for many of our members. For example, one might earn 5 bucks for making a block for our charity committee, or 10 bucks for sewing the binding onto a charity quilt. We have a few guidelines for amounts to be awarded, but each chairperson has some leeway as well. Bucks are then saved by the members throughout the year to be used to buy items at our annual January auction. Items for the auction are donated by members. It’s a good chance to clean out our sewing rooms of excess fabric, kits, patterns, UFO’s etc. This auction is certainly an example of the cliche that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Bidding was very spirited on some items, reaching  $300 on one. (Keep in mind–monopoly money!). This year we had a new wrinkle (pun intended) added. The board members added some mystery items. Wrapped securely in brown paper, only one member knew what was in each of the mystery packages. Some were gag gifts–scraps, pennies, selvages. Some were great–brand new good scissors, best press spray, a gift certificate to a local shop. Fun was had by all, I would say. I successfully sat on my hands and did not come home with any new fabric to add to my stash!! I did bid on one lot of purse supplies-handles, stabilizer, magnetic clasp, and a few good patterns. Paid $100 for it (again–monopoly money!). I also was given a treasure by a fellow member. She found a bag of selvages in the lot she won. To her they’re trash, to me it’s a treasure!! If you are not a member of our guild but think this would be a fun idea for your quilty group, I’d be glad to give you more details. We found out about this concept at a meeting of the NYS Quilters’ Consortium and have adapted it to suit our guild. Always glad to share good ideas! Just reply in the comment section and I’ll get back to you.

How is your gifting challenge coming along? (described a few blog entries back). I’ll admit I’ve not made much progress on my original idea for January (to make a Christmas quilt from a Jenny Doan tutorial). I have chosen the fabrics from my stash and have begun to cut them up. I think this is going to be my next leaders and enders project (Bonnie Hunter gets credit for that great concept). I have completed 2 runners though, that will be Christmas gifts. I needed samples for a class I will be teaching so chose the fabrics with gifting in mind. I think I’ll call that a success for this month’s challenge. I’m hoping to get all the fabric cutting for my original idea done this weekend, and to organize it for sewing. Next I’ll be choosing the February gift project for myself.

Does any one of you have a report for us on your progress on this challenge? Who is playing along with us?


Filed under 2015 gifting challenge, guild activities, quilt bucks, Quilt-a-Long, selvage projects, stash reduction

quilting the new year-2015 gifting challenge

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’m hoping that tomorrow will begin a return to normalcy around here. The holiday goodies are all gone-either eaten or discarded. The plan to get rid of excess avoirdupois is in place. The holiday quilts and decorations are coming down and being laundered a few at a time. That chore should be complete by the end of the week.

I’m ready to begin my new quilting-for-fun projects. How about you? Quilting for holiday gifting loses its charm after the 10th project or so. Part of my plan for this year is to spread those “gifty” projects throughout the year. I say we set a challenge for ourselves. Let’s complete one gift project per month through the year and report back here. In that gift project, try to incorporate something that will make it fun for you. I’ll remind us at the end of each month. Since we’re just starting this we’ll give our goal for this month now. As the year goes on, when we report on the month’s completion (we hope), we’ll set the next month’s goal at the same time.  To keep this achievable make it just 1 project per month if you want to join in. If your potential recipient is also a reader, you can cloak your monthly report in whatever verbal disguise you need.

Okay then. I’ll start us off. Most, but not all, of the quilt appreciators in my family already own a holiday lap size quilt from me. I have 2 to go. So my first goal is to make one from my holiday fabric stash. No new purchase is necessary. I’ve taken 2 online classes recently about machine quilting with a walking foot. I’ll use this holiday quilt as a practice piece for another quilting technique I’d like to try. I’m going to use a disappearing pinwheel technique from Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilts as the pattern. That’s another thing I’ve found online that I want to try. (Here’s a link to the block I’m going to use. Click here.)

Please join in on the challenge and share your first goal for the year in the comments section. We’ll give encouragement, and maybe I can come up with a prize or two as an incentive to keep sewing!!


Filed under 2015 gifting challenge, free patterns, stash reduction, tips and tricks, Uncategorized

folded fabric ornaments

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Title is self-explanatory so I won’t say anymore.

star 1: click here

pentagonal star: click here

Very easy–my personal favorite (can use 60 degree triangle ruler): click here

demo night ornament (I think it is anyway, I was giving a demo myself so I didn’t get to visit the others. I did see one of this type of ornament on the table though.: click here

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Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, stash reduction, tutorials, Uncategorized

another jelly roll 1600 idea

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I think this idea from Jenny Doan is super. You may remember that last summer we came up with a few ideas for these Jelly Roll 1600 quilts. They are archived in the side bar of the blog or you can just search for jelly roll 1600. Many quilters love these because they are so fast, and just as many dislike them because of the “boring” appearance. I don’t know which camp you’re in- I’m in the camp that thinks this idea is great. Click here to see Jenny’s video with an idea for changing up the appearance a bit. Watch to the end. If you went to summer camp, I think you will remember enjoying the same sort of silliness that Jenny and her assistant get into!

I will tell you that when you make them with a jelly roll of batiks, they are gorgeous!

Click the like button below if you are a fan of jelly roll 1600 quilts!



Filed under jelly roll 1600 ideas, scrap quilting, stash reduction

Sneak preview and true confession

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

You all know that Bonnie Hunter is coming to our seminar this fall. (You do know that, don’t you?) She has a brand new book about to be released and is showing sneak previews of the quilts in it over at her blog. If you leave a comment over there,  you have a chance to win a signed copy from Bonnie. click here

Now for a true confession. A few posts back I put out a challenge to join in Bonnie’s challenge quilt for this year, called Lozenges. I had said I had a plan to use up my stash of 2 1/2″ strips. Well that was before I thought it all the way through to needing to cut a whole bunch of 1 1/2″ squares to use as the flippy corners. I fess up that the cutting of all those triangles is not a task I want to take on right now. So…I’m going to use a different one of Bonnie’s patterns for my scrap quilt. I have made her Scrappy Bargello before (that’s the one my pup is sleeping on in the photo), but I’m going to see about a “string” quilt to dig into my stash of novelty scraps from my days of making kids’ Eye Spy quilts. I’ll report back soon on the pattern I settle on. Perhaps you would want to join me on this side trip from Lozenges. We’d still have quilts to share with Bonnie in the fall.

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Filed under antique quilts, free patterns, quilt books, seminar, stash reduction

Using your scraps

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

teddy on b hunter quilt

Not all quilters enjoy scrap quilting. There is something way too random for the taste of many quilters when you start making a tossed salad of all sorts of fabrics. I’ve made a few scrappy quilts that push the envelope a bit too much even for me. (The dog loves them though; he’s lying on one of them in that photo.) Thus comes the concept of “planned scrappy”. By adding just a bit of structure to the scrappy theme, more quilters can become comfortable with some scrappiness in their quilts. After all, if you are a lover of Kim Diehl fabrics, for example, you probably have quite a few scraps from her lines. They all go together, don’t they? Or perhaps you have blue in every quilt you make. A 2 color quilt with a variety of blue scraps paired with a variety of creams could be lovely.

Our national teacher for seminar this fall, Bonnie Hunter, is a self-described scrapaholic. This morning while checking out the Quiltmaker magazine blog (Bonnie writes a column for each issue called “Addicted to Scraps”.) I ran across this video (here it is). Although Bonnie isn’t the narrator, it is based on a block Bonnie designed for a special issue of blocks which Quiltmaker publishes each year. In the video some good hints for choosing scraps for a block or quilt are given. See what you think. I’m again throwing out a challenge that we make lots of scrappy quilts to share with Bonnie this fall, even if they’re not from her patterns. How about it?

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Filed under free patterns, scrap quilting, seminar, stash reduction, tutorials, Uncategorized

Are you up for a challenge?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Bonnie Hunter, our upcoming fall seminar national teacher, has just begun a quilt challenge at her blog. Bonnie is a scrap quilter. She doesn’t just collect scraps; she actually makes things with them. (a novel concept to me!). I’m going to try joining in this challenge so I’ll use up some of my scraps too. I might have to tweak the math a bit because I have so many 2.5″ strips that I’d like to use up–hers is going to use 3.5″ strips. Wouldn’t it be great (hint, hint, hint!) if a few of us joined in so we could show her our progress when she comes to seminar in September? I’m going to set aside a sewing day soon to get a bunch of pieces ready so I can use them as “leaders and enders” while working on projects for my classes.

Here’s a link to the challenge: click here.

And here’s a link to an explanation of  the whys and hows of Leaders and Enders: click here.

Are you in?!! If we admit to joining the challenge, it might help keep us on track, knowing others will be asking us about it. I’ll post my progress periodically. Now that I’ve put it in writing, on-line, I have to follow through…right?


Filed under free patterns, quilt books, scrap quilting, seminar, stash reduction, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

Meet Bonnie

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Preparations for our fall seminar are underway. Bonnie Hunter will be our national teacher. If you haven’t heard of her, here’s a little clip to begin to introduce you. (click here.)

Mark your calendar (September 17-20) and please plan to join us for a class or two. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

If you want to find out more about Bonnie, visit her website. (click here.)

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Filed under scrap quilting, seminar, stash reduction, Uncategorized

The Olympic patchwork

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Many of the Olympic games have had associations with quilts and textiles of all sorts. The upcoming games in Sochi are no different. Here is a link to a site showing the patchwork designed for this year’s games.   When you get to the page, click on “look of the games”. It will take you to pages with explanations of many of the Russian textile traditions featured in the patchwork. If you click on “collection”, or “catalogue” in the upper right hand corner, you’ll see some of the clothing using this patchwork design. So very interesting.  (Click here.)

Here’s another link to the Kansas City Star quilting website from a 2011 posting with lots of information about this patchwork branding for the Olympics. Within the article is a link to another with photos of many ways the patchwork will be used in publicizing the games. I think you’ll enjoy it. I hadn’t yet noticed this patchwork in the publicity for the games I’ve seen recently, but I am not an avid sports fan. I’ll be paying more attention now, hoping to spy the “quilts”. (Click here.)

On a completely different topic, does anyone know of groups doing projects for charity (other than our own guild) who could use donations of fabrics? Not just quilting cottons-any sorts of fabrics. In a conversation with some quilting friends we talked about trying to reduce our stashes down to manageable sizes. It would feel so much better to see the fabrics we give away going to groups who would actually use them, rather than just putting them in a donation bin where they may end up being sold as rags. If you send me the name(s) of any organizations or groups in our area that you know of, either via a comment at this blog or through my guild contact information, I will organize and pass them on. Thank you.


Filed under quilt history, stash reduction, Uncategorized


Hello all, Mary Ellen back.

It is amazing when I say 2014 out loud. How can I be this old?! I was reminiscing with a friend about a football party when the Bills came back from behind to the great enjoyment of the crowd and the consternation of the dogs in the room. I ended up with a Doberman in my lap who was very upset by all the shouting! Twenty one years ago! How can that be?! Yikes!

Anyway, back to resolutions. Are you like me, resolving every year to work on your UFO stash? (Don’t tell me that you’re one of those quilters who has no UFOs because you always finish a project before moving on to the next one!) I want to actually do something about some of my UFOs this year instead of my usual tactic of just shuffling them. A few days ago I was browsing some free videos at QNNtv. One title intrigued me. Something like “Dealing with PIGS”. (Do you know that acronym? Projects in Grocery Sacks) (click here for the video) Lori Baker, who is creative editor for Quilters Newsletter magazine, was being interviewed and inspired me to do something about a few of my own PIGS.

The first tactic she talked about was deciding if you really WANT to finish the PIGS? If not, she suggested taking the fabrics out of the sack, and redistributing them into your stash to use for other projects. This hint applies mostly to those kits we buy at quilt shows, etc. and never seem to get around to starting. Some of you know that I teach and give demos at a local shop. I usually try to show each project in several colorways or styles of fabrics. A few days ago I finished up a log cabin project in the colors that the shop currently has in stock, in a rather scrappy arrangement of the colors. I know that scrappy is not everyone’s cup of tea. I wanted to also do a more traditional version of the project, having each log cabin exactly the same as all the others. Instead of buying more fabric or going to the stash, I  decided to go to my cache of kits and found one from the days of old. You may remember a quilt shop out on Stone Road near Lockport that was a favorite for many of us. Judy gave so many quilters their start in this addiction we have. She was quite the enabler, if I do say so. The kit was (notice past tense) for a bed size quilt in very traditional creams, blues and reds. A beautiful cabbage rose print with a not quite navy background was the focus fabric for the outer border.  The colors and fabrics are still lovely, IMHO. I had to be honest with myself, that I was never going to make the quilt. So I disassembled the kit and found that I had just what I needed for the log cabin project. Enough lights, enough darks, an inner border, an outer border, and a red for the center square. Perfect! I think this tactic is going to work well for me; I saw other kits hiding in there that I know are not ever going to be made, so those fabrics are going to find other projects to live in.

Another tip the guest Lori shared was how she gets so much done in 15-30 minute blocks of time. She used to get up early to quilt for a half hour in the morning before her family was up. She shared how in that short time of peace and quiet each day, she was able to accomplish so much at her machine. The key was making the rule for herself, and having the materials for her projects at the ready. Now that her kids are older she has modified the rule–but still she finds that by making a new rule for herself she is able to get a lot done, in small bites. I think I can make this work for me. I have a pile of project samples from my demos at the shop that are in various stages of completion. I make up samples to show the steps along the way to the end project and often end up with 4-8 versions of the same project, all partially complete. The samples will range from “just begun” to “just needs one last thing”. I’m going to start putting all the versions of a particular project in some sort of box or case, next to my machine, and work on them for a few minutes each time I sit down. Just reducing the stack down to one project to look at will be less intimidating than the mountain of all of them. My first one is going to be the pile of incomplete Christmas stockings. Each one only needs a little bit to bring it to completion. I think 15 minutes per session will work for me-the first 15 minutes of each time at my machine will be spent on finishing up those stockings. Of course the first hurdle is to find the box or case, and to go through the mountain of PIGS to get those stockings out and organized. I feel like a general gearing up for a battle!

So how about you? What are you going to do with all of those PIGS at your house?

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Filed under local quilt shops, scrap quilting, stash reduction, UFO reduction, Uncategorized