I decided to convert this into a leaders and enders project. For those of you unfamiliar with leaders and enders, Bonnie Hunter has written multiple books based around leaders and enders projects, and has a good explanation of the process on her blog.
To start off, I pulled a three yard cut of a floral hydrangea and leaf print that has been languishing in my stash as my inspiration/backing fabric. I pulled out all of my green, pink, and purple scraps from my color-sorted scrap boxes and cut as many squares in the various sizes as I could. This pattern calls for 6", 5", and 4" colored squares.
Here's what I was able to cut from one pass through my scrap boxes as well as my inspiration fabric:
While what I've started off with won't get me anywhere close to a full quilt, it's at least a starting point for this quilt. For now my plan is to start sewing all of the half square triangle units with what I have cut, start assembling blocks with the units I have, and then keep repeating the process until I get the size quilt that I want. I'm planning to make a baby sized or throw quilt rather than a bed sized quilt.
Here's the large and medium sized HSTs that I have sewn and trimmed so far:
Here are some of my tips thus far on the leaders and enders (L&E) process and "controlled scrappy" quilts:
- Your choice of L&E project really makes an impact on how easy it is to work L&E into your normal sewing. For me, I'm just making HSTs, and having my squares pre-paired next to my sewing machine has made it much faster and easier.
- I'm still finding myself falling into the habit of cutting my threads as normal sometimes, but any little bit of thread saving does help. It's becoming more and more natural.
- I'm actually not sewing both sides of my HSTs at once -- I do one side at a time so I am not going through units quite as fast.
- For a scrappy quilt, it has become obvious what colors I need to add in each size. I have a ton of purple in all three sizes, a fair amount of pink in each size, and a lot of green in the smallest size, while having none/hardly any in the large and medium sizes. I will likely comb through my larger scraps and cut a lot more green and some additional pink squares.
- This is most certainly what I would call a "controlled scrappy" quilt in that it has a specific color scheme and there were pinks, purples, and greens that I chose not to use in this quilt. I haven't decided yet if I will cut into my inspiration fabric or not -- I have three yards of it, but that could cover nearly all of the back and the binding for a small quilt.
- While cutting all of my squares, I pulled out one color at a time from my scrap boxes and then sorted out any pieces that were too small or the wrong color. With what was left, I ironed each piece and laid it out on my cutting board to get an idea of the size and tried to maximize how many squares I could cut. Typically, this involved cutting 6 inch squares, then 5 inch squares, then finally 4 inch squares.
- Sometimes I could cut just 4 inch squares from a piece, some pieces I cut multiple 6 inch squares. I didn't try to cut an equal number of squares in each size, I just tried to maximize how many squares total I was cutting and minimizing waste.
- I find it is almost always helpful to cut a fresh edge when pulling things from your scrap bin. Even if it is a 1/16th of an inch, a nice fresh edge is always easier to align with your ruler.
- Recently, I started a "scrap bag" where I put all of my small scraps -- including things under 2 inches wide, the last small piece of a particular fabric, etc. Having this separate from my scrap bins has made it quick and easy for anything that calls for strings or small scraps. (It is literally a gallon sized kitchen bag, totally not glamorous!)
- I usually sew with cone thread but I usually have a "bobbin cone" so I don't have to unthread and rethread my needle and machine. I do my best to fill a few bobbins at a time so I don't need to stop mid-project. When sewing scrappy, I often use off-white thread.
Have you worked with leaders and enders before? Do you have any tips for me?
Sharing at Tips and Tutorials Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, and Scraptastic Tuesday!