While working on the current Bonnie Hunter Mystery, "On Ringo Lake", I was amazed at how easy it was to go to my bins of pieces and strips a pull from them for variety. I made it all the way through part 1 without cutting into the yardage in my stash. In fact, much of it came from my 1 1/2" squares that were already cut. As you can see in my picture, that I all but wiped out my reds and whites.
I did purchase a handful of fat quarters in the light blue I'm using for the corals that Bonnie is using, and I cut 2 fat quarters from some blue yardage on my shelf. The two lighter blue pieces under my step one units. (Since is is going to be a Quilt of Valor, I am trying to steer clear of girly looking florals, and most of my lighter blues were just that... girly florals!) I didn't have any strips of those two in my strip bins. Other than that, Through step 5, all of my color pieces have come from strips or smaller scraps.
Here is where my "revisit" part of this post comes in.
As I was getting ready to cut for clue #5 last week, I realized that everything left in my whites/ creams bin is on the creamy, beige side.... I've used up all the whiter pieces that were in there. Yeah for me! but this means I need to re-supply.
Now, creams and beiges are often my backgrounds of choice, but I really wanted a brighter white feel to the background pieces in this project. So I took a couple of hours, and re-stocked my whites on whites.
I purchase fabrics when I find a great deal! Especially if it's not going into a current project. I have been really diligent about this the last couple of years.... In fact, I can honestly say that I think this past year, I've probably purchased less than 10 yards of fabric! (I'm practicing for retirement... LOL) As you can see from this previous stash photo, I'm not in need of anything to speak of... See that stack of Whites near the bottom left? Yep.. that one.. the middle part of the next to the bottom row.... That's the stack I'm working with today... and this picture was taken in Jan. of 2015... Those are my whites on whites.
It is a daunting task to think about pulling each of those fabrics, and only cutting one strip off of each. So thinking proactively, I decided to work the pile systematically.
I opened up each piece, some measuring a yard, some up to 5 yards.
- Step 1. Press out the fold lines on one end, so that I could cut a half yard from one end.
- Step 2. Cut the 1/2 yard off.
- Step 3. Refold the remaining yardage, hopefully on the original fold lines, so that I don't have to re=press the entire piece.
- Step 4. trim the fold line, resulting in 2 Fat Quarters. One fat quarter got put aside in a pile for later pressing and refolding.
- Step 5. Once 5 fat quarters were pressed, (I like to use a little sizing or starch), I laid them out in a stack that I'll call a "5 stack". Making sure that the salvage edges were straight, and the pieces were smooth.
- Step 6. Now, use about 4 of my flat flower pins, and pin about 1/3 of the way down the stack of fat quarters, to keep them from shifting. (the use of starch or sizing in the previous step helps with this too).
- Step 7 - I knew I needed 2" strips for my current project, so I cut one of those first.
- Step 8 - Now the planning part comes in... I also cut another 2", 1 1/2", 2 1/2" and 3 1/2" strip to put into the strip bins for another day.
- Step 9 - This left me with about 6" of my "5 stack" left. I haven't cut the 3 1/2" strip yet from the photo above.
Note - If you look closely in the photo above you can see the difference between my "clean cut" edge at the top, and the uncut edge at the bottom of that striped set.
- Step 10 - press and refold the pile of fat quarters that I set aside earlier. These will go into the fat quarter drawers to be pulled out to play another day. I may not have to pull my entire stack again for a couple of years.
The remaining portions of my "5 stacks" will stay pinned like this until I finish all my cutting for this project. If I need a different size strip, I'll cut from each of these stacks rather than grabbing from the strips I just cut for re-supply. If I need 3 1/2 inch strips for the next clue, I'll use these stacks.
Then , I'll see what is left. If I have more than 4 1/2 inches left, I'll unpin, and refold them to go back into that bin marked "whites and creams"... which contains pieces smaller than a fat quarter.
If it's less than 4 1/2", I'll cut whatever size strips I can get out of it, and add them to the strip bins with the strips I just cut for re-supply. Anything less than 1 1/2" will go into my "String Bin"
Here is a picture of my results...
I still have a stack of fabric to return to my stash shelf.. (the ones on the right).
I have a stack of 25 fat quarters to grab when needed.
I have strips to add back into the strip bins to use as needed. Each little folded roll is 5 fabrics.
I choose to do this with groups of 5, because then I can easily count to 10 when cutting. I use a 60 mm rotary cutter, (make sure it's nice and sharp). 5 single layers is my limit for strip cutting. Many quilters feel more comfortable with just 3 - 4 layers at a time.
When sub-cutting units, or trimming blocks, I do not cut this many layers.
I use the "5 stack" technique when cutting my colored fabrics as well. If the pattern calls for Assorted Blues, for instance, I pull blues just like I did my whites, press, make a separate FQ for use later, and pin 5 together for cutting for the project. When the project is done, I'll unpin and return to the bins.