It’s happening again. Just when I thought I was free of leftover triangles, they’re back. They’re taunting me. They stare at me from the far edges of the rotary mat. They are leftover from trimming blocks or just plain mistakes. The most recent were cutaways from a new block design. I wish I had a nickel for every time I wasted time glancing at them. Actually, I’d trade in that nickel for time to read one page in a book.
Some quilters put odd bits of fabric toward good uses such as stuffing for pet beds. I don’t as regrettably I have no available holding space for them. An empty surface in a New York apartment such as mine is a luxury.
A friend revealed that when she is almost out of toilet tissue she walks to the supermarket to buy two rolls. Exactly. She doesn’t load up when it’s on sale. Real estate being pricey she defers to the supermarket to store supplies for her.
As for scrap management, I keep a wire mesh rectangular wastebasket for accumulations of decent size scraps and yardage to give away. When I am almost out the door to teach for a guild I grab a basketful for their scrap table. As for quilt books, I’ve let some go only after spreading them out at home for a photo of their covers. With passing time, if I can’t find a book at home I look for it in a photo. I left three vertical feet of books on the share table at the Brooklyn Quilters Guild. I set them down, bit my lip and didn’t look back.
This is one of my first quilts.
Silly me, I presumed a quilt wasn’t a quilt unless it was a large bed quilt so that’s what I chose to start as one of my first quilts. It was a handful. Time passed and it became a wedding quilt. I quilted it in our then dining room. I kept a ruler at hand on a windowsill beside the sewing machine. One winter day the ruler slipped and fell thirteen stories to the courtyard. In the spring, after the snow melted, the doorman surprised me with it.
I dodged stray triangles from the get-go in the making the quilt because I simultaneously created bonus half-square triangles (HSTs) instead. I used an established no-waste method in which an extra round of stitches produces bonus HSTs. The quilt is made of 238 blocks. That’s four HSTs per block, the makings of 952 HSTs saved from waste.
I used the wedding quilt bonus triangles for a baby quilt gift. I grouped the 81 HSTs by color into 9 blocks.
Tip: Whenever sewing a square to a block to form a triangle, consider making bonus HSTs.
This is the method I used for the square-on-point blocks.
Cut four 3½” squares + one 6½” square for each 6″ finished block. (6½” unfinished block)
1. Right sides together, Sew two small squares diagonally to any opposite corners of the large square. Sew a second diagonal line, approximately 3/8″ toward each corner
2. Cut between sewn diagonals. Set aside cut off units.
3. Press triangles open.
4. Press block. Repeat step #2.
5. Press 6½” unfinished block.
6. When convenient press and true-up the bonus HSTs.
Ten years later, HSTs from the wedding quilt appeared in Mrs. Gholson’s fabulous quilt, a scrappy mixture framed by reproduction fabrics and a Liberty of London contemporary print.
You won’t have long to wait for more triangle tricks from me.
About the author
Anita Grossman Solomon is a full-time quilter, author and Bluprint instructor. Her quilts have been displayed everywhere, from the ceiling of the International Quilt Festival in Houston to an enormous screen high above Times Square in New York City.
In this Bluprint Blog series, she dives into the emotional and often humorous aspects of being a maker. Subscribe to the Bluprint Quilting Blog today to follow along, and enjoy personalized instruction from Anita in her popular Bluprint class Traditional Blocks Made Simple.
Creative Uses for Scrap Fabrics
Have fun putting your extra fabric to use in beautiful projects.