Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March Scrap Buster Challenge


October Afternoon
15" x 42"
Pattern by Emily Cross    
Made by Connie Kauffman

I LOVE scrappy quilts!  It was great to see that this was on the March schedule for an Island Batik Ambassador Challenge.  I knew right away what I wanted to make.  I had seen this pattern October Afternoon by Emily Cross in the September 2017 American Quilter magazine.  I have a spot in my living room where it will fit perfectly.

I also love using up small scraps and the blocks in this quilt are only 1 1/2" x 1 1/2", so this was a good scrap buster!  I pulled all my fall colored fabrics and scraps to see what I could come up with.  I've been an Island Batik Ambassador for seven going on eight years, so I have a great selection of fabrics to work with!  I used at least 10 different creamy fabrics for the background and over 40 different colored fabrics for the leaves.  I love how the scrappy binding gives a little movement to the whole quilt

Here are some of the little cut squares- aren't they cute!

The leaves made sweet little 5" blocks

I used Hobbs Premium  80/20 Cotton batting and Schmetz Chrome Microtex needles.  Two colors of Aurifil thread worked well to complete the quilt.

Many thanks to the sponsors Island Batik, Hobbs Batting, Schmetz Needles and Aurifil Thread who supplied product for making this quilt.

Once this quilt was finished I decided to take some time and try to tackle some other fabrics in my drawer of Island Batik Scraps.  I save just about every scrap and they really stack up!  I thought a lot about what to make with them.  I was looking at Bonnie Hunter and her projects using leaders and enders.  Do you know what they are?  They are little pieces of fabric that you sew after you piece something so that you don't have to pull out and clip your thread each time. That way you can always be sewing a couple little pieces together for another project at the same time as you are working on something else.

I decided to cut my small scraps into 1 1/4" squares.  Bingo!  That eliminated a pile of scraps.  Anything under 1 1/4" I threw away.  Believe me - sometimes even that was hard!  Some of those little pieces could be used in applique...

I combined them with white squares.

But- what to DO with those little pieced squares? What I did NOT want to do was just create more UFO blocks!  I finally decided I'd make nine patch blocks and sew them together into Irish Chain blocks.

But - I also had a lot of triangle shaped scraps.  It seemed like a shame to cut them into little squares and waste those little end pieces.  So I thought some more.  Bonnie Hunter to the rescue.  She has a pattern with half square triangles and little four patches that I liked.  It looked something like this

So off I went to make 4 patches instead of 9 patch blocks, and half square triangles with light and darks. This was great as it used up those triangle blocks.  Unfortunately I now have some leftover 9 patch blocks - UFO's never end!

I did run out of white scraps and had to cut into yardage for white, but that's okay.  And I am USING what I cut.

So- I'm making some progress on cutting my scraps (I still have more to cut and each time I do another project I end up with more- sometime I'm going to have to just STOP) and I know what I'm going to do with them.  What I don't know yet is how big a project it will end up being.  That is a little unnerving, but I can live with it - as long as I don't end up with a lot of leftover blocks!

So- I did get a nice number of pieces blocked sewing them as leaders and enders - sewing two little blocks together after piecing another project.  While I was doing this I remembered why I don't really like to do this method!  I've done it before (for a short time), and never really liked it.

The reasons I don't really like to make a quilt this way are:

1.  I don't want to end up with leftover blocks

2  I don't want to cut up scraps into certain size pieces if they aren't going to be used - it's wasteful as well as time consuming

3.  It's not always easy to grab what pieces you need to put together to sew while you're piecing things for another project.  It's sort of like a mind switch and it takes a tiny bit of time.

4  Sometimes the color thread you are using isn't the greatest

5.  It requires a lot of pressing in between stages

6.  It can take a LONG time to get enough piecing done for a project.  This project will take a LONG time...

7  You tend to run out of either white or colored blocks.  It's hard to know what you need when you keep cutting and sewing...

7.  It is rather messy.  When I'm working on other projects I have everything laid out ready to sew.  Now with this new scrappy project I have piles of squares (white and colored), piles of two squares ready to be pressed, piles of sewn four patches, piles of 4 patches ready to be pressed.  Piles of triangles (white and colored), piles of sewn triangles ready to be pressed, piles of half square triangles ready to be sewn to 4 patches...You can see my dilemma.  And all these piles need to be right at hand to use as leaders and enders.

I'm not a neat freak, but I do like to keep my projects contained and not mixed up.  I also don't have much room to have so many different piles.  So when I was between projects the other day I decided to just go ahead and sew a bunch of these together.

It took me a long time to press these little blocks and put them into their new piles.  I don't know how many blocks they will make and I still have others to piece.  Sometime down the road I'll post a final project.  Wonder when that will be?

So I did go thru and cut up a lot of scraps, but I still have some piles of scrappy strips.  What to do with them?  I have an idea - but it won't be a leader and ender project!  I won't start that project until I get this one done.  I'll probably have more scrappy strips by then...It never ends!

What do you do with your scraps?  I hope you make something beautiful!


  1. Love your scrappy leaves!!! And I love the movement in it.

    I love leaders and enders. I keep little plastic baskets from the dollar store by my machine for my to-be-pieced units and pieced units. That keeps things organized enough for me. I press a whole lot at once, and I frequently press my leaders and enders when I'm on the phone with one of my parents. They don't do video calls and the pressing is mindless so I can do it while talking with them. I also typically pick leader and ender projects that don't have a deadline so that the fact that it takes forever doesn't matter.

  2. I love your leaves, falling down the quilt!!! Very pretty!
    I LOVE leaders and enders!!!! I ALWAYS have some on the go! And Bonnie Hunter is a wonderful resource! Happy Quilting! :-)

  3. I love your falling leaves quilt, so beautiful! I've started many a leader/ender quilt but usually end up just making the quilt. I get tired too of the pieces laying around and you are so right about not having the right color thread. Happy stitching!

  4. Hello Connie! I love your Falling Leaves quilt. It's beautiful and you did use up a lot of scraps. I think you have a great start on your next scrap quilt, too! Looking forward to seeing it finished in the future. A lot of my scraps get turned into hexagons for EPP. I like to pre-make the hexagons and keep them organized by color in cross-stitch floss boxes. Have a fabulous day!

  5. What great movement in your falling leaves! It's just beautiful. Your leaders and enders quilt will be beautiful but I'm with you on the reasons it's not your favorite!

  6. Amazing Connie! 1.5" squares are challenging to press but in this case so worth it.

  7. I also have long loved that AQ Falling Leaves banner, yours inspires me to move it up the "To Do" list! Regarding "Leaders/Enders": it really does get you a second project without really having to focus on it. To make it easier though, it is important to pick your scrap project out in advance if possible and to set your pieces up in a container in advance that can sit near your sewing machine so you can just pull the bits to be sewn and go with little effort (Pat Sloan sits small stacks of her bits on the top of her sewing machine!). Regarding leftover blocks: that's what scrappy pieced backs, quilt labels and tote bag projects are for, LOL!

  8. Oh Gosh, 1.5" is tiny but I love how you turned those itty bitty scraps into the maple leaf runner. Absolutely lovely!!!