Scrap Happy

“In it’s simplest form, a quilt is just some fabric and a little bit of thread. It’s up to you to decide how to put it together.” YLI ad in QNM, March 2000

Every quilter has scraps. We all have to decide what we are going to do with our leftovers. And this can be a challenge. Our favorite fabrics may hold dear associations and memories. It’s hardest to decide what we might do with those particular scraps. I created this design to feature fabric scraps I especially favored, and to deal with the limited use of my right arm and hand following my cancer diagnosis in early 2017. Playing with favorite fabrics always soothes me. I started this quilt in the spring to help distract me from the pain in my hand and arm. It helped!

Creating the diagonal lines allowed me to play with “value”, that is, the interaction of light and dark in the overall visual layout. I followed my mentor, Lila Rostenberg’s advice of placing the lightest values at the upper right hand corner and moved down to the lower left hand corner. Lila had explained, that since this is how we read a text in our culture, our eyes are familiar with this pattern.

For borders, I searched my stash for a fabric to add some personality to the composition. When I pulled my foxglove fabric from my stash, I knew I’d found the perfect border. Not so, because the foxglove fabric is a a “directional fabric”. I could not place the foxgloves laying on their sides as top and bottom borders.

The bottom corner shows the detail of the border and binding fabrics.

As quilters often note, this problem could be transformed into a “design opportunity”. I searched my stash without finding something I wanted to use for those top and bottom borders, so I headed to the local quilt shop. There I found the bold Phillip Jacob floral fabric for the top and bottom borders. I rushed home, cut those borders, sewed, and stepped back to admire my work. Yes, I saw personality there! The top was finished, but the quilt was only half finished.

In August 2017, all my quilting activities ceased while I prepared for my upcoming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, Greece in October. So it was not until early in 2018 that I finished the quilting. My binding choice of a fabric displaying much “inner light” was one of my final pleasures on this happy scrap quilt. I had pieced “Scrap Happy” on my ancient Singer Featherweight which has been my primary sewing machine since I bought it used in 1969. My vintage 1981 Bernina #930 is another workhorse that enabled me to do the free motion quilting I use on most of my quilts. Because I don’t see quilting as a “competitive sport”, none of my quilts will be subject to judging. For me it is the sharing of our quilts and our enthusiasms that creates community and the strong bonds quilters share with each other.

Scrap Happy is one of sixteen quilts (and five more in the small quilt auction) I’m displaying on April 5 & 6 at our big quilt show in Springdale sponsored by QUILT of Northwest Arkansas Please join us that weekend. With over three hundred quilts in the show and a special exhibit of hand quilted quilts, you can spend the day with us and enjoy a lunch from Spring Street Grill.

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5 Responses to Scrap Happy

  1. Lila says:

    Oh,Paula! This really is beautiful!
    I know it was a great artistic escape for you to work on it! Especially in the designing and arranging of your “scraps”!

  2. Paula says:

    It is always a compliment to have you, my mentor, comment on my quilts! You have been my “art educator” for years now. We all learn so much by carefully observing what other quilters do. Having a “receptive audience” allows us to expand our skills and range of opportunities for expression. And getting to talk quilting and fabric and techniques and possibilities with other quilters is great fun–that is one reason we do quilt shows!

  3. I love this quilt! Quilting is a powerful drug without pesky side effects!

    • Paula says:

      Kathy, I woke this morning thinking about how I love quilts with “personality”. In that category is one of my favorites–your totally original cartoon sequence quilt about “Captain America” done for your son. Yes, our creativity can take us to another “zone” blocking out current pain–emotional or physical. My first ever quilt guild meeting in March, 1994 featured a national speaker, Trudy Hughes. She was quite down-to-earth and spoke about just that. She described coming home one day to find her son in bed with his girlfriend. She turned away and walked down to her basement and started sewing on a quilt. I appreciated her candor then. I better understand the impulse today.

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