Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chinese Coins IV: Every Last Scrap

There was a childhood story about a magic pot that made porridge. Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the lazy child started the process but couldn't stop it. Porridge bubbled out of the pot, filled the house, and ran down the street until the cook came home and said the magic words.

That's exactly what my scrap bag feels like. It's only an old zippered, clear plastic bag that once held a set of twin sheets. Twin; not king size. {The small size and zipper pleased me enormously.} So how can it still have fabric? Will it ever empty?

Chinese Coins IV: Medallion in progress

When I finished CCIII many of these strip sets were sewn and it looked like enough for another quilt. So I pulled out the other half of that Alexander Henry fabric and started again. This one has more dark blue in the center.

I'm obsessively clearing these strings but decided to see if I could finish a top while finally emptying the scrap bag. Because choices are very limited, the coins are grouped by length rather than any artistic merit. The sides of each border are different lengths from necessity but add more interest.

Pinning that outer dark border on the wall suddenly darkened the entire quilt. What a difference from left side to right side.

Dark outer border makes a dark quilt

After sewing the first border and half the dark, the center looked awkwardly long. So I folded it up, took a photo, and went to lunch. I do enjoy the bit of orange extending through two borders at the bottom.

What if the center was shorter?

After the break I still like the shorter version. It seemed unsewing would be my afternoon lot until... Epiphany. These borders are no particular size. And the center is just a single piece of fabric. I unsewed a bit of the side borders and cut along the seam line. Then I trimmed the center down and resewed everything. About twenty minutes. I fiddled with the side borders to avoid a common seam but it was fairly easy.
Preparing to shorten the center

By the end of the day CCIV emerged. These aren't Roman numerals. So not 204, thank goodness! It's Chinese Coins, version 4. This could be a baby quilt; it's now about 41" by 46".

Piano Keys borders of Chinese Coins surround a whole cloth center
Chinese Coins IV: Medallion quilt top

Other than a dusting of lint the scrap bag is empty... for the moment. Color me peaceful.

I've been possessed. What is my compulsion to use up every last scrap? Despite nodding as friends talk about tossing these bits, I hate throwing good fabric away. {Did I just throw good thread and irreplaceable time away though?}

Many of the brighter fabrics went to the Mini Trip and the previous Coins. As you can imagine the remnants became successively duller although many light-colored fabrics remained. I think those were the impetus to make these two medallions. I'm attracted to lighter-colored quilts these days so making the outer borders light pleases me.

I've never used a whole cloth approach before; the center makes me slightly uneasy. It could be beaded or embellished; applique flowers and leaves are another idea. In fact, rotating the quilt might turn those white flowers into part of an appliqued vase with stems. And the Coin border could ground lots of applique. Possibilities...

These tops might be a good place to pursue future, new techniques. On the other hand, extra tops and quilts are always useful for unexpected gifts and donations.

Fern Royce recently posted a much livelier coin medallion quilt made with solids. Love the way she turned the corners of the borders. More information on her blog here.

Enjoy the day,  Ann

33 comments:

  1. The CCIII turned out great! Your scrap bag is empty? I could send you some! LOL!!

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    1. Don't bother to send scraps, Patty. It will fill up again very quickly. Ha.

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    2. Darn. I have like seven bins of scraps and I can't throw away a one of them! LOL!!

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  2. Wow- I have never seen a quilt design as this and love the idea and the result! mary in Az

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    1. It's a simple quilt idea and a great way to use scraps. {I'm always trying to use up my scraps.} Thanks for writing, Mary.

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  3. The center fabric is great. It has a variety of colors that are found in the dark coin sections.
    Quilting here should follow the fabric, it will be awesome!
    Will start mine soon! Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. You're right. The colors in these coins match the center much better than the previous medallion. And these are even more "leftover." I guess I need to work on color more. Thanks for the encouragement. It will be a useful baby quilt. I hope to see yours soon.

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  4. LOL, I know what you mean about the endless scraps! It amazes me how long even a half yard of fabric can last. CCIII is lovely, and well worth an encore!

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    1. I think these fabrics can be very perverse. Sometimes that half yard lasts forever while other times it is used up before four blocks are made. Grr. But I'm thrilled to have these tops together and the scrap bag empty for a bit. When we repeatedly cull it, the dregs become even less inspiring. How funny this worked out so well.

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  5. Great top! All those scraps used up and enjoyed, it does the heart good! cheers!

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    1. Thanks. The perfect reason to make it: "used up and enjoyed." I like it.

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  6. This is so wonderful looking! Shortening up the center makes it seem like you adjusted the lens on your camera and brought it all into better focus! Love the bright strips in the darker border and that longer piece of orange. Yumm.... The perfect touch! Congrats on an empty scrap bag. I don't even know what that would feel like.:)

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    1. That's it exactly - it brought the center into better focus. I'm glad I shortened it. Oddly, this second set {leftovers of leftovers} seems to work better than the previous one. I need to focus on color choices a bit more.
      That bag is only empty because it was so small to begin with. And it will be half-full before the month is out.

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  7. Love how this turned out--the darks really make the rest shine for sure...an empty scrapbag?? Whoa, i am impressed. I have b o x e s of scraps...just cannot throw them away (@ $10.95/yd, I mean really!!)
    I love your strips,,,so low volume and soft...lovely work Hugs, Julierose

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    1. You're right. Fabric costs so much {even though we Americans pay less than other countries} that it's a shame to toss it. Thanks, Julierose; I think this turned out well, too. Especially as the very last of the scrap bag.

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  8. Is the center the last remnant of that print? It is so busy that it doesn't really read like "whole cloth" but it seems a little trapped inside those coin fences, as if maybe it doesn't want to be all squared up. I love the colors there, and the contrast between the big flowers and the little scraps around it. If there is more of it, what if some of the flowers escaped the center medallion and spilled out onto the surrounds? I think that might be what you are suggesting in your post...as usual, your colors are glorious!

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    1. Such a good idea, Sue. There might be a 4x10" strip left. I'll have to check if it has any useable print portion. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  9. I think you have created a great quilt from your scraps. I love to finish every last scrap so well done for using your last scraps so creatively.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I'm finding this shape works well with all the final scrap ends.

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  10. A lovely finish! I have so enjoyed reading your posts about this, and love where you have endded up!

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    1. How kind of you to write, Linda. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about these.

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  11. I haven't been a big fan of the Chinese Coin type quilts but I really like what you have done! Very pretty!

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    1. I wasn't either until I started this series. Now I feel it's a "making lemonade" style; it is what you make of it. There are many more ways to use Coins than I'd previously imagined.

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  12. what a great quilt scraps make the best quilts

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    1. I agree, Margaret. Scrap quilts have so much depth and sparkle.

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  13. Doesn't the shortened centre piece make a difference, love it like this and what a great way to use a beautiful piece of fabric.
    My fingers are itching to get into my scrap boxes, yes boxed full - I could make such a lot of quilts if I only got busy, I must follow your example! This is a beautiful quilt and I love all your variations on the Chinese Coins theme.

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    1. Thanks, Maureen. I was surprised how much shortening the center helped this piece. Whenever I read about people who sort their scraps and have neat boxes I am envious. Then I decide I can either make quilts or organize the scraps. I'm glad my scrap bag is so small. I'm encouraged to empty it when it fills. But... their they have a completely different feel from those with highly organized colors.

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  14. Great finish!! I can SO relate to the struggle. It grabs you until you find the solution. This is a beautiful one! I think you'll have fun quilting that center, giving dimension to the flowers.

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    1. That's exactly what it felt like. It didn't help that the sewing area was a complete wreck with bits and pieces everywhere. Much neater now.
      Thanks for the idea to quilt dimension into the flowers. That will probably work well.

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  15. Congrats to you on the empty scrap twin bed sized plastic bag of porridge!

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    1. That magic word didn't stop it for long. The bag is filling up again.

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  16. This is gorgeous. I hope you don't mind if I use your idea to make one too. My scraps are endless!

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    1. I'm thrilled that you want to use this idea. Our fabrics are too expensive to toss.

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