Half Square Triangles and Scraps

Scraps are kind of a big issue with quilters.  I know I'm not alone when I sometimes feel buried in them.  I've done lots of looking online and I even have some books on scrap quilting, because as much as I hate to throw them away, I struggle to make the most of them.  In my scrap bins, fabric looks sad.  I know there is tons of fabric in there, and I even like a lot of it, but it is so much harder to use because when I go looking for a piece it has to be both big enough and the right color.  Then it needs to be individually cut.  Last year, I took the bins to my daughter's middle school where I ran a quilt club.  We worked on half square triangle projects, and they used my scraps for the fabric.  I was sure that would shrink my scraps, but by March, when school went remote, 13 kids had used the bins, and I couldn't see a dent in the fabric.  When I got the bins back home I decided it was time to be purposeful about using scraps in my quilt tops.  After all, I really enjoy making my own thing.  I don't tend to buy entire lines of fabric because I prefer to mix lines and come up with my own combinations.  I like to put fabric together in my own way, tweak patterns or sometimes just make my own.  And I don't have to churn out a quilt or two a week to support my family.  Fast or easy quilts don't necessarily excite me.  I quilt because it brings me joy.  So if it takes me extra time to cut out fabric and find a home for it within a quilt top, that's okay.

To this end, I started making a few quilts before my kids finished school last spring with an aim of making some scrap heavy quilts. I chose a couple of scrap quilts I've seen around online.  I wanted to give a quilt to my youngest son's kindergarten teacher to thank her for the excellent care she took of him and his class, both in person and remotely.

I also made a half square triangle quilt. Because I have more blue scraps than any other, it seemed like a good idea to start there.  That and the fact that most people consider orange (my go-to color) to be nice as an accent at best.  Anyway, I found a layout for a half square triangle quilt that I really liked on pinterest, and cut a bunch of my blue scraps into squares.  The other half of the squares were cut from a white fabric, I think from Hawthorne Threads.  I made up 100 half square triangles and put the top together.  Then I decided to practice machine quilting the white portions of the quilt.

For the quilting design I tried using my environment as a jumping off point. We go with our kids to the beach to tidepool when there are few enough people to stay safely distanced.  Between this and reading Pagoo with my kids, an excellent book by HC Hollings about a hermit crab and life in the tide pools, my mind was really stuck at the beach.  I tried to quilt the purple muscles that cluster together on the rocks into the white diamonds on the quilt.  It does look cool, but my daughter told me she thought I was going for peacock feathers, so although I'm happy with it, I don't know if I can say I nailed it.  When I was finished with the white parts, I had to make a decision about the blue fabric.  I probably didn't need to quilt it, but I felt that it would be better with some quilting in it.  My first thought was to do a bit more machine quilting, but I really enjoy the look and feel of hand quilting, so I went with that.  Overall, I'm happy with the finished project.  Plus, this did cut back on some of my bigger scraps.   This quilt was gifted to my daughter's violin teacher for Christmas. She has been Paolina's teacher since 2013, until she switched instruments -- she's now working on the stand-up bass. We wanted to thank her for her many years of work with our daughter. Good teachers are more than just people who deliver content to students. We will always value her, both for her skill and her care.