Monday, November 9, 2009


from here

They bring out the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in me. Should they be lovingly stitched into a gorgeous quilt, sure to be passed through my family for generations to come? Or, should I set fire to the lot?

I've been enjoying watching the entries for the Sew Mama Sew! Scrap Buster Contest pop up on my blogroll and growing increasingly tempted to give it a whirl. I pondered and realized that for me the biggest challenge about my scrap pile (let's be honest, bin ~ labeled "SCRAPS" by my label maker no less) is the scraps I really don't like. Presumably my scraps originate from some project created by me. So how, you ask, do I have scraps I don't like?

They generally come from projects that have demanded fairly innocuous color schemes or small patterns and at the time, I found some perfect fabric for that specific need in the sale bin and while I didn't love it, it fit the bill.

But really, scraps of these fabrics? What on earth am I supposed to do with those? Certainly they are not going into some fantasy hand stitched heirloom quilt. So I thought... just before I struck the match... that maybe I'd see if I couldn't come up with something worthwhile for these pieces.


The playmat created in this tutorial is a farm scene but you could just as easily do a beach, city, playground, strip mall, whatever will rock the recipients boat.


Begin by gathering any scraps that speak to your playmat theme. The farm did allow me to use some of the aforementioned disliked scraps, although I was charitable and remained an equal opportunity scrap picker.

Find a large-ish piece (mine was about 25 x 21 inches) of fabric you want out of your life. (Like, say, a chopped up old sheet that you've already used for a skirt, a bean bag, and a couple of stuffed balls.) Then begin cutting out the scraps to form the pieces of your playmat scene. This is a very rough version. Absolutely no need for straight lines or measuring... just keep cutting until you have something you like. You'll be trimming the pieces down some later so make them slightly bigger than you want them to be in the end.


BackedscrapsBack your scrap pieces with double sided fusible interfacing. I like Heat 'n' Bond Lite iron on adhesive (and not just for the use of 'n' or Lite). I like it because it works, and if (let's just say) you ran out part way through a project (like making a tutorial for a scrap contest) you could load your two small children in the car just before they are sure to begin pawing at you for dinner and dash off to Joann Fabrics quick as a wink and get some more. No problem.

Back your cut shapes as your interfacing suggests. Some people are very careful to cut the sheet to fit the fabric shape. I just cut the sheet roughly the right size and slightly bigger, lay my fabric down wrong side up, then my interfacing on top shiny side down, iron it and then quickly rub any melted on interfacing glue off my ironing board cover. (My husband is not such a fan of this technique, but he is a fan of mine, and so graciously puts up with it.)

Once all your pieces are backed, begin trimming them down into tidy squares, rectangles, free form shapes, what have you. Now that is a scrap pile you can feel proud of (AND THROW AWAY!!!)

Peel off the paper backing and iron your pieces onto the large rectangle you used to lay it all out at the beginning. I worked on the floor for this as the ironing board was just too narrow to accommodate my work. I lay a bath towel down and ironed directly on to that. Use pins to hold pieces in place if that is helpful. Pay attention to overlapping pieces and be sure to iron any layers in the appropriate order (for example, the stream had to attach first and then the lake piece over it in the photo below right).


When all the pieces are bonded, square up your edges. Use a satin stitch (zig zag with a short stitch length) to sew an outline around the edges of each piece.

Turn the playmat over and use a glass to mark and cut curves at each corner.


Dig up a piece of fabric for backing (perhaps a really lovely floral print that you washed with some red corduroy which turned its ivory flowers... pink). Use your main piece as a guide to cut out a backing piece to match. Pin double fold bias tape around the whole piece, being sure you catch both the top and back layer between the tape.


Choose a fancy stitch...


... and sew around the playmat.


Watch out for grazing livestock.

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