Monday, July 29, 2013

Thrifty Me!

When I told my sister she could choose any quilt she wanted for her birthday, I was talking about the ones I already had made, of course.  Naturally she had a different idea.  "What I'd really like," she said sweetly, "is for you to make me a shower curtain."

I asked her if she was sure that was all she wanted.   It sounded too easy - I would get to do my favorite parts (the design and piecing) but it would be so much quicker than making an entire quilt of the same size.  "How great will this will be!" I thought, but a little part of me felt guilty - my sister has always been so generous and nice to me, truly a fantastic older sister, and I had wanted to give her something really special, something that would show her how much I loved and appreciated her, that I had spent a lot of time on, that meant something to her...

I should have known I wasn't going to get off so lightly.

Suffice it to say that I now no longer owe her for any of the thoughtful, generous, helpful big sister stuff she has done for me throughout the years: Meta, we're now even!  Naturally the brilliant idea I had for the design was a collossal pain in the nether regions.  I was so unsure of how to construct it that I fiddled and faddled with it for weeks before I could actually bring myself to cut the fabrics I had so carefully and lovingly sewn together in long strips. As for sewing the thing together - well, let's just say I was pretty vocal in my frustrations, and leave it at that (Definitely not zen).

 And the worst of it was all the leftover fabric - we're talking about a large amount of really great fabrics here.  Sure, they were in big misshapen triangles, but I simply couldn't bring myself to abandon them - they were too beautiful to toss.  I really wanted to use them but what could I possibly do with the oddly sized, stretchy mess? 

I put them aside for a month or three, then - determined to waste not - I came up with an idea. I have some interesting templates with all sorts of circular shapes that I have only used once, so decided to revisit them and see what I could make.  And viola!  From all that leftover fabric I was able to make a good sized top (haven't completed it as of yet),


and these two pillows:

Hooray! I used up all but a very few pieces - I feel so, so thrifty.
Now don't worry, I see the irony of all this - I know I have no right to be proud of my little recycling effort because I'm quite aware of the fact that quilting started out as a salvaging process. (Those plucky pioneers used everything they had to the maximum!)  Shoot, even two generations ago people were saving and reusing everything they could.   I remember that before my grandmother threw away any clothes, she took all the buttons off and saved them.  (She had a helluva collection, too - I made some cool jewelry out of them when I used to stay with her as a young girl.) Of course she made most of her beautiful quilts from leftover fabrics.  And she was even  from a big city (Chicago), not some empty wide-skied prairie!
I've just been so focused on creating what's in my head that I haven't been very practical or planet-conscious.  So this little exercise has been a good reminder for me - there's always leftover fabric from any project.  So I'm going to challenge myself:  For every two new pieces I create, I'm going to design one piece around the scraps I have in my scrap bin.  They might be small pieces or even pillows or backings, but I'm determined to use them.  Traditionally I've saved leftover fabric bits until I run out of room in my scrap bins and then I'll throw them out, a truth of which I have had the decency to be somewhat ashamed, but not enough to actually save the scraps.  In my defense, I do go through them and save the bigger bits but still - it's a lot of waste. 
But not any more.  From now on I not only save my scraps - I use them too, by golly!  I'm a little scared I'm not up to the task, but I'm going to do my best.  I promise to keep you posted on how it goes.  I'm relying on the infinite creativity of the universe to help me out on this.  Who knows - it's entirely possible that some of my best work may come out of  the scrap heap!  Or not.  But I'm willing to chance it.
 Heck, I might even start saving buttons, too.