Quilting for the Community: Strip Challenge

Strip Challenge Bags

Completed packages of fabric for the Strip Challenge

When I somewhat naively agreed to become chair of my guild’s Community Outreach Committee in June, I expected that the guild stash would have to be stored at my house, but I had no idea of the size of the stash.  The biggest surprise to me though, was the amount of stress the guild stash would add to my life.  Try to visualize the storage requirements for two large rolls of batting, six large Rubbermaid totes, three medium sized totes, 12 large flip top storage containers, several cardboard boxes and four large IKEA bags of fabric.   Visual clutter stresses me and the cacophony of random styles, colours and lengths of fabrics was truly overwhelming.  My own stash, although beautifully color organized and accessible on open shelves, is large enough that it giving me waves of pleasure and a tinge of guilt when I gaze upon it.  I have been working hard at using my stash and acquiring only the very basic necessities of borders and backings.  Having another large stash suddenly descend upon me has taken a toll on my quilting serenity!

I knew that if I were to survive the year, I had to get an immediate handle on the fabrics, quilts and flimsies. The finished quilts were easy.  We quickly sorted them according to the needs of several organizations and have now distributed 90 quilts.  The flimsies have all been matched with backing and binding and have been distributed to guild members for quilting and binding.  The fabric pieces were another story entirely.  There was such variety in the fabrics, that it was difficult to pull pieces to make coordinated quilts.   Since my personal favorite quilt is a scrap quilt, the best idea was to cut them into strips and create a strip challenge.  During the summer and early fall, we cut up several bins of fabric into 2.5 inch strips.  We sorted fabrics into color families and them began cutting one color at a time.   Day 1, we cut up all of the small pieces.  Day 2 we progressed to yardage, which is much easier and faster to cut.

Beverley pressing fabrics

Beverley pressing fabric yardage

When the fabrics were rough cut to the size of the strip cutter die, Beverley pressed the fabric pieces.

Jean using strip cutter die on Aqququilt Studio

Jean used the 2.5 inch strip cutter die on the  AqquQuilt Studio die cutter.

Jean cut huge piles of strips.  Another guild member, Christine spelled her off to cut enormous quantities of strips.

Strips on Counter

We filled about 30 cafeteria trays and box lids with strips  after the first day of production cutting.

Jacqueline color coordinationJacqueline, a graphic designer by trade and artist by vocation spent two days with us pulling groups of fabrics to make color coordinated kits for guild members to sign out.  Jacqueline aimed for lights, mediums and darks in each package.  Each kit contained slightly less than one pound of fabric, more than enough for one lap quilt.  Notice the large kitchen scale that Jacqueline is using to ensure sufficient fabric.  (In addition to being a quilter, Jacqueline is also a very accomplished potter.  This is the scale she uses to measure her clay.)

The challenge called for the guild member to create a flimsie, sized approximately 40″ by 60″,  using the fabrics in the kit with the optional addition of one fabric of any color or print from the quilter’s own stash.  The quilter was encouraged to make 9 patch blocks with any left-over strips.   We created 36 kits to be signed out, completed and returned by the December guild meeting for a show and viewers choice voting.   The challenge was a resounding success!  It was very interesting to see what guild members could do with found fabrics of a very scrappy nature.   I was astonished at the variety of designs created for this challenge.

For me, one of the biggest benefits of the challenge is that we emptied two large totes of fabric, cut up all of the small pieces and made the guild stash much more manageable!

Over the next few days, I’ll blog several of the quilts that I made from the strips.

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One response to “Quilting for the Community: Strip Challenge

  1. You ladies are living proof that quilters are among the most generous people on earth. Giving quilts to people facing very real, very difficult times in their lives. Striving to make these quilts as attractive as possible. As I told my children, “your quilt has love in every stitch”. I believe that the quilts you and your guild are donating are also “made with love”.

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