Sunday, August 25, 2013

Scrap Strip Therapy: A Recipe for Relaxation

Sometimes you just need to sew scraps. Not think. Not drink. Just sew.

1. Cut or buy a standard-sized sheet of felt (close to 8 1/2" x 11"). I used black acrylic felt for this project. (If you need to press it, keep your iron  temperature low, and use a press sheet.)

2. Go through your scrap bin and find strips, from about 1/4" to 1 1/2" wide, 8" or so long. Unevenness and fraying are just fine! Selvages rock! Interesting yarns, cords, and threads count, too. If the fabric strips are wider than 3/4", cut gentle curves into them.
3. Lay the widest ones down first, slightly overlapping so no felt shows between. Then lay down the thin, thinner, and thinnest strips. Finally, add any yarns or cords. Strategic smears with a temporary glue stick can hold things down.

4. When the glue is dry (press to speed that up, at a not-too-hot temp, with a press sheet), stitch everything in place with a wide zig-zag. You can use one stitch/one thread, or many. Couch in the fibers (couch = stitch over the top with a wide long zig-zag, so the cord still shows).

I mostly used gold metallic thread in my machine and a plain vanilla zig-zag.

5. Now find that Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza gift list and start cutting! Here are five different bracelets/bookmarks/wall hangings (aka quiltlets) made from this strip set. All serve as excellent gifts!

Sample One: Cut out a rectangle the long way, to about 7".

 If you used naturey colors, you've got something that looks like an abstract landscape. It's a soothing wallhanging for someone's work station.

A mother of pearl button glows like a moon. Stitch a buttonhole in the other end, and you've made a cuff bracelet.

Cut strata into 1” x 1” squares, on the diagonal. Artistic one inch squares are known as ‘inchies.’ (Which, like Artist Trading Cards, are tradeable works of art! Believe it or not, there are onetwo entire books about inchies!)
Once you've cut all the inchies you want, zigzag stitch the squares together, butting raw edges. The stitches act as hinges. Here I arranged them like the central sliver of a  traditional "Log Cabin Barn Raising" quilt pattern. 

The kinds of people who love inchies are also tremendously fond of 'betwinchies', cut to 1 1/2” square. (And guess what Twinchies are?)

Or, cut out a wavy cross-wise section: 

Results look something like this: 

The gold 'sewing machine cord' was created on the machine, with water soluble stabilizer. It was then  couched to the background. and a loop was created at at the left end. A vintage gold metal button is added on the right.

And finally, with the leftovers from all of the above,  there's the  following amalgamation. I arranged inchies and wedges of black felt on water soluble stabilizer. Sandwiched the whole thing between another layer of the stabilizer, and then using gold metallic threads,stitched everything in place and added little thread curlicue protuberances coming off the top and bottom. 
There's a buttonhole on the far Western inchie, and a button on the far East.

Just remembering how I made these things causes my blood pressure to plummet (in a good way). If you've read this far, I suspect you feel the same way! 


  1. Love this post Cathy, your inchies are stunning.
    Creative therapy at best!

  2. This is really a great idea. Sometimes, just sending stuff under the needle with no particular goal in mind is a most relaxing thing to do.
    Thanks for the reminder... :)

  3. Glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for the comment, Kit!

  4. Sewing therapy can help anyone! Love the way you have turned it into something useful.

    1. Thanks, Pat. I agree, sewing therapy is for anyone who likes sewing. (There are people who hate sewing. Maybe they had cruel home ec teachers. I feel for them!)

  5. LOVE THESE! I find just sewing a bunch of scraps together in any old fashion a good way to relax. Your work is rich in design. I wish I knew someone who might wear a cuff.

  6. absolutely charming!
    glad i have mucho strips and selvages and such o my hand painted fabrics from previous projects, in bins, bags and boxes ready for new life! Mahalo!

    1. Hand-painted fabric? OMG your results will be heavenly! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. great way to use some of the scraps that all quilters seem to accumulate - thanks for sharing.


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