Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Quilted Vase From Swimming Pool Scraps

One of the most overlooked joys of making a quilt is the scrap pile. When the quilt is done, and you (or rather, I), have tidied up the hurricane zone, I often wind up with a scrap pile that's at least as intriguing as the actual quilt.

The leftovers relate to each other in unexpected ways. Because of the relationship - shape, size, color, intention? - they can quickly be turned into something new. (And we all know that working quickly is the most psychotherapeutic form of quilting.)

Like, when I was auditioning embellishments for my big swimming pool quilt (shown last week), deeply pondering the sublime question: Yes, Diving Boards & Umbrellas? No? A lot? A few? I freehand cut a bunch of vaguely umbrella-shaped pieces, in different solid and print fabrics, and tried different quantities and arrangements. I wound up using only a few.

When the quilt was over, the colorful pile of pseudo-umbrellas demanded immediate attention.

So I churned out the following, starting with a 16" x 8.5" parallelogram of grey fabric. (with a purple chevron backing, and batting between two layers.)  (It's actually slightly narrower at the right end than the left, which was pure carelessness ummm, I designed it that way.) I strewed the freeform umbrella shapes about, then stacked them in layers, cutting smaller or larger shapes as needed. There's no fusible on the umbrella backs - they're just raw edge cut.
I added freeform pool shapes from three shades of blue solids. Then, I quilted around and on top of things with variegated thread. Finally, I stitched on a bunch of buttons, small white ones for the centers, larger white ones floating about.  

The same week, serendipity gifted me this vase (from a holiday event centerpiece): 

They came together in a wrap! 

Before washing, this little quilt was quite stiff and stood up straight even without the vase. After washing, as you'll see below, the flowers developed a wonderful texture, and the whole thing got a lot floppier, though it still stood up (barely).

I contemplated it for a while, thinking it might also serve as a little zip-up case (with a zipper joining the short ends, and sides stitched together.), or maybe a small bolster pillow. But who needs a small bolster pillow? I finally decided to set one quilted oval on the bottom. 

The ends overlap: 
Now it's a vase, and the glass insert is optional. I am deciding between putting some tacking stitches in to hold the flap shut for a few more inches from the bottom, or adding buttons and buttonholes. Note that the fact that one end is higher than the other makes for a messy look an artistic look. 
Many more quilty vessels are here (denim vessels 1), here (denim vessels 2), landscape basket with crochet lid here, another one here.


  1. As always, I love your work and am inspired by it! Barbara

  2. Cathy, I absolutely love it! When I can allocate free stitchin' time, I must make a few! I like the idea of a base insert, instead if pelted/ tinted.ohlala!

  3. You are so creative! What a great use of those little umbrella pieces that might otherwise have been lost.

  4. Thank you, Carol! I hate throwing anything away!


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