This is not the first time I have posted an image of these charm squares. They are from my Nana’s stash…she had already made a quilt with some of them and didn’t think that she would be likely to use them for anything else, so she let me take them. I adore them. I have lots of precious fabric in my stash, but these are right at the top of the precious pyramid. Sure, the Heather Ross prints, and the bits and pieces from the original Flea Market Fancy, might be worth quite of bit on Ebay now, but they are still somewhat available – albeit at an extreme cost. But these are one-of-a-kind. I sincerely doubt I could ever find more if I wanted to. And so I have been unable to decide what to do with them.
When Kelly posted her idea about a My Precious Quilt-Along back in the spring, I intially thought I would finally get started on my Mendocino quilt. After all, I adore the fabric, and the pile I’ve collected over the last few years is worth a pretty penny. I figured I just needed to track down the few remaining prints that I’m missing and then I could get started. Well, I’ve been working on doing just that, but I’m still missing some odds and ends. So I looked through my stash for something else that I’m afraid to cut into. As soon as my eyes landed on my stack of vintage squares I knew this was the perfect opportunity to use them. After all, I’ll enjoy them far more in a quilt than in a pile, right? (RIGHT??!)
There is quite a range of lights and darks, as well as reds, blues and yellows, in the stack, so I wasn’t sure what to pair them with. I wanted to avoid just using Kona Snow, even though I find it the perfect white for vintage fabrics because it is ever so slightly yellow. It’s the Cloud White of the fabric world! (That’s a paint reference, for the uninitiated.) But I used Kona Snow for my Oh My Stars! quilt, so I wanted to branch out. I took them to a recent TMQG meeting, and it was suggested that I try using a selection of different warm, soft neutrals, rather than just one. I loved the idea, and it instantly reminded me of a project that Brooke had been working on, and which I adored.
Since I was seated at the central work table at the workroom at the time, I quickly turned to Karyn’s stacks of solid cotton fat quarters and grabbed a few from both Kona and Free Spirit. Then when I got home I hauled out my stash of neutral solids and added more to the pile. I couldn’t tell you what they all are, since some of them have been in my stash for years and years, but I know that Kona Solids in Snow, Bone, Ivory, and PFD Bleach White, Free Spirit Designer Solids in Pearl, and Art Gallery Pure Elements in Linen White are all in there.
I went through my stack of vintage fabrics, and quickly assessed the largest common size that I could get out of them. Some would allow as much as 5 1/2″, and some were closer to 4 1/2″, but I could get 5″ out of most of them, so that’s what I went with. Because my plan was to sew them into HSTs, and because those would require trimming after the initial sewing anyway, I didn’t bother to trim them to size. I cut out 5″ squares from my stack of neutrals, marked them with my diagonal sewing lines, and pinned them to my vintage charms.
Now, the other aspect of this project that I’m really excited about is that I’m going to sew all the HSTs as leaders and enders. Let me explain: I always use a scrap of fabric to finish off a chain when I’m piecing (an ender), and I leave it under the needle for when I begin my next chain of pieces (so that it becomes a leader). This ensures that my thread never jams up when I’m starting a new set of pieces, and it also conserves quite a bit of thread. So does chain piecing, which just means that I sew a bunch of pieces all at once by feeding them one after the other without cutting the thread in between. I decided recently that I was wasting effort by sewing over scraps of fabric at the end of every chain, and had the idea that I could have a project ready and waiting beside the machine, and that I could use as my leaders and enders instead of a random scrap. So, for instance, in the picture above I was working on the do. Good Stitches blocks that I posted about yesterday, and you can see that the chain begins with one of my HST sets, and the end of the chain is also an HST set which will be ready under the needle when I start again. Brilliant, right? (Yep, tooting my own horn!)
And it’s working, too! Without even trying I sewed 24 HST units last week, all in the process of working on other things. This quilt is going to make itself, I tell you. ;)
My original plan had been to arrange them all in the same direction, since I really wanted to highlight the individual prints rather than an overall quilt design…
…but since I’ve started playing with the HSTs that I’ve completed thus far, I’ve found some other options with promise. Thankfully I have lots of time to make a decision. ;)
And while I do all this work? Stella sleeps.