Sunday, September 13, 2009

Out of the Depths of the Scrap Hamper

Utilizing Your Embroidery Stitch-Outs

I recently discovered that I have accumulated wealth. In my sewing room I have a softsided hamper, overflowing with orphaned sample embroidery stitch-outs and pieces of fabric too small to fold.

I would guess that I'm not the only sew-ist who has a collection of very small pieces of fabric and / or samples of embroidery not associated with projects. Still, I feel I need to explain why I have this hamper. It's not just that I am a fabric hoarder (though I am). I'm a fabric addict. But the scrap-embroidery addiction all started in a class I took from my friends the Pixeladies. I was commanded to keep all scraps for future free piecing works! Call that my first taste of the drug.

The vessel of choice for collecting these small pieces of fabric and unused embroidery designs is a bright yellow soft-sided hamper. When I began my collection, the hamper seemed like a good choice; standing about 3 feet tall, with a 24" diameter, it seemed as though it would hold all of the small pieces I could possibly collect.

Naturally, as with so many things, the collection expanded to fill all of the available space and now my hamper is not only full but overflowing.

The hamper stood unmolested for almost a year. But then, the siren song called to me, and first I tasted...then repeated...and soon it fed off my own genetic tendencies to fabric addiction...until I was completely powerless and out of control.

Of course, I could never weed through it and discard some of my valuable fabric pieces, small though they might be. For me, the queen of fabric hoarders, it seemed that a better idea was - gasp - to start using these pieces!

My first foray into the "use-what-I-have" scene was fairly innocent: I took pieced rectangles from the Piece Party class and combined them with a sample stitch-out from Crested Beaut 2 and made up the Travel Documents case from my own Quick Gifts 1 Booklet.

Ahhhhhhhh....the first rush of using something from a forgotten stash!

But it wasn't enough. While digging, I came across so many beautiful stitch-outs nestled in that bed of little scraps. The urge was upon me!

Oprah had guilted me into carrying my own bags to the grocery store. I could always use more shopping bags. "It's good for the environment," I reasoned. Call it justification, call it rationalization, or be realistic and call it my drug. Out popped one of the flowers from the Flowerful design set. Put that together with the Stitch-N-Flip method and...a star is born.

(OK, a grocery bag star, but a star never the less.)

Arghhhhhh! Ahhhhh! Groan! The scrap junkie woke! "Use all this gorgeous crap! USE IT! MORE! NOW!" I broke out in a cold sweat. My digging in the basket became more frantic.

What about using the pieces from the hamper in a more formal setting? It's easier to justify things if they're classy and upscale.

Enter 4 stitched-out designs (from the Savannah set) added to the front of an in-progress sewing machine pad with pockets from the Quick Gifts 2 booklet.

"MORE! MORE!" the addiction roared! It was time to get serious. No more "one scrap here, another two there..." If I really wanted to set these pieces free from their hamper-dungeon, I would have to get more pieces than that out for my next project. And it would be hard to stop me from doing just that.

I noticed that the colors in the hamper were heavily weighted in the oranges and reds. I started pulling and Voila! I had a lead for my next fix! Even though all of the colors were in the red/orange/yellow family, some of the pink toned reds were a little abrasive when placed next to the more orange reds. The problem was solved when I did some neutral brown lines.

It took a lot more work for this fix than the previous ones, but I loved the results*. All of the fabrics for a blouse came from the piece hamper. The designs had already been stitched as samples and the only place I had to work with yardage was the dividing lines. Luckily, I had the deep brown print in my main fabric stash. (Could I interest you in a hit from your own stash?) The designs are again from Crested Beaut Design set.

Just then, Randy found me, bent over, head deep in the hamper. He grabbed me by the back of the neck and pulled me out. "Look! We've got a business to run! How is anyone going to get their embroidery fix if you're stuck there with your head in the scraps!" He slapped my face with a wet remnant and shook my shoulders. "C'mon! You've had enough scraps for today! Get out here and start shipping orders!"

I knew he was right, that my scrap project addiction was interfering with my livelihood. I got myself together, took some deep breaths, and went back to work.

But don't tell - that hamper is still over half full...and the moment when nobody's looking...

you might find me rummaging in there again...making...who knows? A pet-cosy? Car organizer? Remote control holder? There were some turquoises in there with crystals that would be perfect for a...

Stay tuned until the next time I fall off the scrap wagon.

*I'm not the only one who loved the Scrap Hamper Blouse. This blouse was accepted into the juried show, PIQF 2009.

Don't forget, you can see more of my embroidery designs on my website.