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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Lure of the Scrap Bag

Perhaps it conjures up irrestistible images of kindly circles of women contentedly stitching in armchairs by the fire, but I found myself helpless in front of an online ad for Moda Scrap Bags:

"These bags contain the left overs from Moda's production of layer cakes. Near the print plant, they were being destroyed. Moda swooped in and came up with a clever way to save a scrap! Each bag contain strips of 40 fabrics. Each strip varies from 2" to 4" in width. Each strip is 32" long. Each bag's strips are color coordinated. Approximately 1/2 pound of scraps."


Who could resist?!



As you can see, the scrap bags hold a lot of fabric (about 3 metres or yards), and that fabric is somewhat colour coordinated. Most are 2.5" strips, but this particular scrap bag had five 5" strips as well...yazaa!

Scrap Bag Pros:
-you get a lot of different fabrics with very little effort
-it stretches your colour choices; left on my own I tend to buy the same families of fabrics over and over, meaning I have a very predictable and rather inflexible stash. I would never have bought the turquoise prints in this scrap bag, but they do look good with the cherry reds and rich browns
-at $9.99 per bag, this is very inexpensive quality fabric!

Scrap Bag Cons:
-you do not get to choose the fabrics, so there are going to be patterns in there that you do not care for
-you have to work with what you have: 2.5" strips
-you can't easily get more of any particular fabric
-you are not going to be able to pre-wash and dry most of these strips
-unless you keep the roll intact (the bag contents are rolled up and held by an elastic band), these babies are going to be tough to store

Right away, these scrap bags solve one big problem I was chewing on: the price tag of charity quilts. I love making charity quilts, especially crib quilts, if for no other reason than that it is a great way to build your skills. But quilting costs can mount quickly, so I have to keep an eye on my fabric budget. Guilds usually put together free charity kits with donated materials, but frankly, the fabrics are, alas, often repugnant, breaking my Quilting Prime Directive:




Don't spend all that time and money to make something ugly.



And while struggling to make a lime yellow calico, a rust stripe, and a black and white print somehow come together in an aesthetically pleasing way is surely a great design exercise, I should add to my list of quilting maxims:




Don't donate horrible fabric to charities;
all God's children deserve eye candy!



I ordered three scrap bags, and was surprised to find two were practically identical. I am divided on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I had meant to give one to my sister, and it would be fun to see what we come up with having started with the same fabric. Or I could combine the two matching scrap bags into one larger scrap project. But given that my original intent was to expand my stash and my design sensibilities, I was a bit disappointed. If you want to minimize your chance of getting identical scrap bags, order in different seasons or from different sources.

Incidentally, that third scrap bag was almost all Christmas prints:



In balance, I am very happy with my experiment with Moda Scrap Bags. And I found a great site for ideas in using them, Karen Griska's Selvage Quilts...tons of great instructions and online workshops. If you want fabrics you really love and that inspire you, you still can't beat visiting fabric stores, either brick and mortar or virtual. But for a fun project that pushes your boundaries, get your design wall cleared and order some scrap bags!








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