Cutting Up In January

One of the keys to quilt production is organization. Once you’ve got Christmas all put away, it’s time to look at the quilting room.   
I have a secret vice. I LOVE rotary cutting. I love it so much that sometimes my quilting friends will ask me to cut things out for them and they will stitch things up for me, or do some other craft related favor. It all works out in the long run ;-).   
So you can imagine – I love January. January is when I grab those boxes and baskets of scraps I have tossed. I put an iron and ironing board in my sewing room and starch (good old Sta-Flo) up all those scraps and iron them, then cut them up. I cut 2 1/2 inch strips first. I cut blocks in 7″, 6.5″, 6″, 5.5″ (etc) . . . . and store them in piles with a lable on top. Just as I love those 2.5″ strips, I love the 2.5″ squares, and have shoeboxes of them, all sorted by color.     
(Remember those map quilts we looked at earlier? When you need a zillion different desert colors, or greens, or blues for the sea, you already have a goodly stash cut up if you do your January homework.)    
You can also do that   Sweetheart Quilt, either in reds or in a variety of scrappy colors. I think I remember that it takes about 49 squares per block – that uses up a LOT of scraps, and it is a fun quilt and a quick quilt to make, again, a great group activity.  
It also makes sense to cut up all those squares with a bunch of friends because you can exchange and have lots and lots of different scrap colors in your quilt. Some years, I have gotten together with friends and we’ve all cut-up together, and that is really a lot of fun. It has to be the right friends, though, who can balance FUN with a sense of mission – I am a little obsessive (a LITTLE???) about getting my January cutting done. The best year was when we brought food, and just kept cutting and cutting until we were all ready to drop.    
And here is the really cool thing. As you cut, you come across fabrics you had totally forgotten, and those old creative juices start flowing. As you cut, two or three or four quilts will start forming in your mind, so keep you little gridded notebook handy, and write down those ideas before they slip away!   
Once you have all those scraps cut, labeled, sorted and put away, take a couple hours to get your workroom back in order. If you are anything like me, the creation process is messy. I pull out all kinds of fabrics, looking for just the right combination, and you know, while you are on a roll is NOT the time to be obsessive about putting things away. . . you just cut and sew and audition and back to the drawing board – it’s a burning-the-midnight-oil kind of energy, and you don’t want to dilute it with dutiful energy, just go go GO!   
So from time to time, you have to pay the piper. This is a good time – now that you’ve so virtuously cut up all your scraps – a great time to sort all those fabrics and put them back neatly on the shelves. Again – you will see old friends you have totally forgotten, and they will call out to you, and new ideas will pop into your head. But this isn’t the time to dilute that virtuous, dutiful energy with creative energy; quickly jot down the ideas but KEEP GOING, straighten, organize, file by color and pattern, get it all put away.   
Once you have your work room all neat again you don’t need me to tell you what to do next. You will be on fire to get started. Don’t ya just love that January energy? New year, new quilts?

 

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