Why so many 2" strips quilts?

Forty three. That's how many I've made so far.

 "That's crazy!" you say.

Maybe so.  But it was either make something out of those strips or toss them.  I chose to make something. Forty three "somethings."

Back in the summer of 2015, I was very frustrated at myself because I had several large bags of strips in my bedroom!  I was upset that I had allowed them to take up so much space and I wasn't using them at all.

When I say "large", I meant "LARGE" - 120 liters, or about 30 gallons - large trash bags, not just smaller plastic bags that you might get at the grocery store when you go shopping.

This bag is just an example. I had a full bag like this one which holds 2.5" strips - but the other was 2" strips.

This bag is just an example. I had a full bag like this one which holds 2.5" strips - but the other was 2" strips.

So, that June, I started. I began with a simple light/dark quilt top.  It was easy and fast.

The only thing simpler, I thought, was a simple non planned postage stamp style.

I finished it and was very pleased that, although very simple, it was effective.   Then, I remembered my various readings in blogland about "low volume" quilts. 

No matter what I actually thought of the term, I thought that making a low volume quilt top was next.

I decided then, to get busy and start using them.  I actually had three main sizes of strips - 1 1/2", 2" and 2 1/2".  I had lots and lots of 2 1/2", as well, but I felt like I was at least using them since I dug into them often to use as bindings. The 1 1/2" were bothering me, but I didn't have as many of those.  Plus, I decided that 2" were possibly more versatile than the 1 1/2" - as a quilt goes together seemingly more quickly with 2" than the smaller size.

I would like to add that since then, I've been cutting diligently, and actually have a lot fewer 2" strips, but have 2 1/2 bags of 2.5" strips and 1 1/2 bags of 1.5" strips!  But I digress......

 So, I did. I purposely tried to choose strips with white or off white as the background with a smallish print.

I tried to stay away from pastels. That was number 3.  

I went for number three, then, one I called Pastel Rails - a simple rail fence design using pastels.  

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At this point, I still had lots and lots of strips. I had done the three easiest quilts I knew.

Then I really put my thinking cap on and started playing around with the Electric Quilt program and started designing things with 2" strips - thinking specifically about what I had in my own bags. 

And so, Floating Frames came into being.  

About this time, my dad, who was 87, had gotten quite ill.  To keep me from being too distracted by the seemingly slowness of the news coming from FL, I went ahead and made another simple design I knew - the coins or Chinese coins quilt. I called mine Bronze Coins. I finished this one on July 12.

To make a long story short, dad passed away on July 13. I left my "project" in pieces, literally, with a print out of my next idea on the ironing board, and flew to the states for a month to be with mom and help her do a lot of things you have to do after the death of your spouse.  When I came back, in mid August, I began again, with renewed vigor, on this project.

Because I am a Christian, I wasn't mourning as one who has no hope, or doesn't believe in an afterlife.  One my dad's favorite sayings when he said goodbye to us as we left FL to come back to Poland, "See you one more time - here, there, or in the air."  It's a blessing to have such a hope. At the same time, I was grieving. I did miss his weekly phone calls. I missed just knowing he was back in FL sitting in his chair under the John Deere quilt I had made him early in my quilting life.

And thus began this project in real earnest.

The next one was a design I had spotted on pinterest and printed out before I flew to FL on July 14. I found out who posted the block - Lois Olsen from Australia, and showed her. She was delighted. (I try to give her credit every time I mention this particular quilt, since it is actually a unique design and not one I had seen anywhere else.)

I named my quilt Dots and Dashes.

So many things in life one has no control over - i.e. life and death and the decisions of others, but at last, this was something I did feel like I had control over.  I worked like a woman possessed. Once again, I am sure that a good bit of this was grief - working itself out in a profitable way.

And so came number 7 - and I used Moda's Lawn Chair quilt as my guide.  Their pattern is written for 2.5" strips but I used 2" strips. You can find the pattern at their website.  Obviously since I used theirs as a guide, I didn't write up my own version of it.


I went forward with lots of energy. I was making progress...using up those bags (I found yet another bag of those 2" strips that I had previously trimmed up).  It was really quite fun. When I posted them on Facebook for people to see, they seemed to like them. They were fast, easy, and do-able.

I made every single simple design that I could think of.  Number 8 was Simply Scrappy - a simple 36 patch with a bright sashing: 

And so it went.  Numbers 9-18 seemed to just come fly together.

By late September 2015, I was up to number 19.  I was getting more and more creative and trying to use different ideas I had seen.  I already had the program Electric Quilt, but began to really use it daily.  I finished 21 tops by the end of 2015 and had depleted my supply of 2" strips!  

These were only tops, by the way. I actually made them into quilts during the winter.

(Just before he left home to go to the USA to work and save for college, my son, Daniel, got a photo for me of the first 21 all laid out in our yard.)

But the question that seems to haunt some people, is “But where did you get all those scraps to start with?

Well, since I had started quilting a few years back, I have made literally hundreds of quilts - mostly simple charity quilts for area people. I had tried to deal with leftovers by cutting them into strips. I also had gotten behind and just had bags and bags of scraps.

I started keeping good records of quilts made in 2013 - I managed to scrape together some pics of quilts made in 2012, but didn't really get organized until 2013.  In 2013, I finished with the help of one couple who stayed here while we went to the states, 117 quilts. In 2014 - 29 quilts, 2015 - 189 quilts and 2016 - 183 quilts.  Keeping up with the backings and cut offs from those alone results in a lot of scraps. 

In 2016, I worked on more 2" strips and squares quilts - and made up 21 more tops - and have, as of this date in 2017, finished quilting all but one of those.  I am cutting up more strips now as my supply is picked over.

We have a page on this website with a gallery of all of these quilts showing.  All of the patterns for the 43 tops except for the Lawn Chair quilt by Moda and "Made Ya Look" (coming)  are available as free downloads. Check here.

But why make up your own patterns?  I suppose some of you might think.  Well, a lot of scrappy patterns are more scrappy than appeals to me.  Each of us has our own taste - and I find that mine tend to a more organized scrappy look than some.  I have tried to make what I like - and if you like too, then I am happy to share my ideas with you. If you don't - that's fine. It would be a boring world if we were all the same.

Just to give you a sample of the last several- just in case  you aren't familiar with what I've done - here they are.  


Number 39 is called Big X - the reason is obvious.



I then wanted something quiet - something for the people among us who really hate the whole chaos thing - the riot of color isn't "their thing" -  and just want calm, cool, and collected. 

So I made number 40 - which, also for obvious reasons, I called "Quiet".

                                                    And then came  number 41 - Urban Development - I was looking for a simple, clean line -  





Number 42 is called Roundabouts and Alleys where I used a combination of Log Cabin blocks, 9 patches and a piano key border.  

I had found a pretty light blue big piece of fabric for about 25 cents at a second hand shop that was the majority of the blue. Someone had tried to applique all over it, and made a mess of it. I bought the piece, cut out all the mess of the applique and threw it into kindling and used the rest for this project.

And number 43, which is actually my first one from 2017 is named Explosion!  I was thinking about fireworks and the big celebrations they always have here in Poland, as I made this one.

This 2" project is not finished. I cut up more strips this morning and I have many more scraps to deal with.  

I guess we'll see where it goes.  Stay tuned. Check back often!

And while you are here, feel free to check out the goodies my sis has found for you!



Becky Petersen8 Comments