Imagine The Possibilities

Plastic Containers of Scraps

A Pandora's Box of possibilities await.

The Scrapping Continues Welcome back to my project! When I introduced the fusible scrap leftover project a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea I’d have so much to share between the introduction and the next post.

After the first post, I knew I’d get a lot of questions. Several of you asked about how I store my scraps? Others wanted to know what type of fusible I use? Some wondered how big my stash is and if I was going to share photos of it? Others inquired about how I keep those tiny little pieces under control, and just how small are the pieces I keep? I’m sure others wondered what the visiting hours are at the mental institution I’m in—because anyone who keeps all that little stuff must be seriously ill.

Fellow scrap enthusiasts confided that I am not alone in my need and desire to keep all of these amazing little fabric bits and pieces. I find this somewhat comforting as I sit here rocking back and forth holding my little treasures. After reading my post, I’m sure others just shook their heads and thought—Yep, another candidate for an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.

Where Do I Begin? To help you understand how and why I create. I think it’s important to explain my thought processes and the reasons behind them. In any creative process there are lots of decisions to be made. Most of them are small, but each decision is important because they build upon each other. It’s all of these small decisions that make the creative process fun and engaging for me.

What Do I See? When I look at my boxes of fusible leftovers, I see my past. I see every project I ever worked on. These little pieces hold my memories, but they also hold possibilities—endless possibilities. I’ve kept and cherished these little bits of fabric for years, just waiting for the chance to use them again. That’s why they are so hard to throw away. Each time I get to use these older pieces I am reminded of how far I’ve come as a quilter. I get to remember what I was doing or who I was with, when I got the fabric. I feel that using this memory-laden fabric makes my newer pieces even more special.

Unfortunately, I can’t always use these older pieces in my work, so they sit and sit, patiently waiting for their chance to come out and play. As new quilts get made, more scraps are added and the pile continues to grow. Occasionally I’ll get an opportunity to use a tiny bit here or there, but never enough to make a real dent in the pile.

Where Do I Start? After almost 10 years of keeping my beloved leftovers, I finally decided that I needed to make something special out of them. These cherished leftovers are going to be the focus of a new year-long project. No longer would they be confined to accent or fill-in positions on other quilts. I was going to create a quilt to showcase them.

What I am going to create you ask? Well, you’ll have to come back and see. I’m not going to make it that easy on you. Besides, I like your company.


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19 Responses to “Imagine The Possibilities”

  1. Will Quilt for Chocolate Says:

    Tom – I can’t wait to follow along with this new quilt that is in the works. As I read this entry I had a question…do the sizes of the scraps that we keep correlate to the amount of detail that we put in our quilts?

    Your quilts have so much detail it blows me away. They are a treat to look at. There is something fun to find every time you look. My mind doesn’t think like that. When I would decide a quilt is done, you are just getting going and have so much more to do on yours. You see the possiblities in what those tiny pieces can add to a project.

    I’m glad the little pieces will be liberated soon!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Absolutely! There is a correlation between the two. I also think the combination expands to increase to the amount time it takes to finish one. The more I learn, the more time it takes to make a quilt. Pretty soon it’s going to take me a year to make a potholder sized quilt.

      I’m glad you find something new each time you see one of my pieces. That makes me feel like I’ve been successful. It is also one of my goals. Adding those details makes the quilts much more fun for me to work on. It also makes shopping for things more exciting. 🙂

      Yes, once the quilt is quilted, the fun is just beginning for me. I can’t wait to share my newest piece. It’s the most elaborate one I’ve made so far. It also not the quilt I’m talking about in this thread.

  2. Gari Says:

    You should write for a tv program…..because you are GREAT at keeping us wanting more!!!!

    I don’t have much of a stash…most of what I have was given to me (can you say BORING left overs?) and maybe that is why I have no desire to keep small scraps. That, lack of space and I don’t have the same creative genius you have!!

    I too am very interested in how you store your stash. I’d LOVE a peek into your studio/creative room!!! 😉

    Keep ’em coming…. can’t wait to see/read more!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Gari, Thank you for the compliment. I am glad you are enjoying my blog, and glad you keep coming back.

      Now Gari, there are no such thing as boring leftovers. If you like the fabric, then you’ll find a way to use it. If you don’t like it, then get rid of it. There are lots of people out there who may love what you have no use for.

      Awe, I hate to disappoint you, but you actually do have the same creative spark as I have. I know this because you are a quilter. You can’t be a quilter and not be creative.

      I think the biggest difference between us is I constantly challenge myself to come up with solutions within a very defined parameters. This forces me to exercise my creativity. You’ll see what I mean as I explain the parameters I set up for this project.

      Now having enough space, is another issue. I don’t have a tremendous amount of space, so I have to make good use of what I have. I also HATE hunting for things. All of my stash needs to be accessible while I”m working. When I’m creating need to be able to get my hands on my supplies. The creative flow energy will be lost if I have to stop for an extended period of time.

      I’m going to be explaining how I organize my stash to make it usable and keep it contained. Hopefully some of my methods will work for you too.

      I’ll be sharing my studio and the little methods I use to keep it all together. So, keep following me and I’ll show it all to you.

  3. Kathy Shaw Says:

    Your blog is great fun, and I’m having such an enjoyable ride! I’m not one to keep lots of fusible scraps, but I have tons of other little bits and bites of lace and beads for my crazy quilts. So we might be considered hoarders in spirit! Can’t wait to see what you do with all those little treasured memories!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kathy, I’m glad you are enjoying yourself. I’m having a lot of fun too. I can understand why fusible isn’t that big of a component in your work. It’s not as big in my work now either, but I still have uses for it.

      You know how hard it is to let those perfectly usable little pieces go. I think you’ll enjoy this project. As It moves along I think you’ll see some things you are very familiar with.

      Who knows, it may want to keep some of those scraps you were considering throwing away…. I’m just saying….

  4. Analisa Says:

    So glad I stumbled upon your blog! Very interested to See what you will make.
    Analisa in Dubai

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Thanks for coming back Analisa! I am really excited to share this project with you. I just have to drag it out a bit for both you and me, or I’ll have a novel on my hands and you’ll be exhausted reading about it. Have a great day!

  5. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Well said! And, of course, you KNOW we’ll be back!! pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      xxxx & oooo. You are the BEST! For anyone who reads this. Pat is the one who taught me about the importance of adding details to my work. Just so you know. 🙂

  6. Sherry Says:

    are what makes chocolate chip cookies so good, too! Who says you need great big pieces to make a pretty project?
    Can’t wait for pictures ~ well, really I can cause there’s sure nothing I can do to get them posted any faster. I’ll be here waiting ever so patiently with my cyber buddies!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I have a stash that I rarely have to get into because of all these little pieces. Oh, the stories I can tell about each one of them. Oh, I’m a sick, sick man. Ha!

      I can’t wait to share the next few steps in the process. Oh, I am SO excited!!!!

  7. Penny ODell Says:

    I have to tell you…this post is so funny to me. I remember you and I sitting at Kalamata Kitchen for lunch many years ago. You had just started quilting. You had never been to Gina’s (we went that afternoon). I mentioned a stash. You told me that you didn’t want to accumulate a bunch of fabric. You wanted to start fresh each time and only buy what you need for the upcoming project.

    Baby, you have arrived! You definitely have the sickness.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Penny, It’s great to see you here. Yes, things have definitely changed a lot since that lunch. I said a lot of silly things back then.

      Who knew that eventually I would make a decision about which house to buy based on the size of my sewing room? HA! Things have definitely changed in my life because of quilting.

      Thanks for dropping by. I hope you’ll come back.

  8. Brenda Wall Says:

    Tom, you are keeping this blog as interesting as any novel I read. Keep up the good work. I can’t wait to see what you produce with you scraps.

  9. Sherry Ford Says:

    Hi, Tom! I love those beautiful batiks in your picture! Show us more! I have project boxes in those same two color groups but I’m not telling how long they’ve been gathered and ready. I rarely use fusibles because I’ve been sewing for so long that I remember when the quality was really bad! And, of course, I love handwork! You inspire me, though! There may be fusibles in my future.

    Sherry in Little Rock

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sherry, I love those batiks too. They are from another project, but I need to take pictures to illustrate my topic. I’ll get them under control when that project is through. I’ll show it to you a little later on.

      Fusible has changed a lot since it first came out. I plan to cover my favorites in the future. I use different ones for different purposes. It’s all about knowing what you want the end result to be.

      There is no time limit on creating. The batiks will be waiting, until you are ready to begin.

      Since you love handwork, you are really going to enjoy what I’ve been working on.

  10. Jayardi Says:

    • • • Would you believe I started throwing away the teeny pieces? I don’t use fusible much, just starting to get into applique and I like the look of turned edges. Especially after you shared your secret with me.

    I still have a ton of small scraps. Just can’t bring myself to throw them away. The only problem is they aren’t fusible. Some day, maybe after you show us your tricks, they’ll make it into a quilt or two.

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