Fusible Scrap Leftovers: The Saga Continues

Fusible Scrap Leftovers: 3in. Embroidered Blocks Opener_2

Hi Everybody!

I have made a bit of progress on my Fusible Scrap Leftovers project, so I thought I’d share it with you today.

Each time I start working on this piece, I get more and more excited about it. With each embroidered addition the quilt becomes more and more alive. Each block—no matter how cute—gets something added to it. Some blocks get enhanced with a lot of embroidery, other blocks get just a little.

Fusible Scrap Leftovers: 3in. Embroidered Blocks Example 1

I have no master plan for this quilt. I just have a general feeling about how I want to enhance each block. I can’t explain it, but I know that in the end, it will all come together.

This spontaneous design approach makes working on this quilt a glorious adventure. There is a lot of freedom in working this way. Knowing I can’t get it wrong has allowed me to explore a variety of ideas and it also gives me an opportunity to appreciate what each block has to offer—both good and bad. This impromptu approach has made the extended handwork process very entertaining.

In fact, I am enjoying the embroidery phase so much, I have to stop myself from completing the blocks. I have to remember that each step in the process is leading to a magnificent, but undetermined end.

Fusible Scrap Leftovers: 3in. Embroidered Blocks Example 2

If I complete the blocks now, then there will be little to no room left for adding embellishment later—and that just can’t happen. There would also be fewer adventures in store and the door would be opened for me to become bored before I complete my tasks.

This freeform approach to creating ensures continued excitement, valuable lessons and nonstop adventure. That’s exactly the type of quilt I want to have as a year-long project.

Some quilts I create are more planned than this one and I am okay with that. The purpose of this quilt is to teach me to not over think, not to over plan, not worry about getting it done. This quilt’s primary function is to give me a place to experiment and explore. The lessons I learn on this, will affect all the quilts I make in the future.

This is a no-stress project—other than finding time to work on it—so that I can share with my BFFs on occasion.

Like Bill & Ted, I have been on many excellent adventures lately. Because of all these adventures and a few other things, I have been a little lax in working on this project (insert trigger words for BIG NEWS). 

Fusible Scrap Leftovers: 3in. Embroidered Blocks Example 3

To quote an old Bob Dylan song, “The times, they are a-changin” and with those changes, more opportunities to work on it will appear. Yea! I won’t bore you with the change details in this post, but your patience has been greatly appreciated. 🙂

If you are new to the blog and would like to see more of this quilt and read about its history, then follow the links below:

If you are interested in seeing what the quilt sorta, kinda, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head just right, but may be changed at any stage in the process is gonna look like, then you can click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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Hope you have enjoyed seeing my little bit of progress. It was a blast to share it with you. As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂


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26 Responses to “Fusible Scrap Leftovers: The Saga Continues”

  1. Nikki Says:

    This quilt is going to be beautiful! Do you play on Lumosity? I go there occasionally—it’s fun.

    I mailed the two art quilts to MQS – Kansas/Missouri? – this morning. I know they won’t do anything compared to the quilts I know are going to be there – but it’s an educational stepping stone.

    There’s a lady named Claudia Pfeil who has a quilt called Turtle Bay that is simply fabulous—as is she—and I think that quilt is going to be there and I think she might be teaching there also. Anyway, that’s the kind of talent that’s in that quilt show. I hope she’s coming to Houston. Be sweet!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Nikki! Thanks. I’m glad you think so. I know when the quilt is finished it will look like one of mine, only much more complicated.

      I usually try to leave some visual breathing room between design elements, but that isn’t happening this time. I am having a great time filling up most of the negative space.

      Congratulations!!! That is an achievement. MQS is located in Kansas. From what I hear, it’s a great show and it is now going to be even better because your marvelous work will be there. YEA!

      I am very familiar with Claudia Pfeil. She is an amazing longarm quilter. Her quilts are very complex and very different from each other. I love how each one comes with a story.

      On top of all of these visual treats, her quilting adds even more layers of interest and lusciousness. You can stare at her work for hours and still not find everything she has quilted into it. I love that kind of quilting. She is a very talented lady for sure.

      I checked her web site and it hasn’t been updated in a while. I have followed her off and on for years and noticed that she usually doesn’t come to the US unless she is teaching for an extended period.

      I don’t know if she is teaching in Houston, but it would be great if she were. I’ve heard wonderful things about her classes and have watched several of her videos. She is a great teacher and her work definitely inspires.

      I’ll do my best to be sweet. I’d tell you to do the same, but I doubt you could get any sweeter. Hope you have a wonderful day!

      xxxooo 🙂

  2. kathy Says:

    Oh my goodness! Those are fabulous and oh so very delicate and fanciful. They are getting all dressed up for some sort of grand event.

    And, Nikki – you are so fast!


    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kathy, Thanks. Yep, they are getting dressed up and will be looking for a place to go, so I need to get busy and get this quilt onto the next stage. Ha! I say that like it will only take a few more hours work.

      Yes, Nikki is fast alright. Her wonderful comments came on the heals of getting the post in my email. It was so fast, I thought I had done something wrong. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting. Hope you have a glorious day!

  3. ephemeralgecko Says:

    Some delicious designs you got here. I love your approach as well! 😀

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, Delicious is a fabulous word. Thank you for describing my work that way and for appreciating my adventurous approach to completing the quilt.

      Thanks for commenting. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. jayardi Says:

    • • • But aren’t there days you just want to work on it? I have two projects coming up and I am wishing my current deadline was complete so I can get started on those.

    The way you are describing your enjoyment with this one, I am surprised you don’t just sit down and get it done NOW. I’d have a hard time letting it wait if I felt that way.

    It’s looking great and I know when it’s finished it will be a masterpiece!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jayardi, Yes, there are days that I just want to work on it, but that doesn’t mean I get to every time the desire strikes. Some days there isn’t enough time to work on them. Other days, I just don’t have the energy, so I just sit and look at them.

      I know I have shown very few new blocks since the last reveal, but I have spent at least 30 hours working on these. Although they are small, the embroidery process can take quite a while to complete.

      Here’s an example. The pair of blue flower blocks after the opener took me 5 hours to complete. The yellow flower blocks below it took 2 hours. Now I am only speaking of the time it took to design, prep and stitch the decorative work.

      Since I am the Molasses quilter, everything takes a lot of time to execute the way I like to work. I don’t mind the time it takes, but it makes the progress updates slow.

      When I look at what I have completed so far and project the amount of time to finish this stage of the quilt, I would have to sit and work on this quilt uninterrupted for at least 6 to 9 months. That’s working a minimum of 8 hours a day, every day. As much as I love this project, there are others I would like to work on.

      I am driven to complete this quilt, but not to the point of stopping everything else I would like to do. I have workshop ideas and challenge quilts to finish, patterns and tutorials to write, videos to make and numerous adventures to take.

      My list of adventures is long and this quilt is one of those adventures I plan to savor. 🙂

      It’s always great to hear from you. Your enthusiasm makes me smile. I hope you have a grand and glorious day!

      xxxooo 🙂

  5. Eddie Landreth Says:

    Tom, your work is always so “out there” (and I mean “out there” in a really GOOD way), that it’s just a feast to see pics of your artistry. I’m a “mud” quilter, so your wild abandon with color is a treat because I don’t know that I would ever be brave enough to go there. I know it takes a real knack to pull it off well, and you have that down.

    Can I ask a couple of questions about your technique? (1) are your shapes raw edge or turned? And is your blanket stitching hand or machine done? If hand, then all I can say is my goodness, you are perfection! When I go to quilt shows and see beautifully executed work, I like to get right up to within inches of it and study it over. Your work is the kind of stuff I’d like to get up close and personal with! Hope you bring lots of it to AQG in July when you come!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eddie, You are funny. I hardly consider what I’m doing out there. If you do, then I think you need to get out there a little more.

      If you work with “mud” colors, you can easily work with truer hues. The same design rules apply for mud and vibrant color quilts. I find working with truer colors easier to handle. Working with muted colors requires more visual finesse. You have to have a keen understanding of value to execute them well.

      I know I have a muddy quilt in me, but I think it’s going to take a while to come out. I’ve been collecting these fabrics for years. I am sure a quilt will appear eventually—just don’t know when.

      As a creator of things, I always try to challenge myself, so creating in this color palate would be a tremendous learning experience. Hopefully an idea will come to me that screams to be created in this splendid palate, so I can get started. Until then, I’ll just continue collecting. 🙂

      Now, the answer your questions:

      1. All of the elements in this quilt are fused. That was the point in making the quilt. To use all my leftover fusible scraps. I’ve been saving this pile of scraps for 10 years and decided I needed to do something with them.

      2. The buttonhole stitch is done by hand. I love the buttonhole stitch and after completing that part of the process, I feel I have gotten pretty good at executing it.

      When someone asks if the buttonhole is done by machine, I always smile. I think that If you have to ask, then I have done what I hoped to achieve. Here’s a link to and older post that shows the back of the blocks. https://tomrussellquilts.wordpress.com/category/fusible-scraps/page/8/

      When I am there in July, you will be able to inspect my work as long and as closely as you would like. Because I put a lot of details in my pieces and am overjoyed to have people take a closer look.

      Thanks for the wonderful questions and comments. It’s always good to hear from you. See you in July!

  6. Barbara Says:

    Love the blocks! When is the book coming out? I will buy it.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barbara. Thanks. You are sweet. I can’t write a book until AFTER I finish the quilt and that is gonna take a little while longer.

      Are you sure you are up to the challenge of creating this quilt? I had considered creating a book after it was done, but I doubted anyone would consider replicating it.

      So, are you serious? I am very curious.

      • Barbara Says:

        Absolutely I am serious. I think it is a wonderful idea and so clever. Everyone has scraps around and they do not know what to do with them. I save some and get exasperated with my leftovers at times and throw them out. This is a different idea and a book should be written. You have a true gift using colors and designs.

  7. Leslie C Says:

    I too am up for the book… or a class… or videos (!) I love the way this quilt is progressing, and I especially love the way you are taking us through this journey. I feel like I have a window into how you approach the design process, what you are learning, and what you are hoping to achieve – both in the quilt, and in your own personal growth as an artist and quiltmaker. Makes me so happy – thanks!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Leslie, Thanks for your words of encouragement. I will be doing videos and workshops on what I created parts of this quilt. I hadn’t considered a book, until Barbara asked about.

      I am glad you are enjoying seeing my process and progress. It makes the creative journey more enjoyable. I have always kept sketchbooks of my quilts because I think it’s important to document their progress. Quilt historians will appreciate this and I find it a wonderful experience to relive the process after the quilt is complete.

      Each quilt is a journey, so the sketchbooks and my blog are the scrapbooks from the trip. The only difference between the two is that I on the blog I have to tell you about what I’m thinking and I only jot notes in my sketchbook.

      Oh, I just remembered . . . Another difference between the two is I don’t share my sketchbooks with that often, but I share my blog with every day.

      I am glad you are a part of my creative journey. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

      Have a wonderful day!

  8. Cyn Strang Says:

    For scraps, these look pretty good! I love the whimsy. And the blue background is absolutely wonderful.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Cyn, Yep, they are just scraps, but they have definitely evolved from their leftover beginnings. Oh yes, this quilt is full of whimsy and many other things. As I was stitching, I made sure to sprinkle a little magic as I went along. I think it really brings out the color. 🙂

      The blues are indeed scrumptious. Glad you like.

      Love to you an Jeff. xxxooo 🙂

  9. Paul Leger Says:

    These are great. I especially like the last on with the little bee.

    Fantastique, merveilleux.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Paul! Thanks. My ability to speak French is sorely lacking, but I can read FANTASTIC in any language.

      Woo Hoo! I’m bilingual! My mom will be SO proud. 🙂

      This is an obvious side effect from using up your scraps, so I urge everyone to try it.

      Thanks Paul! That made me smile, which needs no translation. 🙂

  10. Clara Kosloff Says:

    Tom, Looks like you are creating your own little flower garden. The blocks are beautiful. Aunt Clara

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Clara, Yes, I’m gardening indoors and out these days and having a ball no matter which kind of flower I’m looking at.

      Life is good and I am blessed to be surrounded by such beauty.

      Thanks for dropping by. It’s always good to hear from you.

      Have a glorious day!

  11. Carla Says:

    Love. Love it. Makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. My mind works in mysterious ways. (I know I’m crazy)

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carla, Thanks! Your mind does work in mysterious ways. Thank God I love a mystery. 🙂

      As always, it’s wonderful to hear from you!

  12. Janice Shiffra Says:

    Tom, Tom, Tom. You never stop improving. You are just oozing creativity. I would definitely buy any book you put out–if for no other reason than to look at it over and over. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing attitude.
    Jan S

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Janice, Thanks for your wonderful comments. I really appreciate them—and your enthusiasm.

      As I continue this project, I will keep the book idea in mind. Writing a book, isn’t a daunting task, I just need to consider it as I am working. That way I have all the steps documented. Since I wanted everyone to be able to follow my progress, I’ve been doing a lot of this anyway, but I haven’t included everything. Maybe I will start photographing that stage of the process.

      Thank you again for your support and generous comments. It’s great to know that my creative journey has inspired you in some way.

  13. Patty Groff Says:

    Tom, I love all your photography of the flowers, etc. Most of all I love your fusible scraps blocks. I assume they are machine stitched. If not, then kick me! What I want to know is, how do you get your points so perfect? (if you share).I have made something similar that is all hand done. I can’t finish it by hand however because I have nerve damage to my hands. Worse on the right one of course. I am wondering if I could finish the rest of the blocks by machine? Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Patty .PS love your sense of humor too!

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