A silk purse from a sow’s ear

From Wiktionary:

make a silk purse of a sow’s ear

  1. (idiomatic) To produce something refined, admirable, or valuable from something which is unrefined, unpleasant, or of little or no value.

The proverb says you can’t do it, but you can. Just have to start with the right sow…

I began the new year with a goal of cleaning up my overflowing, long-neglected batik scraps – unrefined for sure, but great raw material. One big bin and a couple of bags, bulging with yummy leftover chunks from batik beauties of many years past.

Much of my January studio time was spent getting them in order. Here’s what I started with:

Wrinkled, messy, and no longer able to close the lid on the bin – time to dig in.

One handful at a time, I sorted, pressed, and trimmed.

I expected the level in the bin would go down. Funny though, the more I dug through the pile, the more it fluffed up – instead of shrinking, the mess seemed to grow, for a while anyway!

More strips, squares, bricks (rectangles), and a bag of “crumbs”…

Many hours later, I was left with this:

Getting the scraps in order was just the first part though. What’s the point of having a great stash if you don’t actually USE it? I found a super-easy pattern on Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville that was perfect for these scraps. If you have not discovered this site yet, go there RIGHT NOW!! Full of tips about the smartest ways to cut and use your scraps, and lots of free patterns. Bonnie is the Scrap Queen!

Here are the pieces I’ll need to make my version of her Bricks and Stepping Stones quilt: There’s 300 bricks and 300 dark/light 4-patches here – enough for a queen-size – all from that overflowing scrap bin. No new fabric, all scraps from that bin. How about that!?

I’ll be putting it together over the next couple weeks, so watch for the next update. That pile of sow’s ears is turning into a beautiful silk purse – er, quilt top!

Happy stitching!