Where’s the Beef?

It seems many quilters I know are stuck in a rut.  They like what they quilt – be it traditional blocks (definitely my style and preference), paper piecing, foundation piecing, etc.).  But, as my daughter expands her artistic abilities with paint, chalk and mixed media – it really got me to thinking about my own preferences…and perhaps a rut that I have been stuck in with regards to my quilting.  Not a rut that I’m worried about, but a rut that can sometimes leave me wondering “Where’s the Beef?”

While I absolutely and totally LOVE creating the quilt tops that I make, I ventured beyond my norm a few weeks ago and made a wall hanging with some gorgeous buttons from Button Mad.  And I had a BLAST doing so!  Now, I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable smuggling up on a cold winter’s night with a quilt that was full of hand-crafted buttons – there are a large number of crafty items that could potentially be used in a quilt that would still create the same cozy feeling that tradition dictates – with a twist.

Here’s some ideas that have been running through my head over the past few weeks, and something inspired by my love of all things crafty and frugal (keep in mind I have to stick with cotton because I am allergic to all things synthetic):

  • Rick-rack has been popular for years.  I am not only thinking of embellishing a quilt with it, I am also thinking it would make great borders for blocks instead of sashing.
  • Bath towels!  Yes, you heard that right!  Using bath towels with traditional quality quilt fabric to make a two dimentional quilt with some serious snuggly texture.  Who doesn’t love to wrap themselves in a plush bath towel, especially those fancy Europeon ones with the textures?
  • Create a foundation-pieced quilt out of baby flannel blankets.  They are already the perfect size to cocoon a wriggling baby in, why not give them a little extra plush and design by adding a layer or two of muslin and quilt batting to the tops and bottoms?
  • Grandma’s old aprons and house dresses.  I don’t know about you but both of my grandmas wore everyday house dresses for daily living and NEVER cooked a meal without an apron!  What a beautiful memory to make a quilt out of the wardrobes of their lives.
  • Pom-poms.  SO 70’s, but so fun, too!  Again, can be used to embellish a quilt, create lines of demarcation in a quilt or border blocks and even use as the binding on a quilt.  My kids would love this!
  • Yo-Yo’s made from some of the special baby and toddler clothes that I kept from my children when they were babies.  OH, the memories I could create with these.  And since I had four children, many of the baby clothes the oldest child wore were also warn by all three younger children – so I could share the love with all of the kids.
  • Wranglers.  Ah yes, my favorite kind of jeans.  Sure wish I could figure out how to get that fine, firm …. ummm, eye-candy tucked into a quilt with the jeans, too <grin>.
  • Flannel shirts – what fun to sew with flannel that has been used over and over again.  SO very soft and comfy!
  • Sweatshirts are my best friend in the colder months.  I do not wear a coat unless I have to stand outside because I cannot drive in one, but I wear my sweatshirts until they are literally in tatters and holes.  They make fabulous quilts because they are already broke in!
  • Have you seen those cotton rugs at the dollar stores that are pretty worthless as rugs because they are so THIN?  They are the PERFECT quilt for a pet – no quilting required, frankly.  Just sew a half-dozen or so of them together and you have a doggy blanket that is sure to be perfect for the canine of your casa!  They are totally washable and will help keep the mud off of your floors when those little (or big, in our case) four legged kids traipse through their favorite flower beds and then have to be put up in the mud room until they clean their paws enough to be allowed into the rest of the house.

What about you?  What kind of “out of the box” items can you think of to “beef up” your quilting endeavors?

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