Quiltfest-- What I learned from Bonnie Hunter's Trunk Show

Wow, it's really amazing where you can find a fellow Flybaby. This past weekend, I went to Quiltfest 2010, and I eagerly ran to hear the featured speaker, Bonnie Hunter. While I'm not much on trunk shows, she was famous for her organizational techniques for scrap management and stash control. While my stash isn't out of hand yet, I didn't want to get that way. We arrived for the trunk show in plenty of time and happily took our seats.

How shocked and pleased I was when Bonnie opened up her show by asking how many of us in the room were Flybabies! My hand shot up eagerly, and she picked me to ask if my sink was shiny! I nodded, grinning. Yes, I'd shined my sink and done all my morning routine including hanging out a load of laundry. I was a proud Flybaby! Women all around me asked "What's FlyLady?" and I gave out lots of little scraps of paper with www.FlyLady.net written on it. (grin)

OMG! Bonnie's whole scrap management system was based on Just 15! Wow, what a concept! "Just 15" is a system from FlyLady where the idea is to take small bits of time, just 15 minutes, to take care of something small but annoying, like straightening up one room. Set a timer, and go for 15 minutes. It works. You can do any task, no matter how hateful, if you put on your big girl panties and deal for 15 minutes.

Bonnie's system works the same way. We all have that bag, box, drawer, or basket of scraps. They're supposedly too small to really be useful, but we can't bear to part with them. I'd already learned to cut up my scraps into useful 6" and 2.5" squares, but I still had piles of string-like pieces that didn't fit the "squares" concept. Just like Bonnie said, I couldn't bear to be rid of them.

One of Bonnie's many ways of dealing with those strings is to cut up scrap paper (I used junk mail) into 6.5" squares and 2.5" squares. She has the math on her website, http://www.Quiltville.com, to show you why certain sizes work best, and I chose what worked for me. By cutting up squares of paper, you now have foundations for paper piecing those strings together into useful blocks for later sewing, and you can use the patterns available for free from her website! Wow! I was already stunned and thrilled minutes into her speech.

I've taken useless junk mail and cut it into 6.5" and 2.5" squares for foundation piecing all those itty-bitty scraps into useful blocks I can piece together at leisure! Fifteen minutes a day to take care of my little scraps will have that basket down to a few orphans in no time!

Best of all, Bonnie simplified my haphazard system of organizing my scraps into two simple piles: Whites/Neutrals and Colors. Yeah, that's it. I'd already learned that a quilter tends to work in color families anyway. I'm big on bright, clear tones and mostly blues, greens, and pinks. Others work with antique colors that are more muted, or what I call "city" colors-- abstracts with clear, sharp lines. Anyway, because of that, most of a quilter's scraps match or contrast automatically. She was right! I pulled out my stash of scraps, and there was only one or two that didn't "go" with anything, but happily, they match each other! I'll probably get a doll quilt out of them at minimum.

I also learned what "leaders and enders" are, and boy, I'm taking care of those 2.5" blocks by the drawer-full now. This is all in between finishing my husband's birthday quilt. No extra work! It's just something I did right along with the chain piecing I was already doing. Voila! I now have a small pile of blocks already after just one night. Best of all, no more threads on the floor to clog my vacuum cleaner. My husband thought I'd gone insane. I cackled like a nutcase every time I finished an end or began a new seam line all last night.

Even how Bonnie organizes her stash was a revelation to me. She has a simple compartmentalized system, and everything above 1/2 yard is folded in mini-bolts and separated by color. Anything below 1/2 yard goes in with the FQ's. What a great system. Since I have only a tiny 10'x10' room to serve as both home office and sewing room, I have to keep organized.

My pile of useful blocks are growing to the point where I see fun veteran quilts and doll blankets by the dozens for me to give to our guild charities! I can't wait! But first, there's a quilt to finish for my darling husband, who's absolutely positive Quiltfest made me go mad. Maybe he's right.



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