25 March 2014

Lizard Leftovers

Lizard Blues

Little did I know when I bought this fabric I was embarking upon what would one day become a family tradition. Going on nearly two decades ago, I found this fabric at a discount store and fell in love with it because of the color scheme and because it's southwest. I bought about three yards and used a very small amount for the vest on the black version of this dress, which was, at the time, all the rage.

Love This Dress

I even found buttons to perfectly match the dress.

Lizard Button

When the dress finally wore out and could no longer be patched, I cut the buttons off and bought a small amount of fabric for a shirt to go with the buttons. The usable lizard dress remnants (and the leftover lizard shirt fabric) went in the stash box.

Lizard Shirt

I still wear the shirt sometimes.

Lizard Shirt

In 2004, The Lizard and I began dating. That was his nickname long before I met him. His co-workers had teased him about sunning on rocks during breaks, and the name stuck.

During our first date, a bicycle ride to the Delicate Arch trailhead, I discovered The Lizard likes to wear a bandana beneath his helmet to prevent sunburn stripes and to keep sweat from his eyes. Two dates later, he told me he'd like "lots more dates," and I decided to dig out that old lizard fabric and surprise him with a homemade bandana on our next date, a hike in Colorado National Monument. It was his birthday.

From that point on, I began collecting lizard fabrics. I would buy one yard and make a new bandana. He has quite the collection of bandanas now, featuring everything from chili peppers, Kokopellis, snowflakes and aircraft to camo, bicycles and lizards. And I have quite the collection of bandana leftovers.

Christmas 2012 bandanas

Lizards on his head!
Lizard Head in Lizard Head

Sometime before 2008 I got the wild idea to use the lizard leftovers in a quilt. We had been looking for a house for about two years, and we were trying to save money and not spend. We were in a very tiny apartment, and there wasn't room for more fabric (or bikes, or bike tools, or plants, etc.). I had used up quite a bit of fabric leftovers for charity quilts, but the supply still overflowed.

This quilt top was constructed entirely of leftovers. Even the batting was pieced together from leftovers. One of the black panels came from the original Lizard Dress from nearly two decades ago!

Pieced Batting

Some black remnants were not big enough for the panels.  I had to add narrow strips to make them bigger.
Some black remnants were not big enough for panels.
I had to strip piece them bigger.

I used hand-dyed (from Rit dye) denim blue flannel leftover from the still-unfinished snowflake quilt backing for the back of the lizard quilt sandwich. I pin-basted the sandwich but never quilted it because, Ta Da! We finally found a house! All the quilting stuff and fabric and sewing machine were packed away while we moved. My father-in-law made a beautiful cactus quilt rack for us, and that's where Lizard Leftovers languished until this month.

custom quilt top rack

Lizard Leftovers

I was never really happy with the flannel backing for the quilt, plus, when our car broke down in Cedar City in 2008, stranding us in that vacation paradise for a whole week, I found yet more lizard fabric on clearance in a tiny shop there. I bought the entire end of the bolt. The fabric, about four yards' worth, can be seen on the cactus quilt rack above.

quilt back rejection

I have wanted to replace the flannel with the clearance fabric ever since, but I just couldn't bring myself to use new fabric in a quilt that at that point, was entirely constructed of leftovers. So the unfinished quilt hung. And hung. And hung.

Last summer, we had overnight company three times, and all three questioned why we had unfinished quilts on the cactus rack and a store-bought comforter on the spare bed. Ever since we bought the spare bed, I'd intended to cover it with Lizard Leftovers because our bed is covered with Dancing Lizards.

The Lizard's 2008 Birthday

When I joined the quarterly quilt WIP challenge on Ravelry last summer, I decided I might be able to finish Lizard Leftovers with the clearance lizard fabric from Cedar City if I used the clearance fabric for something else first, which would result in more lizard leftovers, and likely enough to cover the entire back of the quilt.

I'm still trying to get a quilt finished in time to submit to hopefully be juried into this year's Denver National Quilt Festival, but I've been away from free-motion quilting long enough I didn't want to start out with a competition quilt. I wanted to practice first and rebuild self-confidence.

On March 1, I finally made a bandana with the clearance lizard fabric, and sure enough, enough fabric remained to cover the back of Lizard Leftovers. Since I'd constructed the quilt top, many more homemade lizard bandanas had graced the collection. I thought it would be fun to keep the bandana shape in the new quilt back, thereby eternally memorializing the bandana purpose of most of the lizard fabrics in the quilt.

I decided to fill the bandana cut with another lizard bandana triangle leftover, and then incorporate even more lizard leftovers on the narrow side instead of constructing a wide quilt back from 45-inch fabric, as I have done with every quilt I've ever made except Welcome to the Jungle. (Welcome to the Jungle has wide quilt backing on the back and no seams.)

bandana cut

This is the first full-sized quilt I've completely finished since Dancing Lizards! This is the first time I've ever free-motion-quilted an entire full-sized quilt!

This quilt is not destined for competition, but boy did I ever fall in love all over again when I finished the new quilt sandwich! And then I fell in love yet again when I placed this new quilt sandwich on the new quilt frame The Lizard built for me in February. (I helped sand the boards.)

I'd been using too-small, warped, unfinished splintery and knotty pine boards ever since I inherited my grandmother's quilting, crocheting and tatting stash back in 1979. The new quilt frame is sturdy 1x3-inch oak, carefully selected by The Lizard with minimal knot holes and NO warping. He stapled leftovers from Welcome to the Jungle's quilt-sized quilt backing (cut into strips by me) along the top according to instructions he found on the internet. I'd never pinned a quilt to fabric strips stapled onto boards until Lizard Leftovers, and I'll never go back to thumbtacks again now. This new frame makes basting SO much simpler and so much more fun. And NO MORE SPLINTERS!!!!!

the old quilt frame
The Old Quilt Frame with Welcome to the Jungle

Stage II of New Quilting Frame
Sanding the New Quilt Frame

Stage III of New Quilting Frame
Making Fabric Strips for the New Quilt Frame

Stage IV of New Quilting Frame
Stapling Fabric Strips to the New Quilt Frame

The New Quilting Frame
The New Quilt Frame with Lizard Leftovers

It took about six hours all together to baste Lizard Leftovers. Quilting took nearly eight hours. Binding, mostly by hand, took another six hours. Clearing last summer's naturally and solar-dyed yarn from the spare bed took an hour. Now how long will it take for all that hand-dyed yarn to find its way back to the spare bed?!?

Linking up with Devoted Quilter for her first TGIFF and Confessions of a Fabric Addict's "Can I Get a Whoop Whoop."

Hand-dyed Stash

The Clean Spare Bedroom

Lizard Leftover Roll

sewing machine lizard art

mini lizard

Leftover Lizards in Red Rock Country

My Favorite Lizards

Lizard Love

A Wee Bit Windy
A Wee Bit Windy

My Lizards
All in The Lizard Family

Lizard Leftovers


  1. lol now I know where the lizard came from, awesome job as always, nice colorful lizards

    1. I have a feeling the Secret of The Lizard is going to be a big reveal for many people today, Pat! Thanks!

  2. What a great story of the Lizard saga. I wondered why you called him "Lizard". :-) I remember that dress from years ago! Oops, telling my age! Beautiful quilt!

    1. Not anymore than I show my age by saying I made and wore that dress, Charlotte! We must be from the same decade. :)

  3. wow, how do you do it? It is so beautiful all of it. And where do you find time to work with it all? You are amazing!

    1. Thanks, Monica! LONG winters, sleepless nights, and no TV. :)

  4. What a great story and high five for making a recycledd quilt. He looks so happy with his quilt.

    1. Thanks, A Nudge! He is indeed very happy with it, and he's looking forward to more. :)

  5. Neat, neat, neat! Love the story, love the lizard quilt. Have you seen this yet? http://adventuresinnorthernhealth.blogspot.ca/2013/09/what-do-you-call-group-of-lizardsherd.html

    1. Thanks, tonijosews! No, I had not seen that fabulous quilt; thank you so much for sharing it. I'm going to keep checking her out because I can't wait to see it all done. (She posted an update last weekend, and the quilting is magnificent so far!)

  6. What a fabulous quilt, made even better by the story that goes with it! I love the cactus quilt stand too. Thanks for linking with TGIFF.

    1. Thanks, Leanne! I think every quilt tells a story. Some just don't have voices. :)

  7. Oh, this was a FUN post! All those great photos - I love the last shot because you can really see the quilting lines. What a fantastic, creative quilt back - almost as good as the front! And how wonderful that you maintained the "leftover" theme all the way through.

    The new quilt frame looks great, and will come in very handy! :)

    1. Why thank you, Sue! I was wondering if you'd be able to catch up with all you've been going through lately. Thank you for making the time to check back on one of my most favorite posts ever! You know you'll get to sleep beneath this lizard beauty before the next MS-150, don't you?!? :)


Dusty words lying under carpets,
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