Color Catchers, Strings and Left Over Thread

I have discovered the most wonderful product–Shout Color Catchers.

“Shout® Color Catcherâ„¢ sheets absorb and trap loose dyes in your wash water, safeguarding your clothes from color bleeds and helping to preserve original colors.

I now launder all my quilts with this wonderful product to keep dyes from bleeding or running onto other fabrics in my quilts. I have also started using these sheets in some of my regular laundry loads and I just love them. However, I started to accumulate a stack of used color catcher sheets that I couldn’t bear to throw away. What do you do with all those used sheets once they have trapped all that loose dye? I use them as foundations for string pieced blocks.

I am a long arm quilter and I don’t like to throw away the bits of left over bobbin threads left from quilting customer quilts. When I am finished a quilt, I take the bobbin out of the long arm and throw it in this basket.

The bobbins that fit my long arm do not fit the bobbin area of my DSM. However, those bobbins can be used on my DSM in place of the top thread. Because I am going to use these threads in a “stitch and flip” technique to piece my string blocks, the colour of the thread does not matter. The object of these blocks is to use up threads and fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away.

These are some of the color catchers after they have been through the wash cycle. Yes they are different colours–remember they are used and are finished their intended purpose which is trapping loose dyes in the wash cycle.

This is my current box of strings.

To start, I lay a string the approximate width of one of the color catchers across the middle of the color catcher.

Then I lay a second strip on top of the first strip – right sides together, aligning the edges of the strips on the right side of the strips.

Sew a 1/4″ seam down the right edge of the strips. If your seam is not quite a perfect 1/4″, don’t worry. This is a very forgiving technique and as long as the fabric is captured in the seam, you will be fine.

Once that first seam is sewn, press the strip to the right and continue adding strips to the right of the last piece sewn in place.

Stitch and flip, press, and repeat until the right side of the color catcher is completely covered with fabric strips.

To further maximize your thread usage, work on more than one block at a time and chain piece through the machine.

Once the right side of the color catcher is covered with fabric, turn the color catcher and add strips to the left hand side of the color catcher in the same manner that you covered the right side of the color catcher until the entire color catcher is covered with fabric strips.

This is what a finished block looks like–a little ragged on the edges.

Flip your block over so that your color catcher is right side up. Align your ruler and trim the block to the size you want. I have been trimming my blocks to 4″ x 9″. No special reason for the size–it just seems to make the best use of the color catcher.

These are some blocks ready for trimming.

Before you know it, you have a stack of blocks ready to be set into a quilt top.

This is an excellent technique to use up fabric and thread that would otherwise be headed for the trash. This is also a technique that is a little “mindless” and works for those evenings that I am too tired to concentrate but when I still have a “need” to piece or sew.

15 thoughts on “Color Catchers, Strings and Left Over Thread

  1. I love Color Catchers and use them a lot, especially when washing my hand-dyed fabrics. I use used dryer sheets as foundations but had not thought to use the Color Catcher sheets too. Good idea!

  2. Lovely pile of blocks! I also have a scrap (strip) box for “mindless” sewing ….. they’re square string blocks. This is also the box with DD sews from. And how are your scraps diminishing? They go a long long way don’t they?

  3. Very clever Norma. I do tend to save dryer sheets (I know, I know) but they work really well for the backside of appliques. Simply stitch them to the RS of piece to be appliqued, cut a slit in the dryer sheet and flip them inside out. Presto – finished edge. No reason you couldn’t do the same thing with your color catchers. Hmmmm.

  4. And I thought I was going to be the only one to tell you what a great idea for using up the bobbin thread! But I have a question on the dryer sheets. Doesn’t the smell bother you when you use them for foundations?


  5. I’ve never thought to use the Shout Color Catchers for strings! Great recycling!

    ….and you are right, they are “brainless sewing” and very addictive! Nice little stack you have going there. Can’t wait to see what they become.

    ~Bonnie from Texas

  6. Had not heard about those dye catcher strips and will have to source them out. Those strip blocks are perfect for those days when you just don’t want to do too much concentrating.

  7. I never thought of using color catchers this way. I’ve used them for some time when I pretreat my fabrics – and with quilts too, just in case!

    What a good use for your longarm bobbins. I just used up almost all of my leftovers quilting charity quilts for Hotel Hope. What a great feeling!

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