Every quilter knows that leftover pieces of fabric are inevitable.
While some people throw these scraps away, others are quite conscientious and look to make something from their scraps.
However, scrap quilting is not a new concept.
Looking back to the Victorian age, we find that the production of crazy quilts by upper-class women was a way for them to show off their wealth and knowledge of stitching.
The fabrics used were often brocades, silks, and chintz.
These scrap quilts were not made for utility but more for bragging rights as they were often draped across the chair in the front parlor for visitors to see.
Scrap quilting with cotton fabrics became popular during World War II when to waste something was unAmerican.
Out of necessity quilters recycled feed sackcloth and clothing to produce a scrap quilt.
These quilts were then donated to the American Red Cross or soldiers' homes.
If women did not know how to quilt they were encouraged to buy one and donate it.
Today, scrap quilting is more popular than ever because of the following:
- Quilters have stashes that are overflowing, and they feel compelled to use what they have bought over the years.
- Publishing companies responded to the trend and flooded the market with books centered around scrappy quilt patterns.
- Quilters want scrap quilt ideas to make quick and easy scrap quilts.
- Once their stashes are reduced they feel they can buy new fabric without the guilt.
- Popular blog sites like Quiltville are dedicated to teaching quilters how to cut their material to make scraps and provide free scrap quilt patterns.
Why We Scrap Quilt
How To Make Usable Scraps
Scrap quilts are often fun quilts to make.
But how do you cut the scraps to make them usable?
Some quilters will cut their scraps into small 1″ squares because they make postage stamp quilts and enjoy working in miniature scale.
Others will not cut smaller than 2 ½” whether it is strips or squares.
If you are new to scrap quilting, you may want to start with the following cuts.
1 ½” strips
2 1/2” Squares
2 ½” strips
How To Organize These Pieces
Most scrap quilters agree that they organize based on size.
However, the habit of organizing your stash by color may make this step uncomfortable.
It really is a matter of opinion.
Begin by placing your scraps into marked bins or baskets.
That way when you need a 2 ½ ” square, you can go to that particular bin.
Once you have your bins marked, add your scraps to that bin.
Some quilters have more than one bin for a certain size because they tend to make a lot of scrap quilts using that size scrap.
If you do have more than one bin for 2 ½” strips you may want to separate those strips into bins marked dark, medium, and light.
A Note for Applique Quilters
Applique quilters depend on scraps for their quilts.
To cut up standard size pieces does not make a lot of sense for them.
In this case, they will want to organize their scraps by color.
Finding the right green for a leaf will be much simpler in a bin marked “green”.
Next, iron those scraps, you will be glad you did.
The excitement of starting a new scrap project will wain once you realize you have to spend ½ hour ironing.
Iron ahead of time, and then, when you pull from the bin they will be ready to quilt.
What happens if you have strips left that are smaller than 1.5”?
Make a scrap bin for those pieces as well.
Scrap quilt patterns named string quilts make use of those strips by using foundation blocks.
How to Quilt With Scraps
According to scrap quilting expert Sally Schneider, there are three methods to make a scrap quilt.
At this point, find a quilt block size you like and use the scraps in the place of the colors.
Ohio Star makes a great quilt block to start with.
A simple 9 patch or Churn Dash block would also make good choices for a new scrap quilt.
13 Free Scrap Quilt Patterns
A checkboard quilt can really put a dent in your scrap pile.
The blocks are simple to make using your pre-cut squares.
The directions for this quilt uses a strip piecing method if you prefer to use your pre-cut fabric strips.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for the step by step tutorial link.
If your stash contains a lot of fat quarters, this quilt pattern will have you using them up in no time.
The instructions explain how to sub-cut the fat quarter into smaller squares for the piecing.
If you do not have fat quarters but a collection of 10″ squares, this pattern will work well just as well.
This pattern uses part of the fat quarter to make a scrappy binding.
Scrappy binding is a beautiful alternative for any scrap quilt.
Log Cabin Blocks are perfect for scrappy quilts.
Her method makes a wonky log cabin block.
This means you sew the pieces together that may slightly different sizes and then square them with a ruler to form the block.
Do you have a bunch of scrap 2.5” strips?
The Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim tool allows you to sew strips quickly and square each round.
Pay attention to the contrast between light and dark, which is the backbone of a log cabin quilt.
4. Pastel Rails
The rail fence block one of the easiest blocks to construct.
You basically make 9 similar strip units and then place them vertical and diagonal in the block.
A simple 12” block uses pieces that are cut 4 ½” x 12 ½”.
If you plan on making a rail fence scrappy quilt be sure to cut lots of rectangles for this quilt.
The ever-popular jelly roll gained more exposure several years back when everyone wanted to participate in a jelly roll race.
Quilt shops and guilds would sponsor these races to see who could sew all the strips together to form the quilt the fastest.
One jelly roll, which contains 42 strips that are 2.5” x 44” long will make a nice size lap quilt.
This pattern injects a larger piece of material in the center which completes the surrounding strips.
Do you have a larger piece of fabric that you cannot find a pattern for?
Incorporate 2.5” strips around it and make a scrappy quilt.
The beautiful Monkey Wrench quilt uses scraps of 5” charm squares.
If you have bought several charm packs over the years from the same designer, chances are all the colors will be nearly the same.
Using a solid sashing strip complements the overall pattern.
She has a link for the tutorial on how to construct the blocks.
The string quilt is for the die-hard scrap user.
This is the quilt that uses every last bit of fabric that cannot be cut into shape.
The best part of this quilt is the use of an old phone book for the paper foundation blocks.
Be sure to pay attention to the recommendations on the stitch length.
Later in the process, you will be removing the paper from the fabric and stitch length will come into play.
One person commented that used dryer sheets also made a good foundation, and you don’t need to remove it from the quilt.
This beautiful scrappy quilt uses 2.5″ strips to make the four patch squares.
When you read the directions, you may come across the term “brick”.
Bonnie Hunter calls pieces of fabric that measure 3.5″ x 6.5″, bricks.
Her quick piecing method, called the “Sewing the Matchstick”, will make fast work of piecing blocks.
This quilt uses the popular churn dash block with various prints and colors.
Setting the blocks against a cream background allows each block to gain individual attention.
The pattern is available at the bottom of the page of Sherri’s page.
Ohio Star quilt blocks are quick and easy to make using scraps.
This post includes a handy chart to make the block in different sizes.
Scroll to the very bottom of the post to see variations of the block.
At first glance, it appears that this quilt is made from all one colorway.
However, if you scroll to further down in the instructions, you will see a scrappy quilt version.
This quilt uses fat quarters.
Again, if you have a pile of fat quarters or have a fat quarter bundle, this quilt will be perfect for them.
Pat's instructions are very detailed and show how to make half-square triangles.
Make quick use of your 4 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ squares with this scrappy snowball block quilt pattern.
Snowball blocks are incredibly easy to piece and sew together.
If you would like to do a larger version, cut the main square 12 ½” and the corner squares 3 1/2.”
The blocks can be done with 1930’s themed fabric or even Christmas themed fabric.
Whatever you choose you cannot go wrong.
If you have several colors of the fabric in a particular theme, the pinwheel quilt pattern would be a great place to put them.
Pinwheel blocks are quite simple to make and go together quickly.
Just be sure to pay attention to the direction of each pinwheel when you are sewing.
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If you have never made a quilt using your scraps and would like to try, these patterns and suggestions will guide you.
Your scrap quilt may one day become a treasured heirloom.
So next time you quilt and have pieces left over, save them for another quilt.
The result may be more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.