Scrap quilt success – it’s point-less

scattered color and blended color(Left: two scrap-quilt blocks illustrating scattered color (top) and blended color (bottom))

Raise your hand if you’ve made a scrap quilt that developed into either:

…..1) a mind-numbing bore (from being too careful), or
…..2) a muddled mess (from not being careful enough).

If either scrap-quilt scenario has landed on your sewing table, you’re in abundant company. Scrap quilting is a beloved style of quiltmaking that celebrates beauty, nostalgia, and history. But even so, making scrappy quilts remains a mystery to many well-intentioned quilters.

Today, help has arrived for those befuddled by scrap quilts—and it comes all the way from Australia. With all of the awards, accomplishments, and accolades between Australian quilters Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe, it’s no wonder that their book Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles is back by popular demand. The premise of their book is simple: make the piecing a piece ’o cake—quilts with rectangles only, please—so you can focus on what truly makes or breaks a scrap quilt: fabric selection.

(Point-free quilts. Point-less quilts. You get the point!)

But back to those accolades. Judy’s quilts have been exhibited widely in Australia, the US, Japan, and Europe. She first shared her innovative approach to quiltmaking in her book Awash with Color, and is no doubt one of Australia’s best-known quilting teachers. Margaret is known worldwide for her books on quiltmaking. In 2001, she was appointed a member of the Order of Australia, which recognizes Australian citizens for meritorious service. Margaret has teamed up with several famed quilt designers to write books, including Jenny Bowker, who created this incredible portrait quilt in Margaret’s honor:

The Quiltmaker by Jenny Bowker
“The Quiltmaker” by Jenny Bowker. Photo by Ken Fife.

Isn’t Jenny’s quilt breathtaking?

Judy and Margaret have decades of teaching experience between them. And in Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles, you get to learn both of their top scrap-quilting secrets.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book that sidesteps complex piecing, gives loads of tips for coordinating fabrics, and offers 15 quilt patterns to use with any fabric collection—no matter what your material obsession may be.


Margaret Rolfe and Judy Turner(Right: Margaret Rolfe and Judy Turner)

What actually makes scrap quilts work? Many books offer scrap-quilt projects, but few of them explain the mechanics of what makes a scrap quilt successful. In Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles, we explore the fundamentals of how pattern is created through contrast and how the dimensions of tonal value, color, and print contribute to the success of a quilt. We offer the tools to give your scrap quilt the unity and coherence it needs so it doesn’t descend into chaos, or have the odd patch that stands out like a soldier out of step. We also suggest methods to make and integrate variations so the eye is always interested and eager to travel over the quilt without boredom.

But essentially, all we say about scrap quilts can be summed up in two words: repetition and variation. The pattern in a scrap quilt is created by the repetition of a block that has a contrast within it, but the interest in the pattern is created by the variation you bring to those repetitions. Below are some examples of repetition and variation.

Black and White and Red All Over quilt
“Black and White and Red All Over” uses spots, stripes, checks, ’30s prints, florals, tone-on-tones, Christmas prints, Japanese prints, batiks, African prints, and novelty prints.

Checkerboard quilt
Dark and light geometric prints are featured in this all-check-and-plaid “Checkerboard” quilt. Dark fabrics add richness and depth, while a range of light colors give the quilt a warm glow.

Down Memory Lane quilt
Margaret has collected ’30s reproduction prints for years, and she used many of them in “Down Memory Lane.” Middle values were used in this design, rather than the lightest and darkest prints.

Bento Box quilt
Japanese prints are the focus of this “Bento Box” quilt, which is a perfect showcase for a special collection of fabrics. By using the reverse side of many of the indigo fabrics, Judy increased the range of values and prints in the quilt.

Flush of Spring quilt
“Flush of Spring” uses a variety of green and pink prints to represent the season. Colors blend around the successive rectangles in each block.

Spectrum quilt
“Spectrum” gave Judy the opportunity to do her favorite thing: play with color. The quilt is made from a rainbow of lovely hand-dyed and subtly colored prints. To further increase the range of fabrics, she used the reverse side of most of the fabrics as well.


Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple RectanglesThe book includes 15 quilt patterns plus 18 different block designs and 40 quilt layouts, all made with rectangles (no triangles, no points—none!). If you like to quilt by the book, you’ve got 15 ways to do it. If you like to start with a basic block pattern and then jump off the page . . . get ready to jump! With advice from experts like Judy and Margaret, you’ll discover the perfect balance that will make your next scrap quilt spectacular.

Confession time—have you struggled with scrap quilts? Why the struggle—and will you try again? Share your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles eBook! We’ll announce a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won.

Get the book today and download the eBook instantly for FREE.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Sarah, who writes:

“I would love this book. I am a new quilter and need all the help I can get. I’ve been collecting fabric for years and want to take that fabric and put it into scrappy blocks along with machine embroidery and make a super ‘thru the years’ memory quilt for each of my children (and one for myself). I see many scrappy quilts and everything seems so ‘lost.’ I don’t want my embroidery on the blocks to get lost in the fabric prints and I want to use the fabric from my children’s clothing as they grew, both solids and print fabric, so many fond memories… so I really do need this book to help me create heirloom quilts for my children they can be proud of for years to come.”

Sarah, we’ll email you about your free eBook. Congratulations!


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