18 tips for collecting – and using! – quilt scraps (+ sale)

Quilt scrapsFun fabric fact: the National Quilting Association won’t consider quilts made from scraps in their scrap-quilt category unless they feature a minimum of 75 different fabrics. Whoa! And although we don’t employ any quilt police here, the number the NQA suggests offers insight into what can take a scrap quilt from good to gorgeous: plaids, prints, solids, stripes, dots, florals, geometrics, novelties… in other words, lots and lots of little bits.

How to: organizing quilt scraps in just 3 steps

Whether you’re new to quilting and need more scraps, or you’ve been around the quilt block and need to clear out those shelves, bins, and boxes, we’ve rounded up smart tips from this week’s sale books to inspire you to take some scrappy action—from now on to be known as “scraption.” Are you game?

STRATEGY: How to COLLECT more scraps
(Tips excerpted from Strips and Strings by Evelyn Sloppy)

  • Use leftover fabric pieces from previous quilting, crafting, or clothing projects.
  • Cut strips from discarded or outgrown clothing.
  • Look for scrap bags that many quilt shops put together from their own leftovers. These usually contain small pieces of many fabrics and are packaged at bargain prices.

How scraps can change the look of a block
How scraps can dramatically change the look of a block

  • Cut a strip or two from your larger yardage pieces.
  • Arrange for a fabric swap with your quilting friends. If six people each bring ten fat quarters that have been cut into 3″ strips, you could go home with 3″ strips of 60 different fabrics!
  • Let your friends and neighbors know that you are accepting donations of cotton fabrics. Once word gets out, you could be swamped by the boxes of fabric you receive.
  • Have a “guilt sale” at your quilt guild. Ask members to bring fabrics they are no longer interested in using and mark them at bargain prices. One person’s trash could be another’s treasure. Donate the money raised to your guild for future charitable projects.
  • If you belong to a quilting group that gets together and sews, check out what the others throw away. I save anything at least 3″ square or strips at least 1″ x 4″. Your friends will be glad that someone will be using their discards and will start saving all their pieces for you.

STRATEGY: How to USE UP more scraps

  • Funky Chicken quilt by Sally Schneider“Choose one background for the whole quilt; then select a different coordinated group of fabrics (usually three or four) for each block. The resulting blocks are tied together with the common background fabric (which I usually use for sashing strips as well). These are the easiest kinds of scrap quilts to make if you are just starting out.” –Sally Schneider, Scrap Frenzy
  • “Spontaneous scrap quilts just do not work for me. I want my scrap quilts to be just as stunning as the quilts for which I purchase special fabrics. I like to make scrappy string quilts but make them look coordinated. If I don’t have enough scraps of the colors I’m using, I add to them from my stash.” –Evelyn Sloppy, Strips and Strings
  • “Consider the fact that you don’t have to buy fabric for a whole quilt up front. Along with using what you have on hand, you can augment your prints by trading with friends and buying small cuts of special fabrics as you find them, thus spreading the expense out over time. And remember, since you don’t closely match fabrics as you would with a fixed palette of prints, anything goes.” –Donna Lynn Thomas, Scrappy Duos
  • “One way to build a scrap quilt is to just pay attention to light and dark values and use all sorts of prints for the light and dark, without regard to color or what ‘goes’ with what. The resulting quilts always look wonderful, especially if you have followed the rules of value and pattern.” –Sally Schneider, Scrap Frenzy
  • “Scrappy string quilts don’t have to be completely string pieced. Substituting just a portion of a block with string piecing can give it more depth, texture, and interest than if you use just one fabric.” –Evelyn Sloppy, Strips and Strings

Blackford's Beauty in Plaids quilt from Scrap Frenzy
“Blackford’s Beauty in Plaids” quilt from Scrap Frenzy

  • “Your scrap quilts can be ‘built’ as slowly or quickly as you like—a pair of blocks at a time. Each time you make a new pair, your pile of blocks quietly grows in the corner until one day you find you have the number needed for your quilt. This is quiltmaking for busy people, accomplished in a structured, small-bits-of-time, yet progressive manner.” –Donna Lynn Thomas, Scrappy Duos
  • “The way to keep scrap and string quilts from looking too busy is to stick with a specific color family (or families) or theme. You can also help unify the quilt by using just one fabric for the background.” –Evelyn Sloppy, Strips and Strings
  • Cherry Grape or Orange quilt from Scrap Frenzy“Assign a specific color to each part of a block and make each block with that color selection. Remember to use a large variety of each color, varying the prints in each block or each part of a block.” –Sally Schneider, Scrap Frenzy
  • “To make scrappy string quilts less time-consuming, I sew strips together into larger units and then cut out the pieces I need from these units. This is faster than sewing each little piece onto a foundation.” –Evelyn Sloppy, Strips and Strings
  • “I remembered something my mother told me when we were talking about gardens; she said that every garden needed some red and some yellow to bring it to life. I realized that the same thing was true with scrap quilts. I like to use all the colors of the rainbow (and a few that you won’t find there) in my quilts. But I work specifically to make sure that I use red and yellow whenever possible; those two colors really brighten up a scrap quilt.” –Sally Schneider, Scrap Frenzy

Gather your scraps together, sort ’em out, sew ’em up, and adore the outcome!

Triangle Tricks: One Easy Unit, Dozens of Gorgeous Quilts

Projects from Triangle Tricks

  • Make two “triangle tricks” blocks at a time
  • Never cut or sew a single triangle
  • Play with color, settings, and rotations
  • Make your scraps shine with tips from Sally Schneider, one of America’s most respected scrap-quilt designers, along with projects from Ellen Pahl, Laurie Bevan, Terry Martin, and more
  • Choose from 10 triangle-filled quilt patterns
Triangle Tricks

Strips and Strings: 16 Sparkling Quilts by Evelyn Sloppy

Projects from Strips and Strings

  • An old-time technique gets a new twist
  • 16 beautiful, traditional quilts
  • String-piecing shortcuts make scrap quilting faster and easier
  • No need for a foundation
  • Sew your own patchwork fabric; then cut from it to make blocks and units
 Strips and Strings

Scrap Frenzy: Even More Quick-Pieced Scrap Quilts by Sally Schneider

Projects from Scrap Frenzy

  • Patterns include instructions for making multiple sizes
  • Learn to scrap quilt with your favorite fabrics—such as plaids, florals, batiks, and reproductions
  • Learn Sally’s simple system for cutting and storing scrap fabrics ahead of time
  • Choose from 13 quilt patterns that showcase a variety of fabric styles
Scrap Frenzy

Scrappy Duos: Color Recipes for Quilt Blocks by Donna Lynn Thomas

Quilt plans from Scrappy Duos
Quilt plans from Scrappy Duos

  • 20 versatile block patterns are assembled two at a time
  • Streamline scrap choices by focusing on just two blocks at a time
  • Color recipes help you get cohesive results
  • Method guarantees crisp, clear color combinations—even with scraps
  • 21 illustrated quilt plans help you visualize your fabrics in each design
Scrappy Duos

What does your scrap stash look like right now: orderly and efficient, carefree but controlled, or colorful but chaotic? Spill the beans in the comments!

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