How to choose fabric for a scrap quilt (the easy way) 👍

From Vintage LegaciesqYou’ve seen them—glorious scrap quilts with tens, or maybe even hundreds, of different fabrics. Each piece seems like it floated effortlessly into place. But if you’ve ever made a scrap quilt, you know that choosing where each fabric goes isn’t quite as easy as it looks!

Leave it to a pro to offer some sound advice. That’s exactly what Vintage Legacies author Carol Hopkins gave to us when we recently met up with her. Her trick? Think pairs, twosomes, and couples when it comes to mixing your fabrics. She shares her clever trick in the video below. Don’t miss her extra tip at the end of the video—we guarantee it’ll hit the “bullseye” for blocks that tend to stand out in a crowd!


Reading this post in email? Click here to watch the video.

Look closely and you’ll see Carol’s approach to scrap quilting in action in her gorgeous quilts from Vintage Legacies:

Nellie Jane quilt
Nellie Jane

Faded Roses quilt
Faded Roses

Give and Take quilt
Give and Take

See 11 more quilts from Vintage Legacies >>>

Vintage LegaciesIn Vintage Legacies, you’ll find Civil Warinspired patterns that pay tribute to Southern belles, men’s work shirts from the era, the First Lady of the United States Mary Todd Lincoln, and more. Interesting tidbits about nineteenth-century life round out this stunning collection, all fit for heirloom status. See all the quilts here!

How do you typically choose fabrics for the scrap quilts you make?

  • My approach is a lot like Carol’s—matching light and dark pairs.
  • I do things a little like Carol and then throw in some surprises.
  • I like the box-of-chocolates approach. You never know what you’re going to get!

Share your scrap-quilt strategies in the comments!


51 Comments (leave a comment)

  • like Carol mixing lights with darks – lay fabric out and stand back and look or take a photo – sometimes you see the colors better with a photo

    Karen on July 5, 2019
  • I do it a lot like Carol most of the time by staying in color families. There are times though when I go off the charts and I really like how they turn out. My color choices are mostly in a certain color group so they usually work well together. I have to throw in a “rebel” just for fun ever so often.

    —Sharon Lowy on July 5, 2019
  • I prefer the "box of chocolates" approach. I think this is because I make my scrap quilts using my scraps opposed to starting out with a stack of fat quarters like what was shown in the video. There is an old saying "If 20 fabrics look good together, 200 will be fabulous." That is the basis I use for all of my scrap quilts.

    —Janet Espeleta on July 5, 2019
  • I try to stay “focused”, orderly, but then that who shelf of scraps calls me to “use me”! I guess I definitely throw in some surprises, so you don’t know til it’s done👍
    But I will say, I love every one!!!

    —Ronna on July 5, 2019
  • I do things similar to carol I use many of my scraps which are not always a fat quarter I enjoyed the video and I really like her books thanks

    —irene indelicato on July 5, 2019
  • I just make sure all of my fabrics go well together and the I just go for it.
    Scrap quilts are my favorite to make. I love fabric and the more I can put into a quilt the better.

    —Lisa on July 5, 2019
  • The Box of Chocolates method for me! I rarely if ever, buy kits and am not organized enough to pull all the fabrics I will use in the quilt.

    —Cheri Bergeron on July 5, 2019
  • I love scrap quilts and I have lots of scraps. I make the biggest mess when choosing because I dig from my scrap bin and my fat quarter stash to get pieces I want. I don’t think there is a cure for it. I loved the video though and picked up some nice tips.

    —Sue on July 5, 2019
  • I picked up some pointers in this video and will put into practice the next time I make a scrap quilt. I tend to look for more contrast in the fabrics as I am matching them, so will try this technique.

    —Judy Smith on July 5, 2019
  • My method is a combination of chocolate box and selecting light & dark. I love scrap quilts!!

    Gladys on July 5, 2019
  • I usually start with remnants from a collection and then add light and dark pairs that play nicely together… with that said, I could use some good advice and this book looks awesome!!!

    —Jacque on July 5, 2019
  • I try to keep all of the scraps in the same genre’. Don’t mix brights with civil war reproduction, or modern with 30’s. Although I do occasionally mix a civil war in with an oriental.

    —Linda Lee Ahn on July 5, 2019
  • Just watched the video. It is a great method, but anyone can match scraps using a preselected bundle! The real challenge is matching scraps when you are using a 40 year collection of scraps that are coming from all different directions.

    —Linda Lee Ahn on July 5, 2019
  • I match lights and darks and go from there.

    —Brenda on July 5, 2019
  • I first decide what type of quilt I want to make (Civil War, Modern, Victorian, etc.) and pick fabrics that go in that style that fit the pattern. I look at the fabrics together over the course of a day and decide what works and what doesn’t.

    Sometimes I even make blocks I don’t use because they don’t fit when put into the quilt. The more you study quilt books, the better eye you have for what goes together. I have the book Vintage Legacies and I love the quilts in that book.

    —Kay of Cincinnati on July 5, 2019
  • I don’t make a lot of scrap quilts, but I like controlled scrappy….in order for me to do that, I use the same background fabric or color for continuity. I liked the video and I will use Carol’s method in the future. I have ended up with a bullseye block or two along the way in my quilting journey!

    —Fran Bianchi on July 5, 2019
  • I do like the box of chocolate approach.

    —Phyllis Gullickson on July 5, 2019
  • I do things sort of like Carol does- colours that complement each other, and have enough contrast to show the elements of a block. I find that if I join colours in a totally random, brown-bag sort of manner, I get those "bull’s eye" blocks, where a grayed colour is next to a bright, and it simply stands out uncomfortably for me. I prefer some control to my scrappiness, and goodness knows that I have enough scraps to be able to have grayed colours separate from brights, beiges and browns separate from novelty prints, etc.

    —Carol on July 5, 2019
  • Box of chocolates, but I don’t always like how it turns out.

    —Kathy o on July 5, 2019
  • I like lights and darks, a color wheel helps. And what I like for a scrappy quilt.

    —carol on July 5, 2019
  • I just start throwing them together,! But,I’m going to try Carols way it looked great 👍

    —Sharon on July 5, 2019
  • I don’t have the artist’s eye for color combinations so my scrap quilts usually look like a 5 year made it. To remedy this, I buy co-ordinating bundles with lots of fabrics, so when it’s cut up and re-arranged, all the fabrics play well together no matter who it gets paired with.

    —Teri N on July 5, 2019
  • My quilts are straight out of the chocolate box. You really never know what you’ll get. I love the look, but I think I do too many eras of quilting fabrics for them to play well with each other. So therefore I make string quilts, anything goes.

    —Stephanie's Woodward on July 5, 2019
  • As a former member of a Scrap Bee, I tend to place my lights in a bag and my darks in a bag, I then randomly pull out a fabric (without looking) from each bag and that will constitute my block. As long as I haven’t used the same fabric previously, I just keep on going until all the blocks are completed. It always works for me and I don’t stress over it. In the end, it all comes together. I would rather make scrap quilts at this point in my life, rather than trying to coordinate fabrics. I love the surprise outcome.

    —Judi L. on July 5, 2019
  • I tend to add what ever I have

    —Hilda Krebs on July 5, 2019
  • she is not making scrap quilt. she is making fat quarter quilts. scrap quilts are the scraps you have left over from quilts you have made, which come all shape and sizes.

    georgan zieres on July 5, 2019
  • I’m pretty much the box-of-chocolates type, putting two pieces together, then choosing the next one after some deliberation – and repeat. Takes me along time!! I always wish I’d set a parameter or two so I might get along a bit more quickly since my scraps accumulate way faster than I stitch at this point!

    —Elizabeth Bolton on July 5, 2019
  • I go with Carol’s approach, however, when not even numbers of light and dark the challenge occurs! Then do another sort.

    —Marilynn on July 5, 2019
  • I only make the "real quilts" so I have scraps for my scrap quilts that are my real passion. While I truly admire the beautifully well thought out color schemes in scrap quilts (such as Bonnie Hunter’s) I throw caution to the wind & put everything I have on hand in my scrappies. They become story quilts as I remember the official quilt a specific scrap came from.

    —Julie on July 5, 2019
  • I do it a little like Carol. I go through my stash and then start comparing lights to darks.

    —Mary Finch on July 5, 2019
  • I always make my scrap quilts from left-over pieces in my stash rather than from a coordinated stack of FQs. I pair light with dark, but try to make sure that both pieces share a similar color within their pattern. Maybe that’s more the box of chocolates part.

    —SandyMay on July 5, 2019
  • My approach is whatever it is, it is. When it comes to scrap quilts, I’m giving those away to different charities. My name is not there and I’m sure the recipient, whether it’s for a cancer ward or homeless shelter, will be very appreciative no matter what. KISS – keep it simple, stupid – is my way of working with scraps.

    —Roz Agulnik on July 5, 2019
  • I usually use scraps so the more the merrier. Sometimes I stay within a fabric type or color combination depending on the pattern I am using. Try to pull from my stash and not buy new fabric for the most part. Use the value method for pairing.

    —Peggy on July 5, 2019
  • I do a lot like Carol’s approach pairing lights with darks but I also like to throw in special surprises that I hope will make the scrap quilt pop!

    —Ann West on July 5, 2019
  • I like picking the scraps out of a bag and just sewing what you get. I do, however, occasionally throw in a well-thought-out and well-colored block just "to shake things up a bit" in every scrap quilt I make!

    —Teri D. Gailey on July 5, 2019
  • I try to pair the darks and lights, not comfortable with total randomness.

    —Elaine A on July 5, 2019
  • I haven’t taken the time to match up pairs, but will in the future since I think that will give me the look I want. The book is full of great quilts.

    —debby on July 5, 2019
  • I tend to do the box of Chocolates approach. Because I have so many scraps. I should try the match pairs approach.

    —Joy Dickson on July 5, 2019
  • Most of my quilts are scrappy, as I tend to use many fabrics where others would use just one. I do curate my scraps into color families, but I also take the box of chocolates approach to keep things interesting.

    —Linda Towers on July 5, 2019
  • I guess I use the box of chocolates approach, trying to use my scraps.

    —Lillian K on July 5, 2019
  • Depends on my mood but I like the Box of Chocolate method.

    —Christi on July 5, 2019
  • I usually try to pair two colors that would "go together". Then I try to make myself add that pop of unexpected color because I do tend to be too "matchy matchy".

    —Patty F. on July 6, 2019
  • I pick out all the fabrics that I think will look good together and then lay them side by side to see what really looks good together.

    —Janet Wiener on July 6, 2019
  • At a retreat several years ago, Darra Duffy Williamson taught "don’t put it together if you would wear it together". Mix colors in blocks so there will not be blobs of colors, they will be scattered. No red blocks, blue blocks etc. This has worked for me for years. It gives more color balance to the quilt.

    —Pat Mosley on July 6, 2019
  • I just jump right in and start putting lights and darks that "go together". Usually I make extras when some don’t "look right" with the rest, they end up on the back!

    —Sharon Ray on July 9, 2019
  • I do things a little like Carol and then throw in some surprises.

    —Cindy L. on July 10, 2019
  • I’d be eager to start with embroidery.

    —Ginger Kessinger on July 10, 2019
  • I’m all in withe the embroidery super cute!

    —Crystal on July 11, 2019
  • I have my smaller fabrics by color in small drawers. I pull out several of each and start cutting the light and dark the pattern requires. Then I put the cut pieces together to make my blocks. But I am always open for change; sometimes even to the very end. So I usually make a few extra blocks. Scrap quilts are my favorite.

    —Darliss Peabody on July 11, 2019
  • I haven’t made a scrap quilt yet but I do have a lot of scraps from other quilts I have made. I am planning to make a scrap quilt but was afraid of what it would like like. Thank you for the tips.

    —Judith Carlon on July 11, 2019
  • My approach is a lot like Carol’s–
    matching light and dark pairs.

    —Cindy Landis on July 20, 2019

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