Smart block patterns for scrap quilts (+ sale!)

From Quilts from the Heart IIWhether you have a bagful, a few drawers full, or a room full of scraps, get ready to celebrate them! Today we’re sharing ideas for quilting with scraps—with one important consideration in mind: choosing blocks that are perfect for the scrappy approach. If you’ve ever wished that you could stitch scrappy blocks with abandon—without worrying how they’ll come together in the end—the blocks below just might make your wish come true. They lend themselves to looking sharp in scrap quilts for three reasons: the value choices are simple, the piecing is doable, and the designs are beautiful.

Whether you have time to piece just one scrappy block a day or you prefer to “block” out time to make a big pile of them in one sitting, four-time author Lynn Roddy Brown has some solid advice to share. Her solutions will inspire you to experiment with settings, sashings, and more to create a scrap quilt that shines with personality—which is why we save all those scraps in the first place!

Discover just a few of Lynn’s tips in the following excerpt from Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts. Then get inspired to play with her scrap-quilt designs, as well as the designs of the other authors featured below.

Excerpt from Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts
by Lynn Roddy Brown

Blocks that are good for scraps can be set many different ways and work well with alternate blocks. Choose blocks that are easy to piece and range in size from 4″ to 9″ square. This encourages the making of many blocks and allows for more design possibilities.

Fewer seams usually means more accurate blocks. I find that if I’ve made many easy-to-piece blocks, it isn’t difficult to set aside a few that I don’t like. If I’ve spent hours making 12 large, complicated blocks, my expectations will be high. This often results in disappointment.

Four Patch units + half-square triangles
For Lynn, simple sewing is key. Left: Four-patch units and half-square triangle units show off blue and yellow scraps. Right: the same units, made with a rainbow of scraps, create an energy and charm all their own.

After my first look at a group of blocks in a straight setting, I will try them on point. An on-point setting often creates diagonal lines, which keeps the viewer’s eye moving across the surface and makes for a more interesting quilt.

If blocks don’t seem to go together, separating them with alternate blocks often helps. Adding alternate blocks is also an easy way to make a larger quilt. Since alternate blocks will be as much as half of the blocks, they can also cause a shift in mood. If blocks need to be calmed down, add alternate blocks in grayed tones. Bright alternate blocks can perk up a boring group of blocks. Adding alternate blocks is also a way to shift color. If you want a blue quilt, add alternate blocks in a blue fabric that you really like.

Churn Dash quilts
Churn Dash, four ways.
Top left: Churn Dash sits on point with the addition of triangles on all four sides, creating a secondary zigzag pattern between the blocks. Top right: Church Dash gets a lift with Flying Geese sashing. Bottom left: “Civil War and Blue” by Fran Urquhart is a good example of using alternate blocks to bring out one particular color. Bottom right: In “I’ll Fly Away,” Barbara Reynolds set her blocks on point and side by side, creating additional patterns and interest.

Simple Strategies for Block-Swap QuiltsLet Lynn introduce you to many more scrap-friendly blocks in Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts, along with ideas for organizing your own block swaps. Click here to view a gallery of all the quilts in the book.

A little goes a long way: scrap-quilt blocks from Bits and Pieces by Karen Costello Soltys

Quilts from Bits and Pieces
Left: the Chinese Coins quilt block is a favorite old pattern that combines narrow bits of scrap fabrics into long strips. Here, the coins are all made using strips of plaid fabrics (get the ePattern here). Right: Easily make either or both of these half-square triangle quilts with scraps in red, blue, gold, purple, and green (get the ePattern here).

Quilts from Bits and Pieces
Left: The Ohio Star block is a perennial favorite among quilters. Make the quilt interesting by using a variety of prints, plaids, and stripes for the star centers (get the ePattern here). Right: Pastel Pinwheel blocks combine two sets of Karen’s favorite fabrics—Japanese prints and hand-dyed pastel solids (get the ePattern here).

Bits and PiecesDiscover more simple-to-sew blocks for your scraps in Bits and Pieces, which includes 18 classic quilt patterns. Click here to view a gallery of quilts from the book.

Make ’em in multiples: Scrap-quilt blocks from Quilts from the Heart II by Karin Renaud

Fanny's Dream quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
If you’re a fan of chain piecing, Karin’s block choices are right up your alley. The units in this Fanny’s Favorite block are perfect for chain-pieced patchwork. As you can see from the close-up of the block, once your color palette is chosen, anything goes. (Get the ePattern here.)

Matt's Mosaic quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
Create a profusion of movement with the Swamp Angel block, made up of half-square and quarter-square triangles. Different-colored scraps can be placed almost anywhere with a forgiving white background; the architecture of the block reins the design in. (Get the ePattern here.)

Flotsam and Jetsam quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
The Jacob’s Ladder block lends itself to many layouts—off center as shown, radiating from the middle, forming Xs to make a lattice, or turned blocks that make diagonal lines. (Get the ePattern here.)

Quilts from the Heart IIChoose from 18 quilt patterns in Quilts from the Heart II, each designed with your scraps in mind. Click here to view a gallery of quilts from the book.

Which quilt blocks have you featured your scraps in? Share your top picks in the comments!

You might also like:Therapy—compliments of your next scrap quilt


12 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Pinwheel blocks are my favorite. They can be combined in so many ways, and they come in so many variations. Square-in-a-square is also fun, and an easy way to make Ohio star and hourglass quilts.

    —Lynne on April 14, 2014
  • Probably the most scrap worthy block for me is the nine patch. It is a winner.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on April 14, 2014
  • I like the churn dash but I also love stars of any kind.

    —Tina on April 14, 2014
  • I made a quilt out of 400 1.5-inch squares that were fabric samples from a quilting catalogue. I made 4-patches and alternated with a tiny print of blue & purple floral. I set the blocks on point, did a triple border of blue & purple. I used another scrap quilt that looks like woven strips for the back (I made it when I broke up with a boyfriend, staying up to 1 a.m. every night, so I could fall into bed exhausted and not lie there thinking, "I should’ve said THIS and I should’ve said THAT!"). It’s one of my favorite quilts, all scrappy, makes me really happy.

    —Jill Ellis on April 14, 2014
  • Nine-patches, four-patches and Arkansas Crossroads are a few I’ve used.

    —Marianne on April 14, 2014
  • I have a double four-patch from from a block swap many years ago, it looks great and the red/pink color combinations still look interesting to me 10 years later. I would recommend that block. K

    —kathy pfaltzgraff on April 14, 2014
  • I have made scrap 1/2 square triangles into boarders , I used to have a lot left over from my flying geese (sewed up the cut of triangle) As I make a lot of scrapbook cover’s ,The scraps get used up quickly to enlarge applique blocks to fit the books.

    —Elizajane on April 14, 2014
  • Flying geese, Chinese coins, string, disappearing nine patch are all designs I have used.

    —Lynn on April 15, 2014
  • I make lots of scrap quilts. My favorite so far was my second quilt I ever made. It was a carpenters wheel made in shades of white, blue and yellow. It was a king size and a birthday gift for my brother. At this time I have chosen a shoo fly set with string blocks. Lots of scrappy parts for me!

    —Diane on April 15, 2014
  • I would definitely make the monkey quilt as my grandson is a sweet little monkey!

    —Janet on April 15, 2014
  • I like Jacob’s ladder,but haven’t used it yet, so far only 1/2 sq triangles and 4-patch–need to get all scraps in one place to see what I realy have. Cheers–great pictures.

    —Carol on April 16, 2014
  • I made a Bow tie quilt out of scraps I found around the house as a late teen. It was for my Mother and was a challenge to do when she wasn’t home. For someone not knowing what she was doing , It turned out pretty good. I have it now that my Mother is gone. My daughter told me that I am not to get rid of it ever.

    —Louise Buker on April 18, 2014

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