Hi everyone! Since I am having a busy week preparing for the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival, I thought I would share some tips and techniques for my very favorite form of quilting: scrap quilting! By the way, if you are in the Kansas City area from June 15th through June 17th, come say “hi” to me in my booth. The show is at the Overland Park Convention Center. So let’s talk about some of my favorite tips and techniques for scrap quilting.
To Get Started
One key for successful scrap quilting is to have a stash with a wide variety of small cuts of fabrics. I’ve shared how I achieve this in the past. I cut up larger pieces of fabric into 1/2 yards, fat quarters, fat eighths and strips so I have each particular fabric in just about every size. That way, I don’t have to cut into a large piece of fabric if I only need a few pieces. Here’s a recent mini video where I cover my routine:
Once I have my fabrics cut, I store them in tubs. The strips I cut used to be stored all together in a large bag or basket. I have since found these shallow tubs and have my strips separated by color and width.
Good organization is a big help when it comes to scrap quilting because you are not spending too much time hunting and sorting.
Planned and Unplanned Scrap Quilts
If you have been to one of my lectures, you heard me talk about “planned” and “unplanned” scrap quilts. What’s the difference? I consider an unplanned scrap quilt as one where you sit in front of a tub of fabrics and pull out a different piece for each element of a block. An example of a true unplanned scrap quilt that I have made is my pattern Crisscross Cabin Blooms.
As you can see from the close-up photo on the right each of the blocks have different fabrics. Some have the same fabrics because I probably had a long strip of that fabric and put it in a few blocks. But, I basically pieced all 100 of these blocks by just pulling out strips from my stash. The only consistent fabric is the black print.
Now onto a planned scrap quilt. This is where I take a pattern I want to make and decide ahead of time the number of different color prints I want to use and then decide how many blocks will be made from each color combination. This type of quilt takes a little more planning than an unplanned scrap quilt.
Here’s an example: Let’s say the quilt you want to make takes a yard of each color fabric (not including the background) and has 12 blocks from each color. Here’s an example of the 3 colors:
So you can either make 12 blocks from each color (left) or you can mix colors within each block, alternating how you combine them (right).
Both are eye catching scrap quilts. One appears more scrappy because of combining the fabrics within each block, but both good!
Now, it’s time to add in more fabrics. Instead of just three fabrics, I will choose six more that coordinate, do a little math, and come up with an even scrappier quilt. Here’s the stacks of fabric now:
And here are the two different combinations using all nine fabrics:
Like I did above with the three colors quilt diagrams, here I came up with two variations. The one on the left has four star blocks from each color. The one on the right has the colors combined within the blocks for an even scrappier quilt. See how that works?
So here are a few tips
Tip#1 – Be bold with color! In a scrap quilt, you can play with joining many colors you wouldn’t ordinarily pair up. Since there are lots of fabrics in the quilt, the chaos seems to work!
Tip #2 – Use what I call “color mapping” prior to starting a project. This kind of ties into the example I showed above with the nine different fabrics. Make a copy of the diagram of the block that makes up your quilt. If there is not a clear diagram in the pattern, pull out some graph paper and draw one, then make copies. I then assign a number to each of my color print fabrics. Once that is done, I can number each block element showing where I want that color to appear.
Once you have a plan like this, you can then figure how much of each color print fabric you need for the whole quilt.
Tip #3 – Stay organized by labeling and stacking up each set of pieces cut from each color print. For example using the above map, I would cut out and keep the color print 1, 2, and 3 pieces for each block separated into three separate stacks based on the combinations shown above. By being organized, you won’t accidentally stitch the wrong piece into a block.
Tip #4 – Once units are pieced and then need to be pieced into a block or border, consider labeling them with small stickers to keep them in the order you want. This is really helpful with scrappy pieced borders.
So that’s it for this week! I hope this post inspires you to rummage through your stash of fabrics, get organized, and play. Scrap quilting is relaxing and fun because you can let loose and put fabrics together that you wouldn’t normally pair up in a regular quilt.