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Using Those Scraps

Scraps, scraps, scraps!! We all have those piles of fabric bits left over from other projects that seem to multiply when we aren't looking. We can't bear to throw them away, but we struggle to find ways to store them and use them up. Well, I'm excited to share a great idea with you for putting those scraps together in a fun project!

But before we get started on our project, I'd like to share a couple of suggestions for organizing and storing your scraps. I find that it's a lot easier to use my scraps if I have some kind of system to keep track of them. It makes it so much easier to find what I want and also lets me store a lot of scraps in a smaller space. So here's a simple system I use.

I store my scraps in clear plastic drawer units so I can easily see where the different fabrics are. Then I designate each drawer for certain colors or prints: red and pink, orange and yellow, green and teal/turquoise, blue, purple, sewing themed, batiks, etc. I've grouped certain colors together to save space, but you can do whatever suits your needs.

To get the most out of the storage space in each drawer, I lay the small scraps flat and fold up the larger pieces. I can fit a LOT more scraps in there that way instead of just dumping them in rumpled up bunches. Here's what the inside of the drawers looks like.

This system has proven to be a simple, painless way for me to keep my scraps organized. It's so easy to find the colors/prints I'm looking for, so I'm not wasting time hunting and digging through all those scraps!

Now on to the scrap project I have for you! What if I told you that you could use your scraps in a quilt without picky measurements and with very little cutting? Sounds crazy, right? Well, it's definitely possible! In fact, here's a quilt that I made that way.

I call this technique Wonderfully Wacky Quilt Piecing and it's a free form way of putting your scraps together that's very forgiving and stress free. It's so free form, in fact, that there's no pattern to follow! Instead I'm sharing the simple steps to show you how it works, including a free video tutorial.

I'll show you how fun and easy it is to turn this...

into this!

How cool is that! You can pick a color and use different scraps of that color like I did above with pink. You can also choose a couple of coordinating colors and mix them together like I did with these two blocks. I chose turquoise and purple for one block, and purple and pink for the other block.

You can even choose a couple of coordinating colors and make two sets of monochromatic blocks like I did here.

You can make blocks or sections in any size you want! Lots of possibilities here!

There are no "rules" for this piecing technique, but here are a couple of suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Make your blocks a little bigger than the finished block size you want because you will need to trim off the edges of the block to square it up.
  • It's a good idea to keep smaller scraps away from the edges of the block so you don't lose them when trimming the block.
  • Try to stagger your seams as you are piecing so you don't get bulky intersections.
  • Finger press the shorter seams and use the iron for the longer seams.

To get started, dig out some scraps and group them into piles of similar size pieces. No need to be exact. And no need to precut any pieces.

Pick a couple of scraps that have a similar length edge. Here are some examples of pieces I put together. Notice that you only need one side of each scrap to be about the same. Sew the matching edges together.

Keep sewing pieces together this way to make bigger pieces, then sew the bigger pieces to each other in the same manner. Trim edges as needed to make a straight seam allowance. Press the seams as the pieces get bigger. Keep adding pieces to build your block to the desired size. Use a quilting ruler to square up your blocks, then sew the blocks together. Here's my video tutorial that walks you through the process.

Another way you can do this is by sewing strips together. Here are some strips I picked out to put together. They are all different lengths, but that doesn't matter! You can add a piece here and snip off a piece there to make the lengths you want. You can see that I added a piece to one of the middle strips to make it long enough to go with the other strips.

You can also create strips by sewing smaller pieces together. That's exactly what I did here to add a couple of more strips to this block. It's a great way to use up those smaller scraps and add some fun detail to your block at the same time.

And there you go! You have a simple way to combine random scraps into awesome quilt blocks without the stress of picky measurements and precise cutting! Now you can make amazing looking scrappy quilts that are wonderfully wacky!

If you're looking for even more scrappy quilt projects, check out my new "Scrappy, with Love" pattern. It combines the fun of Wonderfully Wacky Quilt Piecing with easy fusible applique to create two different styles of quilt blocks.

The pattern comes with four different sizes of heart templates and directions for making a wall quilt, baby quilt or lap quilt. You can order the pattern here.

Thanks for stopping by and have fun sewing!