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How to use your fabric scraps to make a new quilt!

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

How to use your fabric scraps to make a new quilt!

Are you looking for a fun and meaningful way to make use of fabric scraps leftover from other sewing projects? Have you ever dreamed of creating a scrappy quilt that not only celebrates your fabric stash, but is also an original work of art that reflects your favorite quilts? With a little bit of creativity and your fabric scraps, you can easily create your own special scrappy quilt!

If you’re anything like me, you might just have an overflowing fabric scrap bin.  I struggled for the longest time trying to figure out how to use my scraps. I felt like I needed some sort of formula to follow to make a scrappy quilt so I decided to start small….like one block at a time small.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

I decided to give myself a challenge and for each quilt I made during 2022, I was going to make one additional block with the scraps left over from that quilt.  I wanted to have fun with it and see where it took me.  Some blocks represent the quilt the scraps came from (like the scrappy heart block) and others are just super scrappy. 

Tips on getting started

Before you get started on your own scrappy quilt, you’ll need to decide on a few things for your quilt.  

Your blocks!  What size blocks will you be making?  Will all of your blocks be the same size (I definitely recommend this if this is your first scrap/improv quilt you will be making). What size are you aiming for your final quilt?

I was hoping to make a throw-sized quilt in the end and went with 12-inch blocks (a pretty standard and manageable block size).  I knew I would be working on this project for a year so I thought I would make enough blocks of this size for a throw size quilt.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Next, think about your block composition.  Would you like a final quilt that is super scrappy or would you like a quilt with some uniform to it?  For example, I wanted something super scrappy so I let the left over fabrics from each quilt guide the block that was being made.  This makes each block completely and wildly different from one another — which is awesome if that is what you are looking for.  If you’d like something with some uniformity to it, you can decide a theme for yourself now - perhaps it’s all log cabin blocks or half square triangles.  

Making your blocks 

Once you’ve thought about how generally you would like your finished quilt to look, its time to start making (and saving) your blocks.

If you’re working on your scrap quilt as a long-term project like I did, you’ll want to get a box or bin large enough to store your blocks while you are working away.  I made mine over the course of a year and wasn’t exactly sure if I would have enough blocks built up by then to have a finished quilt - so each time I made a block I would tuck in away in the bin and save it for the end of the year.

My quilt project was super scrappy and for each quilt I made, I wanted to make an additional block.  Some were representative of the quilt it came from - like this heart block.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Using scraps from a Claremont Quilt

Others were full improv.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Using scraps from a Northview Quilt

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Using scraps from a Desert Cove Quilt

And others were some mix - like the flying geese and log cabin blocks.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Using scraps from a Stella Lane Quilt

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Using scraps from a Claremont Quilt

 

Final Layout (sashing can be your best friend)

This is starting to get exciting, right???  At the end of the year it was time to pull out my bin of blocks and see what I had going.  Lucky for me, I had 16 blocks and could easily make a throw size quilt that was four rows by four columns.

If that wasn’t the case, I had a few ideas to then come up with the number of blocks I needed.  So if you’re short a few blocks consider:

  • Extending your project a bit longer to make more quilts and associated blocks.
  • Digging through your scraps again to see if you have enough to make more of the blocks you need
  • Left over quilt backing or binding from your quilts?  Turn that fabric into some blocks.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Once you’ve arrived at your desired number of blocks it’s time to start playing with your quilt layout.  This might be fun, or it could feel a bit uneasy if you’re not used to making scrappy blocks.

I definitely struggled with the layout of my scrappy quilt - at one point I 100% felt like I wasted a bunch of fabric and time and would have a very ugly quilt at the end.  If you’re feeling like this too, fear not!  In the end, I absolutely love this quilt.

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

A few tips as you play with your final quilt layout:

  • Move those blocks around and take a lot of pictures as you move your blocks.
  • Look at your pictures in black and white — this will help cut down on the business of your fabrics and let you see the saturation of color.
  • SASHING!!  If it all feels too busy, add strips of 2-inch sashing in a solid color between your blocks.  It makes a world of difference in letting the eye rest.
  • Time.  I let my quilt sit on my design wall for about 2 or 3 weeks before I finally sewed it together, just to make sure I was happy with the final layout.
    • Tip:  If you don’t have a design wall, keep the picture you took of the layout handy.  Print it out if you can, or make it your phone or Ipad’s background image.

Finishing your Quilt

For my 2022 scrap quilt, I decided to keep the backing and binding pretty basic and selected one of my favorite simple prints for both the backing and the binding.  

I initially thought about piecing the backing from left over backing pieces from the 2022 quilts I made, but honestly, that was just too much scrappiness and busyness for me.  I wanted the back to be simple so I chose one of my all time favorite prints and it just so happens to only be two colors.  I had enough fabric left over for the binding - otherwise I was going to pick out a solid color binding.  

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

As quilters, we often make quilts that are for others — this project is something just for you so take a little bit of time here selecting your final details before finishing your quilt.

All-in-all I love this quilt so much.  It was a fun project that stretched and expanded my creativity at times.  I also love sitting with these blocks and thinking about each of the quilts.  Some of the quilts were made and gifted to friends so it is nice to have a block made with the same fabric - I will think about that quilt and my friend it was made for :)

Scrappy quilts provide a unique and meaningful way to keep memories of other projects alive while creating an entirely new one. With a little dedication and creativity, you can make a quilt that is truly a reflection of your work. And, not only do scrappy quilts provide a unique way to reuse materials, it’s a great way to practice your skills, utilize your stash, and make something special!

Now that you have this quilt all planned out, why not give it a try? Head over to your sewing room, get those scraps out, and make something beautiful!

How to Make a Scrappy Quilt | A quilting tutorial by Nollie Bean

Happy sewing!!
I always love to see what you make!  Tag me when you share on Instagram and use the hashtags #nolliebeanpatterns.
xoxo. ~Jenni

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