Scrap quilts often bring to mind the image of a resourceful pioneer woman cutting up worn clothing to create bedcovers for her family. But the truth is that scrap quilting didn’t become as commonplace as we think until the Great Depression when hard-pressed seamstresses were forced to use every bit of fabric they had on hand. Along with feed sacks, these women also used bits of old clothing, worn-out bed linens, and anything else they could get their hands on. Thus, scrap quilting is probably one of the first examples of “upcycling”.
When I made my Kaleidoscope quilt earlier this year, I did a lot of “fussy cutting”. With fussy cutting, the fabric pieces are cut in such a way as to emphasize a particular pattern or design within the printed fabric. This was necessary to create the repeating design of each hexagon shape that this quilt included.
By doing this I ended up with a lot of leftover bits of fabrics. I hate to throw away any fabric – it costs money. So, these bits were added to the other scraps that were accumulating in my sewing room. When quilting, any piece bigger than 10″ x 10″ is sorted and stored on shelves according to the main color of the fabric. Anything smaller than 10″ x 10″ and bigger than 1″ x 1″ gets put into a wicker basket for future use.
Saving scraps allows me to to get the most out of my fabric purchases. And, when using these scraps, I get to make beautiful one-of-a-kind quilts. This summer, my basket of scraps was over flowing. It was time to do something with these bits and pieced.
When first looking at the basket, it was a bit daunting as to where to start. First, I sorted the fabrics into two piles, batik scraps and printed cotton. Then I sorted each of these fabric piles by color and size of the design on the fabric.
Once sorted, I needed to pick a couple quilt designs to use. Having dozens of quilt designs on my computer that I had created in Electric Quilts, I selected several that would work well for scrap quilts.
To avoid having a design that appeared cluttered, I used a few design guidelines. In some quilts, I focused on a specific color to tie the fabrics together. In another quilt, I used the negative space to offset the chaos of the scrap pieces. And, in still other quilts, I used a design that called for larger pieces of fabric. These quilt designs were used for prints that were large to make the quilt seen less busy overall and thus allow for the prints to be highlighted rather than being lost in a bunch of small pieces. And, sometimes you just gotta have fun and forget any design rules.
Quilt with specific Color – Grey
Quilt with specific Color – Red
Quilt using Negative Space
Quilt using Large Prints – Florals
Quilt using Large Prints – Black/ White and Red
Quilt using Large Prints – Batiks
Quilt with No Rules