A Little Break for Fun

After finishing a big project and preparing classes for the next quarter, I took a little break and used some of the scraps from the unsorted pile.  This is where scraps go before I cut them into the standard sizes I use for storage.scrap block, slabs, scrap quilt

Cheryl Arkison, who blogs at Dining Room Empire, calls this type of block a slab. Of course the idea of joining scraps as you find them has been used by many people in various ways.  I really enjoy making them in a single color, so I made a few when I had a minute.slabs, scrap blocks, scrap quilt

Of course, this didn’t make a dent in the scrap pile, but it was fun!  Has anybody out there found a way to make a real dent in the scrap pile?  It seems to me to grow and grow, with no decrease in size no matter how many scrap quilts I make!


Classes Coming Up

I’ll be teaching two classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC, this coming quarter.

First is a “Secret Message Pillow”. Go by the shop to see the sample and sign up!  That class will be the morning of Saturday, January 27, which means the pillow will be finished in time for Valentine’s Day.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

Second, I’m teaching a scrap management class that will show several ways to use even small scraps to make beautiful quilts. I call it scrap management because that’s what most of us need: management of the scraps. One option is shown above.  That class will be March 24 and we will have all day to play with our scraps.

All you need to bring is the basket (dump truck load?) of scraps that have been accumulating in your studio.  Sign up at the shop and come have fun!

A Finish to Start 2018

This scrap quilt started out when I saw Tonya Ricucci’s “Lego Quilt” tutorial.  I didn’t use her method; you can see my “improvements” here.  I made changes to make the quilt easier for me to construct, and arranged the blocks a little differently, but I’m sure you can see this is based on her idea.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

For 2018, I plan to set aside pieces of each quilt I make so I can have a “scrappy 2018” quilt to remember all my projects!  I named my version of Tonya’s quilt “Scrappy New Year”, and I guess the next one will be “Scrappy 2018”.  Really the pieces in this quilt are so small that every project should have enough left over to put in the quilt.

scrap quilt

Detail of Scrappy New Year

As for the 2017 version shown here, I estimate it contains 1,680 pieces. I have a friend who has beat that number by quite a bit; you can see one of her quilts, (with 5,496 pieces!) here.

Orphan Blocks and Scraps

You can make a great quilt from nothing but leftovers–orphan blocks and scraps!  Of course there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s an easy one to get you started on both using scraps and trying out improvisational quilting.

Orphan blocks:  Go through your collection and pick enough, or almost enough, blocks to go along one edge of the quilt.  Pick some with colors that go together and set the color range for your quilt based on these blocks.

Yin Yang quilt blocks

These are all in the same color range, and of course all the same design–a good start for an orphan block quilt!

The blocks can be a “header” for the quilt, or an insert somewhere inside the quilt, or they can go down one side.  Or across the top and down one side.  Or…well, you get the idea! There are lots of ways to use them.  But if you’re new to improvising your own designs, consider making a row of orphan blocks across the top.

Orphan block quilt

Here’s a design I’ve already made, but I can’t show the actual quilt because I’m entering it in a show

The blocks do not all need to be the same size.  Just add strips to them to make them all the same.  A lot of times you’ll have something like two 7″ blocks and three 8″ blocks.  You COULD add 1″ strips to the smaller ones on two sides, but that’s a little tedious.  Better to add 2″ strips on 2 sides of the 8″ blocks and 3″ strips on 2 sides of the 7″ blocks.

quilt block with border

Quilt block with larger border added on 2 sides

quilt block

quilt block with small border added on 2 sides

See, they’re modern blocks already–asymmetry!  Because of adding larger strips, you didn’t have to fool around with tiny pieces, and you get a full row with fewer blocks.  Win-win!



In the quilt above it was easy to add grass and sky to adjust the size of the blocks.

After getting the blocks arranged on your design board, go to your scrap bins.  Pick out all the scraps in colors that go with your orphan blocks.  Since I save my scraps as strips, I make a stack of each strip size in the colors I’ve chosen, and I’m ready to go.  If you don’t save your scraps as strips, you really should–it’s so handy!  However, you can also cut strips to get you started.

Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable (and fun!) to make an improv quilt from scraps of any size and shape, but it’s easier with strips.  So if this is your first time, cut strips!

Now join those strips into rows, and the rows into sections, and keep going until you have the size quilt you want.  You’ll probably want to square it up after you get the top pieced; a top made of pieces of different sizes rarely comes out even on all sides.

Here’s another idea, assuming I had several leftover leaf blocks:

orphan block and scrap quilt

Leaves and scraps, assuming I had 5 leftover leaf blocks

Now, go for it!