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Making the Most of Leftover Fabric Scraps in a New Quilt Project.

Lets face it, Quilting is an expensive hobby. So making sure that we utilise the fabric we have to the best of our ability is probably important to most people and this is just one of the reasons that I love fabric scraps. When it comes to fabric, some people would call me a hoarder, but I prefer to think of it as being thrifty. In my house, even scraps as small as 1” square will get sorted and stashed into boxes because I *might* use them one day. My love of scrappy quilts is so great that my best Quilty friend even boxes up and posts me her fabric scraps at times. After all fabric is expensive so why would you throw away these pieces when there are so many beautiful projects that can be made just with scraps?

This is how I organise my fabric scraps so that they are easier to find when I need a specific colour for a quilt block


What is considered a scrap?

For me, a scrap piece of fabric is anything left over from other quilts. Scrap fabric doesn’t have to be small though. In fact when it comes down to it, if you have any fabric in your stash that you don’t have a solid quilt plan for - then you could consider it a scrap fabric. In this respect, you probably have fabric in your own sewing room that could be considered a scrap. I have a lot of fabrics like this in my stash and it works out well for me to have it this way. After all, it means that when I feel the urge to sew, I don't need to run off to the fabric store to find fabric for my next quilt project. I always have a look through my fabric stash first, because I most likely have enough there to make a scrappy quilt without the added expense of buying new quilt fabric.

What Kinds of Quilts Can be Made Using Scraps?

Sampler quilts are also great for people who love scraps. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to keep my scraps, and I use them frequently in my quilt blocks. Sampler quilts are fantastic for scrappy quilting, because every quilt block is different and that gives you a chance to use some of those smaller scraps in your pile.

Paper Pieced Quilts are another great option for scraps. In particular pictorial paper pieced quilt blocks as opposed to geometric style blocks lend themselves to using lots of colours and prints, which is perfect for using up scraps. One of the reasons that I think scrappy quilting suits me so well is due to my addiction to foundation paper piecing. My Chicken quilt block for example I picked out some low volume scraps to use for the chicken and each of the Baby Chicks got a different little scrap from my yellow pile for their little wings.

A cute Chicken Quilt block, and several smaller baby chicken quilt blocks that were eventually made into a mini quilt. The quilt blocks are heavily reliant on using low volume fabrics that were scraps from my fabric stash.


Mini Quilts are another great option for using up fabric scraps, as the amounts required for making them is usually less, and you can even use some of your scraps as backing!

Tips for utilizing your fabric scraps in your next project

Sort and Organize: Take your time to sort through your scraps and work out which ones you want to use in this quilt. Which ones work together and which ones will you store for later? I like to sort my scraps by colour and keep all of my small scraps (anything less than 6” square) in zip-loc bags, but you could use clear plastic bins, a drawer with cardboard dividers or any other system that suits your sewing room. I have also seen some beautiful quilted scrappy boxes that you can make to store your scraps, sewing notions and more.


Use Scrap-friendly Patterns:

A temperature quilt is a great way to use fabric scraps and the quilting room with Mel has a great instructional blog post!

Look for quilt patterns specifically designed for using fabric scraps. Foundation Paper Pieced quilt patterns are often really good for this because they utilise lots of different colours, but you could also consider modern patterns such as Wildwood by Fat Quarter Shop or if you are looking for a longer project a Temperature Quilt like the one above can be a fun way to use fabric scraps as well.

Create a Balanced Color Scheme: While scrappy quilts can be eclectic, I like to aim for a more balanced and controlled colour scheme when I'm creating my quilt. One way to achieve this is to consider using a single background colour or a common fabric in each block or your sashing to help tie the quilt together.

Audition Your Fabrics Together: Another thing I like to do is pick out my fabrics before I start sewing and place them next to each other to make sure I like the way they look together. This helps with creating that "controlled" look I was talking about in the paragraph above. You could use a design wall or large flat surface (I use the floor!) to lay out your fabric scraps and visualize how they will look in the quilt. This is especially helpful for scrappy quilts where you're mixing and matching many different fabrics.

This paper pieced pumpkin quilt block is an example of a pattern that is designed for using up fabric scraps from other quilting projects.

Ultimately I believe that fabric scraps aren't just leftovers; they're a canvas for creativity and a testament to the resourcefulness of quilters. Embracing the beauty of the scrap pile can lead to endless possibilities and stunning quilt projects and you can and should give scraps a second chance at being the star of your next project. From the process of organizing scraps by color to exploring a variety of scrap-friendly patterns, every step is an opportunity to be inspired. Whether you're a self-proclaimed fabric hoarder or like me you prefer be thought of as someone who simply appreciates the value of every scrap, remember that in quilting, there are no limits to what you can create with a little imagination and a stash of cherished fabric scraps!

Happy Quilting, Rachel