From Scraps to Treasures: How to Create Stunning Quilts from Leftover Fabric Pieces

Quilting has a long tradition of making something new out of leftover pieces of fabric, called scraps.  It’s an art form that’s been around for centuries, and millions of unique quilts have been created with the scraps of generations before us.  For some, the scrappy quilt is the queen of the heap! 

Today, quilting with scraps is still prevalent as creators seek to reduce waste, embrace creativity, and make something beautiful out of what many deem as trash.  Indeed, doing it up scrappy style can genuinely exercise the creative muscles and make for some of the most unique and character-filled quilts you’ll find.   

So let’s start by exploring the joy of quilting with scraps, discussing some tips and tricks, and how to create stunning quilt designs from those leftover fabric pieces.  

What Are Quilt Scraps?  

Quilt scraps are pieces of leftover fabric from previous projects or “scraps” you’ve collected over time.  These pieces may be small or large and can vary in shape, color, pattern, and texture.  

Quilters typically save these scraps for future patchwork, when small pieces of fabric are sewn together to make larger pieces that form the quilt top.  Using scraps during the patchwork process significantly reduces fabric waste, saves money, and creates fantastic opportunities for unique designs.  

Do a quick Google® search for "award winning scrappy quilt" and you'll truly see what is possible.  Indeed, scraps to treasures come to life in a staggeringly beautiful and ingenious way. 

Getting Started With Quilt Scrap Collecting  

When buying fabric, purchasing a little extra provides for strap savings.  If you under-purchase initially, that extra fabric can save your project, especially when the material is no longer available.  Remember, most fabric collections are a “one-time” print, and your favorite fabric shops can no longer order you more.  As experienced quilters will tell you about fabric, “Once it is gone, it is gone”!  So don’t feel too guilty if you feel the need to pick up a little extra. 

If you’re new to quilting, you might not have many scraps yet, but it’s easy to get started with collecting them.  Start by cutting your fabric pieces with a bit of extra material on the sides when beginning a project.  This will allow you to keep the excess fabrics after completing the project.   

When working on a new project, you can collect the scraps as you go.  Try to keep the scraps by color, so you’ll have them ready to use when you want to make a specific design or pattern.  Starting early with this process will save you organizational and search time in the future. 

Another great way to collect scraps is to attend fabric swaps, garage sales, or thrift shops.  Many quilters have collections of fabrics they’re not going to use that they’d be happy to sell or swap with others.  If you can get your hands on some pre-loved fabrics, you can cut them into smaller pieces for your scrappy quilting projects.  

Tips for Creating Stunning Scrappy Quilts  

Creating a stunning scrappy quilt can be as fun and easy or as organized and distinct as you want it to be.  Here are some tips to follow if you’re looking to create unique and beautiful quilts out of your scrap fabric:  

1.  Choose a Color Palette  

Choosing a color palette can be the most fun part of creating a scrappy quilt.  You can either select a color scheme like blues, greens, or yellows or choose a range of colors you want to use.  

You can also include patterned fabrics in your palette or only include solid colors to create a more uniform look.  Whatever color palette you choose, ensure consistency throughout the quilt to keep the overall design cohesive.  With that said, it’s your quilt, and if the need to go crazy is the itch you’re getting, by all means, scratch it! 

2.  Embrace Texture  

Adding different textures to your quilt design can add depth and visual interest.  Try using a mix of woven and knit fabrics or pairing plain fabrics with fleece or minkies.  This is a great technique to add some interest to your quilt and bring your scraps to life.  

3.  Use Different Shapes and Sizes  

Mixing up the shapes and sizes of your scrap fabric pieces can create a unique design.  Try using smaller scraps to create a patchwork pattern and larger pieces for borders or quilting squares.  You can also use pieced fabric strips and cut them on an angle to create diamond shapes or create triangles from small scraps.  Aside from picking the colors, experimenting with shapes and sizes can be a ton of fun.  

4.  Get Creative With Block Sizes  

When creating a quilt block pattern, you can use different sizes of blocks to create visual interest.  Try using square blocks in various sizes and mix them with rectangular or triangular shapes to add more design elements to your quilt.  

5.  Explore Different Quilting Techniques  

Quilting comes in a variety of styles and techniques, and using different techniques on one quilt can make the piece even more engaging.  For example, creatively spacing out a variety of hand and machine quilting can create a more dynamic look.  

Scrappy quilting has become incredibly popular in recent years, with quilters seeking to use their leftover fabric to create stunning and unique designs.  Not only is it a sustainable way to reduce waste, but it’s also an opportunity to explore creativity and make something new out of what would otherwise be discarded.  

Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand your scrap fabric collection, keep in mind that the possibilities for creating stunning quilts with scraps are endless.  With a little creativity, you never know what treasures you might make from your leftover fabric pieces.  Again, it’s your quilt.  Follow these guidelines or toss out the rule book.  Sometimes the most interesting quilt designs come from experimenting and trying something different - and we love to celebrate the different!

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