Scrappy Sunday – more squares

We thought we’d take a second look at squares and scraps – this time with examples from EQ to show just a few possibilities.  One simple block composed entirely of squares, nothing could be simpler and it’s a perfect way to put lots of different scraps together without too much angst as to what goes with what.  Start with lots of squares, say 2 1/2inch ones, and divide them into two piles, one dark and one light.  It’s the dark vs light distinction that makes this scrap control process work because it eliminates the constant question “does this fabric look good with that one?”.  Most of us find “random” and “scrappy” very challenging concepts and the dark vs light division makes a good place to start.  Here’s a 16square grid for us to play with dark and light scrap values –

The first, simplest and most traditional arrangement for this grid would probably be a checkerboard –

and it’s fairly easy to predict what a whole quilt made from these blocks would look like, so we won’t!  But if we tweak the arrangement of lights and darks (remember, we’re ignoring colour here) the same grid might look like one of the blocks below –




And, yes, we have used one more value – medium – in some of the examples above.  That’s because once you have divided your scrappy squares into lights and darks you are sure to find that some darks are just darker and some darks are almost medium when compared with the light pile.  Now take a look at some quilt plans using the above blocks in a straight edge to edge setting –

And here’s one of the blocks set with sashing and cornerstones rather than edge to edge.  Giving scrappy blocks just a little breathing room with simple sashing can actually bring everything together really well –

We’ve just looked at arrangements of scrap squares of the same size – what if (our favourite question!) you mix scrap squares of related sizes in the same block? Here are two of Barbara’s scrappy square blocks finished into cushions.  Notice that there are very few, if any, fabric duplications – these really were conjured from scraps!

More scrappiness next Sunday – happy stitching!







Scrappy Sundays – Squares

Organised folk often cut their smaller scraps into squares and store them in clearly labelled boxes or bags; others of us just tip out the scrap bags and chop various bits into squares of the right size when inspiration strikes. Whichever side you fall on – organised or haphazard – here’s a few ideas for using up those square(ish) bits or that charm pack you can’t think what to do with.

This first quilt is an old one and made from shirtings – scraps or samples from a local factory perhaps. The squares are not quite square and have been joined into rows then the rows joined together. But the initial size may have been too small as others rows were added around the centre and are running the other way – so the centre rows are horizontal and the outer rows are vertical; but it makes the design more interesting.

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The back is made from strips of the same fabric. There is no wadding, the two layers have been roughly stitched together with some straight(ish) lines down the quilt – with several tucks and pleats. Another reminder to us all not to fret about mistakes but to be happy you have finished a useful article.

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This next quilt was made from a pack of Laura Ashley squares back in the early 1980s – I fear it could now be classed as vintage. Just squares joined into 9-patch blocks with simple crosshatch quilting it made a quick and useful quilt for a new home.

Laura Ashley squares CF

Ann Jermey always has excellent ideas for using up her scraps (she is organised and keeps them in labelled boxes and bags!). Here are a few of her quilts using up some of those squares – notice how she makes the most of a small number of pieces by turning things on point, or using a tilted setting.

If you have a charm pack or a more organised set of squares you could consider setting them on point with sashing between and grading the colours to make a quilt like this one. The idea originally was to try to make a leaded window looking out into a flower garden – with the view distorted by the old glass panes. I’m not convinced it worked but it still makes an interesting little quilt.


Through the magic of EQ we can bring you this idea to use up charm squares or layer cake squares or something in between. Use the ‘square corner’ method to make snowball blocks from your squares and stitch the left-over triangles together (you can do this before you trim them from the square). Use these triangles to make pinwheel blocks as cornerstones in a sashing and border.


And finally this big quilt uses up yet more jelly roll bits – these ones were too small for anything except squares, but sewn into blocks and separated with two contrasting sashings they turned into a large bed-size quilt.

Sbends CF

The pattern for this quilt was first published in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine in July 2013 or you can buy the pattern here.

Scrappy Sunday – “kites”

It’s Scrappy Sunday time again (this summer seems to be whizzing by don’t you think?) and this week we want to spotlight a versatile “kite” shape which is perfect for converting scraps into something stunning.  Barbara was browsing the shelves of the library at the Rural Office

and picked up two of our favourite books from way back when…..

We’ve already shown these books in a previous Scrappy post but we’re not apologising – they are well worth repeating.  Several years ago Barbara was looking for a scrappy style project and this page from “Scraps Can Be Beautiful” (left, above) demanded attention.


The test block was duly made

and then put aside (as so often happens).  Shortly afterwards, paging through an old copy of Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts, a hexagonal block, built from this same kite shape and titled “Antique Rose Star” was found.  Scrappy inspiration struck!  Using mostly scraps selected from browns, reds and shirtings it was not long before there was a stack of Antique Rose Star blocks.


The same block was featured in “Material Obsession 2” by Kathy Doughty and Sara Fielke (Murdoch Books, 2009).

Over the years Barbara has taught many hand piecing classes featuring this block and students are always surprised at how easy it is to piece and how effective changes of value can be.  Three kites make one triangle, twenty four triangles make one full block –


A small selection of blocks made in classes –



If you are looking for resources to help you explore some of the delights of the kite shape may we recommend the excellent template pack from Marti Michell

If EPP is your piecing preference then we suggest you check out Paper Pieces or Lina Patchwork for supplies of die cut kite shapes in various sizes.

Barbara has a Pinterest board devoted to this block and you’re sure to find lots more “kite ” inspiration on Pinterest and Google, to name but two!

Happy stitiching!



Scrappy Sunday – more strips

What else can you do with leftover strips from various projects – whether they are 2½ inches wide or any other width?

Chris had quite a lot of short lengths left over from her Autumnal Log Cabin quilt. Joined into pairs, one thin strip plus one fat strip and then cut into squares they could be arranged to make yet another pattern. Turning the small quilt they made on its point suddenly made it much bigger – the autumnal leaf fabric surrounding them was a lucky find. A few fabrics were auditioned as a narrow border between the leaf triangles and the pieced square but none of them looked as good as the square and leaf together with no border. A final wide border made a good sized wall-hanging from just a few left-over bits.

autumn leaves

The same design was used with some left-over 2½ inch strips to make two cot quilts (or play mats) for twins. This time the strips were paired with white strips the same width. No fancy turning on point either, just a simple border and binding with a bit of stitch-in-the-ditch (ish) quilting. Download a free pattern for these cot quilts from our Free Patterns page.

cot quilt

Ann Jermey had a few strips and bits left over but of varying lengths. Her cunning plan was to join them together fairly randomly end to end and then trim to make long strips all the same length. Narrower strips of the same fabric were then placed between these pieced strips.

One strip left over AJ

Finally lots of strips all the same width (but yours needn’t be) joined together and then cut to make (in this case) pieces that were 6½ x 8½ inches. A 2½ inch wide strip of white was then added to the bottom of each strip set to make them all 8½ inches square. And look what you could do with them. It’s proving too hard to come to a decision!

Scrappy Sundays – 60degree diamonds

Diamonds are almost as popular a shape as hexagons when it comes to making every scrap of fabric count.  The 60degree diamond in particular is exceptionally versatile and is a shape Barbara has been working with a lot in her hand piecing classes – here’s a really quick run-through of some favourite arrangements.

Join 60degree diamonds into a strip for a striking pleated effect which is great for borders –

Join 60degree diamonds into 3s to make a hexagon, then take it one step further to  magically create a 3D effect by consistent value placement – this is the traditional pattern sometimes known as Tumbling Blocks or Baby Blocks.









Join 60degree diamonds first into pairs then into 4s to make a diamond, put 6 of these diamonds together to make a star or put 3 together to make a chequered hexagon  (not  shown)











Join 6 60degree diamonds together to make a star, 3 diamonds and 3 diamonds then a centre seam, fill in the outer spaces with diamonds to make a hexagon star.








One of Barbara’s class samples shows the pleated border and hexagon star options and uses jelly roll strip scraps left over from an earlier project.  There was not enough of any one fabric to make repeating choices which made the placement process quite a challenge – but very satisfying.






















Scrappy Sundays – Log Cabin

Log Cabin is such a classic (and simple) design; although often seen with a limited number of fabrics it is one that cries out to be made from scraps – as it would have been back in ‘the Olden Days’. These are two of Barbara’s vintage quilts – the black and light one is just a coverlet (no wadding) while the other one is a folded Log Cabin.

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The basic premise of the block is that you start with a central shape – usually a square and then stitch strips around. The strips are usually the same width so you should end up with a neat collection of squares when you finish. The number of strips you add is up to you – stop when you get bored! The more strips you add the bigger the block; the wider the strips, the bigger the block; the bigger the central square, the bigger the block. Talking of which – your central square could be an orphan block or a random orphan unit such as a half-square triangle. Likewise, in theory, you make half the block from light fabrics and half from dark – like the black and light quilt above. But you don’t have to. These blocks are again some vintage ones from Barbara’s collection.

If you use different width strips – narrow light ones (say) and wider dark ones then you can get the illusion of circles or curves in your quilt. You do need to make a less than subtle difference in the widths for this to show up properly. Chris’s autumnal quilt only has a slight difference in the widths of the strips.

Autumn woodland LC

Having half the block light and half dark – whether the strips are the same width or not – can allow you to play with all sorts of settings before you decide which one to stitch together.

You don’t have to have all the same size strips either – you can make a ‘wonky’ log cabin block by randomly stitching different sizes of strip around the centre and then trim everything square and the same size at the end (thus creating even more scraps, but tiny ones), or add a border around each block to make them square.

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You can find the pattern to make the quilt this collection of blocks eventually turned into in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine July 2019 issue – and the finished blocks did not look like the photo above, that was just one try-out!

Or you can, as Ann Jermey has done with these ones, stitch random strips around squares and/or rectangles to make a variety of blocks to put together into a quilt, with a neat sashing to hold it all together.

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Although all these quilts are ‘scrappy’ they have one thing in common – they stuck to a particular colour palette (autumnal) or a particular fabric type (hand-dyes and flannels).

And one thing you can never have too many of – books for inspiration!

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Scrappy Sunday – hexagons

The humble hexagon is perfectly suited to scrap patchwork – it’s an easy shape to work with whether hand piecing or English Paper Piecing (EPP) and it offers countless possibilities for arrangement.  There are many resources for instruction and information on hexagon patchwork online and in print – put “hexagons” in a Pinterest, YouTube or Google search as a starter and in recent print we would recommend “All Points Patchwork” by Diane Gilleland and “English Paper Piecing” by Florence Knapp (aka Flossie Teacakes).

Here are some details from one or two of the vintage hexagon pieces that have found us over the years – first careful joining to create a specific effect, careful joining to make sufficient fabric to complete the hexagon shape and thirdly not quite so careful joining of two different hexagon pieces together to make something larger –


For our first Scrappy Sunday featuring hexagons we are going to take a quick look at just a few of the different arrangements in small, manageable units.  Start small and build up to using many small units to make something of size.  If you catch the hexie bug (and many people do) we recommend investing in a pad of isometric graph paper for planning larger scale all-over designs.


One of the most familiar hexagon arrangements is a rosette – six hexagons surrounding a seventh, central hexagon.  We think the easiest way to piece the rosette is to make a strip of 2 hexagons, a strip of 3 hexagons and a strip of 2 hexagons and then work 2 zigzag seams.



We rather like a “wave” arrangement –

Six hexagons make a triangular unit which has some possibilities –


4 hexagons can be joined together to form a lozenge shape which will tessellate as an all over pattern

or, add a hexagon to opposite sides of a rosette –

We wanted to include a piece that Chris made quite a few years ago – how good does this look?  Bright scraps, strongly contrasting fabric and stitching -great result.


So much to say and show on the topic of hexagons, but we’ll call a halt here and revisit the humble hexagon a little further along in our Scrappy Sundays series.  Happy stitching!