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.

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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.

snowballs

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.

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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 – 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 3

One idea we both had was to cut our scraps into 2½ inch wide strips. Barbara even went one step further and cut strips from all her fabrics. We have also been seduced by the handy packs of 2½ inch strips (a.k.a ‘jellyrolls’ etc) and each have a little selection of unopened as well as part used ones. But what to do with those strips and squares once you have them?

Here’s one idea from Chris which used 2 1/2 inch strips and squares but could be used with any size – providing they were all the same width.

jellyroll leftovers

You need a collection of leftover (or newly created from scraps) 2½ inch strips and squares in assorted colours and /or prints and in a contrast plain such as white/cream or navy/black/dark grey. The plains can be all different fabrics – they are in Chris’s quilt – but they need to be the same colour and value. The block will finish at 12 inches if you use 2 1/2 inch wide strips and squares.

4-patch centreMake 4-patch centres either by joining two strips and then cutting into 2½ inch slices, turning one slice and stitch together or by joining four 2½ inch squares. You can find out more on how to make these units here.

You need one of these units for each block.

Corner units are made by again either joining two strips and cutting into 2½ inch slices or joining two 2½ inch squares. These pairs of squares are then stitched to a 2½ x 4½ inch strip.  Use a background strip with pairs of colour/print squares and a colour/print strip for pairs of background plus colour square. You will need two of each sort for a block.

other unitsRemaining units are 2½ x 4½ inch rectangles of background and colour/print stitched together.

You need four of these for each block.

 

Stitch the units together as shown – taking care with the placement of the background strips.

top row

centre row

bottom row

 

Stitch the rows together – reversing the bottom row – to complete the block.

Make as many blocks as you can or you feel like. Join them together to make a quilt top, or a runner, or a wall-hanging or  . . .

Further strips can be used to construct a border.

You can find another free pattern to make two little quilts from left-over 2 1/2 inch strips on our Free Patterns page.

cot quilt

Or there is this quilt from our Payhip shop which uses 2 1/2 inch strips and squares.

sbendsb

 

Scrappy Sunday

Welcome to the first (probably) of various posts (probably on a Sunday) about scraps.Before we look at what we/you can or could do with all the accumulated scraps we thought it might be an idea to take a look at organising those scraps. We use the term ‘organising’ very loosely here!

2019-06-23-10.33.10.jpgWe define scraps as those pieces that really aren’t all that big – less than an eighth (fat or thin) – usually, but its a bit of a loose definition. Less than a fat quarter sometimes gets classed as a ‘scrap’, a lone strip from a jelly roll is a scrap, trimmed off triangles are scraps, so are excess units (those ones that get made when you aren’t really concentrating and make twice as many HST units as were required) . . . and trimmings when squaring up a quilt before binding it – those are scraps.

Where do we put them all?

Chris chucks everything into a large plastic sack that hangs from a door, the floor is also a recipient of many of these pieces – her aim isn’t that great! Eventually the sack gets too full and heavy and its time for a sort out. Very small pieces and bits of wadding are either recycled into cushion stuffing, donated to the nursery school for ‘art’, or handed over to the recycling centre. Small cotton shreds are composted. Bigger, usable (possibly) pieces are sorted by colour and chucked into other plastic bags in the cupboard – out of sight, out of mind. Eventually some of these get used: a small piece of a particular colour may be required – there’s sure to be one in a scrap bag, which gets tipped out onto the floor to be rootled through in the (usually) vain hope that a big enough bit in exactly the right colour will magically appear.

Very occasionally the urge to make a truly scrappy quilt arises and all the bags are tipped out, fabric bits are sorted out into different sizes and shapes and usability and then, after a mammoth pressing session, they can be used – providing the urge to make a scrappy quilt has survived all the pre-preparation! If it all gets too out of hand the larger ‘scraps’ get donated (unsorted, unpressed, sorry) to a local Linus group.

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As for storing larger bits of fabric – half-metres, fat quarters, and slightly smaller pieces are stored in baskets, largely by colour. Big chunks of fabric (backings etc) are in another cupboard.

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Barbara is considerably more organised than Chris – as she does a lot of hand-piecing her scraps are sorted into bags ready to be turned into (or already turned into!) hexagons or diamonds or . . . While larger pieces are neatly folded into large crates under the cutting table, fat quarter sized pieces are, again neatly folded, stored on shelves along with pre-cuts.

Some exceedingly organised folk we know cut all all their scraps into sensible sizes – squares, triangles, strips and then store them in labelled boxes. Chris can only marvel! Yet others profess to just binning all left-over pieces. Eek!

So, join us as we try to impose order on the chaos that is Chris’s scrap collection and come up with ideas to use some of it up. (Note – ‘ideas’, not actually do it; never make a promise you can’t keep!)