Scrap Quilts Are Always Popular – Why?

Scrap quilts have been around for centuries

Humble though they may seem, scrap quilts are a delight.

Make do and mend was an adage that our forefathers (foremothers?) were fond of applying in their everyday lives.

Considering that many people in the 1800s lived far from shops, and were not as affluent as many of us today, it was necessary to save and use every last scrap of fabric leftover from making clothing and household linens.

What is a scrap quilt?

A patchwork quilt made from collected fabrics

Usually, a scrap quilt is not sewn from bought yardage, it is made from what the quiltmaker has in her ‘stash’.

It isn’t possible for me to make a quilt from my cupboards, unless it is made from leftover scraps of fabrics from other quilts that I have made. I even piece together larger leftover pieces for the backs of my quilts. (I come from a long line of ‘ikey’ Scots.)

Another kind of scrap quilt is a crazy quilt, made popular in Victorian times and still current today.

Scrap quilts are environmentally friendly

They use up scraps, and save landfill!

There’s something really satisfying about using stuff you have on hand to create beautiful scrap quilts. They don’t have to look old-fashioned, they can be striking and modern looking.

Using scrap fabrics to make warm, cuddly quilts is another way you can practise green living.

My first quilt was made from dressmaking scraps — and an old silk skirt I used to wear.

My first quilt made from old clothing and other scraps


Scrap quilts are great aren’t they?

Would you answer:

  • Yes, they are my favourites.


  • No way! Granny used to have those!

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How do all the different prints work together?

It’s all about value

I used many many scrap fabrics in this quilt, What’s the T For?, letting their lighness and darkness (contrast of value) make the blocks and the design work.

The charm for me is that some blocks (a traditional Double T block) work better than others, making the whole quilt more interesting.

What's The T For?

What’s The T For?

How many fabrics are too many?

In a scrap quilt — you can never have too many!

My greatest love in quiltmaking is putting scrap fabrics together into quilts that look like they cost lots.

Jan T's The Basket Quilt

The Basket Quilt

With exception of the toile in the inner border on the Basket Quilt (above), and the centre piece of hand dyed fabric where the applique is, all of the quilt blocks and pieced borders are made with small scraps of fabric from my bins. In fact, the last border was left over from some sixty degree triangle workshops I taught.

This scrap quilt cost $0! – It’s true!

Jan and Bob's scrap quilt

Jan and Bob’s king-sized scrap quilt

Read the story of how the quilt came about.

Quilt made from bits and pieces of ‘uglies’

Queen sized, using Simple Star and Economy blocks, I made this wonderful scrap quilt from a pile of ‘uglies’ which my Listen With Your Eyes© students gave me on a teaching trip in outback Queensland. I even remember who gave me which ugly bit and where they were from!

quilt 1

Hugs and Kisses All Over Oz

The blocks are two really simple designs, which is always a good rule of thumb for scrap quilt blocks.

One of the secrets to making a scrap quilt look more planned is to find a border fabric which features or complements the colours in the quilt top, like this border does.

The quilt is still one of my favourites, even though it is getting very ‘loved’.

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Scrap quilts can have themes

When you are making any quilt with a specific theme in mind, such as a toddler’s quilt, you choose fabrics that suit that idea. The same is true of scrap quilts.

You can choose a feature fabric, like the border in Jan and Bob’s quilt (above). Therefore you then choose all your scraps for their relationship to the feature fabric, before you decide which is light and which is dark.

The theme can be a colour or especially relevant to a pursuit, like sailing perhaps, where all the scraps could be sea blues and some whites for sails.

Put your scraps together into a quilt to remember

Because I used fabrics in my first quilt cut from old baby garments and a loved skirt, the memories make this quilt special for me. While many quilts have special meaning to the maker, scrap quilts bring warmth to the heart as well as the body. (Most of all to your wallet!)

So it is no wonder scrap quilts are always popular.

See you next time.

Jan T

P.S. Don’t miss this!

You can learn how to make your own special scrap quilt. Join my course Create Big Quilts For Small Change

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