Scrap Quilts…yes or no?


Do you like scrap quilts? My friend Shelly and I were talking about them the other day. Well, actually she was talking about them a couple of weeks ago, but when she blogged about string quilts, I jumped in. I have loads of strings I’ve kept from various fabrics. I keep them in one of those plastic drawer things. Two drawers are FULL of them. One drawer contains nice, neat, straight strings, the other is full of those oddly shaped pieces that you end up with when you straighten the end of a piece of fabric. I have grand plans for all of those strings someday. My strings, as I said, are in ugly old plastic drawers. Shelly stores hers in buckets…and I think they look adorable! Now I want some buckets too!

Shelly’s bucket o’strings. Cute, huh?

But talking about them made me think about some scrappy churn dash blocks I started making a while back.

Just a start

One night, I was digging through piles and piles of 5″ squares that take up way too much space, and started piddling. (For those of you not in the know, “piddling,” is a colloquialism. Read Rick Bragg’s definition.) I was just sewing to sew, but had nothing particular in mind, made a couple of blocks, but didn’t get far with them.

It’s kind of fun to have some projects like this lying around, things you just keep to work on whenever you have time or need inspiration. It’s fun for me, anyway. I know that some of you are one-quilt-at-a-time folks, and that’s terrific. I am not of that mindset. I like keeping lots of things in different stages so I can work on whatever I feel like at any given moment. That might be why I rarely finish things, but I enjoy it so it’s all good. I think of it like keeping the cupboards stocked. If you’re looking for crackers, they’re in the pantry, second shelf up. Nuts? Third shelf up. Chocolate? Heh. Thought you would trick me into telling where I hide it, didn’t you? Anyway, if your cupboards werent stocked with a variety of things, you’d be stuck eating the same old thing all the time. Yuck.

Well. The churn dash blocks. I worked on them a bit and then started seeing other people doing the same block (not that it’s anything new), but working on it didn’t feel fun anymore so I put the blocks away. Here we are a year or so later and I came across them while sorting through stuff the other night. So, of course, I had to lay them all out to see what I had. And then I had to make a few more. How often do you unearth old projects? I do it a lot.

I will need to make quite a few more, but they’re easy and kind of like eating popcorn. You know, just one more…

Who knows when I’ll actually have enough blocks to make a quilt. I’m not worried about it, though. I think I will make it big enough to fit our bed, (queen-sized), but wide enough to fit a deep mattress. The blocks are big, so I expect to need a total of 72. I think it’ll be just right if they’re set without a border. So that means I’ll need a lot more blocks…67 more. Yikes. I wish I hadn’t counted.

Theyre fun to make, though. I just really enjoy playing with scraps. I love seeing that magic that happens when fabrics not “meant” to go coordinate get placed next to each other. Even those old uglies (and I have a bunch of those) can create that spark that a piece needs. And if nothing special happens, it’s okay.  You’ll still end up with something that will keep somebody warm. That’s good enough for me.

Some of the fabrics in this go back to the 1990s. Probably time to use them up, don’t you think?

Do you like scrap quilts? Are they something you make? Do you have a favorite pattern to use?

  • shelly

    Scrap quilts are my favorite! I’m trying to use up a lot of my old uglies by throwing them in with newer fabrics in small doses. So far I’m OK with it.

    • I always worry about getting the balance of old to new right…but I’m not sure it REALLY matters. They always play pretty well together…well, usually. 😉

  • Claudette

    Good morning, my sister from another mother! You confirmed that this morning. One project – HA!!! Who’s counting, but with at least 30 tops waiting to be quilted, I’m not even counting those projects waiting patiently to actually become a top. And scrappy??? The scrappiest, the better. You know those plastic bags that blankets come in? I have several filled with strips. I cut a bunch for a string quilt class that I took. I think they multiplied during the class and since. Another “one day” project. Well, time to start quilting. Have a great day!

    • Yep, you and I definitely see things the same way. The more the merrier!

      I laughed at your description of strings multiplying. One of my favorite lines is “scraps beget scraps.” Seriously…they’re worse than WalMart bags for reproducing when you turn your head. But that just means we will always have plenty of quilts to make, right?

  • Wendy Tuma

    Oh my goodness, I love these blocks! I’ve recently been having a slight crush on Churn Dash blocks. I love scrap quilts, but admittedly I’m not good at doing them (not sure why). I have quite a few scraps now, so I’ll just add that to my list of “get with it”. Love your comment about putting it away when you notice everyone is doing it. I’m kinda that way with books; if it hits the bestseller list and is being talked up, I don’t read it. Haha. I’m weird, I know! I might have a bucket like Shelly’s. If I don’t I want to find one . . .

    • Thanks, Wendy! I think they’re pretty fun. I have always loved churn dashes…they’re so easy and yet they change just by choice of fabric.

      I didn’t think I was good at scrap quilts for a long time until someone pointed out to me that I was trying to hard to match things that were going to be next to each other. That was about the same time I learned that using that one piece of fabric that looks like it shouldn’t go did wonders. Ever since, I have loved the freedom that comes with scrappy things. I’ll bet you are better at it than you think! Give it a go!

      • Wendy Tuma

        You’re right, I think I fuss too much over what goes with what. I’ll need to make one just to get some of that practice in!

        • Have you tried putting the pieces in a paper bag? You then HAVE to sew whatever you pull out, whether you think it goes together or not. I often just kind of flip through things and intentionally pull out things that clash to sew together. It gets to be sort of a game!

          You really can’t fail…trust me.

  • cindy parry

    Indeed, I just put a small Xmas one together last night (appx 36″ sq). Someone had shown one she made at last guild meeting; just put a bunch of fused mostly green XMas scraps with pointy ends into a circle, throw in a few pointy pieces with whites and reds for berries and color or whatever colors you prefer, fuse them down, quilt, add a nice, fluffy 3D bow and “call ‘er done”. I’m hoping to be able to say that tonight. As for string quilts, I have one going continuously. Pieces are sewn together and hanging on pants hangers. In keeping with your line about sewing to sew. Eventually, I’ll cut them apart and make them into blocks and ultimately into a quilt for someone. Waste not want not 🙂

    • Your Christmas quilt sounds like a fun project, Cindy. Quick, easy, and a great use of scraps! Care to show us a photo?

      I like your idea of hanging things on pants hangers. If I would do that, it might alleviate some of my piles of half-done stuff piled up on my cutting table. Maybe I will give it a go. I’m really bad about just pushing something to the side to cut something else. My available space grows smaller and smaller until I am forced to clean it up, so that could make it considerably better! Yes, I’m a SLOB.

      • cindy parry

        I wouldn’t mind posting a pic, Lori, but I think you mistake me for someone who is tech savvy. If I knew how, I’d happily do so. I didn’t finish it last night but got some work done on it …. late! Got stuck in a book 🙂 The Silent Sister. I need to finish this book for club next Wednesday but also want to finish this quick quilt. What to do?!

        • Well, I’ll tell you what. Can you email it to me? I can load it if you can do that. Or not, if it’s too much trouble. Either way. 😉

          The Silent Sister…is it good? Your book club always seems to find interesting stuff. I was just thinking today that it was you who recommended The Paris Architect to me. I both loved and hated that book, but I am really glad I read it.

          Finish the book first. Your club meets LONG before Christmas. 😉

          • cindy parry

            So far it’s very interesting (Silent Sister) I’m flying through it. You’re going to think I’m full of excuses BUT my camera is new to me as it died shortly before XMas. There is much similar to the old but also much different. I’ve yet to download anything from it after having read the manual and practiced. SOOO I WILL finish my book first THEN see about downloading to EM to you. I used to coulda done it 🙂 with my old camera; I’m gonna assume I can with the new one in the same fashion. Look for it by Wednesday 🙂

          • Not at all, Cindy! If I didn’t have a teenager in the house, I wouldn’t know how to use much of anything. They’re kind of handy for that. 😉

            I still haven’t looked up Silent Sister, but will go do so now!