It Started So Innocently….

One day One of my BQB’s (that’s Best Quilting Buddy), Kathy and I were asked to do a program for our quilt guild on ideas for scrap quilts. We made a mess of 8-inch blocks in various patterns. While we were cutting out all of those pieces, three thoughts occurred to me.

1. This is the way we did it back when I began quilting in 1973, before rotary cutters and strip-quilting. Each piece was cut individually, one-by-one. My first quilt, a 9-patch, has 1755 2.5″ squares. If it wasn’t for my mother and sisters, it may become my first and only UFO. They couldn’t sit down to watch TV, but I would toss a pile of scraps at them with orders to “mark and cut.”

2. As much as I love scrap quilts, even I did not want to cut out individual pieces anymore. I understood why quilters buy fat quarter collections and strip-piece “scrappy” quilts instead.

3. There had to be a way to tame the pile of fabric scraps that was slowly filling my sewing room.

                                                          The Thrifty Quilter: Make (Nearly) Free Quilts from Leftover Fabrics

My first book, The Thrifty Quilter: Make (Nearly) Free Quilts with Leftover Fabric describes my system for pre-cutting fabric scraps into six standard units, and using those units to make dozens of traditional-style quilt blocks, which in turn can be mixed and matched to make hundreds of unique quilts in any size you need.

The system is very simple, and takes just a couple of pages to explain in the book. Whenever I finish a quilting project, I cut up all of the leftover fabric strips into squares and rectangles. Let’s say I had cut a 4.5″ wide strip for the project and wound up with 12″ of it leftover. I can cut two 4.5″ squares and one 4.5″ x 2.5″ rectanglefrom it. (always cut the largest pieces possible first). Any yardage less than 1/4 yard gets cut up, too.  I have a plastic bin for each of the six size pieces…6.5″ 4.5″, 3.5″ and 2.5″ squares, 6.5″ x 3.5″ and 4.5: x 2.5″ rectangles. 

When I’m ready to make a scrap quilt, I have everything cut and ready to go, except my background fabric, if I need one.  I keep a stash of background fabrics on hand, too. When I go shop-hopping with friends, I look for the sale bin, and if I find a white-on-white or beige tone-on-tone, I buy 2-4 yards of it, depending on the price.

So that’s the Thrifty Quilter system. If you’d like to order the book, it’s just $19.95 (USD), and if your local shop doesn’t carry it, you can order directly from the publisher,  (where you can also purchase my other quilt patterns) or from

In this blog, I will give you some quilt block and project ideas.

In between posts, you may want to “Like” my Facebook page, SweetgrassCreativeDesigns  and join  my Facebook group, Thrifty Quilters.

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6 thoughts on “It Started So Innocently….

  1. Good start! This should be a fun one to follow!


  2. Can’t wait to see what new scrappy blocks you come up with! I took my copy of “The Thrifty Quilter” to Staples and had them put on a spiral binding so I can open it flat when I’m using it!


  3. Sherill

    Good idea Aunt Marti! I keep forgetting the spiral binding at Staples!


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