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.
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, Quiltwoman.com (where you can also purchase my other quilt patterns) or from amazon.com.
In this blog, I will give you some quilt block and project ideas.