Posts Tagged With: Sewing

Let the Fireworks Begin!

The idea behind the Thrifty Quilter system is to use up scraps and leftover fabrics, so I have one rule that I have made for myself. I don’t impose it on anyone else, but feel free to adopt it. When I’m making a “TQ” quilt, I only allow myself to purchase one fabric specifically for that quilt. Usually it’s a background or border piece. It helps me avoid the temptation to buy a little bit of the “right” shade or print, which tends to lead to several purchases, and pretty soon, you’re making a scrappy quilt, but not a scrap quilt. I am pretty pleased with myself, because this quilt “Fireworks” is a true scrap quilt. All of the fabrics used were leftover from other projects.

Here’s how you can make your own version of this 38″ x 38″ quilt:

First, you will need four of the “Spinner” blocks from the In A Spin post.

Next, you need to make five alternate blocks.

Fireworks quilt - Alternate block #1

Fireworks quilt – Alternate block #1

I had intended to use Laurel Burch cat prints, but it appears I used them all in another quilt. However, I did have eight 6.5″ squares of this alleycats print. I used four of them to make Spinner blocks, and I added a 2″ (finished border around each of the four remaining squares. The white border strips are (2) 2.5″ x 6.5″ and (2) 2.5″ x 10.5″.

Since I needed nine blocks for this quilt, and only had eight of the cat prints, I had to make do. This is not a problem. It is a creative opportunity. Repeat that with me: “It is not a problem. It is a creative opportunity.”


Fireworks quilt - alternate block #2

Fireworks quilt – alternate block #2

For this quilt, I chose to make a 9-patch with 2.5″ squares and bordered it in the dark gray I planned to use in the outer border of the quilt. Again, the border pieces are cut (2) 2.5″ x 6.5″ and (2) 2.5″ x 10.5″.

For the border, you will need to make a total of forty 2.5″ half-square triangles (HSTs.) Each HST has a scrap triangle and a dark gray triangle.  You will also need to cut four 4.5″ dark gray squares, four 4.5″ x 10.5″ dark gray strips and eight 2.5″ x 10.5″ dark gray strips.

Fireworks quilt- pieced border sections

Fireworks quilt- pieced border sections

Make eight border segments. Each one has five HST’s (be sure the all “point” the same way). Sew a 2.5″ x 10.5″ strip to the top of each HST strip.


Fireworks quilt – lower left corner unit.

Now you need to make four corner units. Each one uses two of the border units you just made, a 4.5″ dark gray square and one of the alternate blocks.  If your 6.5″ featured squares are a directional print, you will have to be careful that you alter which sides you sew the border units to, so that you keep the center print right-side up!  

Sew the 4.5″ x 10.5″ dark gray strips to the four Fireworks blocks. Sew to the top of one block, the bottom of another, to the left side of the third, and the right side of the fourth block.

Now you can lay the units out in three rows as shown below.

Fireworks quilt - Blocks laid out in three rows.

Fireworks quilt – Blocks laid out in three rows.

Finally, you can sew the three rows together to complete your own Fireworks quilt!

"Fireworks" quilt by Anne Wiens. (C)2013

“Fireworks” quilt by Anne Wiens. (C)2013

My “solution” to the challenge of having one less 6.5″ cat print that I needed was to make a 9-Patch block with a dark gray border.  Can you think of another creative solution? Please share in the comment area.

If you make your own Fireworks quilt, or a quilt of your own design with the Spinner block, please send me a photo to add to my website gallery and the Thrifty Quilters group on Facebook!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: