Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Easy Strip Scrap Quilt Tutorial

It is Wednesday, right?  Or at least will be in a couple of hours.  I think I am still having vacation jet-lag as all week I've been thinking we were closer to the weekend than we are :) Maybe it's just wishful thinking.  I've been busy this week getting my do. Good Stitches May quilt basted and beginning quilting (no more pics until it's closer to finished). I also processed that pile of produce I showed you on Sunday into two strengths of pepper jelly and some Salsa preserves.  We have several pints of each in the cabinet now :) 

Extra Spicy and Regular Pepper Jellies and Preserved Salsa
Unfortunately, I didn't follow the instructions and wear gloves while I was cleaning the Cayennes... yeah, I paid for that mistake.  Still paying, in fact. Although my hands are no longer burning I haven't been able to get my contacts in yet.  Oh well, lesson learned (I hope).

In the spirit of a productive week, I decided to write up a tutorial on this scrappy strip quilt I made last weekend.  I have made a few quilts of this type and it's one of my favorite ways to make a quick baby quilt, use up a lot of scraps, and get a great effect.

Scrap management in action
Step 1 is to organize your scraps.  No, really!  Amanda Jean talks about it in Sunday Morning Quilts and it really is true, it's really hard to use your scraps when they're just in one big bin. Besides, I find all the pretty colored piles really inspiring.  I sort my scraps by color and shape. The jars hold strings, triangles, and crumbs, the larger pieces are kept in small piles on the shelves. I usually look at whichever color pile is tallest to decide what the color scheme of my next scrap quilt will be.

I don't have step-by-step pictures, so these will have to do
Step 2 is to decide on a common width to cut all your scraps to.  I chose 3.5" because I figured I'd be able to find plenty of scraps at least that size (I tend not to consider fabric a scrap until it gets under 5").  Whatever you decide on, that will be the unfinished height of the rows in your finished quilt.  Go through you chosen scrap pile and cut your fabrics to measure your common dimension in at least one direction.  (So for example, my fabrics were 3.5"x2", 3.5"x6", 3.5"x4"... etc.  3.5"x Whatever. You get the idea.)

Step 3 is to begin sewing the scraps together into one looooooong strip.  Start by sewing them into pairs, then sew the pairs together, and continue sewing the scraps together into longer and longer sections until you have joined all your scraps into one long strip several hundred inches long.

Step 4 is to do some math.  If you'd rather avoid math at all costs, trial and error is also a fine method.  There are a couple of ways to go about this.  What I usually do is decide on the width I'd like my final quilt to be (in this case I chose 36"). I put something like a yard stick on the floor and begin folding my long strip back and forth in sections the width I'd like my quilt to be.  However many folds you can make, that's how many rows of strips you'll have for the finished quilt. Multiply that by the height of your finished strip (3" for me) and you'll have the height of your finished quilt.  If it's enough, move on to step 5, if not, add some more scraps to the end of your strip.

Alternatively, you can determine how many linear inches of strip you need to make a quilt of certain dimensions, then compare it to how many you have so far.  Say I want to make a quilt 36" wide and 42" long and my strip will finish at 3" tall.
42" total/3" per row= 14 rows of scraps needed
14 rows x 36" wide = 504 linear inches of scraps
So once my long strip of scraps reaches at least 504" long I have enough.

My scraps even included some pieced pieces!
Step 5 is to subcut the long strip into the rows of your quilt.  Whatever you have decided on as the total width of your quilt (in my case, 36") cut the strip into sections that long.  My scrappy strip made (13) 36" long rows.  I can't tell you enough how easy and fast this technique is.  You can literally make an entire quilt in an evening.

Step 6 is to stack the rows up on your design wall and decide what order they should go in. When you are happy with the arrangement start sewing the rows together into the finished top.  Square up the edges and ta-dah, you're done!

This quilt, blogged here, is another made using the same technique with a few tweaks.  First, instead of using just one common dimension I used three, so I had strips that finished at 3" tall, 4" and 5".  I subcut the strips to a common length and arranged them just like in the steps above. Then, before sewing the rows together, I added a thin sashing between the rows.

You could also easily add a vertical sashing between each of the scraps as you sewed them into your long strip for a sort of crooked bricks look. There are endless variations you could make with this same technique!

If you enjoy this tutorial please comment and let me know. I love to hear your feedback!  I am planning another scrap quilt tutorial for tomorrow and then a Finish post about these scrappy baby quilts on Friday.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.


  1. Nice quilt! I love the quilting. Can you share how you did the circular quilting?

  2. I agree with Stephanie I would LOVE to learn how you did the circular quilting! I am waiting for my darning foot to come in the mail so I can start to learn to free motion! I love your quilt it is so beautiful!

  3. Love this quilt, was looking for something quickish and easy to use up scraps. I'm just starting to cut...thank you so much for sharing, from Helen