Do You Quilt?

A question for you today: do you quilt? Are you a serious quilter, or do you just quilt to use up fabric scraps? What do you do with all the quilts you make?

my first quilt!

I was packing up fabric scraps this week, doing a bit of house-cleaning, and small scraps of fabric often make me think of quilting. I’m thinking of trying quilting at some point. Why not, right? I end up with a lot of fabric scraps, and I end up with worn-out garments that are no longer wearable. (This dress, for one. It’s just about past the point of being wearable, with the fabric fading and the neckline stitching coming apart. I’m sad about it wearing out, but it’s had a good run!)

After reading Overdressed, and thinking about ways to reduce fabric waste, quilting seemed like a good way to make fabric scraps useful and beautiful. I found a tutorial for making a quilt with 2″ squares of fabric. And I bet I could figure out something like the heart quilt here – it’s lovely!

Doesn’t that seem like a good idea? I could make a lot of two-inch squares out of my scrap bin and hardly any of it would go to waste.

And if the quilt doesn’t turn out that well, I’m sure there are places to donate it. (Although that’s sort of the same problem unless it’s an organization specifically looking for quilts.) I loved the idea someone suggested of re-making their daughter’s childhood clothes into a quilt for her. What a beautiful idea!

My experience with quilting? I made a baby blanket for a friend when I was in college. (Ten years ago now, so the baby is now ten. Wow.) It was one of those quilt-printed fabrics with a dinosaur on it, where the idea is that you pad it, and sew around the dinosaur to make it a quilt. (I hope that makes sense!) I added a folded fabric ruffle, and that was the extent of my quilting. (I remember it took much longer than expected and I was up very late the night before, sewing the thing together so it would be done in time!)

So I’m curious: Do you quilt? Is it a good way to use small pieces or do you end up buying more fabric anyways, because the scraps aren’t exactly what you want? What do you like best about quilting? I’d love to hear from people who quilt, or who have tried quilting!

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87 Responses to Do You Quilt?

  1. Jane February 15, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    I learned to sew by quilting. Now that I’ve expanded into clothing, the two types of sewing are still totally separate in my life. I have a large stash of quilting cotton and a growing stash of garment fabric, and never the twain shall meet!

    With the exception of my absurd love of the quilted dresses in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, they’re totally different kinds of projects that will probably not overlap much for me. (Sewing clothing is also MUCH harder, IMO.) But I love them both!

  2. Sara February 15, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    quilting is fun. it’s another way to express yourself in color and pattern. as a sewist you probably already have many of the tools you need. if it were me i might not start with a project that uses 2″ squares, just because i would get bored halfway through and not finish it for years. but maybe something like a plus quilt with 4″ squares would be a good starting point. i made this one:
    or this gingham quilt was really fun and easy too:

  3. Sabs February 15, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    I started sewing by making quilts (I never thought at that time, only a few years ago, that I would be good enough to make garments!) So because then I didn’t have any fabric, I did go and buy fat quarters but the very first quilt I ever made was actually with my mum’s old clothes that were about to be given to charity – I still have it now, my cats use it to sit on!

    I also made my sister a quilt to hang on a wall as a 30th birthday present out of all the scraps I had and I’m saving some of my more beloved fabric scraps to make into a baby quilt for whenever it is that I have my first child. It is def a good way to use up scraps!

  4. Tessa February 15, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    I’ve never quilted, but I’ve been wanting to for a long time. I started working at a sewing center, and we get ladies in all day long that quilt and embroider (both of which I’ve almost no experience). They make it look so neat, and I love to see their work. My big hangup was the actual quilting at the end of the project that I thought there was no way to do on my regular sewing machine. I was told (most nicely) that actually you just roll up the ends and quilt away on any machine. Yea, if I wanted to do a puffy, kind-sized one I might want to get the help of a long arm, but for just starting out, there’s not much holding me back from giving it a go.

  5. Ginger February 15, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    Quilting is on my “someday” list, if I ever get more time, but I would love to use up the bags of scraps I’ve accumulated over the last few years of garment sewing. If you’re interested in giving them away, I would check with a local women’s shelter. They would probably love to welcome women with a lovely, handmade quilt. I’m currently knitting some blocks for a blanket to donate to Restore NYC– they have a safe house for women who’ve escaped from sex trafficking.

  6. Mary February 15, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    I do quilt. I keep a tote with scraps from past projects and remnants that seem to follow me home for quilt tops and smaller projects ( purses, pot holders, runners etc…) my favorite project was a quilt for my grandson. When my daughter was a little girl I made her several outfits with a line of fabrics called “Petal Pets”. There were “dandy lions”, “snap dragons”, “pussy willows”, etc.,. There were about 8 different patterns and I had bought them all! When Sara found out she was pregnant she said “”I wish we could find that fun petal pet fabrics you made all those Hammer pants for me (hey, it was the 80s!) I just smiled…imagine her surprise when she opened her shower gift! I had stowed the scraps away for that very purpose. Quilts can be the ties that bind…

  7. Sew Little Time February 15, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    i don’t but i would love to make one for my daughter. like ginger, someday when i have more time!

  8. Kate February 15, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    I’m a scrap quilter.. for some environmental idea, but also because I like quilting but I just can’t make myself buy hugely expensive fabric just to cut it to pieces. And maybe because of that I’ve never followed a quilt or patchwork pattern.

  9. New Ribena February 15, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    I am currently making my first quilt ever for my DD’s upcoming 25th birthday. I did not use scraps but am using pre set charm packs and coordinating with other fabrics of my choice. It has been a lot to learn since of course I did not start with the easiest pattern. After this perhaps I will try to use scraps in a future project. Craftsy has been a great source of information

  10. Jaime February 15, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    I alternate between sewing clothes and sewing quilts. I like the challenge of sewing clothes where each step is different. I like the repetitiveness of quilting because it is soothing. I like to make quilts that are usable but that also means I don’t need a lot of them so they are few and far between. My mother, on the other hand, only sews quilts- pretty much all day every day, out of bright colors- right down to their little scraps. the majority of them are presented to families in Guatemala upon getting a new house built by a ministry in the area. The quilts she makes are always fun and free- she never worries about doing some specific design. The best quilts are the ones you aren’t afraid to get dirty and are big enough to wrap up in. The more a quilt gets washed, the better it feels around you!

  11. Jessie February 15, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    My mom makes these huge, beautiful, art quilts. It’s crazy and somewhat intimidating! She has all sorts of beautiful cotton prints that I raid whenever I’m home to make garments from.

    I want to scrap quilt to reduce waste, but I don’t use cotton a lot other than that; I don’t have that many scraps that are made from the same materials, and I’m not sure how this affects the quilting process. A wool-cotton-poly-leather-silk quilt? Oh my.

    • Szarka February 17, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      My mother (not a quilter, but a sewist), made baby me a tiny quilt out of many different fabric materials as a teether/exploration toy. It had vinyl, felt, velvet, lace, some kind of crinkly-crunchy lame’, cotton, bumpy footy pajama feet…all kinds of materials, in 2-3″ squares and triangles. I think it was 12″ square, and both sides were pieced, with only enough quilting to keep it together. I didn’t wear it out – my sister used it too, which is how I remember it! Great use of scraps, and easy and unusual baby shower gift.

  12. MIchelle @ needle and nest February 15, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    I love to quilt. These days it’s the main type of sewing that I do. Most of my quilting involves scraps. Not only does it eliminate waste, but I love the challenge of making something beautiful with them. Right now I’m working on a postage stamp quilt. The squares were all cut to 1.5″ squares so I could use even the smallest scraps in my stash. You can see my progress here: I’d love to see you make a quilt. There are lots of great tutorials out there to get you started. Let me know if you want some suggestions. I’d be happy to help!

  13. CGCouture February 15, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    I made one quilt, and though I’m considering sewing up a Yoshi quilt that I saw on someone else’s blog, because, hello, Yoshi!! I’d never do it again. It’s terribly boring compared to garment sewing (IMO, OC), and if you want to make one of the cool quilts like what you see the hardcore quilters make, you won’t be doing it out of scraps. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give it a try–you might find you like it, but I suspect it will do little to alleviate your scrap problem…. ;-)

    However, if you plan to donate your quilt, be sure to send it to a charity that actually wants them…your local quilt shop will know who is looking for them, though the times they want them may be more seasonal.

  14. Becky February 15, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    I have made exactly 3. One was for an ex-boyfriend, using pieces of a favorite jacket that he tore and a bunch of thrifted corduroy pants, and we ended up breaking up something like a week after I finished it, so let’s not talk about that. One was from pieces of denim and really more of a blanket, using various jeans that my family wore out. I started it while I was in high school, got totally bored with just sewing squares, put it away for awhile and only managed to finish it literally a decade later. (It’s currently residing at my fiance’s house, since I’ve been slowly moving things down that I don’t immediately need to use, and he loves it.) I also made a quilt for my bed, but I had something specific in mind based on something I’d seen long ago in a catalog, so I did buy fabric for that. I’m more prone to using up scraps on small pouches and things like that, to be honest. My mom is an avid quilter, but that’s her primary sewing, so she tends to buy fabric for it.

  15. photosarah February 15, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    My mom was a quilting instructor when I was growing up, so I went to a couple “quilt camps” in the summer when I was younger and have since hand quilted one to fit on a queen sized bed. (you can see some here: I was more into quilting than sewing clothes when I first started!

    I’m in the process of making a quilt for this charity. I’ve finished the top and just need to put the layers together and quilt it!

  16. KJ February 15, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    I found this pretty funny, because we have almost mirrored quilt experiences! My first (and only) quilt was for a friend’s baby. I bought a cot panel that featured a cartoon dinosaur scene, quilted around the edges of the animals, and bound it referencing a tutoral I found on youtube. It took me way longer than I thought it would, the kid didn’t get it until he was 3 months old and I swore never again! Quilting to me was eye-straining, boring hard work, and I decided it was more my mum’s cup of tea rather than mine. Rather a dress that I can wear than a quilt I would only use a couple of times a year!

  17. jessica w February 15, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    I also grew up quilting, I always use scraps for the front and some of the larger pieces if you want a quilted or striped look on the back. I think it is a great way to reduce waste since that is why quilting was first done.

  18. Diane @ Vintage Zest February 15, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Sorry, but I never have and probably never will. Why? I’m way too selfish and I can’t wear my quilt! However, I wouldn’t mind doing it for a special cause or a special person. It just seems like it would take sooo much work cutting out the tiny little squares, which is my least favorite part of a project!

  19. Heide February 15, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    You should check out Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison It is all about using up scraps! They also go through the whole quilt process very thoroughly. Very inspiring!!

  20. Shannon February 15, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    As a self-taught seamstress, I really really enjoy making myself garments, but when friends and family always asked me to make them something I struggled. Mainly because I live nowhere near most of my family, so testing sizes was a particular problem. I took up quilting about two years ago because it is a great way for me to make something handmade for a loved one while using my sewing skills. Lap quilts are my go to projects for new babies, birthday presents, and fundraisers. I highly recommend it! I thought it would be tedious, but I find the repetition relaxing (I can usually watch TV or listen to the radio while quilting without making too many errant mistakes!).

  21. CosmicCaro February 15, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Well, I did one quite modern quilt – easy just big rectangles and squared pieced together, with the actual quilting being lines sewn by regular machine. It was for my daughter transition from a baby room to toddler room. I did it mostly to use the left over from the quilting cotton I did her nursery decor with…

    She LOVES it – I used a really soft minky for the backing and she adore it! So even if I swear not to use the same kind of fuzzy backing next time, I started a second one for my son and will use the same minky for him! But I got a walking foot since, so it migt be easier!?!

  22. Andrea February 15, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    I can’t say I’m a serious quilter as I’ve only ever made six quilts, but I quite like it. Not only is it a great way to use up fabric scraps (sometimes I have to buy more fabric, sometimes I just use scraps) but it is also a fabulous exercise in creativity. I should clarify that I have only used a quilting patten once that was my least favourite quilt. There are a lot of resources through the modern quilt movement on how to go about making fantastic quilts from scraps. There is even the whole “improv piecing” thing that lets you explore shapes and colours in a random way. I think this open creative freedom is what draws me in and what I like the most, not to mention the warm and toasty finished product. I’ve made a few quilts for keeps and a few as gifts and invariably my husband wants to keep them all because he loves having blankets around!

  23. Samina February 15, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    I’ve done a couple of small quilt tops, but I’ve never completed a real quilt. I think I like the idea of quilting more than the actual process – the finishing process, specifically. I’m going to buckle down & try to finish my one top soon, though. That way I’ll actually have a finished product & that’ll spur me to keep going.

  24. puu February 15, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    for donations, try project linus. i’ve read a lot about them on the “that man quilts?” blog, and they are an organization that seems to focus on quilts.

    • Liara February 20, 2013 at 5:07 am #

      This was my suggestion too. I have heard great things about them. Near where I live is a quilt shop where if you bring in the finished quilt top, batting and backing will long arm quilt for free and then donate the quilt.

      For patterns, if you google “scrappy quilts” you should get lots of ideas!

  25. katie M February 15, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I quilt more than I make clothing. I’d like to do the opposite this year (make more clothes than quilts)… so far I’m not succeeding at it. :P I tend to use only quilting cottons for quilts so any scraps from clothing projects generally go unused.

  26. Jessica February 15, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I love love love quilting- I went through an obsessive quilting phase in 2011 and still do a bit here and there when I have time. Most of the quilts I make are made as gifts, I’m don’t see a lot of point in making something beautiful if you’re just going to hoard it for yourself (although of course I still do that every once in a while). I stick to simple patterns and have all my fun with fabric/color combos- which is actually great when you’re using scraps. I will tell you this- when I started quilting I thought I had a lot of scraps that would work pretty well, but I did certainly end up buying a LOT of new fabric. The good thing with quilting fabric- you can buy it in much smaller quantities than if you were buying apparel fabric (so hopefully it doesn’t take up as much space). Honestly, though, the fabric was what drew me in in the first place. I somehow discovered fab fabric designer Amy Butler ( and this wonderful blog- (I love her simple style and use of color)- at the same time, and that combined with the wonderful fabrics that are available now really pushed me to experiment and create my own quilts. The two best parts of quilting for me are choosing fabrics and hand-sewing the binding- there’s nothing better than cuddling under a quilt while you add that finishing touch :)

    Quilting is also really satisfying because you can produce beautiful products very very simply. This was the first quilt I made in about 10 years, and only my second one ever- And it was so dang easy. With a good rotary cutter and a handy iron you can work wonders :)

  27. Sam February 15, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    I don’t quilt, mainly because I always associate quilting with homewares such as bedspreads and cushions, and this style wouldn’t go with the way our house is decorated.

    If I did quilt, I know I would have to go out and buy lots of co-ordinating fabrics, because I don’t do “random” very well!

  28. Julianne February 15, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    I have made a quilt, and I think I will be making another one soon, but it is only out of necessity/frugality and never for pleasure! For some reason quilting is one of the worst activities ever in my book! That being said, you are absolutely right about using up scraps.

    This lady does some really cool quilting:

  29. Meraj February 15, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    I think this is a great idea for using scraps, especially if you’re using a standard square for all your pieces. I’ve been doing this on and off since last summer — when I’m done a project I take the small, awkward scraps and (either right away or later) cut 3″ squares from them, all the same size. It’s a nice, mindless thing to do when I want to keep my hands busy but feel like I can’t concentrate on anything.

    …I’ll admit that I don’t have nearly enough squares to make something yet, though. (Then again I’m a slow sewist.) And so far I’ve never made a quilt, but I do sometimes make patchwork blocks for bags and pillows and stuff. It’s so much fun!

  30. Karen Helm February 15, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I’ve done a lot of quilting and am actually working on a small quilt right now for an expected grandchild. However, I never quilted to use up scraps; on the contrary I bought fabric specifically for quilting. I’m much more into fashion sewing now, and I find it somewhat difficult to fit time in for both types of sewing. But quilting is fun and rewarding – you should definitely give it a try!

  31. Linette Sternlicht February 15, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    I’m a serious quilter. To me it’s very natural to quilt AND sew clothes. Quilts are nice because there’s no such thing as a quilt that doesn’t fit. On the other hand, quilts take much longer to complete than a dress. I buy fabric for both dressmaking and quilting. Now that I have two daughters, I also make dresses for them, then save the ones they’ve outgrown to make quilts with. Thanks for your blog!

  32. Kelly February 15, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I quilt. I quilt for the love of fabric and color, so I end up buying fabric. I usually use scraps from the quilt fabrics to make small things like mug rugs. I haven’t ever made a scrappy quilt from my other fabrics, but I have a friend who is working on a hexagon quilt so I send her scraps. I think quilting is a blast! Just give it a try!

  33. Sewing Sveta February 15, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Nope! I don´t know what to do with it, blankets? But I don’t need any new blankets%)

  34. Erin February 15, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    I work at a children’a hospital. Sometimes people donate small lap quilts that are given to kids who end up in the PICU or to kids who have long hospital stays. It’s a donation but to someplace they’ll be used.

  35. Michelle February 15, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    I quilt. I made a few quilts before I considered myself a quilter (one was pieced entirely from old discarded blue-jeans, that is one heavy quilt). A lot of the quilting info you will find it designed as though you are starting from yardage (as are most of my finished quilts) instead of scraps – but so many people do make quilts from old clothes and scrappy pieces of fabric. I also hang onto all my fabric scraps and someday I will have enough to make a project from them. (Though beware, sometimes scrappy just refers to “uses lots of different prints”). I think my biggest piece of advice is to try and keep similar weights of fabric together (no random squares of denim amongst the sundress fabric for example). You could also start small (project wise, not square wise) and start by making pieced pillow covers.

  36. Barbara Hewitt February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I do not quilt–my grandmother left us many beautiful hand sewn quilts. I love the one you used to open this blog. I have been interested in the art quilts, but I’m a couture dressmaker at heart and love sewing for granddaughters.

  37. Carol Tiffin James February 15, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    I too alternate between clothes and quilting, as they have such different tools; I clear one project out to start another. I’ve made lots of quilts since 1989 when a choir member friend taught me. I’ve made at least two quilts for each child, one for each grandchild, and one for each child’s marriage. I made one for a women’s shelter, and a few for me and my husband, and some wall hangings and pillows, and a couple of baby quilts for friends. I do use scraps but I always buy new fabric too, especially for backings. (I quilt with 100% cotton and my clothes these days are made of knits, etc., unsuitable for quilting.) I have machine quilted smaller ones, but enjoy hand quilting the big ones.

    One my quilts for my daughter’s graduation was football-themed in her school colors since she was the first female football manager at her high school. I had all her friends sign with permanent ink. When my son graduated, I printed pictures from his high school experiences and friends, places he’d worked, etc., on fabric and incorporated those. I enjoy the creativity and originality when quilts tell a story or mark a special occasion.

  38. Rachelle - Warming Crafts February 15, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I quilt now, but I have a separate stash for it, however quilts were originally made from leftover bits and worn out clothes so what you’re thinking of is entirely doable and every quilt you make will have extra meaning as you’ll be able to remember where each piece came from.

  39. Bridget February 15, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I quilt quite a bit, it’s nice change from the challenge of sewing clothes. They make excellent baby gifts, people are always so impressed. Lots of neonatal intensive care units take quilts, but check first as most of them have set dimensions.

  40. Lora February 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    There is a lady that works at the Children’s Hospital Library here where I live. She has covered the library walls and tops of shelves with quilt art. It’s absolutely lovely and as enjoyable as looking at any art exhibit. I think quilting should actually be considered an art form. Whenever I go to Children’s, I always stop by to see her exceptional work. I asked the lady that was there last time I went in. She said the quilter lady goes home from work to quilt; she is definitely an avid quilting enthusiast.

    Waxing a bit nostalgic… the warmest cover I ever had as a child growing up was a simple block quilt my grandmother had made. She used wool from old suits and articles of clothing. The backside was a stripped flannel. Although simple, it was always my favorite. I had to fight to keep it from my siblings, and usually won because I had the coldest room in the house..

    Someday, I would like to quilt. I even bought a McCalls pattern which I’m holding on to as a starting point for that someday.


  41. Lisette February 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    I’ve done a little patchwork…btw you might want to specify between patchwork and quilting. quilting is just the bit with layering and padding and stitching the layers together. Patchwork is the actual piecing bits of fabric together to make a quilt top layer or whatever else. My problem is I want to make an actual quilt from a pattern I’ve had in a book and it has a very specific 4 color (plain blues) fabric scheme. I guess I could make a random pieced quilt top, I’ve just never felt terribly inspired to.

  42. SaraBellum February 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Paper piecing is a great way to use up small, odd shaped scraps.

  43. Sophie February 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi Tasia,
    A wonderful thing to do with scrap fabric is ask your local childcare centre/ kindergarten if they would like some? At home we use my scraps for pasting, for making curtains on fairies houses….. all sorts of things. I also use them for applique, or making yoyos.

    The best thing about sewing for children is that you don’t need much fabric so one yard or your off cuts from something you made for yourself can be turned into something for a little one.

    Thanks for such a fabulous blog and patterns – renfrew my favourite!

  44. Robin February 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    I am finishing up a quilt now – a baby quilt for a friend. She is very relaxed about the baby’s nursery decor, so I think she will like it. I watched a couple classes on Craftsy and that gave me a great start. I highly recommend them. It has been a great pleasure to delve into design in a non-intimidating way. Very enjoyable. I love the idea of a warm wool quilt as another commenter mentioned. I have lots of shirting and wool scraps, so it might even look pretty cool. Oh I WISH I had kept some clothes from my daughters first year. Now that would be a special quilt (for me! I’d keep that one!!)

  45. Jessica February 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Like others, also a quilter here! I really like incorporating scraps from garment projects into my quilts/patchworked projects … but it’s true, it’s a hobby that can sometimes wind up enhancing the stash! I love napping under a handmade quilt, seeing it on the bedspread every day.

  46. Heartofstone February 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Interesting that you would bring this up now!! I’ve just decided that I am going to attempt my first quilt :)
    For the past few months I’ve been healing from surgery and dealing with chemo due to breast cancer and I thought that making a quilt would be a cool way to not only pass the time, but also to document the process in a symbolic way. Craftsy has a ton of classes on quilting, even some free ones, so I’m going to learn what I can from there. I also purchased my first ‘fat quarter’ from them so I have no excuses not to do it :)

    Thanks for talking about this topic!! <3

  47. Aida February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    I dream of making a colour wheel quilt, maybe some time…

  48. Ellen February 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    My mother sews and my mother in law quilts. So, I do both. I do find more satisfaction in my quilting as I am better at it. You can also use orange with green and blue in a quilt and lots of different prints whereas my clothing is more solids as that is what I wear. Scraps are great for quilts, but like sewing, you need to think about the weight and back with muslin the lighter materials. Have fun and I would think more a sampler quilt than a bunch of 2″ squares.

    Freddy Moran has my favourite quote: “If the color isn’t working, add more.”

  49. Laurie February 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    It is easy to fall into the “buy new fabric for quilts” trap, but quilting *is* ideal for using up scraps. Colorwash style quilts, like above, are fun, as well as old fashioned patterns like Grandma’s Flower Garden (I think that’s the name). Or any pattern you like.

    Then you can go crazy and take the scraps of the scraps, rotary cut them up and turn them into fuzzy embellishment. I forget exactly how but I saw that on a show once. I’m the type to try to go to that extreme because I hate to give up fabrics I love.

    Also if you don’t love a quilt, or if it has gotten old, you can use it as a picnic blanket (no fear of stains). Or toss it in the backend of the car to keep warm if your riding and it’s cold, or to help protect furniture being hauled (which my husband does sometimes), etc. Also they make great guest blankets, gifts, or even to decorate the house with. They can hang on the walls, showcase piled up iom an armoire, lay over back of the couch to snuggle in on cozy days, etc.

  50. Lucy February 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m obviously in the minority here, but I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in quilting :-)

    I think it would be a great way to use up scraps, and probably a lot of fun to look at the quilt on your bed and go ‘I remember this dress’ or ‘I remember this shirt’, but to cut out however many hundreds of tiny pieces and sew them all together and then deal with backing and batting and then actually quilting the thing? No thanks. I have the patience for some things, but I cannot imagine myself having the patience for that. I made a kind of baby blanket for some friends a couple of years ago, which was four fat quarters sewn together and backed with pink sweatshirting and I couldn’t believe how long it took.

    I’m possibly somewhat bitter as well about the fact that where I live there are stacks of quilting shops and very few options for apparel fabric. My theory is that a lot of the old ladies who used to sew are into quilting now because you don’t have to deal with fitting ;-)

  51. Campbell February 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    I love quilting as a way to play with color and pattern that I would not normally do with the clothing I sew. Most of my quilts I have made I have given away. Frequently as I am working on the quilt, either piecing or quilting, I am thinking of the person for whom I am making the quilt and recalling memories of them. It is almost as if a part of me is in the quilt along with the design, fabric and threads.

  52. Nina February 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I think it’s brilliant that you’re approaching quilting from the angle of finding a use for scraps and old clothes. To me that’s what quilting’s all about – not that there aren’t gorgeous quilts out there made from new yardage, but it really bothers me that this craft has got separated so much from its thrifty origins. And the challenge of making something beautiful using what you have seems so much more creative than just going to a fabric shop and buying exactly the right thing.

  53. Rachel February 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I love quilting. I learnt as a kid with my gran, which is how i learnt to sew, and then took it back up again a year or two after starting clothes sewing as I made a quilt out of my scraps with 4.5″ squares (so 4″ finished) (

    I use my quilts. I have some that are “couch” quilt size which i use while on my couch to keep warm. I have others for my bed; i find they’re good in summer when a duvet is too hot but a sheet too cold, and then in addition to my duvet in winter when i need some more warmth. I’ve also made a few baby quilts, although apparently they’re not good for sleeping with babies, but are good as play mats for kids to lie/sit on.

    I say give it ago, but be warned it can become addictive!

  54. Paloverde February 16, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    I know I’m in the minority, but in general I think quilts are ugly. They are not to my taste at all. I also dislike a lot of the fabrics used in more traditional quilts and that certainly affects my antipathy towards the art form. I can’t imagine my ever taking up quilting.

  55. Susan - Knitters Delight February 16, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    I don’t quilt too often, but made the heart quilt you show above for my now 2-year old daughter (a week before she was born). It can be a nice change from knitting or sewing clothes.

  56. Sarah February 16, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    I made a quilt for my Mom a few years ago, and that was expensive because I had a vision that involved all new fabric (also, double sized bed quilts = uber yardage).

    On the other hand, a few weeks ago I decided something had to be done about my stash of scraps. Why not make a quilt from the leftovers of all my beloved garment projects? Like the casserole of the sewing world, haha. It will only be my second, and likely far from the work of art that experienced quilters can make, but everyone has to start somewhere, and as long as it tidies up my fabric closet and keeps me warm, I’ll be happy.

    I dug through the piles of scraps, and anything too small to make a shopping bag with got cut into squares. I decided on multiples of 4, and a 1/4″ SA, so everything is either 4.5×4.5, 4.5×8.5, or 8.5×8 .5 inches. Once I have enough, I can decide the best way of piecing it all together! And now that the stash is busted, I’m going to try and process new scraps immediately so the pile doesn’t grow again. I even had some big pieces of flannelette lying around with no purpose, so the binding and half of the backing are taken care of!

    Quilting might not be something I ever get obsessed with, but if this project goes well, I could end up with one every few years, and I’ll probably gift them to relatives, because I only need so many!

  57. Lizzy February 16, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    I’ve made quite a few quilts and my mother quilted and made our clothes.
    We only had one quilt made from our clothing scraps, a hexagon quilt. I loved it and still do because I remembered my favorite party dresses, Sunday school outfits etc. however I guess we never had many of these quilts as different fabric behave in different ways so it can be difficult to combine them into a hardwearing quilt that is easy care.

  58. AnaJan February 16, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    I sew garments and I quilt on occasion. However, I’ve never considered using fabric scraps from my garment projects for quilting, since I prefer quilts made of 100% cotton, that are easy to machine wash, and not all of the scraps meet this criterion. I could use cotton scraps for quilts though, but I usually use those for waxing (instead of buying waxing strips, cotton scraps work just fine).

  59. Stephanie February 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m a serious (but playful!) quilter, and a casual garment sewer. I often raid my quilting cotton stash to make clothes from, but do not quilt from the garment stash because those fabrics don’t suit the method. I make all kinds of quilts, from bed sized to lap quilts to wallhangings and pillow covers: gift some, keep some, and have an Etsy shop ( for the overflow. One sewing goal for this year is to use some of the garment fabric stash, but so far I’ve been too busy quilting to get any new clothes made. I only use new fabric for my quilts, because they represent a huge time investment and I want them to last: fabric from worn clothing is to close to “worn out.”

  60. Sandy February 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Excellent source for quilt patterns made from 2″ squares: Cross-stitch patterns (or needlepoint, but unless you’re REALLY ambitious and have a LOT of quilt-weight scraps, go for simple cross-stitch patterns). I mean, they’re all squares. I’m making one quilt, a six-point star in English paper-piecing. I’ve been working on it for 4 years.

  61. Shannon February 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I quilt and I find it very relaxing. Often when I’m sewing clothes, I set unrealistic time limits. I want that dress/skirt/jacket now, or at least soon. Quilting is a much longer, slower process, at least for me. I really enjoy that.

    Unlike fabric intended for clothing, quilting fabric all gets used, eventually. I have bought fabric specifically for quilts, but I find there is good overlap with kids’ clothing and quilting. And then there are so many small scrap projects you can make.

  62. Deb February 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    I only ever sew things that can be put into the washing machine and dryer, so lots of different little squares probably wouldn’t work, as they would shrink at different rates. I don’t keep old clothes, so no joy there. And I’m no good at doing projects that take a while. I’m a “immediate results” kinda gal.

    But, I have made a baby quilt for every new family and friend addition using cot panels – but I consider that applique, not real quilting. Real quilting takes more vision and experience than I have. Might take it up when I retire though…….

  63. GorgeousThings February 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm #


  64. Jacq February 17, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Hi, I have recently been bitten by the patchwork bug and it was for the reasons you suggest, I cannot bring myself to throw things away, I have a box of the tiniest scraps. I’ve made cards for a while and have learnt that sometimes all you need to finish a project is that 2″ piece of ribbon or 1 odd button! I’ve used tiny scraps/trimmings to stuff a tailors ham which I was really pleased with but those little squares will definitely be patchwork, although perhaps not a large quilt out of tiny squares – I made my niece a doll’s quilt and was happy to use tiny pieces for a project that small. So, for preference, I’d use up leftovers but I have just bought fabric specifically for quilts for my nephew and niece – at the request of my SiL as there is a theme. Having said that, I’ve already worked out I’ll be able to make 2 cot quilts from the leftovers! I find the repetitive nature of making blocks really soothing, if I want to sew but am too tired to concentrate on garment construction it is perfect. :)

  65. Tiffany February 17, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    I have a quilt that I still haven’t finished from many years ago. It’s a beautiful quilt with colour coordinated ties making a star in the center. My little dog used to cuddle up on it while I was quilting. When she died, I just couldn’t get back into it. Maybe some day…

  66. Szarka February 17, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Nobody seems to have mentioned yet the Gee’s Bend quilters, who are renowned for their modern and striking use of color, originally developed untaught (though one could argue that their success in the larger Art world has resulted in their own school). If you’d like to use scraps, but feel hampered by conventional ideas of color matching and regular European patterns, check out an image search on Gee’s Bend quilters.

    (Disclaimer: my own quilting is not nearly as adventurous as these, and I hope to grow into that kind of courage!)

  67. CC February 17, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    I’m a quilter – now exploring garment sewing.

    My favorite quilting book is The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman ( Definitely worth it with tons of great patterns for using up scraps.

    My husband designs quilting fabric for Free Spirit so I’m overflowing with quilting weight cotton…

  68. Cathy G February 17, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    oh no! I was so happy to find you Sewaholic -because you sew CLOTHES! I have actually made a couple quilts – one using scraps that I am quite proud of and one cutting up perfectly good cotton to small pieces -just to rearrange it and put it back together – that’s not very “green”- ok- I know it’s more of an art than that -but really not my thing. To me it’s like comparing a chef and a baker – similar yes, but two totally different careers.( I like the one based on nutrition !)

  69. Tracy Lucas February 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    I have just discovered quilting after years of making clothes, it is great fun, I made a lap quilt for my mum for Xmas and she loves it. It was a nice easy project to start off with and I am now thinking about making a cot size quilt for a new baby in the family.

  70. Dawn February 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    I love apparel sewing, but quilting is my idea of torture.

  71. Amy February 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    I bought my very first sewing machine to make a ‘quilt’, Tracey Emin style, for Art GCSE… then got into garment sewing so that I could do something with the sewing machine afterwards! Proper quilts scare me a little, all the layers and basting and extra stitching, but I would like to have a go eventually. I’ve got all these little piles of patchwork which I once started to deal with scraps (feels very satisfying to turn those useless cutoffs into something fun!) but so far have never quite seen it through…

  72. ELIZABETH BRADSHAW February 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm # have a Block of the Month free course, this course inspired me to only use fabrics in my stash, and it has a couple of really interesting blocks to use up those small strips of fabric which are too good to bin but there really is no other use for them.

    I have loved making the two blocks a month, and am now (slowly) quilting every square by hand in simple quilting. I have nearly finished the squares, next I will start quilting the edge strips in a more intricate pattern just for fun.

    The other day I felt inspired to start a new quilt, perhaps sticking to the strip blocks and that should get rid of all the strips and scraps I have carefully shoe boxed and sorted into colours.

  73. Anna February 18, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    Hi Tasia,

    love your blog. It’s been very helpful as I am just starting on clothes making. I have made a few quilts in the past, both are fun and challening in their own ways!

    There is a long history of women using clothing scraps to make quilts. In fact, in days gone by it was rare to buy new fabrics just to quilt with, as they would have been too expensive, so scraps from new dresses or worn out old clothes were used.

    I have the joy of working at a museum with a small quilt collection from the 1850s – 1950s. Most are hexagon patterns using dress scraps. We also have some using old clothes. All use a wide range of scraps of different fabrics, colours and patterns. Somehow they all work visually. I think it is the similar tone of the fabrics that does this – either all brights or all flats etc.

    Here in Australia there is also type of quilt called a Wagga. It is made from a top layer of scrap peices of clothing, suiting, or furnishing fabric etc (often with no pattern, just whatever fits together), with either old woollen clothes or hessian sacks as the middle layer and a blanket or sheet as the backing. Some were made from tailors samples, others from worn out clothing. Most date from the 1890s – 1950s. True re-using of materials and making the most of what was available.

    Rag rugs were also a popular and practical way of re-using worn out clothes.

    Here ends the history lesson :-)

    I hope you find inspiration for your scraps

  74. Annabel Vita February 18, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    I love to quilt! I think it’s daunting because it’s a whole “thing” but you really can just do it your way! (the first real thing I ever sewed was a quilt, it’s actually really easy to do a simple quilt as it’s all straight lines!) Both times I’ve made quilts I’ve purchased pre-cut squares because I’ve been in a mega hurry, but I’d love to make one out of scraps (now that I actually have some….).

    It could be a fun way for you to do unprofessional sewing as it’s not related to your pattern line! The bit that takes a long time is the quilting itself (sewing all the layers together), so if you find that bit tedious you could send it to a long arm quilter to do it for you.

    Here’s my baby quilt:

    And a bigger one I made for my mum to take to hospital with her:

  75. jaclynmariet February 18, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    I have made one quilt, a wedding gift for a friend. I enjoyed doing it and I would like to try it again, but it hasn’t worked out yet. See, for me, sewing clothing is better–I can’t justify the the immediate expense of the vast amount of fabric that goes in a quilt. It’s such a big project, and it takes a lot of time. Clothing typically requires much less fabric for a single project, and the rewards are more immediate.

    It’s hard not to just say “to heck with it all” and begin on a quilt again, though–the town I live in has a lovely quilt shop, owned by a friend of mine, and the fabric and finished quilts and basically EVERYTHING in that store is a big inspiration.

  76. Yoshiko February 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    I second Jacq’s recommendation of using scraps to make quilts for dolls. I think it would be a great way to customize a child’s present, while using up bits of scraps. Working on such a small scale might steer you away from buying extra fabric too. I think tiny quilts would be an accessible way to introduce you to the basic quilting techniques without all the headaches of full-sized quilts (i.e. shifting fabric layers on a gigantic quilt). I do hope you’ll give it a try one day. Cheers!

  77. Truly Myrtle February 20, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I have every intention of quilting and haven’t actually finished a quilt yet. I’ve got hexagons handstitched into bigger hexagons that I started when I was about 10 and a lovely collection of handstitched shapes in a selection of Liberty Prints that I started in my 20’s when I was without a sewing machine for a while. One day I’ll finish them both :)

  78. Joy February 20, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Oh, Tasia! I have enjoyed reading every single comment on this post! I love everyone’s honesty! Making a baby quilt for my sister was what started me quilting, and I absolutely love it. The process from start to finish is beautiful and fascinating and laborious as many have stated. Don’t feel bad if you find the hobby isn’t for you. As you’ve posted, your sewing time for fun is already limited, and you’ll need your machine for the bulk of the work. I’ve made scrappy potholders, tea cozies and mug rugs. It’s a fast and fun way to get my quilting fix, use up scraps and make gifts for friends. All the best to you! Oh, and if you decide to make one, the two examples you put up are adorable! I’m saving the granny square tutorial. If you need any help getting started, I’d love to help! You already own all the tools you need to get the job done. Rita at Red Pepper Quilts has this awesome tutorial with a smart way of using up scraps with half the work! as this a

  79. Tina February 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    You could donate the quilt to Quilts for Kids. They provide handmade quilts to kids in hospitals.

  80. Linn @ The Home Project February 26, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    About a year ago I got into quilting for the first time. Since then I’ve completely fallen in love with this art form – it’s practical, creative, frugal and way more fun than I anticipated! This week on my blog I’m having a week of quilting inspiration to dive further into this topic starting with this piece: (Quilts & Appreciating Traditional Gender roles) The concept of the quilt represents so many things to me, but mainly it makes me think of the traditional woman and all the good she did to build stronger families and a better foundation for society. That, and how awesome quilts look and feel, of course.

  81. Aleksandra March 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I know I’m late to the party, but Lutheran World Relief takes quilt donations. They only specify size, not pattern:

    Even if you’re not religious, it’s not really a religious thing. They’re used all over the world and they really do help people. :)

  82. Gin March 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    I absolutely love to sew and am passionate for Crazy quilts! fabric scraps are perfect for this type of quilt and no pattern truly required. If you love sewing then am sure, you’ll love crazy quilting since you get to ’embellish’ a majority of the seams.

  83. Tanya March 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Go for it! I have made 2 granny square quilts from that tutorial. One turned out better than the other because I was more selective about the colors. There are a lot of great scrap quilts out there!


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