Scrap Attack Quilt-Along

Scrap Attack is a festival of scrappiness hosted by Rachel of Stitched in Color. There’s also a lovely associated Flickr group getting geared up. Join in by making a quilt mostly from scraps by the end of March to win some goodies that she’s amassing. Get the details over on her blog.

Long ago I wrote a Manifesto about using ALL scraps of fabric, where we should be clear in understanding that scraps in my studio are often much smaller than what might pass for scraps for others. In short, I don’t like to let any square inch go to waste. However, the techniques of Scraptacularity, Part I and what I’ll show below can be used with fabrics of all shapes and sizes (well, that are larger than 0.5″ in all directions).

All the caveats of Scraptacularity, Part I apply. In particular, we should relax and expect the unexpected. This is improvisational and leaves little room for control.

The Pitfalls of Bias Cuts: A friend of mine sent me a pile of scraps and I decided to handsew them into giant improv blocks. It was satisfying to do and went well for a while.

handsewn collage

That is until I met pieces cut off the grain.

bias warping

See this edge ripple? Yeah. If you look closely, you can see the threads of the weave swoop up and to the left. I didn’t trim that piece back onto the grain (i.e., squared up, with warp and weft parallel to the edges of the fabric) and it came back to bite me. This would never lay flat and would pucker if I built the patchwork out further from there.

A Solution: We are going to make crazy quilt blocks, foundation pieced on paper. The paper will stabilize those stretchy edges for us. We’ll make 5″ squares that you then can use as you would any charm pack.

1. Cut 5″ squares of paper. I use phone book pages.


2. Choose a nice small wacky scrap. And find any other scrap to start the party.

step 2 collage

3. Place second scrap face down on the first, pin through all three layers, and sew a quarter-inch seam with just a slightly smaller stitch-length than you’d normally use.

step 3 collage

4. Open flat and finger-press the seam. You could also use a dry (non-steam) iron if you like.


5. Continue the process. Notice that sometimes you’ll need to trim the seam to a quarter-inch. Just eyeball it and use your scissors.

step 5 collage

6. Keep on going. (View biggie sized.)

Picnik collage

7. Once you have covered the entire paper square, give it a good quick press to crisp the seams.


8. Flip and trim down to a 5″ square using the paper as a guide.

Picnik collage

9. Don’t remove the paper until you’ve finished the next step of using the block to make something else. The paper stabilizes the edges and prevents bias distortion.


And hold onto those trimmings; they’ll be great scraps to use in other blocks. Now…just keep making more blocks!

Crazy Quilt Blocks

I love how different and how wacky they can get.

Next time we’ll talk about some time-savers (ETA: that’s here!) and then I’ll show you a quilt or two I made with this sort of process.