Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I May Have A Scrap Problem - Baby Steps!

Hi, all!

I'm so pleased that I'm not alone in this problem - lots of you help up your hands to admit kinship with me!  Although it doesn't sound like too many of you have quite as many scraps as I do - good for you!  You'll have a much easier job in dealing with yours!

Last week I set a goal for myself for March - to sort, press, and fold the contents of this tub.  Last Sunday afternoon, I had about an hour with nothing planned or pending, so I grabbed the tub and started working on it.  By the end of the hour, I had made some progress, sorting out strings (long strips 2" wide or narrower) and pressed and folded some larger pieces (you can see them in the back tub).  

But I'll be honest - it was boring work that didn't seem to have much point.  And the thought of all those other tubs was depressing.  But then someone mentioned in a blogpost comment that she makes bow tie blocks from her scraps - and suddenly a plan emerged!  

The next day, I got hard to work and did some more pressing, folding and sorting....

...and then the tub was empty!!!  Woohoo!!!  I pulled out some of the larger pieces and cut sets of two 3.5" squares and two 2" squares, pinning them together in sets.  About an hour later, I had 100 sets, enough for a 60" square quilt when paired with two 3.5" background squares for each set!

Here's the block I've been making this week - so simple, they work up in about three minutes.  I'm nearly halfway to another quilt top already!

I'm also planning on using the strings to make some string blocks to stash away (mainly because I don't think there's enough green to make a whole quilt of strings).  There's still a good bit of freshly pressed and folded scrap in the box, too, so I'm going to look for another pattern to cut for.

So what did I learn this week?  That it's much more satisfying to sort those scraps if you have a simple plan for something to make from them, especially something you can make fairly quickly.  A little instant gratification is a wonderful thing!  And speaking of instant gratification, Instagram is a great motivator - when you can post pics of your scrappy progress and get some virtual high fives right away, it can give you the little kick you need to keep going!  

If you'd like to try the bow tie block, it's really simple - lay a 2" print square on the corner of a background square, and stitch from corner to corner.  Trim 1/4" away from your stitching line (towards the outside of the block).  However, instead of trimming your block now, you can create bonus half square triangles at this point.  

Stitch about 3/8" out toward the corner, then cut in between the lines of stitching.  Put away your HSTs for another project, then press the print corner out to recreate the square.  Make two of these.  Put them in opposite corners of a four-patch block, with the print triangles pointing toward and meeting in the center.  Put two solid print blocks in the empty corners and assemble.

This is such an easy block, I think we'll be making it at church for some of our charity quilts, too.  It's simple to sew the little corners on for the knot - you can eyeball the diagonal line on a 2" square pretty simply.  And the only seams that need to be matched are at the center of the four-patch - and if you're a little off, it's not going to show that much, because all the fabrics are the same in the center!  It's a great beginner block!

And it's a versatile little block - here are some ways it can be laid out...

Here's one pretty traditional layout for a bow tie quilt...

And this would be another traditional layout.

Here's a slightly more modern layout, and it can be done either vertically or horizontally.

And here's a much more modern layout I've been playing with...

...and another variation on that layout.

I'm making my quilt out of all green scraps, but you could also accumulate a lot of different color bow ties for a very scrappy look!   (I'm already eying a stack of scraps left over from the Polaroid quilt - all polka dots on bright colors - and thinking they would make AMAZING looking bow ties!)

Feel inspired yet?  I hope you're having great success working on your own goals for the month - and if you're just now getting to the party, the original link-up for your monthly goal will be open until 3/15/16 at midnight CST - there's still time to post a goal and link it up to the party!  I'm hoping accountability will help me organize and use the mountain of scraps I have in my studio - maybe it will help you too!

Do you have a favorite scrappy block?  Share in the comments - we can all use the ideas and inspiration!!




  1. pinwheel, churn dash, friendship star, sawtooth star, wonky star, spools, snow ball, broken dish, shoe fly

  2. Log cabin, bow tie and string are my favorite scrap blocks.

  3. You've got me looking at my scraps and determined to at least make a dent. Debbie (stitchin therapy) is doing a bow tie quilt which made me see potential and now I see a layout I really like right here. Thanks, maybe a dent is possible :)

  4. Fabulous idea for some of the scraps I'm donating to our new quilting ministry at this weekend's meeting. Some of my favorite scrappy blocks are the simple circle in a square (Quilty Folk's Quilty 365 challenge) and the string blocks I stitch onto phone book page foundations.

  5. Right now I am obsessed with string blocks. I'm making 3 and 9 inch blocks. Sew much fun!

  6. Welcome to my world! I just can't "seam" to get ahead of the scraps. Love your bow tie layouts...oh oh, , looks like an other scrappy is going to have to happen!

  7. Super solution to a scrap "problem". Thanks for sharing!

  8. You are absolutely right! I thought the same thing as I was pressing and sorting some scraps the other day. Then I thought I could use the strips to make a log cabin quilt - I have never made one! So once I got that in my brain, the pressing and sorting was much easier! I love your green bow ties!

  9. What an amazing start! One of my first quilts with just scraps was a little table mat of one inch ( I don't go that small anymore :-) squares that I sewed into a double irish chain. I quilted it with the feathers I was practicing at the time. It turned out to be quite fun playing with scraps.

  10. Most excellent start!
    I toss scrappy strings and trimmings less than 1.25" wide. My small scraps are sewed onto strips of paper and turned into super scrappy hot pads for gifts and donation. 1.5", 2", 2.5" strips are separated by size. 2" and 2.5" squares, too. I see lots of blocks and scrappy quilts in my future. Especially string block quilts.

  11. Look at you go, Sarah! Awesome! I love all your bow tie block ideas. I've never seen the block used in anything but the first two settings. Love it! So smart! You're so right, getting something going immediately is a good motivator.

    I love making scrappy slab blocks! I made a quilt with them last year when I made a stab at scrap organization. Not fast though, but very fun improv and very satisfying to do.

    Recently bought the Creative Grids Curvy Log Cabin Ruler and I think I want to give that a go with some of my scraps.

  12. i had a tub like that once, took me 3 days to iron/slice up and now i try and keep current with them...and nice idea about the bow ties!

  13. Awesome "free" scrap quilt! You've got some beautiful scraps! Can't wait to see what you make out of the next bin!!

  14. Be sure and peek at this post over at Posie Gets Cozy. She's scrap quilting, too!

  15. I just made an Arkansas Crossroads quilt with random 2 1/2 inch squares paired with red 2 1/2 in squares and 4 1/2 white strips left over from a red/white quilt! Yay, don't need to store these pieces. Quilt is in rows- pressed and ready to sew rows together. 6 more rows and I have a " free" quilt!!!

  16. You were right. Love all the variations. Thank you for pointing me to this post through instagram. And I am still thankful for the inspiration and ready to start planning a bow tie quilt. I think I like that last option you shared. This is a silly question, but what program do you use to make your images? I have been using graph paper and sometimes excel, but it is hard to use excel with HSTs. I am so new and probably should already know where to go!

    determined_debby :)

  17. I like this block! I wouldn't know how to begin figuring out what two sizes of squares would go together like this. I'm saving your instructions :)

  18. I've learned the same thing. It is much easier to come up with a plan and cut scraps and start using them for a specific quilt instead of for just storing them for some future unspecified project. You sew them up, and there are fewer scraps to deal with.

  19. Thank you, Sarah for this lovely load of inspiration on Friday. You have determined what most of us quilters will do this weekend :-)

  20. I have a quilt top made of Frugal Patch blocks waiting to be sandwiched.
    I also like using all the little scraps in crumb blocks that make very colourful quilts.

  21. I had found the same thing a while back....I'm much better at dealing with my scraps when I have a plan in mind.

  22. Facing a full scrap bin would be so off putting that I'd never want to tackle it without a plan. You did great Sarah!
    One things I like to do with smaller scraps is set them aside as I work and then cut them all up with die cutter before putting them away. I have a whole bunch of hexies and tumblers waiting for "someday".

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