I think every quilter encounters this problem: what to do with scraps, how to use them, how small they have to be that could be thrown away? First of all, scraps are worth of saving and using because of the pollution that textile industry produces. The more scraps we use, and more textiles we reuse and recycle, the less new fabrics is needed to be produced, right?
I have always loved scrappy quilts and through the years tried different ways to use fabric leftovers. One of my first scrappy quilts was a traditional log cabin quilt with stars:
Later I collected a lot of scraps that were too small to cut into strips. Or to cut into any shape at all. They were so small, I couldn’t find any use for them:
But I was not throwing them away. I gave them to my friend Nijole Beresnaite, who makes quilts and other quilted items using confetti technique. Here is one of those, my favorite by the way, made by Nijole:
She used the tiniest scraps, yarn leftovers and even small pieces of amber for this quilt. Recently she started making cosmetic bags using the same technique, but covering scraps with organza:
My next quilt made from fabric leftovers was this Scrappy Quilt:
I cut fabric leftovers into 2.5 inch squares. Scraps were also used for appliqued flowers and Dresden Plate halves. This was also my first all hand made quilt:
Actually 2.5 inch scraps were rather big, so I decided to use 1.5 inch squares for my next all hand made quilt.
When I work on other quilts, I try to cut leftovers into 1.5 inch squares right away. When I have a variety of them, I can start sewing. I never use my “good” time for this kind of work. I do it when I sit down to watch TV, when I travel, when I am visiting my friends or relaxing outside under the tree. For that I have a small plastic bag of supplies that I carry with me:
I use a running stitch that I strengthen by adding few back stitches. I don’t care about colors, just the value. First I sew all my squares into units of two, later- of four squares, and continue until I have a checker board block of 64 squares sewn together:
Next step is making appliqued flower blocks. Here I also use a lot of scraps, but sometimes I have to cut into fabrics that have no other use for. I have a large stash of commercial cotton fabrics that I don’t use, because I don’t make traditional quilts anymore. For art quilts I use my own hand dyed fabrics.
Flower Power quilts
I call these quilts Flower Power quilts and I already made 5 of them. They all are entirely hand made: hand sewn, hand appliqued and hand quilted. I only use machine to add sashing and to sew on the first seam of binding. Sizes may vary. My first quilt had 49 blocks and 8 inches wide borders. Other 4 quilts had 72 blocks and 10 inches wide borders. Usually it takes me about two years to make this kind of quilt, but as I mentioned before, I don’t use my “good” time to make it.
Next photos will show some applique work:
All applique blocks for one quilt:
And all borders:
Now I have to decide on a color of sashing, to join all blocks and add borders. For quilts with light background I use red fabric but for the dark burgundy I decided to go with yellow:
Next step is to make a quilt sandwich and it is not an easy step for such a large quilt. Then the hand quilting starts. The checker board squares I quilt in a ditch, flower blocks and borders I quilt around the flower and leaves and then just echo the main design. Here are some examples of quilting:
Backs of my quilts look like this:
Rather tricky thing is hand quilting and finishing scalloped border. I mark scallops with a pencil and running stitch before quilting:
When I cut the excess of border off, I leave the running stitch:
It makes easier to sew the binding on:
And the last step is making a bag for a quilt:
I already started my 6th all hand made quilt. Yeah, it will be finished sometime in 2022.
Joan Brailsford says
Wow Maryte these are lovely and such a lot of work goes into them. I have mountains of scraps too so you’ve inspired me to do something similar. Thank you for sharing your technique. X
els mommers says
This is just awesome. I so admire all your patience, determination and creativity.
Linda Sanders says
Amazing! I learned a lot from your step by step explanation, thank you for sharing!
Patricia Kendel says
I’d say that you are an excellent artist as well as a proponent of the environment. Your applique is really lovely and movingly sweet. How patient you are! Congratulations for keeping time slow and not buying in to all the unhealthy parts of today’s fast-forward culture. Very Best Wishes, Patricia Kendel