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Tales from the Scrap Pile: Scrappy Projects I'm Loving Right Now

Last weekend we had a huge storm roll through our area leaving behind washed out roads, wet basements, and even some damage due to tornadoes. Luckily, the damage in our house was pretty minimal. We just had a few wet spots in the basement in need of wiping up. What does this have to do with scrap quilting? Well, my sewing studio is located on the basement level of our home and it got all kinds of wet underneath my work-space counter top. I had to pull everything out from the space to clean up the moisture mess and I realized, um, I've been squirreling away a lot of scraps lately.

 Scrap overflow

I sort all of my scraps by general color into bins, without trimming to any size. I find this leaves the most flexibility for use when I am looking for some little touch for a project, but they do get untidy very quickly. I have a few scraps cut into the most useful small sizes like 2 1/2 in and 3 1/2 in sorted into little boxes, but generally I just toss them all in these chaotic bins and move on. From time to time they overflow with such scrappy chaos that I simply must find a project to tame them, or discard them - which I can almost never do. So in the spirit of self-salvation, here are five scrappy projects I think could be my scrap sanity saviors and may be yours too! 

#1 - Cross Roads Crumb Blocks by Rachel Houser of Stitched in Color, Inspired by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet

 Firstly, I am a huge fan of Rachel's blog and work. She writes an amazing blog on sustainable quilting focusing on using up what you have while mixing it with your new favorites creating your custom style, all while being innovative, modern and unbelievably creative. Clearly her philosophy has a heavy influence on my approach to quilting. When she posted about her Cross Roads Crumb Quilt, I was instantly smitten. So many pretty little bits of fabric being used in one quilt! Then I read the instructions and thought, yep, sounds like a straight forward make that could definitely make a large dent in the scrap bins. Rachel made each of her colorful crumbs from 2in squares with 3 1/2in low volume/neutral squares for the cross design. Lori Holt makes her version from 2 1/2in crumb squares with 4 1/2in solid squares for the cross detail. Both versions would be pretty easy to source from my bins, but I am really in love with the thought of using up even 2in squares, as I can think of a lot more projects for 2 1/2in pieces in the future.

#2 - Quilted Christmas Star Ornaments by Stephanie of Swoodson Says @swoodsonsays

I know it's no where near Christmas just yet - and believe me, I am not wishing the year away- but Stephanie of Swoodson Says shared this adorable ornament and it seems like a great scrap buster, as well as great way to get a jump on making a little ahead for the holidays. Not only would it use up some really bitty string scraps (thin pieces, generally an inch or so wide or less), but I could also make a dent in some of the ribbons and felt I have hoarded as well. She has a great explanation of how to use a template to make the ornament shape from felt, but I think this could be even easier if you have a die cutting machine. I could see selling these at a holiday craft fair or adding as charming gift toppers to holiday packages as a decoration as well as gift. You could even turn them into gift card holders if you added a pocket across the back!

#3 - Chippewa Scrap Quilt by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew

 Allison is another quilt blogger I have followed since I began quilting about 8 years ago. Her projects are straight forward and of a classic style easy to interpret in your own fabric choices. I have bought several of her quilt patterns and have really enjoyed making each. One of my favorite free patterns she offers is the Chippewa Scrap Quilt. I made the Chippewa several years ago out leftover nautical prints and in 3 1/2in blocks, instead of the 2 1/2in blocks called for which created a larger picnic sized quilt we took to the beach several times. I also added a few print blocks to the corners to use up as much of the leftover prints as possible and make a little detail in that otherwise plain area. I would love to try this again in either the larger block size or the recommended size to bust through my scraps! Allison offers a large selection of free tutorials on her blog that would be great scrap busters, so there are more possibilities there too!

#4 - Target Practice Two-for-One from Fons and Porter's Quilting Quickly

I would of course be remiss if I didn't include a pattern from Fons and Porter's, the all time authority on quilting, in my project round up. Target Practice is a cute adaptation of an arrow block using 2 1/2in strips in all of the scrappy colors of the rainbow! The pattern would be great for using up jelly rolls, off-cuts and left-over binding strips. You can purchase the pattern and follow along with a YouTube video showing how to make the blocks step-by-step - perfect if you are a beginner! I really love how you can mix so many prints in this pattern without it looking chaotic and I have a lot of 2 1/2in binding strips that I would love to get used up. This pattern also comes with it's own second project showing you how to use up the Target Practice scraps, so there won't even be scraps from this project going back into your bins - sweet!

Woven Trellis Table Runner in neutral scraps

#5 - Woven Trellis Table Runner by Janice Bailor of La Rue de Fleurs

Oh, that's right, shameless self-promotion. Seriously, though, I often look inward when trying to solve my scrap busing problems. I find scraps really freeing to use because I have already used them to make something for someone else and now they feel free for experiment. Also, I don't usually use newly bought product for my home, so making things for myself from the scraps feels more natural. Since I have been busy perfecting my Woven Trellis Table Runner pattern, I have been making so many versions testing and retesting. I am really happy with the design and like how the bright versions look in my home, but honestly, my home is super neutral. I just gravitate toward grays, tans, whites and creams. Luckily neutrals play such an important role in quilting as the perfect background to set off all of the prints, so the scrap bins are brimming with neutral choices in need of use. I followed the pattern (available soon- eek!), but instead of defining a color for each of the layers, I just mixed everything up. There was only one rule I tried to follow: not allowing any color or print to touch one another to the best of my ability. I love the neutral look! It is making me so happy to think this pattern could be used in a variety of ways and helped me make a beautiful runner for my home, as well as bust those scraps!


Of course there are a ton more options out there to tackle the scrap pile your currently teetering on. I have heard great things about No Scrap Left Behind by Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts. I will put that one on my reading list for the next time I am flirting with a scrap disaster.

 I hope you have found this scrap-busting idea round-up useful and inspiring as you try to move forward taming the scrap bins! If you have any additional books or pattern that you love on this topic, please share your comment below. I'm sure we will always be in endless supply of scraps and in need of the patterns to bust them! xoxo, Janice

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