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Using Scrap Fabrics

patchwork rolls

I have been working on my Chakra quilt series for a couple years. The first four are finished, the fifth is in progress, and the last two are sketched out. These quilts use color to reflect a specific Chakra. However, certain shades and hues of color don’t always look good together.

Because of this, I came up with a way to use all the colors and all my scraps in that color family. I’m going to try to ‘show my work’ here, even though I don’t have as many photos as I would like.

I’m currently working on the Sacral Chakra Quilt and this quilt is orange. In this quilt, I really want orange on orange color – some prints have black and white in them, but I try to keep it mostly in the orange family.

First, I take ALL the scraps I can find in that colorway. I match up similar sized sides, and just start chain piecing randomly. I try not to put two of the same fabrics next to each other. Once I have about 10-15 pairs of scraps stitched together, I find another piece to add to each one, like a log cabin block, or just put together however the sizes best match up.

sewing orange scraps of fabric together.
Sewing orange fabric scraps together.

No perfection here… I just make sure there is enough of a seam allowance to keep the pieces together. I work on these random blocks until they are approximately 12″ square.

orange quilt blocks
Orange quilt blocks.

Next step:

At this point, it’s time to cut them down into strips at an angle, starting from the center of the block. For these, I cut 1.5″ strips diagonally.

orange block on cutting board
Cutting into strips.

After all the blocks are cut down into strips, they will need to be trimmed to 45 degree angles for less waste.

Trimming to 45 degrees
Trimming to 45 degree angle

From here, you can sew all the strips together into one long piece. You can skip trimming to 45 degree angles and just sew them together at a right angles (straight), but you will have more waste.

Orange fabric patchwork strips
Strips ready to stitch together.

For the quilt I’m working on, I needed four equal amounts of this patchwork strip for the four quadrants of the quilt. After sewing into one long strip, I measured it to be 1224″. This divided into 306″ each:

patchwork strip roles
Orange patchwork strip roles – 306″ each

At this point, I realized I did not have enough to fill out the whole background of my quilt. I needed to add some solid pieces.

It took some time to figure, and I had to use the computer to get accurate measurements, but this is what I came up with as a pattern:

Pattern for strip layout.
Pattern for strip layout.

I cut strips to fill out the orange areas in this layout. In the white sections of the pattern, I used a cool sparkly, mottled orange fabric that was used in each of the lotus petals, to keep consistency.

Sacral quilt on design wall
Sacral quilt on design wall

I did one quarter at a time. Made me wish my design wall had an extra 18″ top to bottom, but I made it work.


Instead of having a layout like this, you can sew those strips into a set-sized-block – say 12″. Just cut the long strip down to 12″ each and sew together.

pink scrap block
Pink scrap block about 12″ x 15″. Each strip is was cut at 1.25″

This pink block went through two rounds. I made a block from my first round of strips, and then cut it on the diagonal, trimmed, and pieced again to get much smaller pieces.

It’s a lot of sewing and trimming, but it’s a great way to use up scrap fabrics and blend a bunch of fabrics that may not seem to naturally go together.

Sacral quilt on design wall
Sacral Quilt in progress on design wall.

Here you can see I have the whole background done, and I’ve stitched the lotus petal center onto the background by hand. I am densely quilting this one to make sure everything stays in place.

With Covid keeping me home, I’ve been considering trying a video tutorial for this technique – but I’m not good on camera at all. I don’t even know where to start – but it’s something I’ll be looking into as I may need a new source of revenue soon.

4 thoughts on “Using Scrap Fabrics”

  1. These look beautiful! I’m a scrappy girl and I’ve sewing crumbs and strips together for years, but never thought of cutting them on the diagonal. It just looks great! As always, you are so creative and your work is terrific. When we all get through this, maybe you can teach a workshop. Sign me up!

    1. Thanks Marjorie, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about as we consider alternative forms of income. I would definitely let you know if I go forward with that idea. 🙂

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