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All About Scrappy Quilts


Next Wednesday, I’m releasing my first set of scrappy patterns called Scrappy Pattern Pack.  With that pattern you get three limited quilt patterns:  Trippy, Migration, and Tea Time.  In preparation, I thought I’d post all about what a scrappy quilt is.  I have found this is surprisingly different depending on who you talk to, but what I think we can all agree on is that it’s a quilt with way more different fabrics included then what a quilter would normally use.  So while I’ll be explaining to you what a scrappy quilt is to me know that it’s my opinion and other opinions may vary and that’s okay!

Jumping in with an example of a scrappy quilt…. The pattern you are making calls for 8 different fabrics and you use 24 fabrics.  That’s a scrappy quilt!  Another example, a quilt calls for 15 fat quarters, but instead of using those, you dig through scrap baskets and use smaller pieces in place of those fat quarters.  I’m supposed to cut (10) 3.5″ squares from a single fat quarter, but instead I’ve got all 10 squares from different fabrics.  That’s scrappy!


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Where scraps come from

Let’s talk about this for just a minute.  I’ve done many posts that dig into what a scrap is and what to do with it, so I won’t spend too much time here.

You buy some fabric.  Maybe you are buying a curated bundle, maybe you bought a whole collection or maybe you bought a dozen half yard cuts in fabrics that caught your eye.  This is considered “stash”.  Stash is the fabrics that you have purchased in cuts like fat quarters or half yards or yardage.  When we use these fabrics and have small leftover pieces left that are too small to go back into our stash, these fabrics now become scraps.

If you are interested in exactly what a scrap is, I have this series from the beginning of this year.

Depending on what type of quilt you are making the most, you will end up with a variety of scraps.  I have three different types that I usually end up with.  The first kind is larger scraps.  These are usually somewhere around 6-10″ varying widths.  Too big to toss, too small to put back in stash.  The other one I end up with is width of fabric strips (I love these).  These usually come from fabric cuts that started as half yards or bigger.  I’ll use that fabric until I end up with this narrow strip.  I only keep them if they are larger than 2″ wide.  If they are smaller than that, I use them for bows for packages.  But the majority of these strips end up somewhere between 2.5-4ish”.  There are so many quilts that can be made with these.  Trippy is exactly what that type of strip was written for.  The last type of scrap I usually end up with is squares.  I love these too, but they tend to pile up much faster on me.  I store these by size in plastic shoe boxes.  All other scraps I store by color.


The Big Scrap Discussion



Breaking down scrappy quilts

Let’s start with Trippy quilt.  Trippy is perfect for those width of fabric strips you have leftover.  Almost all of the fabrics you see in my Trippy quilt above came from my color ordered scrap baskets.  It made this one pretty easy, because all I had to do was raid my yellows and gold basket.  But just so you know, I also pulled from my brown basket, the pink basket, orange basket and tons of scrap also came from my low volume basket.  I pulled only width of fabric strips.

I did not have enough yellows and golds to pull this quilt off, so I supplemented with stash.

Supplementing with what you are lacking is not cheating “scrappy”.  There’s probably 45+ different fabrics in my Trippy.  It doesn’t get much scrappier than that.  Some of them I even was able to use more than once.



This one is a bit different.  There’s two paths happening here.  This is Migration in the pic above. While Trippy was complete scrappy, Migration is not.  It’s only partially scrappy (although feel free to go scrappy all the way if you will).  In Migration quilt the low volume prints are my background.  I could have used all the same background fabric, but always tend to prefer my scrappy low volume backgrounds.  Though I always call this a scrappy low volume background, I actually consider these truly only partially scrappy.  It’s scrappy because I did not use a single fabric for my background, but only partially because I did not use scraps for it.  I just cut my squares from large pieces of yardage.  Which ends up meaning that you’ll find multiple squares that have the exact same fabric.  Read more about scrappy backgrounds here.

The “color” part of the quilt, what I’ve called butterflies is true scrappy.  I cut those from tiny pieces of fabric.  You don’t necessarily have to run around cutting up those butterflies though if you also keep your square scraps sorted.  If you do so, you could just grab a bunch of squares from your scrap boxes.  That’s actually one of the reason I like to keep scrap squares all cut and ready when inspiration hits.  I could make a dozen more Migration quilts and have to do no cutting except for my background.  It’s already ready to go!



One more quilt break down I want to talk about!  Background scrappy.  The above quilt is Bad Girl.  This one is kinda in reverse to Migration and kinda the same.  Here goes!  Bad Girl starts with a fat quarter or half yard bundle (in my case fat quarter), you have a set amount of fabrics.  I used exactly as the pattern instructed, so my “color” part of my quilt is not scrappy.  My large 4-patches are just like in Migration, what I call partial scrappy.  But inside my star blocks, the low volumes that you see there, those are completely scrappy.  Those were pulled from width of fabrics strips and my boxes of square scraps, and basically wherever I could find a decent size scrap.

All of this breakdown talk is just to show you how versatile it can be and how you don’t have to have chaos to have a scrappy look.  Although, I’m sure some would consider this chaos.


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How to Make the Most of Scrappy

So you know now that you don’t have to be 100% scrappy to be considered scrappy.  You can do as much as you want.  I personally like to set myself rules or perimeters if you don’t like the R word.  Write them down, take a pic, get inspiration from a pic, find a color palette, start with a single multicolored fabric.  There are so many ways to begin!

My number one go to way though is by starting with a color palette.  I usually find these from an image, usually from Pinterest.  Nine times out of ten, I’ll have a single color I’m wanting to use and I’ll go to the search bar on Pinterest and type in something along the lines of lavender color palettes and way too many will pop up.  I’ll scroll until one speaks to me.  Many times that “single color” I start with will start with a scrap basket that’s overflowing in that particular color.  Alot times it will start with a fabric I want to use.

My Tea Time quilt started with fabrics that came in that just seemed to look really good together and I just kept adding in.

Make your own rules.



What I keep getting questions about over and over again is how to make it look good.  I’m here to tell you it’s all about the color palette.  Before you start digging into fabrics start with color.  Make your palette limited.  You don’t need ten colors happening.  I rarely use more than three colors, although you see me using varying shades of the same color (i.e. coral, peach, orange, I consider all oranges).  After color is settled and you sift your way through fabrics and scraps, be strict with yourself.  If that fabric doesn’t work, leave it be.  Don’t put it into your quilt, save it for another.  Don’t get too caught up either on the actual fabric.  You would probably be surprised at how many ugly fabrics made their way into my gold Trippy quilt.  They are so small, you just can’t tell.

I will give this little thought though that  I have found to be true for myself more and more.  Those multi colored fabrics that are so beautiful, are really hard to use.  I’m not saying they are impossible or that I don’t love them or even use them, but they are harder.  I’ve found tonals or blenders and fabrics that are limited in color so much easier to work with, and I end up liking my results better.  Click here for a look at blender fabrics.

When I look back through my quilt reveals, I notice that I’m more partial to the quilts that I’ve made that have a very limited amount of different colors.  The quilts that have lots of different colors, while I like them too, my love for them is not as much.  You’ll need to find what you like the most.  These thoughts are just what I’ve found work for my own tastes.


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  • Made especially for brand new quilters
  • Comes with two quilt patterns:  The Good Girl quilt and The Evening Walk quilt (the latter is exclusive to this class)
  • You will learn:  About sewing machines, how to work a sewing machine, a list of basic supplies, quilters terminology, all basic quilting skills, how to read a quilt pattern, how to make each of the blocks in the sampler quilt, how to cut backing and batting fabric, how to wall baste your quilt, how to meander quilt and how to machine bind a quilt
  • Sampler blocks will include skills such as: half square triangles, square in a square blocks, hourglass blocks, flying geese, snowball blocks, log cabins, half rectangle triangles and turning blocks on point.
  • There are 24 lessons in this class
  • 3 hours worth of video tutorials including video tutorials for every step of the way for the Evening Walk quilt
  • Class is set up to come to you by email.  Once you purchase, you’ll receive a downloadable PDF where you will click and sign yourself up to the email subscription.  Be sure to double opt in to get the classes started (check your spam folder if you don’t receive anything immediately).
  • An email will arrive to you every few days on a set schedule, but you can also go at your own pace


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In summary, ask yourself what you like.  Which of your quilts are your favorite and why?  Really think about it.  If you want all the colors, don’t let me get in your way.  What’s beautiful to me might be your worst nightmare or vice versa.

I can still remember the first time just what “scrappy” actually was dawned on me.  It was circa 2014, I was scrolling through Instagram, and came across a simple churn dash block that blew my mind.  There was a different fabric for every spot on that churn dash.  I quickly made my own version and I used these huge horrible brown dots in it.  I was so in love at the time and now I just wonder why did I ever buy that fabric?  I’ve changed and grown since then.  I know more about what I like, but what’s not changed is my love for scrappy quilts.

Scrappy Pattern Pack will release next Wednesday.  If you are subscribed to my newsletter, you’ll receive a coupon good for the first few days after the release.  I’ll have the pattern available in PDF download and a paper booklet.

If you have your own thoughts about scrappy quilts that you want to share, please do so in the comments below.  I love hearing everything you have to say!


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  • 10 pieces
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  1. I love all three of these quilts, Melanie!! And I get what you’re saying about prints with a ton of colors in them being hard to use, because once you cut them for your patchwork, that square just has too many colors to look like anything!!!! I bought a lot of those prints when i first started and i still love to pet them, but they ARE hard to fit into a quilt pattern!! I am so glad I found YOU when I started this quilt journey, because you’re scrappy quilts speaks to my heart, and I will always love that style!!! Thanks for all of your help and guidance, you are awesome!!

  2. I make more on value, so my quilts have a 100 lights and a 100 darks… (I just finished little miss sawtooth with all Millie blocks – but i added an additional row of 3 stars, so I used a different “dark” fabric for each of the centers and a different “dark” fabric for each of the points. I also used a different light print for the point goose part of the star points and a different light for the 4 squares on the outsides. Then I used completely different lights for the 4-patches. I did try to tonally stay in the “fall” range – so there are no hot pinks…)

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