How to make a scrap quilt with many pieces in 4 steps

Finished scrap quilt
Finished scrap quilt

This is my first finished big quilt made totally on my own! So I’m very proud of this one. All the other quilts I’ve made were either together with my mother, mini-quilts or are not yet finished. So  I’m very proud of this one. This one is finished a few weeks ago and it’s already proving its use because it is very cold in the Netherlands right now.

The comfort of a quilt
The comfort of a quilt

In this post, I’ll take you through all the steps taken to make this scrap quilt. In this way, you’ll learn more about this work, but also in general what it takes to make a quilt. If you have any tips or questions, feel free to leave a comment. It’s always nice to hear back from people.

The 4 steps to take to make a quilt

Step 1: the quilt pattern

This is a scrap quilt, which means you use whatever fabric you have lying around. I took this as far as possible by asking if people had any imaginable kind of leftover fabric or clothes for me. This is because I wanted to practice sewing with a wide array of different fabrics for this quilt. Not all fabrics are ideal to quilt with, but one of my dreams is to make memory quilts for people who have lost somebody using as many of their clothes as possible. So it is good to familiarize myself with all kinds of fabric.
The pattern I’ve used was named ‘bee blocks’ when I found it, but it goes round on the internet with many different names. The cool thing of this pattern is that the basic is a very simple block, which you can vary by changing the layout of the pieces. The basic block is three pieces of fabric sewn together, of which you see 4 below:
Scrap quilt individual pieces
Here you can see the simple basic pattern
Those pieces you can make with as many different fabrics and colours as you want and arrange in any pattern you like. For this quilt, I went for a simple layout to quiet down the overall design, by placing all the basic pieces in rows. Another possible layout is the one you see below I used in the Big Quilt. For this one, a more complex design worked to make the most of the beautiful blue fabric.

Mayan inspired patchwork piece for The Big Quilt

For fabrics I grabbed what caught my attention. Sometimes it works out well to make a design as random as possible because if there is no hint of an overall idea, people don’t miss it. Further on, there is a lot of gold and glitter in this quilt, because I love that, and get to use it way too little.

Step 2: Piecing the pieces together

Drawing, cutting and sewing all the pieces together was a lot of work for this quilt! It basically constituted all the study-avoiding time I had writing my first thesis for university. This quilt top is pieced by machine, and I luckily discovered the nifty technique of chain piecing. With chain piecing, you don’t stop sewing when two pieces of fabric are attached, but you keep going until you’ve done a whole bunch of them. This is a suitable technique for easy patterns with a lot of repetition in them. It gives quilting more a ‘fordism’ feel of an assembly line because first, you pin all the pieces, then you sew all of them together after which you iron them all.

Pile of pieces
All the 348 basic blocks on a heap!
There are a total of 348 basic blocks in this quilt. I really saw a learning curve with the piecing of this quilt. At the beginning a lot of the pieces were askew, but in the end less so. Also, I gained al of sewing confidence on my machine making this quilt.

Tip: how to design something random which feels coherent

To maintain a coherent look three things are done:

  1. The layout is kept simple to ‘quiet down’ the overall look of the quilt. A complex layout would have been completely lost with the fabrics used.
  2. Fabrics of which I had a lot off, I cut out pieces for 10 whole blocks. This means the fabrics come back in 20 basic blocks in total, but not more. This creates some continuity and brings all the fabrics of the quilt together.
  3. The triangles in the basic blocks always consist of the same fabric. This also decreases the randomness, without losing the scrappy feel.

Step 3: the quilting of the quilt

When all the pieces are finished you have to sew through all the layers. For this quilt, I put a fleece blanket on the back. I got that tip from my mother when you want to finish a quilt easily. Instead of the traditional three layers, you have two in this way. A fleece blanket is very suitable because it is both warm and soft. All the quilting is done by hand because I love the look it gives and it is such a relaxing exercise.

Before you go quilt the quilt you first secure the two layers together with some big stitches, called basting. In the picture below you can see the basting in white. It is helpful to bast with a contrasting colour thread so you can easily see it when you have to take it out again.

Tools of a quilter
Here is a progress picture of the scrap quilt.

In the picture, you also see some other tools I used while quilting. The quilting is done with a star pattern, which I drew on the fabric with pastel pencils. I thought the pastels were perfect to use, but it turns out they wash out harder than I expected. But I think the pastel will slowly fade with time and use.

Below is another progress picture of the quilting itself. For the quilting, I used a multicoloured King Tut thread, and I loved it! Haven’t much experience with threads yet, but my mother said King Tut was good, so I went for that one and there is no disappointment! The only downside is that it’s quite expensive. but worth the price. Also decided to use one colour thread to keep the crazy of the design down.

Quilting in progress
Here you see how I did the actual quilting

I also added a picture of the back of the quilt, because it looks nice.

Back of the scrap quilt
Back of the scrap quilt

Step 4: put the binding on


Binding is the border around a quilt. This is the last step to making a quilt, which I did by hand in this case. The edges were not really straight and hand-sewing allows one to fiddle a bit with it to make it go right. For this quilt, I also used binding clips, because lots of people were enthusiastic about them, and I have to say that they work very well for binding. They fit perfectly around all the fabric of the binding as you can see in the picture.

Extra: quilted pillow from scrap scraps

Scrap quilt pillow
Pillow made from scraps from the scrap quilt

When the scrap quilt was finished the scraps were not gone yet (they really seem to be never-ending), so I decided to make a pillow. I gave this one more coherence by using the same red fabric in every small piece. I did, however, use every fabric once in the basic blocks. Personally, I prefer the scrap quilt design because it seems to make a bit more sense, and you?

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


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