Leftover Quilts

Leftover quilts are what I call those tops made from bits and pieces of patchwork blocks, binding and fabric that didn't make it to the original quilt.  Kinda like stash-busting doing improv piecing, but using the fabric that coordinates and is too much for the scrap bucket.

The quilt I'm featuring in this post had the added advantage of using leftover bits from my mom.  This means wonderful things!  The cuts are straight, and there is a lot!  Mom doesn't like to scrounge around for fabric so she generally buys more than she actually needs just in case she needs it - and I love that because it's to my benefit (hahaha).

The fabric used in this top is all local - so produced in South Africa by Da Gama.  It is the quilter's shweshwe range - so not the really heavily starched fabric that you get quite easily, but the soft quilty type.

What you'll need

  • A bunch of coordinating leftovers - I used fabric from a quilt that my mother had made, and the pieces were already cut in squares and strips
  • Thread to match
  • Ruler if you need to straighten edges or trim your stitched pieces
  • Rotary cutter
  • Batting
  • Backing
Leftover quilts - the leftovers

Let's do this

The only quilting rule I used was that your result looks best when using contrasting fabrics i.e. light and dark.  I found all the light pieces and separated them from the dark fabric. And of course, every seam you make gets a press with the iron.

From there it's a matter of choosing which pieces to stitch together.  Like improvisational quilting, add pieces of fabric together until you've got a rough square or rectangle and then trim to get the shape.  If you have some strips that are too long for your fabric, just make it shorter.  No other requirements here.  Now, I realise this is a bit scary, because you quite literally don't know what you're going to end up with.  All you know for sure is that the fabric matches!

I added some blocks together.  Then added a strip and another one.  Then some blocks together.  You will find that you naturally go to a shape that you are familiar with, in my case I like to work with rows.  So my blocks and strips were stitched together until I had rows that were about the same width.  If they weren't the same, I either added more fabric, or I cut some off.

Layout your rows, or shapes until you have the semblance of a quilt top.  Adjust your layout if you need to.  Add or remove fabric.  It's all up to you.

Once you're happy with your layout, stitch the shapes together and you'll have your quilt top done.

Rows together, I still had some wide pieces of fabric left, so I added borders.

Make sure you press all your seams and then press your quilt top.  Measure it to determine the size of your batting and backing.


Final steps

Make your quilt sandwich and quilt as you would like to.  I went ahead and doodle quilted all over - good practice and great result!

leftover quilt
leftover quilt

I made two more quilts from leftovers - one is a bit more scrappy as I really just stitched down bits and pieces to batting and backing.  This method is also domestic machine friendly - take a look at the video here.

Improv quilting is also a great way to make a dent in your leftovers - I did one of these too.

Lavender greetings!


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