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Crumb quilting: What’s it all about?

by Jean Boyd

Most quilters can’t bear to part with scraps of favorite fabrics and tend to keep them in little bins and boxes for future use. Crumb quilting, although not a new idea, is enjoying a resurgence now as we try to use up all those bits of fabric we’ve been saving. Basically, it’s sewing small pieces of fabric together to make new fabric which can be cut up to make blocks, borders, sashing and more.

My batik scrap bucket

This week on QUILTsocial, I’ll be using the Brother Innov-ís BQ3050 machine to do some crumb quilting using batik fabrics from my scrap bucket.

My Brother Innov-ís BQ3050 with crumb scraps ready to sew!

Here’s a video you might like to watch for an introduction to the crumb quilting technique.

Although I can just grab pieces from my scrap bin and start sewing them together, I decided to sort my batik scraps into light and dark values for 2 different projects.

Let’s start with the light fabric first!

Take 2 scraps of fabric and sew them together. The pieces don’t have to be the same size. As long as there is one straight edge on each scrap, I can sew them together.

Crumb scraps ready to sew together

Sew several pairs of scraps together. This is a good time to use either the ¼” foot with guide or the ¼” foot without the guide.

¼” foot with guide on the left and ¼” foot without the guide on the right

If some pieces end up too large, just cut them in half with either a straight or diagonal line.

Cut larger pieces in half to make even more crumbs!

Sometimes I’ll have a long strip of fabric to use. Sew several small pieces along one edge of the strip. Then cut the strip into smaller sections.

Sew several small pieces to one long piece.

Cut the long piece into smaller sections.

Start sewing the pairs together to make 4 patches. Again, the pieces don’t have to be the same size. Look for straight edges to sew together. I can always trim one side so it’s straight if necessary.

Sew 2 patch sections together to make 4 patches.

Sew the 4 patches together to make a piece with 8 patches.

Keep sewing sections together until you have a piece the size you need.

Sew smaller sections together to make larger pieces.

Sometimes there are multiple seams to stitch over. I love the way the Brother Innov-ís BQ3050 machine, with it’s automatic fabric sensor system, allows me to do this so easily. Make sure this key in the on position!

Make sure the automatic fabric sensor system is turned on!

I’m cutting my crumbfabric into 6½” squares using a 6½” square ruler. I’ll use that measurement as a guide to let me know how big to make my new fabric.

Position the 6½” square ruler where I wish to cut.

After I cut the 6½” squares, I’ll have some fabric leftover, so I can continue to add crumb pieces until I have a piece big enough to cut another 6½” square.

After the 6½” square is cut, I have more crumb pieces to use in another section.

Come back to QUILTsocial tomorrow and I’ll show how I used my 6½” crumb blocks!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Crumb blocks for a wall quilt



Sharon July 9, 2022 - 5:51 pm

Hi, I know absolutely nothing about quilting so I have a (stupid?) question. I would love to make a jacket using the crumb quilt technique, I noticed on the few videos I’ve watched that nobody bothers backstitching!!! I’m concerned about washing the crumb fabric especially when it’s made up as the pieces may come apart in the wash. Am I wrong, just overly concerned or should I backstitch every piece? It’s not going to be a quick project anyway lol.
Many thanks,
Sharon x

Jean Boyd July 11, 2022 - 11:51 am

Hi Sharon. I don’t backstitch my crumb quilting projects, but I do use a short stitch length (2 mm). This will help secure the stitches. Once the piece is quilted, the stitches are also secured. If you are not going to quilt your project, perhaps some decorative stitching over the finished pieces would make them more stable. Good luck with your project!

Princess Consuella October 22, 2021 - 5:57 pm

Do you worry about the grain of the fabric?

Jean Boyd October 23, 2021 - 7:43 am

I don’t worry about grainline at all. I just use whatever scraps I have.

Charline June 29, 2020 - 5:40 pm

Great article and tutorial! We used to call this technique “Crazy Quilt”.

Jean Boyd June 29, 2020 - 7:04 pm

Thanks Charline. Glad you liked it. And you’re right – it is a form of crazy quilting!

Roni Filla May 31, 2020 - 5:14 pm

Not only do I love this idea, on 9-11-2001 I started a Red White and Blue Quilt doing this similar technique. Starting that quilt helped me to stave off the crying and sorrow for what we here in America was going thru on that horrid day. I worked on that quilt off and on throughout that year and the next. It still isn’t finished but one day I will dig it out. I am basically a seamstress not a quilter, but do enjoy putting together quilt tops.

Tammy February 17, 2020 - 10:13 pm

Good idea!


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