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Cutting fabric scraps into usable pieces | Oh JOY, Scrappy Quilts!

by Paul Leger

Experienced quilters accumulate a lot of fabric scraps and have a significant stash. Even if we don’t, we likely know someone who does and would be happy to assist by sharing some of their stash for an exciting quilting project. This leads me to this week’s topic: Scrappy Quilts.

Here are the tools I’ll need to create this week’s quilts.

Two spools of Gütermann Cotton 50wt Thread in a light Lt. Slate and Ivory color, a pair of black Infinity thread snips, an OLFA 4½” x 4½” square ruler, an OLFA 6″ x 12″ ruler, an OLFA 6″ x 24″ ruler, an aqua coloured OLFA 45mm Rotary Cutter, a package 45mm OLFA rotary blades and two packages of SCHMETZ Universal Needles Carded, one is size 80/12 and the other is 90/14.

Essential quilting tools and notions


×          Gütermann Cotton 50wt Thread 250m – Lt. Slate

×          Gütermann Cotton 50wt Thread 250m – Ivory


×          SCHMETZ #1709 Universal Needles Carded – 80/12 – 5 count

×          SCHMETZ #1710 Universal Needles Carded – 90/14 – 5 count

cutting tools

×          INFINITI Thread Snips – Black – 4½” (11.4cm)

×          OLFA RTY-2/C – Splash Handle Rotary Cutter 45mm – Aqua

×          OLFA RB45-2 – Tungsten Tool Steel Rotary Blade 45mm – 2pc

rulers and mat

×          OLFA QR-4S – 412″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler

×          OLFA QR-6×12 – 6″ x 12″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

×          OLFA QR-6×24 – 6″ x 24″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler

×          OLFA RM-SG – 18″ x 24″ Double Sided Rotary Mat


×          OLISO PRO TG1600 Pro Plus Smart Iron – Turquoise

Years ago, I had bags and boxes filled with fabric scraps for projects I’d worked on. I decided to empty those bags and boxes. Every day I’d go in the studio for 30 to 60 minutes and I’d cut up scraps. I decided to cut most scraps in squares measuring 1½” x 1½”, 2” x 2”, 2½” x 2½”, 3” x 3”, 4” x 4”, 5” x 5” and 6” x 6”.

From the piece of fabric below using the OLFA 4½” x 4½” Ruler I could cut one 2” x 2” square and a 1½” x 1½” square.

I piece of fabric is being cut using the OLFA 4½” x 4½” ruler and the OLFA rotary cutter. To the side, there is also a small pile of fabric waiting to be cut.

Cutting fabric: do not throw away fabric scraps, cut them up into usable pieces.

As the different-sized squares are cut, they go into labelled containers ready to be used.

Six labelled bins each containing a specific size of cut squares.

Store cut fabrics in labelled bins.

Another thing I do is when I finish cutting yardage and there’s fabric left, I cut long strips using the OLFA QR-6 x 24 – 6″ x 24″ Frosted Acrylic Ruler. The width of these strips is 2”, 2¼” and 2½” x the width of the fabric.

A long strip is being cut from a grey piece of fabric, using an OLFA 6” x 24” ruler.

Cutting a long strip.

The 2” and 2¼” wide strips I use as bindings. When I have enough 2½” wide strips I put 20 of them together to make my homemade jelly rolls. In the past, I’ve gone to retreats with enough of these jelly rolls for every attendee! Then on a predetermined evening, we had ourselves a good old-fashioned jelly roll race.

TIP To increase the chances of winning a jelly roll race, as people are sewing full speed ahead, cut their threads! This will slow them down and increase your chances of winning the race.

Two homemade jelly rolls made with miscellaneous strips of fabrics.

Homemade jelly rolls

What I do with the 2” and 2¼” strips, depends on my mood and needs. I sometimes use them for binding and sometimes I use them to make smaller jelly roll quilts. Until I decide, I place them in containers properly labelled.

Six labelled and unlabelled bins containing a specific size of cut squares and strips.

Strips can also be stored in labelled bins.

It took me a long time to go through all the scraps I had. Once I was done, I swore I’d never be in that predicament again, and I haven’t been. Now, as soon as I’ve completed a project, I cut up all the scraps and put them away. It’s one less thing for me to worry about.

What made the whole process easy was using tools such as the OLFA QR-4S – 412″ Square Frosted Acrylic Ruler, OLFA 6” 12” Ruler, OLFA 6″ x 24″ and the OLFA Rotary Cutter 45mm.

An OLFA 4½” x 4½” square ruler, an OLFA 6″ x 12″ ruler, an OLFA 6″ x 24″ ruler, and an aqua-colored OLFA 45mm Rotary Cutter.

OLFA rulers and cutter

Over the next three days, I’ll show you how to make three different scrap quilts starting tomorrow with 2” squares. Join me!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Scrap Quilt 1 – working with 2” x 2” fabric scraps


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