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Using Clothing Scraps in Quilts

Sandra Hatch

Using Clothing Scraps in Quilts

Sharon wants to help. "I hope you can pass this along to Brenda who wondered about using her mother-in-law's cotton blouses for quilts.

"I have been purchasing cotton shirts in plaids and stripes at thrift stores for many years now to use in scrap quilts. After washing, I cut them apart at the seams and remove the buttons, which I save in jars. Then I iron each piece and put it away on a shelf in color-coordinated sections. My favorite pattern to use these scraps in is Bear Paw. The templates are small enough that you can cut several claws and paws from each piece. There are other patterns that have worked well, such as Churn Dash, Jacobs Ladder, Picket Fence, Lady of the Lake, etc."

Helen chimes in on the same subject. "I am making quilts out of clothes formerly owned by a lady who dressed well. I stabilized the floral print polyester/rayon blouses before I used them. Next I used the solid-color linen jackets. The two together made a windmill pattern. The finished block was 20 inches -- I didn't want to work with too small blocks. You can get a 10-inch block out of each jacket sleeve and two more out of the back."

Myra adds her two cents. "I would like to suggest that those gals looking for a way to use those blouses or other clothes in quilts use a Sunbonnet Sue or Sam pattern. That way the individual fabrics can be showcased and not touch each other. By using them this way, you have stable fabric in between. I always planned to do that with my daughters' dresses that I had made for them when they were little. Unfortunately I did not have the time or expertise to do it, and subsequently gave the dresses and scrap fabric away. Now that I am older and wiser, I wish I had it back. But, of course, my daughters both quilt now and, in fact, taught me how. Good luck, and enjoy!"

Double Knit

Joanne asks for advice. "Being the pack rat and saver that I am, I still have a box full of double-knit pieces that in years past I salvaged from old clothes, some of my deceased husband's suits, blouses, etc. I intend to use them to make a quilt, but can't decide on a pattern, or what technique to use in its construction. Has anyone quilted with this stuff or have any ideas for me?"

My mother uses this type of fabric in her crazy-patchwork squares. The pieces are stitched to a muslin or other fabric base, so this keeps them from stretching later. I have a quilt she made with this type of fabric and it is very warm.

Recycling Jeans

Kate comments. "A while ago you ran a bit about a woman who recycles old jeans into quilted projects. Well, I do the same! I pick up old jeans from friends and co-workers and at yard sales and thrift shops. I take them apart, and cut the denim into 6-inch hexagons. The other side of the hexagon is cut from whatever fabric is handy, and then I serge the two pieces together around five sides. I stuff them through the open side and serge the open side closed. Finally, I zigzag them together with bright-colored thread (or whatever is handy)."

"I've just started two new ones for my two grown-up daughters. One brought me a huge collection of animal prints for her quilt, and the other is collecting flannel shirts in various plaids to be recycled into her quilt. The waistbands will go around the outside edges of each quilt."

"An added bonus of stuffing one patch at a time is that it's easy to carry a bag of empties and stuffing to work with me. I can stuff the patches while I have lunch!"

This sounds like a great all-purpose quilt. It will take lots of abuse, can be washed and dried without damage, and is still warm. Best of all, it uses up lots of denim and scraps. Thanks for sharing this simple quilt idea.

Using a Friend's Stash

Barbara has a good idea. "After reading the thought about Lydia using her Dad's shirts for a quilt I was inspired to send this note: What quilter has no stash? Did you ever think about what will happen to your stash when you are gone?

"I inherited a stash from my quilting pal when she passed away unexpectedly. After crying my way through the boxes of wonderful colors and textures, I blended them into my stash, and now I use fabric from her collection in every quilt I make. It is funny how I just know, even after years, where a fabric came from or if it is mine or was hers. If I cannot fit one of her fabrics into a top, I slip a small piece onto the batting and quilt it in place. In this way I am honoring her and keeping her alive in my love of quilting."

I have never heard of anyone being quite so diligent about using an inherited collection in such a way. I know my husband will have no problem getting rid of my fabrics and quilting supplies. I hope the event will be a nice little party for all my quilting friends. I hope they will remember me once in a while when they use something that once belonged to me.

Reducing the Stash

Ann shares a good idea. "I always enjoy your newsletters, but the last one was so special I wanted to reply. The family quilts and photos were great and I think it must have been wonderful to give them out."

"I am reducing my stash of fabric and scraps by making bibs and blankets for the SAFE House in our area, and I have also given some through the deputies at the jail who know of families in need. I have so many scraps, and I love working in them each evening.

"Thank you for sharing the newsletter and inspiring us to keep stitching with love!"

Thanks for sharing your use of scraps, Ann. Other readers might find this to be a good way to use up some of their scraps

Using Scraps

Shelba has a great idea. "I enjoyed reading about others' experience using clothing scraps in quilts. I recently made a quilt for a baby shower for our first grandchild using 8 1/2"-square blocks cut from maternity clothes that were worn by my mother and myself. Some of the fabric was over 50 years old. I also included a piece of an old receiving blanket used for myself and five siblings, and made a center block from my daughter-in-law's christening gown. The setting squares, triangles and the backing are made from blue Minkee fabric. The newmother-to-be seemed to love the story that the quilt tells."

I hope the history gets passed on with the quilt, Shelba. Thanks for telling us about this.

Recycling Wedding & Prom Gowns

Mary shares: "Sandra, I receive your e-newsletters and I appreciate them very much! I want to share a little bit about what the Heavenly Angels in Need does with wedding gowns, prom gowns or any like material. We turn them into infant burial garments, quilts and liners for caskets and memory boxes. We try to use every part of the gowns by using the beads to make little bracelets to put in the memory boxes. Check out the wedding gown page by clicking on "Donation" and then "Wedding Gown Donation" on the drop-down menu at our Web site, or e-mail at"